Aug 15, 2018

Coco Fusco, Tania Bruguera, and others decried a new Cuban decree requiring government approval of artistic production.

Artists Tania Bruguera and Coco Fusco, curator Yanelys Nuñez Leyva, writer Enrique Risco, and human rights activist Laritza Diversent have penned an open letter warning that a new Cuban decree may severely restrict artistic freedom. Their letter, posted on Avaaz and addressed to Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez, claims that Decree 349, which was passed in July, will “restrict the creativity of the Cuban people and criminalize independently produced art, limiting the ability to determine who can be an artist to a state institution.”
Among other provisions, the decree states that artists who sell their work without permission from the state may be fined. Venues that display “audiovisuals” containing material that could be deemed violent, pornographic, vulgar, discriminatory, or involve the “use of patriotic symbols that contravene current legislation” can be subjected to sanctions. The authors of the open letter expressed their concern about the aforementioned issues and others, as well as the decree’s use of ambiguous phrases like “contents that are damaging to ethical and cultural values.” The authors go on to allege that the decree violates several United Nations covenants that Cuba has signed.
“A culture can exist without a Ministry, but a Ministry of Culture or a nation cannot exist without the creativity of its citizens,” the letter states. Decree 349 leads to the impoverishment of Cuban culture.”
Bruguera has been detained on multiple occasions by Cuban authorities. Earlier this year, as Fusco wrote on Hyperallergic, the Ministry of Culture cracked down on Havana’s first alternative biennial.