On 1 August 2018, Cuban musician and lead singer of the punk-rock band Porno para Ricardo, Gorki Águila was temporarily detained and held in a police car under sweltering temperatures for almost two hours in Havana, reported Diario de Cuba.
Cuban police have yet to release an official statement regarding their reasoning for the temporary detainment. However, Cuban activists, such as Ailer González Mena, have expressed via social media that they suspect the officers were attempting to intimidate Águila due to his ties with Cuban opposition groups.
Following the incident, Águila did an interview in which he attributed the arbitrary arrest to a radio project he is currently undertaking called Cambio de Bola, a programme that allows the artist and others like him to provide commentary regarding the actions of the current Cuban establishment. The radio programme is part of the work the musician is doing with the Estado de Sats and the Forum for Rights and Freedoms, two Cuban opposition groups that Águila is aligned with.
During the interview, Águila noted that once he noticed the police were preparing to confront him, he immediately contacted his loved ones to warn them of his potential detainment, as it is common for the police to withhold communications from the families of detainees regarding the status of their well-being.
“As I am old in this situation, I took out my cell phone and called my wife so she would know that I was being arrested,” he said.
In June 2018, Águila was prevented from boarding a plane traveling from Cuba to Miami at the José Martí International Airport after being informed by Cuban Customs that there was a travel restriction placed on him by the Cuban government. The restriction was one of the first retaliations from the Cuban government regarding the singer’s oppositional work, as a month prior to the incident Águila had signed a Cuban opposition statement directed against the “dynastic succession of the Castro family” in the country.
According to Freemuse’s The State of Artistic Freedom Report 2018, Cuba is one of the very few countries that chooses to detain artists more than censoring their work, a result of the Cuban Constitution’s assertion that “artistic creativity is free as long as its content is not contrary to the Revolution”. In 2017, 61 per cent of artistic freedom violations in Cuba were detentions compared to 28 per cent of censorship violations.