A new law decreed by the Castro dictatorship makes it a crime to use a Cuban flag in inappropriate ways, and it’s the Castro dictatorship who gets to decide what is inappropriate. But Cuba’s independent artists are fighting back.
Despite regime threats of beatings, arrests, and imprisonment, they are challenging Cubans to use the Cuban flag to make a statement against the censorship and repression of the socialist dictatorship.
Cuban independent artists have launched a challenge #TheFlagBelongsTo All” (#LaBanderaEsDeTodos) to counter the government’s latest form of censorship, which prohibits Cubans from wearing the national flag as a sign of political protest. After the Cuban government’s recent escalation of repression–including the forced disappearance of artist Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara–supporting artists of the San Isidro Movement have heralded a call to action to challenge the government’s new restrictions relating to the use of national symbols.
Prominent Cuban activists are already facing prosecution under a new law, which has not even officially gone into effect. In Cuba, even after laws are passed by the national legislature, they are technically not enforceable until the public is put on notice in the Official Gazette for the Republic of Cuba. Although the law at issue has not yet been published, Cuban police have been unlawfully enforcing the law, making illegal arrests.
Cuban artist Luis Manuel Otero Alcantara was arrested August 10 in Havana, and has remained in detention for more than 48 hours, according to the news website, ADN Cuba.
The reported cause of Otero’s arrest was his decision to carry a Cuban flag on his shoulders in public as part of a performance entitled “Drapeau.”
“The national symbols belong to the body of the nation. They cannot and will not be able to ration them according to selfish interests of indoctrinating and monopolizing the thinking of Cubans,” the San Isidro Movement explained in a statement.
The new law was passed earlier this year purportedly to “protect national symbols”, including new regulations including the use of the Cuban flag. Cuban citizens can still carry Cuban flags at public events and hang them in their homes.
It is a quintessential example of the government’s draconian approach to restricting citizens to voice their opinions through ‘expressive conduct.’
In socialist Cuba, the communist Castro dictatorship gets to decide what is art and what isn’t art. The dictatorship also gets to decide what is patriotic and what isn’t patriotic. And when an artist falls on the wrong side of those arbitrary decisions, the dictatorship gets to decide how many years the artist gets to spend in a Castro gulag.