Tania Bruguera Detained in Cuba While Delivering Supplies to Hurricane
No explanation was given for the artist’s detention, but she was
allegedly interrogated for six hours.
The artist Tania Bruguera and the biochemist Oscar Casanella were
stopped and detained by Cuban authorities yesterday as they were driving
out of Havana to deliver aid to victims of Hurricane Matthew in the east
of the country. According to Diario de Cuba, Bruguera and Casanella were
pulled over due to an alleged technical or administrative problem with
the van they had rented, which was laden with donated mattresses and
rice destined for citizens of Baracoa, a city that was pummeled by
Matthew in October.
According to a Facebook post by the Instituto de Artivismo Hannah Arendt
(INSTAR), a Havana-based art and activism organization co-founded by
Bruguera, she and Casanella were stopped around 1pm on January 12 and
taken to a police station in the Cotorro section of Havana. According to
a subsequent INSTAR post and information provided to Hyperallergic by
the artist’s sister, Deborah Bruguera, Casanella was allegedly
physically attacked during his detention, and Bruguera was questioned
for six hours by four counterintelligence officers and Lieutenant
Colonel Kenia, who has monitored the artist’s activities in the past.
The point of the questioning and the pretext for the pair’s detention
remain unknown, but Bruguera will not be permitted to deliver the
donated goods to hurricane victims in Baracoa. She plans to travel back
to Boston to teach her class at Harvard University today, assuming Cuban
authorities allow her to leave the country.
“She was told that she will never again be an artist in Cuba,” Deborah
Bruguera told Hyperallergic. “I think this was ‘just’ a warning to let
her know that the next time she enters Cuba and wants to perform a
humanitarian or artistic action, she will have all the governmental
weapons pointed against her.” She added that the man who rented the van
to Bruguera and Casanella has been harassed by police and his vehicle
has been confiscated.
This is hardly Bruguera’s first run-in with Cuban authorities, as her
work as both an artist and an activist continually tests the limits of
what the country’s authoritarian regime will permit. She has been either
arrested or detained several times over the last two years, usually in
connection with public performances, or after attending protests.
Yesterday’s detention, seemingly intended to impede an act of
humanitarian aid, suggests an escalation of Cuban authorities’ crackdown
on artists and activists.
Source: Tania Bruguera Detained in Cuba While Delivering Supplies to
Hurricane Victims –