The artist and activist Tania Bruguera was taken into custody by Cuban authorities shortly after 6am this morning outside of her home in Havana, according to her Facebook page, seemingly to prevent her from taking part in a demonstration against police violence today, following the killing of a Black Cuban man, Hansel Ernesto Hernández Galiano. Several others were also detained at the same time, according to Laritza Diversent, the executive director of the human rights organisation Cubalex, including the artist Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara, the arts professor Anamely Ramos González and the underground rapper Maykel Osorbo.
“When an artist who uses her voice to call for justice and social change finds herself arbitrarily detained on her own doorstep, it is obvious that a serious injustice has occurred,” says Julie Trébault, the director of the Artists at Risk Connection at PEN America, in a statement issued today. “Bruguera’s arrest is just one more iteration in the Cuban government’s efforts to exert a vice-like grip over the cultural sector. We call for Bruguera’s immediate freedom, as well as an end to the ongoing harassment and imprisonment of artists and activists across the country who merely exercise their fundamental right to freedom of expression.”
Bruguera has repeatedlybeendetained by Cuban authorities in recent years in efforts to tamp down the artist’s political activism, including a notable arrest in 2018 ahead of a peaceful protest against Decree 349—a cultural mandate many feared would increase the Cuban government’s censorship of the arts.
The day before her arrest, Bruguera posted a video on Facebook about the upcoming protest, in which she asked that the police join her and her fellow protestors in condemning violence.
UPDATE: Bruguera was released Tuesday evening, after 10 hours in detention.