Saturday, December 27, 2014

Artists call for rally in Havana to seek input on the island’s future

Artists call for rally in Havana to seek input on the island's future
12/26/2014 3:12 PM 12/26/2014 5:10 PM

Inspired by the Occupy Wall Street movement, a group of Cuban artists
have called for a public gathering on Tuesday at Havana's revolutionary
square where they hope to set up a microphone to allow participants one
minute to express their views or state their claims as it relates to the
future of the island.

Dubbed #YoTambienExijo (IAlsoDemand), the movement is making its rounds
on social media with a growing following on Facebook, Twitter and
YouTube, among others.

Cuban artist Tania Bruguera, the face behind the movement, said the
event scheduled for 3 p.m. at the Plaza de la Revolución is not a
political act but rather an artistic demonstration that allows her to
exercise her right to "be a political being" and to "know what the idea
is behind the nation we are building."

The purpose of the event is for people to say "what nation it is that
they want," said Bruguera, who is well known within artists circles both
in Cuba and abroad. "The idea is for people to speak for one minute and
say what they think."

The "#YoTambienExijo" movement is reminiscent of a performance
demonstration that took place in Havana in 2009 known as El Sussuro de
Tatlin. On that occasion, the microphone was open for participants to
express themselves for one minute without being censored. Cuban blogger
Yoani Sanchez took the opportunity to highlight that "Cuba is a country
surrounded by the sea and is also an island fenced off by censorship."

The idea for Tuesday's demonstration, said Bruguera, came after the
historic simultaneous announcements in Washington and Havana on Dec. 17
that the two nations would reinstate diplomatic ties that were severed
half a century ago. Bruguera said she wrote a letter to President Barack
Obama, Raúl Castro and Pope Francis in which she demanded that Cubans
"have an arena to participate and the right to have a different opinion
without being punished for it" as well as to be able to "hold peaceful
demonstrations on the street in favor or against government decisions."

The artist said the #YoTambienExijo project includes Cubans who are
outside the island and those inside.

"People who come from the art world, journalists, designers, editors,
young people," she said. "We're people with different ideological
positions and religious beliefs... We all have a different vision about
what Cuba needs to be but we'll be gathered in the same space because we
have the right to be a part of what's going on.

"The interesting thing is that it's a group of people who up until now
had not expressed their opinions about what is happening in Cuba because
they felt that they didn't have official or alternative spaces to do
so," she said.

Brugera, who is currently overseas, said traveled to Havana from Italy
on Friday to seek official permission to hold the event. In an open
invitation posted on Facebook, more than 300 people so far have said
they plan to attend. Whether the Cuban government will allow that to
happen remains to be seen.

"We"ll see how people react: if they go or if Tania stays alone in the
plaza," said Cuban-American writer Achy Obejas, who like many others is
following developments in Cuba from the United States. "And we"ll see
how the government reacts to the event, if they leave people alone or if
they kick them out of the plaza and arrest them."

Bruguera said the Castro government, "can say no if they don't want the
event to take place. But if people go, it doesn't matter what they want.
If one person, or 10 or 100 people go to share their opinions and to
have a peaceful dialogue then it will happen regardless of what they want."

Follow Nora Gámez Torres on Twitter @ngameztorres

Source: Artists call for rally in Havana to seek input on the island's
future | The Miami Herald -

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