The government of Cuba over the weekend initiated a crackdown on a protest conducted on Friday. The protest had been held to advocate for freedom of expression in the Communist-run country.
The protest took place near the country’s Ministry of Culture. It consisted of around 300 creatives. It came about after authorities cracked down on the San Isidro Movement which is composed of dissident artists and activists. The movement was established in 2018 in opposition to restrictions on freedom of expression.
The protest ended early on Saturday morning after officials met 30 demonstrators and agreed to continue discussions regarding the detention of a member of the movement. In conjunction with the movement, a rapper was also sentenced to eight months in jail. Officials also claimed that independent artists would not face any future harassment.
However, just a few hours later, chargé d’affaires Timothy Zúñiga-Brown of the United States Embassy in Cuba was criticized by the government for “grave interference in Cuba’s internal affairs”. This came as state television aired a 90-minute special lambasting the rapper and other dissident artists. During the special, footage of the artists’ interactions with US diplomats was aired.
Not surprisingly, supporters of the protest were livid about the events which took place. At a press conference held on Sunday, performance artist Tania Bruguera said, “In less than 24 hours, the Culture Ministry has broken three of the five accords.”
Most people who attended the press conference opposed the government’s harassment of dissenters. They also criticized the government’s labeling of their activities as a plot instituted by the US. However, they also expressed hope that their dialogue would continue as had been promised.
The Cuban artists’ struggles did not go unnoticed in the US. Jake Sullivan, who will be US President-elect Joe Biden’s National Security Advisor, wrote on Twitter, “We support the Cuban people in their struggle for liberty. The Cuban people must be allowed to exercise the universal right to freedom of expression.”
Freedom of Expression in Cuba
There are strict limits on freedom of expression in Cuba. The government has much control over the content which media may broadcast. It also controls the information to be viewed by citizens. Although journalists and other writers are allowed to write about Cuba, the country’s government often denies the public access to this material.
The Cuban government has also censored many popular websites. The likes of Diario de Cuba, Cubanet, 14ymedio, and Tremenda Nota have suffered this fate. This trend is unlikely to change because of the high cost of Internet use in Cuba. As a result of these high costs, private media providers find it difficult to acquire the space needed to broadcast their content without fear of censorship.
30th November 2020 15:56
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