The Labor Board Hearing over My Firing

Yanelys Nunez Leyva

HAVANA TIMES — Before going to my oral hearing, also known as a public hearing, I thought that it would consider the suspension I received from my workplace just over a month ago; I thought I would be able to finally understand the legal and institutional arguments that created all of this mess. However, that didn’t happen. In fact, I think everything is even hazier inside my mind now.

On the day in question, Thursday July 28th, I was somewhat nervous, as I’ve never been through a process like this one; I didn’t know if I would have to defend myself from a legal viewpoint, memorizing specific laws off by heart which were relevant to my case.

Furthermore, there was the whole subject of being uncomfortable; I would be surrounded by the majority of my work colleagues, looking my bosses straight in the eye, which would inevitably create tension for all of us present.

For moral support, I’d invited very few people; my close family wouldn’t go, as they would be very upset and confused by all of this so I preferred not to ask them. So we were only a good friend of mine, Irina Echarry and Luis Manuel Otero, co-founder of the Cuban Museum of Dissent project and, as a matter of fact, my partner.

However, at the very beginning of my hearing, the president of the Labor Justice Body (OJL) told me that they couldn’t go in, and I assumed that that was the law. I couldn’t film or record the hearing either.

The first thing that the OJL warned us of was “clucking”. Everybody had the right to freely express their opinion however, we couldn’t impetuously burst out answers that they felt wouldn’t lead anywhere.

During the session with the OJL members, all civil servants at the Ministry of Culture, interrogated me about a lot of different subjects, among them, why the magazine where I worked didn’t know about my activities in this project of mine. Moreover, if I believed I could develop the Cuban Museum of Dissent… somehow linking it to the institution? They also asked the reasons why I’d promoted the museum and the problem of the disciplinary measure on non-governmental media platforms, such as Cubanet, Havana Times and Diario de Cuba.

I don’t think telling you my answers that day or analyzing comments made by the magazine’s board of directors and people from the OJL will help this post, as many of the things that came up remained in the realm of ambiguity, partiality, subjectivity, ignorance and assumptions, something which really annoyed me to hear and which would now be an arduous task to transcribe.

However, something that I would like to shed some light on – and I want to include a direct message for the good-hearted people at the OJL who will decide whether my appeal has any grounds or not-, and it’s about something that ties in with this nature of art business which is something that Yuri M. Lotman developed back in the 1990

In his opinion, art follows the paths that haven’t been followed yet, that is to say, that have never happened… And the story about something which hasn’t happened is a great and very important story. And art is always a way for us to live what hasn’t yet been lived, to go back in time, to return to sort things out and do it all over again in a new way. Art is experiencing what hasn’t yet happened. Or what could happen.[1]

With this excerpt taken from Lotman and trying to resolve any kind of doubts people might still have about whether the Cuban Museum of Dissent is an art project or not, something which was expressed at the public hearing by the OJL; an incentive for those who will decide and censor to reconsider the real possibilities and potential of this project for a society where they are only a small part.
[1] Yuri M. Lotman.  About the nature of Art Translation from Russian: Desiderio Navarro (text online)

The labor board hearing. “I’m very pained because we were like a family.” “What you do is not art”. Illustration by Carlos

One thought on “The Labor Board Hearing over My Firing

  • I’m trying to understand Mr. Lotman’s comment. Once a path has been followed, is it no longer art? Today I bounce my grandson on my knee in much the same way that I did yesterday…yet today feels no less enchanting.

    His definition of art seems to invite separation of what is not known from what what we commonly know and share. There is separation, but we carry this separation inside us. It’s what makes us human.

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