The Political Police Threaten Carolina Barrero and ‘Advise’ Her to Leave Cuba

Barrero is a graduate of the Faculty of Art History at the University of Havana and worked at the Wifredo Lam Center of Contemporary Art. (Screen capture)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 7 February 2021 — The art historian Carolina Barrero reported this Saturday that Cuban State Security has opened a police file on her for the alleged crime of “clandestine printing.” During an interrogation, a State Security agent urged the young woman to return to Spain, where she currently lives.

The complaint against Barrero was made by Lieutenant Colonel Kenia María Morales Larrea, an officer who has dedicated herself to threatening artists like Tania Bruguera in recent years. Morales has also participated in police searches of the homes of independent journalists and activists.

Although Barrero has not had access to the alleged investigation file, the State Security officials verbally assured him that they have a period of up to ten days to formally notify him if the complaint is withdrawn or maintained.

As the art historian told 14ymedio, the agents assured her that “the file is secret” for the moment and right now “only criminal investigators have access to it.”

Barrero was summoned this Saturday morning to the 209 Picota street station, between Paula and San Isidro, in Old Havana. She was summoned by Lieutenant José Antonio Ramírez Hernández to appear before the criminal investigator, Captain Gustavo Figueredo Pérez.

On her social networks, the activist for artistic freedom and against censorship said that Ramírez suggested to her, “on a personal basis,” that the best thing for her was to return to Spain “because after her departure” from the country it could become complicated, alluding to a possible travel ban.

As Barrero explained to 14ymedio, while State Security was questioning her, they searched the house where she was staying in Old Havana and “seized” her iPad, her printed drawings of José Martí and some sheets with signatures collected online calling for the firing of the Minister of Culture Alpidio Alonso.

“The State Security accuses me because of this printed image. It is a Martí made of stars, with a trace of tenderness and dreams. There is not a hint of offense in that drawing, it is all respect and illusion,” Barrero wrote on her social networks. During the interrogation, she invoked her right to remain silent and did not comment on this accusation.

“If they are going to build case against me out of this to imprison me in a summary trial, let them do it, but let it be clear to them, they are not going to blackmail me or threaten to build an alleged crime. I told them yesterday, I didn’t hide to do it, I would print it a thousand times,” she added.

According to Article 241 of the Penal Code, clandestine printing can carry “a penalty of deprivation of liberty of three to nine months or a fine of up to two hundred and seventy shares* or both.” This crime applies to a person who “makes, disseminates or circulates publications without indicating the printing press or the place of printing or without complying with the rules established for the identification of their author or their provenance, or reproduces, stores or transports them.”

Barrero detailed that the printing of this drawing was made legally in one of the many privately licensed places in the city.

Last Thursday Barrero was arrested in the middle of the street, the day after delivering in the National Assembly, together with the curator Solveig Font, the appeal to request the revocation of the Minister of Culture, Alpidio Alonso. At that time, the petition was signed by more than 1,200 Cubans in response to Alonso’s performance on January 27, when he led an attack against a score of artists , including Barrero, who were holding a peaceful sit-in in front of the Ministry of Culture.

*Translator’s note: The Cuban penal code sets fines as a number of ’shares’ with the value of one share defined elsewhere in the code. In this way all the fines can be changes at one time with a single modification.


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