14ymedio, Luz Escobar, Havana,8 June 2021 – On Tuesday, the artist Tania Bruguera managed to participate in the virtual Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy, after the Cuban government prevented her doing so the day before by cutting off her mobile data service.
During her speech, Bruguera enumerated several recent abuses committed by the “military dictatorship,” including the impunity of the police authorities for the human rights violations for which they have been responsible, including murder.
The artist described the country where she lives as “an island-prison” and denounced: “It is in Cuba where laws are created to keep the rulers protected and in power and not for the people to live in a safer way. Cuba, a country where nothing works except its political police.”
Bruguera has also been the victim of arbitrary detentions, surveillance and lengthy interrogations, actions organized by State Security at the orders of the Government. In recent months, she has also had to spend days, sometimes weeks, with a police cordon around her home that prevents her from going out.
“Imagine turning on the television and seeing on the National Newscast your private telephone number with your name next to it and your home address with personal data, while a presenter emphasizes that, in effect, that is your number and that is the place where people can find you,” the artist said about the attacks in the official media, as a result of which, she says, hateful messages from people she does not know reach her phone.
The Summit was organized by a coalition of 25 human rights groups, bringing together dissidents and former political figures from around the world. In statements to 14ymedio, the artist said that her participation in this event was important: “It seemed good to me that the experience of the activists in Cuba could be there and could be told.”
Bruguera managed to bypass the censorship of Cuba’s telecommunications monopoly, Etecsa, by sending her speech in an audio message, and she did in both Spanish and English. In it, she noted that this is a country where “independent journalists are persecuted, where citizens’ access to independent media through the internet is blocked, where citizen journalism is penalized to such a degree that if a person publishes a statement on Facebook that is critical of the government, they will be sought out and fined more than their monthly salary.”
In addition, she gave an account of the political prisoners in Cuban prisons who are arbitrarily detained in many cases and publicly defamed by the Government. In these cases, she explained, all are without real legal protection “because their designated lawyer works under direct orders from the Government.”
Bruguera said that “people you know are afraid to let you use the telephone line registered in their name because they know that electronic surveillance is one of the priorities of the Cuban government.” At the same time, she spoke hopefully, because today, she said, Cubans’ complaints “are beginning to be transformed into civic actions.”
She was emphatic: “Today too, while sending this recording, I think about my fellow activists in prison, about the possible consequences of participating in this type of event, about the vulnerability that we feel every day, but there is something that gives me strength because I know it is a collective cry: Homeland and Life.”
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