Artist Tania Bruguera detained in Cuba before controversial performance

Claiming that artist Tania Bruguera’s performance was not an artistic work but a political provocation, Cuban authorities denied her the permission to hold a rally at Havana’s Plaza de la Revolución on Tuesday, December 30th, 2014.

Cuban pro-government bloggers have called Bruguera “a CIA agent” and “a mercenary.” A statement from the Cuban Union of Artists and Writers advised its members of this “political provocation” and labeled Bruguera an “attention seeker” and her performance an “opportunistic” action, that aims to boycott impending negotiations between the U.S. and Cuba.
Bruguera, a well-respected artist in Cuba and abroad, arrived in Havana from Italy on Friday, December 26th, to make arrangements for the rally. And on Saturday December 27th, after a three-hour meeting, she learned that Cuba’s National Mixed Media Arts Council (CNAP) denied her the institutional support.
People waiting for artist-Tania Bruguera's performance at Plaza de la Revolución (Photo: Miami Herald)
People waiting for artist-Tania Bruguera’s performance at Plaza de la Revolución (Photo: Miami Herald)

Eventually, Bruguera was detained by authorities in Havana before the controversial planned performance. The piece was to consist of installing a podium and an open microphone in Havana’s Revolution Square (Plaza de la Revolución), allowing any interested individuals the opportunity to speak their minds for exactly one minute.

But after being detained to prevent her from staging this politically themed performance in the Cuban capital, Brugera was released on Wednesday December 31st, along with a number of other dissidents that were also arrested.

Bruguera refused to sign an accusation of promoting public disorder, and demanded to be released only when the others detainees were freed,” the “Yo tambien exijo” (I also demand) group, said on Facebook.

Tania is in good physical and psychological condition,” the group said, adding that authorities confiscated Bruguera’s passport and cellphone.

The 46-year-old artist, who spent the last few years living in New York, convened a “performance” for 3:00 p.m. Tuesday December 30th in Havana’s “Plaza de la Revolución, but Cuban police intercepted her well before the scheduled start.

Tania Bruguera after being released by Cuban authorities on Wedenesday December 31st, 2014. (Photo: Reuters)

As we said before, Bruguera intended to set up a microphone-equipped podium and invite ordinary Cubans to share their thoughts about the future of the Communist-ruled island in light of the recently announced restoration of diplomatic ties between Havana and Washington; this was considered by the Castro Administration as a “political provocation”.

Around 50 people in all were arrested to stop the event and at least 20 remained in custody Wednesday, Elizardo Sanchez, head of the Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation, told Spanish News Agency Efe.

Among the dissidents released on Wednesday was independent journalist Reinaldo Escobar, the husband of prominent opposition blogger Yoani Sanchez.

Tania Bruguera declared after being realeased:

The government did the work for me,” she told AFP during an interview Thursday. 

“They changed the meaning of the work, giving a lesson in intolerance … All they did was create chaos.”





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