Cuban Government Fights another Unfair Battle against Artists

Lynn Cruz

Foto: Miguel Coyula

HAVANA TIMES – Even though I have written about the possible causes that led to a decree-law being written up which criminalizes art, and even though I have resisted forming part of an entertainment policy which has made Cubans travel along the tree’s branches instead of going directly to the trunk, I must write again about Law #349.

In my own case, its just about becoming a theater director. In 2011, I started directing with a friend of mine, researcher and anthropologist, Carlos A. Garcia, and I had a group of actors, but the low budget we had meant that instead of putting on a play, it ended up being a monologue.

Now, with my work Patriotismo 36-77, I am able to put on a play that is told by more than one character, played by different actors.

The foundations of Postdramatic Theater are of particular interest to me, among many other influences, movements and trends. In essence, from all the ideas that I have adopted looking for a language, there is the idea that anyone can become an actor and anywhere can become a stage.

This is why I set out on this journey with visual artist Luis Trapaga, and humanities student Juliana Rebelo joined us later. Both of them have been victims of repression and censorship, which is a key theme in Patriotismo 36-77.

So, when I studied the Stalinist guidebook that has been perversely drawn up against artists, in the so-called reform of a system without a name, I realized that the theater that I want to make isn’t even included in the words in brackets that make up this decree.

That’s to say, I am in a limbo within limbo itself because, among other ambiguities in the text, even when a project isn’t being managed by an institution, you still need authorization to be able to perform your work.

That is to say, you need to be institutionalized. There are no opportunities for independent art. Even when the Council of Performing Arts, which governs theater, has proven itself to be a den for administrative corruption, in spite of the privileges that the institution’s managers already enjoy. However, artists are the criminals here apparently, for being independent quite simply.

An important detail is that in Decree-Law 349, the phrase “services rendered” as well as the word “commercialization” appear over and over again.

Today, persecution of thought in Cuba no longer has anything to do with an ideology, but everything to do with market demands.

As the absolute and totalitarian owner of the Cuban economy, the Cuban government doesn’t want to have any competition.

Independent artists are a threat to state institutions because these survive thanks to them exporting the government’s ideology, which sinks into crisis when outside of these, artists not only enjoy creative freedom but also financial freedom.

I am not interested in having a base for a theater group because my quest isn’t inside a performing space that has been delimited by an institution’s bureaucracy.

The theater that gets my blood running is in the streets. In an old man’s sad face. In a line at a bakery. In the remains of cut-down trees. In Cuban families’ living rooms.

My idea is to continue making mobile theater, which really moves me and steers me towards taking on all of the effort bringing a piece of theater to life entails.

I have just recently finished my creative crowdfunding campaign to get the production money we needed for Patriotismo 36-77. Doing that was a real challenge for me. This is the second time that I have been able to secure funds to create outside of state institutions. Outside of a policy that gives censorship a green light, to crush Cuban intellectual thought.

Lynn Cruz

It's not art that imitates life, its life that imitates art," said Oscar Wilde. And art always goes a step further. I am an actress and writer. For me, art, especially writing, is a way of exorcising demons. It is something intimate. However, I decided to write journalism because I realized that I did not exist. In Cuba, only the people authorized by the government have the right to express themselves publicly. Havana Times is an example of coexistence within a democracy and since I consider myself a democrat, my dream is to integrate this publication’s philosophy into the reality of my country.

One thought on “Cuban Government Fights another Unfair Battle against Artists

  • The need fpr artistic expression is also an expression of the need for a democratic ethos within all societies calling themselves socialist. Having been to Cuba many times, and developing friendships there with many supporters of the Revolution, revolutionaries not careeris tbureaucrats, I understand your frustation. It is a political question which needs to be fought out against those who say that letting democracy florish will be taken advantage of by imperialism. The first place to start in my opinion is demanding the right of organized tendencies within the CPC to exist, to publish their ideas on how to best defend the material and spiritual gains of the Revolution, and to make this the axis of struggle for socialist democracy.

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