Cuban Artist Hamlet Lavastida Detained in Villa Marista and ‘Under Investigation’

Lavastida returned to the Island after completing his residency at Künstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin. (Facebook)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 27 June 2021 — The Cuban artist Hamlet Lavastida is being held in Villa Marista, the State Security headquarters in Havana, and is under an “investigation process,” according to what the authorities told his mother by telephone on Saturday night.

Lavastida returned to Cuba from Germany on June 21, after finishing his residency at the Künstlerhaus Bethanien gallery, Berlin, and had already completed the regulatory isolation for Covid-19 in one of the centers authorized by the Government in the Flores district.

His friend, the poet Katherine Bisquet, denounced from the early hours of this Saturday the presence of State Security in the isolation center and said the artist had not gotten in the taxi that was waiting for him to get home.

“Right now the artist Hamlet Lavastida, after his arrival in Havana six days ago, is on his last day in the isolation center for Covid, in Flores, in the municipality of Playa. Hamlet called me half an hour ago to notify me of Security agent Darío’s the visit to the center,” Bisquet wrote on his social networks.

Lavastida is one of the most relevant artists of his generation and in recent months he has maintained a front-and-center position against the regime by denouncing the repression that his Cuban colleagues have experienced, especially since last November 27. Between 2011 and 2015, Lavastida lived outside the island and was prohibited from entering the country as a result of his public statements that upset the authorities.

The host of the national television newscast, Humberto López, mentioned Hamlet Lavastida in his February 8 broadcast, titled: How to finance subversion in Cuba. López showed a screenshot of an idea that the artist had proposed, and it consisted of making some designs for the banknotes. The presenter did not mention, in this case, that this idea was considered a crime, but wondered to what extent the action could become “harmful” for society.

Dozens of Cuban artists, both inside and outside the island, have denounced Lavastida’s arrest on social media. One of them was Lester Álvarez, who affirmed that the only reason why Lavastida is under arrest today is for “freely expressing his opinion on the authoritarianism of the Cuban government.”

“His dignity and extraordinary talent lacks any duplicity and once again demonstrate the truth of his position against Cuban government crime,” added the visual artist, who lives in Spain.

His colleagues Camila Lobón, Julio Llopiz-Casal, Carlos Lechuga, Carlos Aníbal Alonso, Raychel Carrión, Reynier Leyva Novo, Coco Fusco, Carolina Barrero, among others, have also demanded the artist’s release.

According to filmmaker Carlos Quintela, Lavastida “has always been a frank guy” and there is no need to investigate “what he himself has made public.”

“His convictions have always been very clear, I even think that when we studied Japanese together in the Hitoshi chair at ISA we learned to say: ‘Down with the Cuban dictatorship,'” Quintela recalls.

In 2018 Lavastida participated in the Biennial 00, convened by Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara from the Museum of Dissidence, along with other artists such as Tania Bruguera, Gerardo Mosquera, Celia & Yunior, Alexander Arrechea, Ernesto Oroza, Jesús Hernández Güero, Lázaro Saavedra, Chino Novo and Henry Erick.


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