Martes, 26 de Mayo de 2020
Última actualización: 17:28 CEST
Decree-Law 349

Artists against Decree 349: 'Cuba’s institutional and legal apparatus prevails over culture and the nation'

Diaz-Canel addressed independent intellectuals. (ALEN LAUZÁN)

Independent artists who oppose Decree-Law 349 announced that they will continue their campaign, which seeks to repeal the controversial regulation, and insisted on an overhaul of the government’s cultural policy in a statement on National Culture Day, on October 20.

The signatories believe that the aforementioned policy does not "apply to the reality in which we live" and in this regard made "some observations on the national reality".

With regards to recent remarks by Miguel Díaz-Canel on the subject, they warned that the president "expressed a vision limited to the economic sphere and the quality of the content, reverting to the same rhetoric that gave rise to so many "errors" in the past.

"It's not a good sign. We feel that a legal framework is being constructed for a group of ‘excludables’. The President proved belligerent and discriminatory, with rhetoric that does not address the multiple phases that contemporary art can go through, how flexible it can become, and the disparate ways in which its management is carried out," they said.

"The underlying problem with Decree 349 and the campaign for its repeal hinge on understandings of the phrase "within the Revolution everything; against the Revolution, nothing", a categorical definition of cultural policy that sums up the institutional and legal Cuban apparatus that dominates Cuba’s culture and the nation. These words are spotlighted once again, to reinforce censorship and corruption, entrenched in the country," they complained.

The artists against Decree 349 accused the Communist Party of Cuba, the Government, and State Security forces of generating "estrangement and breakdowns between culture and State."

"From practically every manifestation of culture there have been innumerable events evidencing the need for transformation. We can mention the movements of filmmakers, plastic artists, producers, musicians, and many more; and not only artists, but also groups that did a commendable job in the Cuban context, such as with the Poesía Sin Fin, Puños Arriba and Rotilla (poetry and music) festivals, which show how government institutions attack any initiative that is not officially backed by the regime," they said.

According to this group of artists, "the Cuban government’s public discourse does not credibly acknowledge the demands of its people," but rather "reverts to times of greater intolerance."

"We would like to see more signs of openness, immediately. Just as steps have already been taken with regards to emigration, and protecting Cubans’ dignity by allowing them to enter their own hotels, common sense ought to prevail in other spheres of society too," they said.

"It must be understood that beyond party and ideology, there is a much greater majesty: love of country, and the eternal belonging to the nation. All Cubans have the right to participate in the national corpus. We cannot legitimize a power that excludes people for their preferences, opinions, or dissenting viewpoints. We condemn the network of laws, like No. 349, that are being implemented today to tighten the State’s control over citizens," they said.

"We believe that we have the inalienable right to engage in our activity, completely outside the institutional framework, if this is our choice and decision. We believe that art, culture and the commercial mechanisms that surround them cannot be governed exclusively by official bodies (...) it is only the judgments of the interested parties that assign a work value. Institutions with agendas of administration and censorship cannot be assigned this purview," they added.

Finally, they stated that they view "the arts and the process of creation as a realm of freedom and plurality, of exchange and free experimentation" that "cannot be fully exercised under any kind of arbitration."

In this regard, they demanded respect for their right to participate "in the construction of our country, its future and its progress." 

In addition, in a statement published in his Facebook Profile, Amaury Pacheco "Omni Poeta", one of the organizers of the initiatives against Decree-Law 349, complained that since the events of San Isidro, campaign activists have been "threatened, arbitrarily detained, imprisoned and tested by a series of intensifying pressure and control strategies."

Pacheco referred to expulsions from institutions, such as the case of Omar Mena (Analista MC), actions and mechanisms to leave activists homeless, such as his own case; and imprisonment for others, such as Maikel Castillo Pérez, "El Osokbo", who was recently denied habeas corpus, according to activists.

The rapper had appeared at La Madriguera, a space of the regime’s Asociación Hermanos Saíz, along with other hip hop figures censored by the authorities, who spoke out against the decree.

The facility was closed, and three days after the concert agents from the Technical Department of Investigations (DTI) arrested the musician, according to his partner, Yasmaris de la Caridad Hernández.

The authorities reinitiated charges that had already been dropped, accusing the rapper of an "attack" on a policeman.

At the end of last week, Castillo was taken to the El Vivac detention center in Calabazar, Havana, and transferred to the Valle Grande prison in the same province.

A popular song by the rapper, entitled Por ti señor, is a scathing political critique of Fidel Castro and, apparently, was the reason he was jailed in 2015.