14ymedio, Havana, 4 February 2018 — A police search of Havana’s independent El Círculo Gallery, managed by the activist Lía Villares and the painter Luis Trápaga, ended with the seizure of computers, cameras and video cameras, several hard drives, USB drives and cell phones.
The authorities informed Villares and Trápaga, the owner of the house where the gallery is located, that they are “in the middle of an investigative process,” the activist and blogger told 14ymedio, after being released on Saturday night.
Officers of the National Revolutionary Police (PNR), State Security agents and two witnesses from the neighborhood, as required by law, participated in the search. They all entered the house showing a search warrant.
“They did not allow me be present, only Luis, they had me the whole time and I could not see what was happening,” says Villares. “I sensed the flashes of the photos that they took as they went were room by room, from the kitchen to the terrace.”
The search of the four room house began at 10:00 in the morning and ended after 3:00 in the afternoon.
“They took at least six hard drives, which have all my work from over the last ten years and the most recent material for a documentary I’m doing called Free Art vs. Totalitarian Censorship,” laments Villares.
On the drives are the interviews that the activist has done with several censored artists. The officers also took the printer, three laptops, several compact discs, USB memories and two new phones.
Luis Trápaga says that at the end of the search he was given a copy of the list of confiscated objects that he signed. Both activists insist that they will demand justice for all the equipment to be returned.
At the end of last year the El Círculo gallery experienced several episodes of censorship by the PNR and State Security for the activities it organizes. In some cases, the authorities prevented the guests from entering and at other times arrested the artists themselves.
According to the testimony of Villares, the people participating in the search were the same ones who have carried out the repression against the plays of Lynn Cruz and Adonis Milan.
“There were all those who appear in the videos, there is a lieutenant colonel who sounds familiar to me of the case against El Sexto (graffiti artist Danilo Maldonado) and Lieutenant Colonel Kenia María Morales Larrea, who seemed to be in charge of the operation,” she says.
The activist also remembers other officers like Captain Efrein. An officer who calls himself Luis Miguel took a statement about the origin of the equipment, printed matter and stickers.
Villares was also questioned about her links with the distribution of stickers and documents about the Cuba Decides campaign, which promotes the holding of a plebiscite in Cuba to change the political system of the island.
At first after the search, Villares was taken to the 21st and C Police Station, in Vedado, and Trápaga was taken to the Zapata and C station. On Friday night she was transferred to another station in San Miguel del Padrón.
Villares was released a little before 8 o’clock on Saturday night and Trápaga a few minutes later. “They spent all their time asking me where I had gotten everything from and what I was going to do with the Cuba Decide pamphlets,” says Villares.
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