Since President Obama made the announcement that the United States would renew diplomatic relations with Cuba, artist Tania Bruguera has been agitating for a public space where Cubans can freely express their opinions on the subject. So Brugerua planned a performance of sorts, trying to arrange a speak-in in Havana's Plaza de la Revolución. Her intent was to set up a microphone and provide the average Cuban the means to voice their opinion about the future of the island-nation.
But yesterday Bruguera told the Miami Herald that the Cuba's National Mixed Media Arts Council (CNAP) had denied her request for "institutional support." Cuba's National Revolutionary Police also denied her requests for the permits required to gather in the Plaza.
Bruguera's requests were denied because her performance is not considered art, but rather an overt political action. A statement issued by the Cuban Union of Artists and Writers warned its members of against attending the performance, calling it "political provocation." The statement also called Bruguera an "attention seeker" and her performance an "opportunistic" action that threatens to undermine newly renewed relationships with the United States.
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Despite the government's refusal to both recognize and sanction her performance, Bruguera plans to hold the performance today at 3 p.m. And according to the Miami Herald, pro-government bloggers have labelled her a "CIA agent" and a "mercenary."
Bruguera's artistic action grew from online activism. Since the historic announcement on December 17, Cuban activists have taken to Facebook and Twitter, expressing themselves under the hashtag #YoTambienExijo (IAlsoDemand). The online movement has grown rapidly in the past few days and now has over 3,000 "likes" on Facebook.
In solidarity with Bruguera a group of Cuban exiles have organized a rally at the Freedom Tower to coincide with her performance. One organizer, Rosa María Payá, told the Herald that she too wanted carve out space for more Cuban voices, "Cubans have been left outside in these negotiations. It should be the Cuban people who decide, not the U.S. president or a Cuban general."