Forced Return to the Stone Age as Cuba Outlaws Independent Art

By Ariel Maceo Tellez*

Photo: Ariel Maceo

HAVANA TIMES – Decree-Law 349 is nothing other than treason to the Cuban nation. When this law is implemented in December, much of what we understand to be Cuban Art will be wiped off our map.

The Cuban government, together with the Ministry of Culture, are about to bury this beautiful country’s incredible culture for the sake of holding absolute control over every art form that is created here. They are about to make us mediocre, they are about to throw us to the bottom of global culture’s list, which Cuban artists have been at the top of in one way or another.

Contigo en la distancia, El manisero, El rapto de las mulatas, Gitana tropical, La jungla, La silla, Cecilia Valdés, Paradiso, El reino de este mundo, Poemas sin nombres, Un rey en la Habana, Un unicornio azul, Yolanda, Pequeños sueños, Muros y puertas, Mascaras, Pinta mi amigo el pintor, Tres tristes tigres, Habanacer, La anunciación, Victoria de Girón, Bacalao con pan, El gato Milagrito, El buey cansao, Se fue pa la azúcar, Ofelia, Presiones y diamantes, Fresa y chocolate, El wachineo, Memorias del subdesarrollo, Los 7 contra Tebas, Foto de familia, Clandestinos, Contigo pan y cebolla, Súbeme la radio, La extranjera, Variedades de Galiano, El palón divino, Polémicas culturales de los 60, mi papito, Sin Julieta, Barquito de papel…

And many other great works created by Cuban artists, will become things of nostalgia. They will slowly disappear because many of the artists who created them didn’t have any formal education or artistic training and they didn’t belong to a cultural company or institution. They just had the genius to know that they were able to put Cuban culture on the map and that’s exactly what they did.

The saddest thing though, is that after December, there will be a new cultural order in Cuba and it will directly attack any form of independent art. It will be a forced return to the Stone Age.

A new “Five Grey Years” is lurking around the corner, but this time it’s a lot worse because back then it was a question of ideology, now it is a question of removing the seed, from anything that blooms and lasts. If we once had a Chori on beaches in Marianao, or a Behavior Art School, Street Art, a Bis Manuel at the Tropical, it’s as if these artists never existed with Decree-Law 349 because they will cease to exist. They are going to stunt the development of every person with an ability to create something. Because they won’t be able to present their work in public and that is like putting a rose made out of ice out in the sun. We are about to lose everything.

The Ministry of Culture now has the chance to prevent what will become a direct confrontation with every artist in this country. However, we’ve known for a long time how things work here. They aren’t going to do anything, they will hide behind Iroel Sanchez (who is another traitor to the Homeland) and they will try to create a definitive gap between art and law, which they have never been able to do by the way. However, totalitarianism is like a decapitated snake, it’s very dangerous.

So don’t let a few people bury what we have inherited from Compay Segundo, Polo Montanez or Juan Carlos Flores. Don’t let that happen. Don’t be indifferent, join the struggle against Decree-Law 349. Every enemy needs to be defeated, and today Cuban culture is on the line. We have to defend it.

*Writer and Photographer