Something Terrifying in Cuba: Publicly Admitting You’re Censored

Lynn Cruz

Photo: Miguel Coyula

HAVANA TIMES – Almost a year has passed since I was distanced from my career in Cuba because of: “My criticism online of people who lead the Government and Communist Party,” an obvious case of censorship that has prevented me from working as an actress. That was definitely a turning point in my professional career, there’s no doubt about it, and it made me better understand how cultural policy works in my country.

First of all, I understood why people who have been censored are then forgiven by the system when they decide to: “Behave properly”.

Of course, if you publicly present yourself as someone who has been censored, this act in itself constitutes your own act of repudiation, as almost all of your collegues, or directors, will immediately and secretly delete you from their contact list. And, if any of them had ever thought about calling you or recommending you for a job, they clearly won’t now because they don’t want to be associated with you.

On the other hand, if you decide to sit still and stay quiet in the face of such an unjust sentence, the punishment will mostly likely be lifted from your head (although they will look at you with suspicion from now on), as a censored person’s silence is proof that the act of public criticism will not be repeated again.

An essential part of this collective shunning process is to also make sure that you have a really hard time, so that other people don’t want to follow your example. And, in my case, as an actress, I can be controlled when I’m playing a part because there’s a script, but once I start doing interviews, when works are promoted, I not only start engaging as an actress, but also as a citizen, and I’m sure the system sees me as a threat in this regard.

One of the unpleasant things I’ve had to face during this time is being repudiated by a director who I worked with on a film. It seems that he panicked when he saw the news about my censorship, and he sent me messages threatening to sue me, under the pretext that I had used his movie to promote my activism. It was an overreaction, and it’s clear that he needed to publicly distance himself from me.

I then realized how people in Cuba (and this is really regrettable), have accepted the mask that allows them to get by without being hurt by the regime. I saw this mask clearly on the employees at Actuar Agency, who treated me as “the enemy” as soon as my new status was announced (manipulated of course). These people don’t even have Internet access for starters. They projected their insecurities with the system onto me. They criticized me harshly as if I were to blame for everything bad in this country, because that’s what they are made to believe.

I recently found out that the monster of a legal project put in the hands of the Cuban Film Institute’s (ICAIC) current director, Ramon Saimada, is already in motion and the figure of “representative” has now been established. This is the government’s response to independent filmmakers’ demands for a new Film Law.

If I were living in different circumstances, I would be happy to know that independent filmmakers finally have a legal framework, but the reality is that the Law still hasn’t been approved, and this means they have absolutely no autonomy.

Which is to say that Samada and his team, without a budget even, or anything else to offer independent filmmakers apart from control, will also be their bosses and, therefore, in my case, the order is that I am still a censored actress.

Nevertheless, I have also learned that this great experience has many closed doors for me, but others have opened and there isn’t anything better or more precious than personal freedom. I am still an actress and the best thing out of all of this, I am working (illegally, of course) with people who think similarly to me. Yet this illegality is also proof that things need to change.

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.


24 thoughts on “Something Terrifying in Cuba: Publicly Admitting You’re Censored

  • March 16, 2019 at 8:37 am
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    Hi Lynn
    I’m Canadian, is there anything we can do to help the Cuban citizens.

  • March 13, 2019 at 11:02 pm
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    Valladares was tortured, he survived and left Cuba with help from Latin American artist.

  • March 12, 2019 at 9:27 am
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    Cury, do you know about white tortures?, is a way to finish your siquis. Famous because they are not visible, and the people think you’re crazy. This is the way that tortures are in this country. There are many victims in this 60 years.
    About totalitarism Hannah Arendt said:
    “Only goodness can be radical, the nature of evil is banal”

  • March 11, 2019 at 2:40 pm
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    Nelson, … Note, your not betting. Thus, address the arguments, not your assumptions.

  • March 11, 2019 at 2:36 pm
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    Alejandro your assumptions about the nature of those that are responding, be it in support of the author’s position or in opposition, is absurd. You cannot have it both ways! You either desire open debate or not. And you cannot undermine your adversaries argument by engaging in name calling. By doing so, you expose the weakness of your arguments.

  • March 11, 2019 at 4:19 am
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    Armando Villadares was not tortured and killed like those under the Khmer Rouge.

  • March 10, 2019 at 7:35 pm
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    Dear Berta, thanks for your comments, Cuba is in a transition now and believe me, we´re living a nightmare because of that. I´ve been working in Colombia (2003), Venezuela (2014) and Ecuador (2015), and gradually we are looking like all these countries that we used (as a Cuban people living in a socialist country) to call poor and with a corrupted goverments. So, I have the responsability as an actress and also as a writer to criticize the horror, of course the goverment has the power and they can censor me, but I can sleep well every night. I’m not a person that can turn her back to the injustices, that was what I learned in my education at the socialist schools.

  • March 9, 2019 at 10:23 pm
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    Ms. Lynn Cruz, this article of yours prompted me to look at your professional work. To be honest, I think you are a fine actress. See https://youtu.be/VNcsrlm-PMY

    Notwithstanding your talent, I do not doubt you have met resistance for whatever reason. That resistance, that is, the angst we can run up against with others can sometime be more related to misunderstandings or misconceptions. From personal experience, I have run into conflict with colleagues that have set back in my career. But even assuming there exists political pushback for your beliefs, you must admit that pushback would be had in any country where there is active opposition. To be clear, I am not justifying restrictions upon freedoms, I am simply acknowledging realities, realities that exist in Cuba as well as my home country of the USA.

    Your country is not perfect, neither is mine. Your country has accomplished many wonderful things in Cuba and throughout the world. Granted, your country is not England nor Italia, … but neither is it Haiti, Mexico, Guatemala or any number of desperately poor countries of south east Asia or eastern Europe and Africa.

    Sometimes we just need to learn how to appreciate what we have don’t you think?

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