Despite the recent thaw in relations between the United States and Cuba, the island dictatorship recently arrested scores of political dissidents. Even so, Cuba’s communist government released Tania Bruguera after more than 1000 fellow artists from around the world demanded her release in an open letter addressed to President Raúl Castro. Bruguera (46) had been arrested last week for organizing a protest in Havana’s Revolution Plaza. The government considered it a “political provocation.” She divides her time between Cuba, Europe and the U.S.
In the letter, the co-signers said that “Bruguera is one of the world’s most recognized Latin American artists, with an oeuvre that is focused on social and political involvement that is a result, as she herself has frequently repeated, from the background that produced the Cuban Revolution."
Moreover, said the letter, “We are convinced that her arrest and seizure of her passport are inappropriate reactions to a work of art that only sought to create a public space for debate.”
Bruguera was organizing what she called an “artistic action” that was to take place on January 30. It was to consist of a public platform so that citizens could freely express their hopes for the future within the context of warming diplomatic relations with the colossus to their north. She is now resting at her apartment.
Cuba’s Commission on Human Rights and National Reconciliation, which is led by famed dissident Elizardo Sánchez, reports that about 80 persons were arrested in the last few days who were involved with the event, including journalist Reinaldo Escobar.
No Cuban official has so far spoken publicly about the arrested dissidents. Indeed, Cuba does not consider them dissidents, rather it labels them “mercenaries at the service of the United States.” The Communist-controlled Cuban Writers and Artists Union condemned Bruguera and her work as “opportunist.”