After the July 11, 2021 protests in Cuba, the Castro dictatorship arrested dozens of independent artists. Some were thrown into communist gulags, while others were forced into exile. Along with harassment, threats, imprisonment, and executions, forced exile is one of the methods used by the Castro dictatorship to rid itself of what it calls counterrevolutionaries.
“Método Cuba” is a project that collected the stories of some of those who were forced by the regime to leave their homeland.
Método Cuba: Independent Artists’ Testimonies of Forced Exile
Two years after the historic July 11 peaceful demonstrations in Cuba (also known as 11J) and the swift government crackdown that ensued, the artistic and cultural landscape in Cuba has been drastically undermined. This suppression of dissent resulted in the detention of nearly 50 artists following the demonstrations. Of them, at least 10 remain in detention while 13 others were forced into exile.
Método Cuba: Independent Artists’ Testimonies of Forced Exile, amplifies the stories of artists who have suffered repression due to their artivism firsthand. ARC, PEN International, and Cubalex, share the testimonies of 17 exiled artists, documenting the repressive and sometimes violent tactics employed by the Cuban state to force them out of the country.
The report puts artists’ lived experiences at the center of the discussion on art, culture, and human rights. The publication underscores the common repression these artists faced due to their creative expression and spotlights artists’ individual stories of how they left the island and the challenges they now face in exile.
Método Cuba also features a preface by the Nicaraguan novelist and poet in exile, Gioconda Belli and is accompanied by a detailed historical dive into the censorship of artists in Cuba, written by the Cuban historian and essayist, Rafael Rojas.
“It is not our decision to be in exile. We do not go into exile for an economic benefit or to go on vacation in some country. It was not our decision at the time. I had to leave it all behind, I had to leave my books, all my things. In the matter of a day, I had to pack a suitcase with everything that made up my life to that point, all 29 years of it. . . . I only had a one-way ticket.””
Método Cuba calls for the immediate release of political prisoners and all imprisoned artists who are jailed for peacefully expressing their ideas and creative work. In addition the report urges the governments of Latin America and the human rights community to investigate allegations of systematic human rights abuses against artists in Cuba, particularly as it relates to restrictions on artistic freedom, arbitrary detentions, and forced exile.
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