Saturday, July 3, 2021

Human Rights Watch reports Clampdown on Artists, Journalists in Cuba. Artists Demand Release of Detained Dissident Artist Hamlet Lavastida.

How you can take action.

Cuban artist Hamlet Lavastida jailed

Taken from CubaBrief

The Castro regime is engaging in a systematic crackdown on Cuban artists and journalists, but Cuba's nascent civil society is responding in a civic-nonviolent manner and seeking international support.

"Over 140 Cuban intellectuals and cultural figures, including Tania Bruguera and Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara, have signed an open letter demanding the release of artist Hamlet Lavastida, detained in Havana this weekend upon his return from a residency at Künstlerhaus Bethanien in Berlin. The artist is currently held at Villa Marista, the notorious maximum-security prison known for holding political prisoners," reported Valentina Di Liscia in her July 1, 2021 HYPERALLERGIC article "Artists Demand Release of Dissident Artist Detained in Cuba" that was updated on July 2nd with an expanded list of signers to the open letter. The letter reproduced along with Di Liscia's article states, “we condemn the criminalization of Hamlet Lavastida by the Cuban government. He is a Cuban citizen and artist who has done nothing more than exercise his constitutional right to express himself.”

There is an open petition circulating that is available for your signature demanding the release of Hamlet Lavastida. Please sign it and share with others. Indifference has allowed this regime to operate with impunity for too long.

On June 30, 1961 Fidel Castro gave his speech to [Cuba's] intellectuals where he summed up the limits of artistic expression: 'Within the revolution, everything; outside of it, nothing.' Sixty years later and this totalitarian view continues to be imposed on the arts and journalism in Cuba.

Cuban art curator Carolina Barrero Ferrer was under police surveillance for 3 days with internet access cut off, and was arrested on July 1, 2021 and remains in detention.  

"The Cuban government is committing systematic human rights abuses against independent artists and journalists," said Human Rights Watch on June 30, 2021 as the internationally recognized human rights NGO "released a video on the abuses." According to Human Rights Watch, "in recent months, Cuban authorities have jailed and prosecuted several artists and journalists who are critical of the government. Police and intelligence officers have routinely appeared at the homes of other artists and journalists, ordering them to stay there, often for days and even weeks. The authorities have also imposed temporary targeted restrictions on people’s ability to access cell phone data. Singing a song that the government does not like, or reporting the news independently, is enough to get you detained in Cuba,” said José Miguel Vivanco, Americas director at Human Rights Watch. “These abuses are not isolated incidents, but rather appear to be part of a plan to selectively silence critical voices.”

The video released by Human Rights watch begins with Luis Eligio D Omni of ProActivo Miami, a Cuban artist who took part in a Zoom conference hosted by the Center for a Free Cuba on June 30th that was moderated by Sebastian Arcos Cazabon and included artists Paquito D'Rivera, Kizzy Macias, and the journalist Norges Rordríguez focused on the intersection of the arts and protest in Cuba. The event is in Spanish and available online.

Cuban artists are expressing long held truths to an international audience. They are breaking through decades of carefully crafted regime propaganda, and the dictatorship is panicking. They are also sending a message to tourists that go to Cuba and treat it as an amusement park that they want to see. This phenomenon has angered many Cubans for many years, but artists have found a way to visualize and communicate it to a non-Cuban audience. 

Art work by Ricky Castillo of #SOSCuba


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