Despite the Arrests and Pressures from Cuba’s Political Police, Independent Artists Gather

Artists gathered at the Hannah Arendt Institute of Artivism to work on the agenda agreed with Vice Minister Fernando Rojas on November 27. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Luz Escobar, Havana, 3 December 2020 — Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara was not the only one to be arrested this Wednesday. The harassment has continued in the last 24 hours against members of the San Isidro Movement and other independent artists.

Tania Bruguera was also arrested on Wednesday afternoon when she was on her way to the Hannah Arendt Institute of Artivism (Instar), which she directs, for a meeting with some of the 30 artists and intellectuals who participated in the meeting on November 27 at the Ministry of Culture, according to a source close to Bruguera.

“The group of 30 hasn’t rested, they’ve hardly slept, [meeting] in a democratic, respectful way, with open hearts,” said the artist in a direct transmission from Facebook, “so that progress can be made on the agenda items requested by the Ministry of Culture that we sent to him for the meeting that he asked us for this week.”

Bruguera claims that while they are meeting their side of the agreement, of the 30 artists who attended the meeting, there are six who have police surveillance at their homes and cannot attend the meetings and some members of the group were suffering harassment through pressure on their families.

She also said that they asked an “intermediary” to locate the Vice Minister of Culture, Fernando Rojas, “to inform him of what is happening,” since one of the reasons for the meeting on November 27 was “to finish once and for all” with police the harassment.

In another video posted on her networks, Bruguera responded to State Security accusations that she is “working with the United States Department of State” and “following a manual” to provoke a popular revolt on the island: “Never in my life have I communicated with the United States Department of State, I do not need any government to tell me what I have to do for my country, I do not need to contact any country to order me to do anything. I am a Cuban who has a sufficient sense of decency and of her citizens’ rights to demand them from the entities that have to guarantee them.”

Speaking to 14ymedio, the artist explained that it was “Colonel Alberto and agent Mario, as they call themselves,” who went to see her Tuesday night at her home.

“The colonel was the one who spoke the whole time,” declared the artist, “to tell me that I was destabilizing the Government, that I was creating subversion, following someone’s orders, working with the people of the State Department of the United States Government and that I was doing all this because I had read a little book. I asked him the title but he didn’t tell me. ”

Among the threats the officers made against Bruguera was that “they would take the most severe measures” against her. “I replied that I was not going to accept the accusations he was making because not only were they a lie, but they also had legal implications related to Law 88, where the punishments are extremely severe. He insisted on telling me: ‘We are not going to allow you to destabilize the Government or create subversion.”

The officials reproached her that she was doing all this “to gain an endorsement,” “something I did not understand,” she declared. “I told him that he was completely wrong, that he did not understand what was happening and that we were where we were because the Ministry of Culture asked us for an agenda and that is what we were working on.”

In addition, the artist requested that they no longer visit her and that the next time they went, they would take her to jail: “They will not threaten me with these baseless accusations,” she declared.

For his part, the poet Amaury Pacheco also confirmed that he has surveillance on his home “from very early in the morning.” According to the complaint, other members of the San Isidro Movement (MSI), such as Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara, Michel Matos, Aminta de Cárdenas and Claudia Genlui, are in the same situation.

The music producer Michel Matos was also arrested this Tuesday afternoon, according to Iris Ruiz, a member of the MSI, on her Facebook profile. “Michel Matos has just been arrested at the corner of 27th and 8th in El Vedado. Patrol Car 436. Two policemen and a woman,” Ruiz posted.


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