Cuban Artist and Activist Arrested En Route to Protest
Tania Bruguera was reportedly arrested outside her home Tuesday before attending a demonstration against police violence
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(New York, NY) – Artist and activist Tania Bruguera was reportedly arrested by Cuban authorities outside her home Tuesday morning, likely in an effort to prevent her from attending countrywide demonstrations against police violence. Her whereabouts are currently unknown. PEN America today condemned the news, calling it an affront to freedom of expression.
“When an artist who uses her voice to call for justice and social change finds herself arbitrarily detained on her own doorstep, it is obvious that a serious injustice has occurred,” said Julie Trébault, director of the Artists at Risk Connection at PEN America. “Bruguera’s arrest is just one more iteration in the Cuban government’s efforts to exert a vice-like grip over the cultural sector. We call for Bruguera’s immediate freedom, as well as an end to the ongoing harassment and imprisonment of artists and activists across the country who merely exercise their fundamental right to freedom of expression.”
Bruguera was arrested in the early morning hours Tuesday. The day before, Bruguera had posted on Facebook about the death of a young woman who was detained en route to a peaceful protest and later died. This is not the first time that Bruguera has faced detention in response to her activism––she has been detained multiple times in the past five years for organizing and attending demonstrations and performances calling for accountability, justice, and freedom of artistic expression in Cuba.
Her arrest is also part of a broader crackdown on artistic expression in Cuba, especially in the wake of Decree 349, a 2018 regulation that gives the government wide purview to restrict the cultural sphere. Bruguera has been an outspoken critic of the decree, alongside other artists and activists like Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara, who has been arrested over 20 times since 2017, including earlier this month when he also appeared to suffer physical assault.
PEN America leads the Artists at Risk Connection (ARC), a program dedicated to assisting imperiled artists and fortifying the field of organizations that support them. If you or someone you know is an artist at risk, contact ARC here.