Meryl Streep, Elena Poniatowska and more than 300 intellectuals ask to stop the repression against Cuban artists | International

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A demonstration in Havana, Cuba, on July 11.
A demonstration in Havana, Cuba, on July 11.ALEXANDRE MENEGHINI (THE COUNTRY)

A new call to stop the persecution against Cuban artists has been made public this Wednesday with a joint declaration of 300 global intellectuals demanding an end to the repression in Cuba. Personalities at the level of Mario Vargas Llosa, Meryl Streep, Paul Auster, Orhan Pamuk, Elena Poniatowska, Isabel Allende, Zadie Smith, JM Coetzee, Jules Feiffer, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Khaled Hosseini have raised their voices to demand that the Cuban government “respect the right to freedom of expression, including artistic freedom ”. The demand includes “immediately ending ongoing abuses against artists, releasing all those who have been arbitrarily detained, and dropping all charges against them.”

The initiative has been promoted by the organizations PEN International, Artists at Risk Connection of PEN America and Human Rights Watch. It highlights the role that the new artistic movements play in Cuba, made up of young people unhappy and critical of the regime, who with their actions raise blisters among the nomenclature of Havana. “Cuban artists, including those who make up the San Isidro, 27N and Archipelago movements, have managed to draw attention in the country and internationally to the absolute disregard of the Cuban Government for human rights, and laid the foundations for the massive protests that occurred. across the country on July 11, 2021. For years, these independent artists have organized peaceful demonstrations and used the internet to organize protests and report abuses. For example, the viral song Homeland and Life, which reformulates the old motto of the Cuban government “Homeland or death” to criticize the repression in the country, was intoned by many protesters during the protests, “the statement states.

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The Archipelago platform was created by the young playwright Yunior García, a critical voice of the regime who has had to go into exile in Spain due to the harassment of which he was a victim after calling a protest in Havana. Archipelago was born after the protest of 300 young artists at the gates of the Ministry of Culture on November 27, 2020, produced after the arrest of several members of the dissident Movement San Isidro. The platform brings together a group of artists who from social networks demand openness and political change in Cuba. “It constitutes a plural space in which the existence of diverse ideas is important, where we learn to reach consensus, at least what unites us within that diversity, but respecting the difference, the possibility that the other has its share of truth and that we can get a collective truth, let’s say, without canceling that difference that characterizes us ”, explained García.

The actions promoted by this new breed of Cuban artists have generated a repression on the part of the regime, which persecutes them, illegally detains them, imprisons them, keeps them under constant surveillance and harassment, imposes house arrest and criminal charges without legal support. “There is no valid justification for persecuting artists for their opinions. We urge the Cuban Government to respect the fundamental role that art and artists play in society and to immediately cease the harassment of artists who express political positions and on social issues that do not coincide with the government’s rigid ideology, ”the statement read. Statement, which is also signed by Colombian writer Héctor Abad Faciolince, actor Alec Baldwin, Nicaraguan writer Gioconda Belli, Mexican journalist Lydia Cacho, American novelist Jonathan Franzen, activist Bianca Jagger and Spanish writer Rosa Montero. “Art must be free from censorship and repression, in Cuba and anywhere else in the world,” conclude the manifesto.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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