Update: Bruguera was released on Wednesday afternoon and held a press conference at the Monument to the Victims of the U.S. Maine. Bruguera was arrested again immediately after her press conference. According to a Facebook post by her sister, Deborah Bruguera, the artist will be detained in Cuba for the next two or three months and faces charges of "disruption of public disorder."
Cuban artist Tania Bruguera had planned to hold a speak-in in Havana's Plaza de la Revolución yesterday. Inspired by Cuban online activists using the hashtag #YoTambienExijo (IAlsoDemand), Bruguera had planned to set up a microphone where Cuba's citizens could freely express their opinions about the future of Cuba, in particular their thoughts about renewing relationships with the United States.
Unsurprisingly, the Cuban government refused Bruguera the permits she needed to hold her performance and instead denounced her as an "attention seeking," political provocateur. Bruguera announced that she would attend and hold the event despite the Cuban government's objections.
But Bruguera never got the chance to hold her public performance. According to the AP, she was arrested by Cuban authorities prior to the planned event. Her family told Diario de Cuba, a news outlet based in Spain, that Cuban state security knocked on her door for hours before arresting her.
In addition to Bruguera's arrest, a painter, one photographer, a former political prisoner, and two journalists for Diario de Cuba were also arrested.
In a statement this morning, the U.S. Department State condemned the Cuban government's actions, reaffirming the U.S.'s commitment to ensuring free speech: "Freedoms of expression and peaceful assembly are internationally recognized human rights, and the Cuban government's lack of respect for these rights, as demonstrated by today's detentions, is inconsistent with Hemispheric norms and commitments. We urge the Government of Cuba to end its practice of repressing these and other internationally protected freedoms and to respect the universal human rights of Cuban citizens."
As the New York Times' editorial board suggested yesterday, stifling the voices of artists -- even dissident artists -- will likely impact future decisions to roll back the numerous sanctions the U.S. currently imposes on Cuba.
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