In Defense of Cuban Artist Tania Bruguera and Against Violence

Por Jorge Dalton  (Café Fuerte)

Tania Bruguera shows the marks of the violence she was the victim of last Sunday during a peaceful protest in Havana.

HAVANA TIMES — Before all else, I want to state that I am opposed to any kind of violence, particularly if it is directed at a woman, a poet and an artist as admirable as Tania Bruguera.

Though I do not share the ideas of most dissident groups in Cuba, this does not mean I approve of the mistreatment and abuse of these groups, perpetrated in broad daylight through savage and shameful “public reprisals.” This is a terrible practice that has become deeply rooted in Cuba and it must come to an end once and for all, for the good of our children and the future of the nation.

I have openly opposed this practice since the first day, and this, of course, has got me into serious problems. As an artist, as a human being, as a revolutionary inspired by Marti’s ideas, I cannot tolerate seeing a woman dragged, beaten and ostracized by others, no matter what she believes. Like the renowned Cuban artist Tomas Sanchez, I call on Tania to return to her work, to return to her duties, to her political art and teaching, without letting anyone take advantage of her career and international prestige – that she continue her work as a courageous and independent artist, with no ties to any political groups.

I demand that her identity documents be returned to her and that she be allowed to leave and enter her country, without being treated like a criminal and “terrorist.” I continue to be a revolutionary and will be one until my last days, but far be it for me to support these so-called “public reprisals” as “heroic and revolutionary actions.” Those who beat, insult and drag women and men across the ground in an effort to crush dissent are sick individuals who only demonstrate they are willing to attack any human being, young, old or female. They are part of a brutal machinery that must be destroyed now!

This can no longer be tolerated, and I do not believe it is dignified to continue to remain quiet about such atrocities, to continue in our complicity with these beatings. Like Tomas Sanchez also rightly says: “many of us don’t care.”

Seeing so much intolerance between Cubans on the island and abroad being torn apart like this pains me deeply, day after day, night after night. What hurts me most of all is seeing a woman and an artist – or any woman – be pummeled like that. If I can tolerate this, then I can easily applaud while seeing my mother, my wife, my sister, my daughter, my grandmother or my nieces be dragged out of the house in front of me, and even join the lynch mob.

My personal values, the ones I was taught at home in Cuba, my formation as a revolutionary, the education my parents gave me, my teachers, friends, neighbors, musicians, filmmakers, painters, dancers, actors, poets, compatriots, the Cuban revolution, a process I’ve always defended, do not allow me to tolerate such things.

9 thoughts on “In Defense of Cuban Artist Tania Bruguera and Against Violence

  • The World Court report concludes “it has not proved possible to reach a definitive conclusion with regard to the concerns raised by the Government of Cuba,” and did not recommend any follow-on actions. 

  • Fidel and Raul are dictators. To stop at demonizing them would be undeservingly merciful. You need to read the World Court report more carefully. The US was far from “convicted”. Any historical event, depending upon perspective, will be retold differently by different people. Don’t assume you know my sources. Your anti-US bias betrays what sources you believe.

  • No one is saying beating up Tania is neither permissible or acceptable, but did the Castro brothers ordered her attack? Maybe an overzealous official or was it some power-crazy apparatchik…who knows; but we do know it was an attempt to silence her by someone in the regime and that person/s is/are not being held accountable.
    Regarding my history lesson, I suggest you access FOREIGN SOURCES of History instead of the USA propaganda-version to broaden your historical perspective; your rebuttals don’t hold water. Oh, in 1985 the World Court convicted the USA of the Biological Warfare attacks I mentioned above, after Cuba proved the bio-agents were lab-manufactured; but the USA refused to accept the ruling of the Court. Criticize all you want but stop demonizing Fidel, Raul and the Cuban Government; for a man who lives in a glass-roofed house, you sure like to throw a lot of rocks…

  • I stand corrected. I did not consider in your comments those treaties made with Native American nations. On your comments regarding false pretenses to go to war, your facts are wrong. Beginning with the Mexican war of 1846. The attack on the US Maine has never been proven to have been self-inflicted. The testimony of Aristide? Questionable at best. Grenada was not a war. The alleged attacks on Cuba are likewise unproven. If you are predisposed to accept allegations as fact because of your anti-US bias, then your comments come as no surprise. The US is no saint and our proven history is pocked with ugly and hateful government-sponsored actions. But US history, however imperfect, does not Give the Castros permission to beat Tania Bruguera nor does it negate my right to criticize the Castros for the practices of their repressive regime.

  • Jeez Moses, from Andrew Jackson’s forced takeover of the lands of the Chickasaw, the Cherokee, the Creek, Seminole, Tamiami, Natchez, Choctaw and many others against a USA signed treaty and the ruling by the 1820 U.S.A. Supreme Court (the Trail of Tears), to the Mexican War of 1846, where you changed the name of the Rio Bravo del Norte to the Rio Grande and then claimed Mexican troops had crossed the border when actually the “border” crossed them; to the “Indian Country” desert lands given in “perpetuity” to the Native People on the Eastern and South-Eastern USA whose good, fertile lands there had been taken. This new treaty was also broken when oil was found under the desert, turned into a State and glorified in the musical Oklahoma; Then there was the Maine, which was conveniently blown up by your own USA Government in order to grab Cuba, Puerto Rico, the Phillipines, the US Virgin Islands and Guam from the Spanish. What about the invasion of Granada on the pretext that the US medical students there were under threat: the deposition of Aristide, the Iran-Contra Affair, the deployment of Porcine Pox and Tobacco Mosaic Virus from planes over Cuba, all against US signed International treaties on Biological Warfare; the “Weapons of Mass Destruction” excuse to invade Iraq I could go on but you need to do the research yourself; and I obviously do know the history of your predatory, racist, lying and treaty breaking country better than you!

  • The US has NOT broken every single treaty we have ever signed. Indeed, I can not think of even one broken treaty. If you can, please respond. Other than the recent and indefensible decision to invade Iraq for WMD’s , what other conflict has began under false pretenses? The attack on the US Maine took place and the Vietnam War was well underway when the Gulf of Tonkin event took place. You do not know US history as well as you think you do. There will no doubt be an outpouring of Cunan grief and international condolences for a dead Castro. But there will also be dancing in the streets. There will be even more dancing behind closed doors. You have ‘no skin in the game’ so it is easy for you to praise the Cuba that you know from Castro propaganda and those Havanatur tourist buses. But the Cuba for Cubans is a ‘horse of a different color’. After you have lived an entire month on 800 cup as most Cubans do, come back and comment.

  • Well put Jorge. I agree wholeheartedly with your message.

  • I know Tania from when she came to Canada in the 90’s and even though I thought then that she was insulting and overbearing, an “Enfant Terrible” (but a Great Artist), I fully support her and her freedom of expression and dissent, as every human being should have without fear of reprisals. I am deeply disappointed in the Cuban Authorities for tolerating or organizing such “public reprisals”.
    Is she provocative? YES, good artists always are! Is her message wrong? It does not matter, she is not forcing anyone to believe it! Why is the Cuban Government cracking down on dissent? Because they want to show a united Cuban population right behind their government. To show any weakness or hesitation when dealing with Uncle Sam is highly unwise, they have broken every single treaty they have ever signed and gone to war many times before using false pretenses (The Maine in Cuba, the Gulf of Tonkin Incident, etc…), but this is killing a wasp with a shotgun and it shows weakness and fear of dissent more than anything else. Is it going to get worse? I hope not, but I also do not share Mr. Patterson’s pessimism and disdain for the Castro brothers.
    Wait until Fidel dies and you see the entire Cuban population mourn his passing and pay homage to him and his brother for all the risks they took and all the gains Cubans have made thanks to his and his brother’s efforts. Then even you, Mr. Patterson, will be inclined to accept that in Cuba people overwhelmingly still love Fidel and still give wide majority support to the Revolutionary Government.

  • There is no justification for a policy that foments public beatings. Worse yet, a policy that allows police personnel to turn a blind eye to this street thuggery and a justice system that will not convict the perpetrators. The Castros’ hired goons and their shameless repudiation rallies reflect the worst aspects of Castro paranoia. These beatings are taking place on a weekly basis. As Obama’s efforts to normalize relations with Cuba advance and the willingness of his administration to ignore these human rights abuses continue, the fear is that the Castros are going to get worse and not better.

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