Musician Gorki Aguila Arrives in Mexico After Days of Uncertainty Over His Exit From Cuba

The artist was detained on May 3 for more than 24 hours by Cuban State Security.

The musician Gorki Águila after landing at Mexico City International Airport / Facebook/Capture

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 13 May 20204 — “I am glad to get out of hell, out of the Castros’ extermination camp.” Such was the bluntness of Cuban musician Gorki Águila upon arriving in Mexico City on Monday, May 6. After several days of uncertainty, due to his arrest on Friday, May 3 at José Martí International Airport in Havana, the leader of the band Porno para Ricardo has managed to leave the Island.

“They tore me from my homeland,” a visibly emotional Águila declared, but adding that they had been unable to pull him out “by the roots” from the place where he has made his art and life’s work. With an affectionate shout-out to his followers, the artist sealed his entry into Mexican territory in what appears to be a journey with no quick return, at least as long as the current political regime remains in Havana.

“We filmed Gorki’s first moments in Mexico City airport after he finally got out of Cuba,” boasted Czech photographer and filmmaker Hana Jakrlova. She recalled that at first, the rocker could not board the plane because immigration officials had informed him that he was being “regulated,” the official euphemism for Cubans who are prohibited from leaving the country.

The “regulation” contradicted what he had previously been told by State Security

“Stay tuned for our documentary film, Permanent Gorki,” Jakrlova announced. “We were filming the final days of Gorki’s life in Cuba, and we plan to follow him in his involuntary exile. Freedom for Cuba!” Águila’s departure closes a week-plus of uncertainty as to whether the Cuban authorities would let him emigrate, a question that had opened with his arrest on May 3 at Cuba’s most important airport terminal.

After passing through the airline check-in, Águila went over to the counters of the Directorate of Identification, Immigration and Emigration, where he was notified that a regulation was pending on his person. Upset with the arbitrary decision, which contradicted what State Security had previously informed him, the musician protested angrily at the scene.

Right then and there Águila was detained by the police. Although at first he had been reported missing, 14ymedio was able to confirm with an operator of the Ministry of the Interior telephone service that, following his detention at the airport terminal, the leader of the rock band Porno Para Ricardo was temporarily held at the Santiago de las Vegas police station.

“Gorki was released yesterday (Saturday night) after they made him go through that whole disturbing situation; he missed his flight,” confirmed Ciro Javier Díaz Penedo, another Porno Para Ricardo member, more than 24 hours later via social media.

For its part, the Cultural Rights Observatory, during the hours following his arrest, issued an “alarm over arbitrary detention” of Águila and reported him “missing.” The organization criticized the political police for “significantly violating the freedom of movement, among other human rights” of the activist, and demanded his immediate release.

Águila, whose songs became a symbol of the counterculture opposed to the regime, got on State Security’s radar decades ago. The musician suffered many arrests on the Island, the most notable being in 2008, when many artists and intellectuals demanded his release.

He also had numerous immigration-related run-ins with the Island’s authorities. In 2010, for example, the regime prevented his return to Cuba from the U.S., alleging that his passport had not been extended. Águila extended the document’s validity that same day and traveled the next, but he continued to be harassed.

In 2018, the authorities again prevented his departure, this time to Miami, from where he was set to travel to Lima, Peru as a guest of the Forum of Civil Society and Social Actors.

Translated by: Alicia Barraqué Ellison


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