Thursday, December 06, 2018

Decree 349

Chances are that readers have not heard about Decree 349.

The brutal Cuban dictatorship is often viewed in the mainstream American media through rose-colored glasses, and the atrocities committed over the decades that the Castro brothers' have been strangling the people of that once prosperous island, often ignored or dismissed.

Described by Amnesty International as “dystopian”, this "new" law, Decree 349, which was signed by the Castro hand-picked "president" Miguel Díaz-Canel in April, and was then published in Cuba’s Gazette newspaper in July, is expected to be ratified and signed into law this month by Díaz-Canel.

“Amnesty International is concerned that the recent arbitrary detentions of Cuban artists protesting Decree 349, as reported by Cuban independent media, are an ominous sign of things to come. We stand in solidarity with all independent artists in Cuba that are challenging the legitimacy of the decree and standing up for a space in which they can work freely without fear of reprisals.”

Amnesty International further notes that:

Under the decree, all artists, including collectives, musicians and performers, are prohibited from operating in public or private spaces without prior approval by the Ministry of Culture. Individuals or businesses that hire artists without the authorization can be sanctioned, and artists that work without prior approval can have their materials confiscated or be substantially fined. Under the new decree, the authorities also have the power to immediately suspend a performance and to propose the cancellation of the authorization granted to carry out the artistic activity. Such decisions can only be appealed before the same Ministry of Culture (Article 10); the decree does not provide an effective remedy to appeal such a decision before an independent body, including through the courts.
Amnesty International is concerned that the decree contains vague and overly broad restrictions on artistic expression. For example, it prohibits audiovisual materials that contain, among other things: “use of patriotic symbols that contravene current legislation” (Article 3a), “sexist, vulgar or obscene language” (Article 3d), and “any other (content) that violates the legal provisions that regulate the normal development of our society in cultural matters” (Article 3g). Furthermore, it makes it an offence to “commercialize books with content harmful to ethical and cultural values” (Article 4f).
It is already brutalizing Cuban artists; as reported in The Guardian, artist Tania Bruguera and others have already been arrested over this new law:

Bruguera, whose work currently fills the Turbine Hall at London’s Tate Modern, was taken by police from her home in the Cuban capital on Monday morning ahead of a planned demonstration outside the ministry of culture. Her fellow artists Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara and Yanelys Núñez Leyva were also picked up on the street by police on Monday and transported to the Vivac prison on the outskirts of Havana, a move that suggests they will be detained for a longer period. 

Bruguera was released within 24 hours but taken back into custody as she headed to the ministry of culture to protest. All three – along with fellow activists Amaury Pacheco and Michel Matos – have vowed to go on hunger strike.
Read the Amnesty International report here and The Guardian article here... as soon as I find this in the American press, I will link that as well, but don't hold your breath. 

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