Barbarian Times

Nonardo Perea

Some of the artists outside the Zapata and C police station on the night of December 20th when they were arrested for wanting to take part in or see a play in a private home.

HAVANA TIMES — You don’t realize that things have gone from bad to worse until the time comes in your life when, without really understanding it, you find yourself outside the eye of a hurricane, where there is no longer any calm and everything is pointing towards an imminent disaster, and worse still, you didn’t even see it coming.

Because of the simple fact of being an artist, yes; a mere artist, you are seen and labeled a “worm”, who is unable to participate in independent spaces in your own country because being independent apparently means being a “dissident” to the Cuban State.

And working with State institutions is becoming increasingly difficult because censorship is becoming more and more brutal and it is limiting free creation. If you want to be accepted here, you need to first isolate yourself from Cuban reality.

It’s a well-known fact that an artist’s job is to create and when they create a work, whether that’s a piece of literature, a painting, movie, performance or any other expression of art, of which there are so many, they work drawing from their own experiences. That’s why here in Cuba, some artists, the boldest or independent ones, throw themselves into creating works which make you uncomfortable as they reflect our hardcore reality in a sincere way, a reality which has been falsified by the State, which doesn’t like this kind of rebellious art.

The government has now reached the point of arresting artists who are putting on their pieces of art, performances, theater, literature etc. in their own private spaces.

What harm can a play do to anyone; they are normally only seen by artists themselves. I’m not talking about conspiracies to overthrow the government, or drug trafficking, or even counter-revolutionaries.

Let’s consider who the real counter-revolutionaries are. Are they those who create art, those who carry out projects to mold a more cultured citizen, or are they those who, without even knowing what it means to be an artist, watch over you or arrest you in your own home as if you were scum without any rights? And that’s what being an artist here in Cuba means, being nothing.

It is these people who are currently repressing artists, they are the real counter-revolutionaries, the ones who make all of the absurdities of our everyday visible by becoming barbarians and surrealists, where the human aspect of these people is wiped out and there isn’t any trace of freedom anywhere. It’s clear that this isn’t Marti’s Cuba, it isn’t even the Cuba that Fidel had dreams of and these people need to reread his Concept of the Revolution and study it in-depth so as to put it into practice.

But once again, they are committing the same mistakes that should have been buried in the past.

I only know that something needs to change and they need to realize that they are going about all of this the wrong way because by repressing artists and intellectuals, they aren’t going to be able to give the world the image of the “humanist” system they want to project.