Cuban dissident artist Tania Bruguera announces she is running for president of Cuba in 2018

Cuba’s dictatorship will no doubt make Tania Bruguera pay dearly for this public challenge to the Castro monarchy that will expose the total lack of freedoms and repression suffered by the Cuban people. Unfortunately for her and the Cuban people, under Obama’s current Cuba policy, the U.S. will ignore all this and instead throw its support behind the apartheid regime.

Via The Creators Project:

Cuba’s Most Controversial Artist Is Running For President


Earlier today Tania Bruguera, a Cuban artist known for pushing the boundaries of free speech in her performances, announced her candidacy for the country’s 2018 presidential election. She also encouraged Cuban citizens to follow her example and submit their own names.

The self-proclaimed artivist made a video announcement during the Creative Time Summit, a yearly conference about politics and art happening in Washington DC.

“Let’s take advantage of the 2018 elections to change the culture of fear,” Bruguera said in the beginning of her speech, which you can watch below. “Let’s take advantage of the 2018 elections to start thinking differently.”


Bruguera’s proposal is a civic exercise in seeing what happens when citizens assume maximum involvement in their political systems. “Let’s use 2018 to build a different Cuba. To build a Cuba where we are all in charge, not only a few,” she continued in her speech. “Today I will start this exercise.”

Bruguera has a history of support from non-Cubans like Anish Kapoor and Howard Hodgkin, who were among the 14 who protested her arrest last year for #YoTambienExijoa censorship protest-performance held amidst negotiations to elimanate the US-Cuba embargo. Actions like this, however, make her controversial inside Cuba. “As soon as you do dissident art in Cuba, you are erased from our art history,” she told The Creators Project in an interview earlier this year. One example is exiled Cuban artist Lázaro Saavedra’s reaction to #YoTambienExija, calling her arrest, “another point on her artistic curriculum rather than a gain in terms of civil rights,” in a blog post.

It’s difficult to say how much traction Bruguera’s candidacy will get in her home country. Cuba is ranked among the 10 most-censored countries in the world by the Committee to Protect Journalists, so today’s announcement will require a lot of effort to reach Cuban ears. If it gets there, she’ll still be up against some art institutions within the country, including the National Mixed Media Arts Council, whose refusal to support #YoTambienExija may have led to her arrest. On top of that, Cuba’s single-party system means that all the potential candidates are chosen directly by the National Assembly, who have been reinstating Fidel and Raúl Castro for decades.

Nevertheless, Bruguera is excited and tireless in her call to action for Cubans to collectively test the limits of their political system by running for president. “Let’s start thinking, ‘What if we actually had that power? Who would we be? What would we do?’ And that’s what we’ll demand from those who are in power,” she says in the final lines of her speech. “I propose myself as a candidate for the 2018 elections. Propose yourself!”

Learn more about Tania Bruguera’s manifesto, politics, and art practice on her website.

3 thoughts on “Cuban dissident artist Tania Bruguera announces she is running for president of Cuba in 2018”

  1. Oh, they could find a way to use this for PR mileage. Obviously she’d never stand a chance, but they might play at “pluralism” for foreign consumption. Remember Mariela Castro’s putative gay rights campaign? You get the idea. And speaking of Mariela, she could “run” for president as well, even if only to “broaden” the field and provide a properly “revolutionary” female candidate. No doubt Mrs. Clinton would approve. The “winner” would naturally be set ahead of time. When it comes to political theater, these people are not above or beyond anything, as long as they feel comfortable they can control the outcome.

  2. Asombra,

    Your absolutely right. They could very well allow Tania to run for president in order to broaden the field and get legitimacy for the pre-selected president which could very likely be Mariela. This sham would then be given the seal of approval by el Che Papa and the editorial pages of the New York Times, etc… Of course, it doesn’t matter how manipulated the election is, they will get someone like Jimmy Carter [if he’s still alive at the time] to say that it’s a fair election like he did with Hugo Chavez.

    Mariela would be the perfect candidate. Since she is a woman and pro-LGBTQ rights, she has props galore in her favor. I can see her now visiting the White House and her election being hailed as a continum of Obama’s successful policy which has seen fruition under Hillary!

  3. I wasn’t implying Mariela would be the designated heir, since her brother is definitely ahead of her for that position, but rather that she could be put on the ballot for theatrical or PR purposes. I doubt the top Castro people really believe she’s sufficiently reliable, though no doubt she’d remain a very visible part of the ruling clique.

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