Banished from Cuba: Hamlet Lavastida and Katherine Bisquet

Hamlet Lavastida and writer Katherine Bisquet

HAVANA TIMES – On Saturday September 25th, artist Hamlet Lavastida and writer Katherine Bisquet boarded a plane, after suffering prison time, home arrest, blackmail and police harassment for over three months. Escorted by State Security to get all of the paperwork they needed and on their way to the aiport, without time to say goodbye to their families and friends, they headed to Poland on a one-way trip.

Lavastida came to Cuba after finishing an artistic residency in Germany, on June 21st. Like everyone who travels to the country, he went to the place where he had to self-isolate because of COVID-19. On the seventh day, State Security went looking for him and took him to their headquarters at Villa Marista, where he was held for three months, supposedly because he was being investigated for Incitement.

According to Bisquet, the political police forced them both into exile as the only way to release Hamlet. “From the very beginning of Hamlet’s unusual arrest, and during the 90 days that he had been jailed under a baseless investigation, I, Katherine Bisquet, writer and activist, have been a target of harassment, coercion, illegal detention (home arrest for 65 days), psychological torture, illegal arrests and threats of being taken to trial by State Security.”

Lavastida is a visual artist that has challenged the Revolution’s discourse with his work and his own symbols, including the figure of Fidel. Bisquet has also become an uneasy person for the Government with her work and activism, especially since she took part in the sit-in at the San Isidro Movement headquarters, in November 2020. Both have suffered repression and harassment, as if they were criminals.

Me leaving the country was the currency for his release,” Katherine explains, and adds that “many people linked to Hamlet, both friends and family, were subjected to this same pressure of blackmail.”

The Cuban government can’t hide its fear of artists. It has been exposed in the world’s eyes: it’s a government that represses, drives into exile and condemns anyone who thinks differently, at its own fancy. Over 800 people are still in Cuban jails, arrested for taking part in the July 11th protests, when so many Cubans took to the streets to demand Freedom.

Read more from Cuba here on Havana Times.


11 thoughts on “Banished from Cuba: Hamlet Lavastida and Katherine Bisquet

  • September 28, 2021 at 2:02 pm
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    Yep, just like the Trumpites with Obama “I had no idea” but accuse. You may not claim to be a Trump supporter but you act just like them. Making false accusations based on nothing and being unwilling to admit you were wrong. Just keep the lie going… Sound like anyone?

  • September 28, 2021 at 1:36 pm
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    ” Are they Cuban citizens, permanent residents, or just simple tourists ?” was my first sentence. Pretty clear, I was admitting I had no idea. Circles, did you bother to see the interview with the Line 3 protestors ? What’dya think ? Since your opinions are ni chicha ni limonada, I’m sure you response will be something like, it’s unexcusable, but you certainly won’t condemn the system for it, like you invariably do when it comes to Cuba. As for me being a Trump supporter, al la Miami Cubans, you have slid into the absurd. Just how many Pro -Cuba, pro climate science, anti capitalist Trump supporters do you suppose there are.

  • September 28, 2021 at 12:10 pm
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    Dan next time when you are in Havana take a telephone directory (If they are still producing them). and see for yourself how many Cubans have European last names. After all Cuba was the third country in LA with the biggest European immigration and Uruguay the first followed by Argentina. They are no indígenas cubans, I’m Afrocubana and my last name is French. Do not assume anything in the future in a rush to defend the indefensible.

  • September 28, 2021 at 8:33 am
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    Dan you didn’t ask about whether they are Cuban you insinuated they aren’t with no proof whatsoever, not even from the Cuban government, that they aren’t. You did exactly like your fellow Trumpites with Obama, saying he wasn’t US born. They were not deported (where did you get that?) they were sent into forced exile. You should understand the difference. This isn’t a matter of left or right, injustice is injustice. If they had been foreigners they would have been deported long ago. Forced exile of Cubans from Cuba if you want to leave jail or any form of detention has been a weapon of the Cuban government for a long time. You seem to have missed the history. And yes, I do think your comments on the two artists was race based just like the trumpites did with Obama because of his other last name.

  • September 28, 2021 at 7:52 am
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    Circles, its simple. I only asked if they were Cuban because of their last names, the fact that they do not appear Cuban in dress or facial features, and were deported to Poland. You cannot be deported to a country that you are not a citizen or LPR of, unless you are a refugee. You are the one who wrote this article, so you should know. Are they from Cuba ?The rest is comical blather. You Capitalists, you American Exceptionalists, own Trump. Don’t try to throw him back into the face of someone on the Left. Because he is what Capitalism eventually leads to, just as maybe, the Cuban government with all its fault is what Socialism eventually leads to. Neither is great, but if forced, I’ll choose the later, especially if I’m not wealthy. But it is interesting how you choose to focus on Olga’s weird, puerile race baiting, and entirely ignore my point about state violence being used in secure, developed Superpowers, against people whose motivations and goals can’t be questioned.

  • September 27, 2021 at 11:54 pm
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    Dan, like many Castro sycophants, always seem to contextualize human rights violations in Cuba by criticizing similar failures in the US. Looked at another way, a man justifies beating his kids by saying his neighbor just beat his kids. The Castro dictatorship has failed because of its own shortcomings. What happens in Minnesota will never justify food and energy shortages in Havana.

  • September 27, 2021 at 4:16 pm
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    Dan, I have nothing against your comments despite rarely agreeing with anything you write about. But this time with the young artists being banished you are going too far. And I think Olga is right. You think because they are white they must be from somewhere else. Although you don’t have much sympathy for the rights of jailed or harassed black Cubans who exercise their supposed rights either. You make that accusation with absolutely no basis. You sound like the Trumpites saying Obama wasn’t from the United States. If the Cuban government considers them Cuban isn’t that enough? If you have some secret source by all means, if not, stop making false accusations. It would be like someone saying that the Blacks in Black Lives Matter are from Africa and should be deported. Now something tells me you might not say that. The world of Trump conspiracy people invent and propagate whatever suits them and frankly I consider you part of that group. None the less, no problem with posting your opinions but not totally false charges with no backing whatsoever.

  • September 27, 2021 at 3:20 pm
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    Circles – I don’t know if they are Cuban citizens, that’s precisely why I asked. Are they ? They don’t look it. And there are alot of Eastern Europeans working in the regime change industry’s NGOs. BTW, I know that HT likes to look at freedom and human rights in Cuba without any comparisons or context, but I just can’t help myself. In this case you’ve got these two, whom I am assuming, aren’t Cubans at all. They were involved with protests and movements who openly call for regime change, and which to some extent, may have engaged in violence on the protest day. They got home arrest and “psychological torture”. Google the organization, More Perfect Union and watch the video of the Line 3 protestors in Minnesota. It’s pretty dramatic. We’re talking about the Minnesota police using “pain compliance”, a/k/a torture, and not psychological measures. These US citizens, protesting in their own country, may end up having permanantly paralyzed faces, on top of facing bogus felony charges . Nice ! What are they protesting ? Are they calling for some radical overthrow of the government like the Cuban protestors are ? No. They are protesting a pipeline, which if completed, will have the same carbon emissions as 50 coal fired power plants. Embridge Energy is paying the Hubbard County Police to choke and gag these noble people – in the USA. I also just got done reading about Haiti this morning. And some Cuban’s think that they’ve got it tough ?

  • September 27, 2021 at 2:01 pm
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    Dan They both are Cubans and Hamlet!s mother and siblings still living in Cubs before his arrest Hamlet was working in a project in Poland after finished his job he went to his country (Cuba) and the policial police arrested him. Maybe they are too white for you Dan to be Cuban. Maybe you think every Cuban is “dark skinned “.

  • September 27, 2021 at 1:34 pm
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    Dan, Are you saying that Cuban citizens have no right to be in Cuba if they oppose the government? Where did you invent that they are not Cubans? Please give me your souce.

  • September 27, 2021 at 1:28 pm
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    Are they Cuban citizens, permanent residents, or just simple tourists ? I don’t know Cuban immigration law, but I do know US immigration law, and I can tell you, if the shoe were on a different foot, these two would never even get a B-2 visa to visit the states. They apparently have absolutely no right to be in Cuba in the first place.

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