(London | New York, NY) – The Cuban government should immediately stop its abuses against Cuban artists, over 300 prominent figures from the art world said today in a statement co-signed by PEN International, the Artists at Risk Connection of PEN America, and Human Rights Watch.
The Cuban government should respect freedom of expression, release arbitrarily detained artists, drop abusive criminal charges, and allow those in exile to return to their country, the arts figures and human rights groups said. “The level of injustice and repression the Cuban government is imposing on its own people is reaching ever higher levels,” said Tania Bruguera, a performance artist. “The government not only exercises constant censorship over the artists, but in its actions to prevent and criminalize peaceful protest and dissent, now it has made the entire people of Cuba enemy of the state. As an artist and as a Cuban, I am very scared for the future of my country.” The artists who signed the statement include world-renowned figures such as Meryl Streep, Paul Auster, Orhan Pamuk, Elena Poniatowska, Isabel Allende, J. M. Coetzee, Jules Feiffer, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and Khaled Hosseini, as well as notable Cuban artists, including Tania Bruguera, Coco Fusco, and Hamlet Lavastida. Independent Cuban artists have become a prominent voice criticizing the lack of basic freedoms and human rights in Cuba.
The artists, including rappers, writers, actors, and painters who have spearheaded the “San Isidro,” “27N,” and “Archipelago” movements have organized mass demonstrations and used the increased access to the internet in the country to draw global attention to the rampant abuses under the Cuban regime. Some of them also wrote and performed in “Motherland and Life” (Patria y Vida), a viral song and protest anthem criticizing the repression in the country that was recently awarded the Latin Grammy for Song of the Year.
The Cuban government has committed systematic abuses against dozens of independent artists, including arbitrary detention and abusive restrictions on movements and communications, such as house arrests and surveillance. Several of the artists – including Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara and Maykel Castillo, also known as “Osorbo,” who performed in “Motherland and Life” – remain in pre-trial detention and face unfair or groundless criminal charges. Many others remain subject to arbitrary prosecutions or are forced to stay in exile without being able to return to their homeland or show their art in Cuba. At least 50 artists have been under house arrest, imprisoned, or under investigation. Many Cubans chanted “Motherland and Life” as they took the streets across the country in the July 11, 2021, landmark demonstrations protesting longstanding restrictions on rights, scarcity of food and medicines, and the government’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The government engaged in arbitrary detention, ill treatment of detainees, and abuse-ridden criminal prosecutions against the demonstrators and stated that singing “Motherland and Life” could be considered a crime.
The “Archipelago” movement, led by actor and playwright Yunior García, organized a new round of protests for November 15, 2021.
The Cuban government effectively suppressed the demonstrations by massively deploying security forces to arrest any protesters and encircle the homes of prominent dissidents and protest organizers, forcing them to stay home. In the statement released on December 8, signatories call on the Cuban government to respect the fundamental role that art and artists play in society, and immediately stop harassing artists for engaging in political and social critiques of the regime while exercising their right to creative expression. “Throwing artists in jail or exiling them from the country forever – in response to their art, words and ideas – is abusive and inhumane,” the art world figures said. “We, artists from around the world, stand in solidarity with our colleagues in Cuba.” said Elena Poniatowska, a writer. “As a journalist and writer, I believe in denouncing and opposing governments. I believe that if an intellectual, writer, or artist stands up against a government, he or she is doing an indispensable task. It is not surprising that some want to silence us when we bear witness to the voices, beliefs, and experiences of those who would otherwise go unheard.
They are afraid of the truth because, once it is revealed, it can no longer be hidden.” List of signatories: Jane Aaron Héctor Abad Faciolince José Luis Acevedo Daza Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Ben Andoni Folu Agoi Ayad Akhtar Shahidul Alam José Antonio Albertini Carlos Alberto Montaner Masih Alinejad Isabel Allende Diane Alméras Angélica Altuzar Constantino Ileana Álvarez González Asieh Amini Carlos Aníbal Alonso Kwame Anthony Appiah Marie Arana Homero Aridjis Salman Asif Reza Aslan Jessica Atal Fidaa Ataya Paul Auster Nadezda Azhgikhina Asiel Babastro Badiucao Alec Baldwin Jürgen Banscherus Peter Barbey Lee Bellavance Diamond Gioconda Belli Carlos Betancourt Katherine Bisquet Erling Borgen Beatriz Bracher Luis Brandoni Nick Brandt Marta Breen Mogos Brhane Roberto Briones Roberto Brodsky Tania Bruguera Ahmed Burić Romana Cacchioli Lydia Cacho Jennine Capó Crucet Adriana Carranca Iliana Cepero Francisco Céspedes Baltasar Cevc Helena Chávez Mac Gregor Suhyun Choi Sandra Cisneros Jorge Encinas Cladera Jennifer Clement J.M. Coetzee Isabel Coixet Sarah Cooper Anton Corbijn Armando Correa Jeff Cowen Ricardo Cravo Albin Luis de la Paz María del Pilar Clemente Fanny del Río Enkel Demi Jeanne Demuth Denise Desautels Ernesto Díaz Rodríguez Reinier Díaz Vega Nelson Dino Ana Dipp Jan J. Dominique Theophilus Donoghue Rita Dove Christopher Durang Gregorio Duvivier Jennifer Egan Kai Eide Álvaro Enrigue Louise Erdrich María Eugenia Ayala Lena Falkenhagen Jules Feiffer David Francis Julia Franck Jonathan Franzen Julia Fullerton-Batten Coco Fusco Inga Gaile Angye Gaona Yunior García Aguilera Ivette García González Dominique Gaucher Sylvia Geist Cris Gera Ulrike Gerold Daniel Giménez-Cacho Amber Ginsburg Jorge Glem Jacques Godbout Susanne Goga Francisco Goldman Mónica Gómez Adam Gopnik Nina Gorfer Eric Gottesman Scarlett Hooft Graafland Nicholas Griffin Niall Griffiths Lev Grossman Jean-Louis Grosmaire Wendy Guerra Lars Gule Agnete G. Haaland Solomon Hailemariam Jaime Hales Signe Hammer Daniel Handler Wolfram Hänel James Hannaham Linda Hansen Dennis Haskell Tom Healy Elke Heinemann Georges Hélal Elizabeth Hemmerdinger Alban Nikolai Herbst Ramón Hernández Khaled Hosseini Iman Humaydan Tanya Huntington Siri Hustvedt David Henry Hwang Tiina Itkonen Bianca Jagger Jeffrey James Elisha July Wanuri Kahiu Kätlin Kaldmaa Sofia Karim Mary Karr Entela Kasi Lucina Kathmann Nicholas Kawinga Phil Klay Hubert Klöpfer José Kozer Enrique Krauze Ebo Krdum Konstantin Küspert Marco Kusumawijaya Maira Landa Ola Larsmo Hamlet Lavastida Eric Lax Chang-rae Lee Joanne Leedom-Ackerman Svenja Leiber Jonathan Lethem Jonathan Levi Luciana Levinton Gwyneth Lewis Christoph Links John Lithgow Julio Llópiz-Casal Aurora López Cancino Jorge Mañes Rubio Carlos Manuel Álvarez Luis Alberto Mariño Fernández Lesley Marshall Émile Martel Yann Martel Sara Martínez Castro María Matienzo Puerto Michel Matos Colum McCann Jay McInerney Layda Melián Dinaw Mengestu Claire Messud Arno Rafael Minkkinen Marta Minujín Herman Mondaca Raitieri Ricardo Montaner Milena Montaño Cavero Rosa Montero Charles Montpetit Rick Moody Michel Mouffe Silvanos Mudzvova Paul Muldoon Maximillia Muninzwa Víctor Muñoz Besnik Mustafaj Perumal Murugan Azar Nafisi Ahmed Naji Toni Navarro Ralf Nestmeyer Hege Newth Sylvie Nicolas Lynn Nottage Yanelys Núñez Leyva Kurt Oesterle Jorge Olivera Castillo Nduko o'Matigere Begoña Osés Raquel Otheguy Amaury Pacheco del Monte Orhan Pamuk Gregory Pardlo Daniel Pedreira Michel Perea Enríquez (Nonardo Perea) Izet Perviz Virginia Phiri Juan Enrique Piedrabuena Ruiz-Tagle Claudia Piñeiro Robert Pinsky Platon Elena Poniatowska Amor Antonio Prata Ahmet Prenci Francine Prose Marilyn Pupo Shwan Dler Qaradaki Alicia Quiñones Selma Raljevic Sergio Ramírez Alejandro Riaño Elvira Rodríguez Puerto Germán Rojas Anamely Ramos Claudia Rankine Farvash Razav Elif Refig Molly Ringwald Arturo Ripstein Alix Ritchie Romina Ressia Kurt Roessler Alexis Romay José A. Ruano Karina Sainz Borgo Fakhri Saleh Salomón Salcedo Baca Arturo Sandoval Francis Sánchez Philippe Sands Sandra Santana John Ralston Saul George Saunders Simon Schama Steve Schapiro Stacy Schiff Manfred Schlösser Eugene Schoulgin Torsten Schulz Dread Scott Alice Sebold Daniel Seekersway Gabriel Seisdedos Tanya Selvaratnam Ingeborg Senneset Oleg Sentsov Enrique Serna Oumar Farouk Sesay Jan Schlegel Kim Schwanhäuße Helene Schmitz Flamur Shala Paata Shamugia Omaid Sharifi Guillermo Sheridan Musa Sheriff Gary Shteyngart Jane Smiley Kiki Smith Bosco Sodi Andrew Solomon Burhan Sönmez Chak Sopheap Alec Soth Vee Speers Art Spiegelman Cornelia Springer Kjersti Løken Stavrum Richard Stengel Siri Stolt-Nielsen Tom Stoppard Michi Strausfeld Meryl Streep Rose Styron Dariel Suárez Aatish Taseer Elma Tataragic Rae Marie Taylor Jennifer Teo Danielle Thibault Ma Thida Colm Toibin Mauricio Tolosa Carles Torner Edmundo Torrejón Jurado Daniel Torres Rodríguez Julie Trébault Calvin Trillin Salil Tripathi Margarita Trushina Tanja Tuma Scott Turow Anne Tyler Kanchana Ugbabe Luis Alberto Urrea Alexis Valdés Mario Vargas Llosa Carlos Vásconez Astrid Vehstedt Burkhart Veigel Oscar Vela Leni Velasco Xavier Velasco Regula Venske Mélissa Verreault Lia Villares Félix Villeneuve Ayelet Waldman Per Wästberg Peter Wawerzinek Jacob Weisberg Catrina Wessels Tara Westover Herbert Wiesner Tobias Wolff Kacey Wong Yotuel Gabriel Zaid Moisés Zamora.
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