The ‘Prisoners’ Voices’ Campaign Begins and Calls for the Release of Three Cuban Artists

The Voces Presas campaign demands prompt freedom for the poet María Cristina Garrido and rappers Richard Zamora Brito and Randy Arteaga Rivera. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 18 November 2022 –The writer María Cristina Garrido and rappers Richard Zamora Brito and Randy Arteaga Rivera, arrested by the Cuban regime, are the three faces of the Voces Presas campaign launched this Friday by the organization Artists at Risk Connection (ARC), in partnership with Civil Rights Defenders (CRD, from Sweden). The movement appeals to the international community for solidarity, and it demands the prompt release of the artists, imprisoned for their political opinions.

Many people in Cuba who have dared to “challenge the false problems and narratives promoted by the Cuban regime,” said Julie Trébault, the director of ARC at PEN America, “have paid a very high price for their creative expression, becoming victims of imprisonment, surveillance and house arrest, or being forced into exile.”

The Voces Presas campaign uses digital platforms to disseminate the profiles and trajectory of the three artists, as well as music videos and fragments of their works. To this is added documentation on the harassment and imprisonment they have suffered at the hands of the Cuban regime.

The poetry of María Cristina Garrido, born in 1982 in Quivicán, province of Mayabeque, addresses issues of the daily life of Cubans. Her career as an activist prompted her to be part of the Cuban Women’s Network, a space to visualize the problems of Cuban women. In March 2022, she was sentenced to seven years  in the Guatao women’s prison after being accused of resistance, aggression, incitement to crime and public disorder for participating in the large demonstrations of July 11, 2021 (11J) in favor of freedom.

For the same reason, rapper Richard Zamora Brito, known as El Radikal, was arrested. Initially detained in the Combinado del Sur prison, in Matanzas, he was released on bail and is now under house arrest and subject to forced labor.

Rapper and anti-racism activist Randy Arteaga Rivera also participated in the July 11 demonstrations in Santa Clara, for which he was sentenced to five years in prison. The Government accused him of being involved in the organization of the protests and of shouting insults against President Miguel Díaz-Canel.

“The Cuban authorities continue to use the judicial system to repress dissent and freedom of critical expression,” said Erik Jennische, director of the Latin American Department of Civil Rights Defenders, who pointed out that this campaign is directed at the Cuban Government so that they immediately release all imprisoned artists and guarantee the free exercise of art and activism on the Island.

They also urge the embassies of the European Union and the American continent based on the Island to demand that they be allowed to visit the three imprisoned artists and issue a report on their conditions.

The organizations ask that the Cuban Government be pressured to eliminate the need for state approval to exhibit their works freely, as required by Decree 349, which limits independent artistic expression.

Translated by Regina Anavy


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