Adriana Tamariz, the Cultural Director of the Municipality of Cuenca, Ecuador was discharged from her office by Mayor Pedro Palacios after organising an artistic event on the 24 January, where performance was assumed to be a criticism of the government, reported the El Mercurio.
According to the Primicias, the event was organized for the bicentennial celebration of the independence of Cuenca, where artist Stalin Pacheco, presented a multidisciplinary art project, called Mestizo. The performance included the speech of indigenous leader Miriam Cisneros from October 2019, when protests started against the national government´s intention of raising gas prices. Several indigenous groups started national strikes and manifestations that were met by police forces repression. “Mestizo” was a clear message about the responsibility of the State in these events of last October.
“President Lenín Moreno, as an Amazonian woman, on behalf of all Amazonian women, I want to tell you (…) It hurts my soul when our little ones have had to give up their lives drowning with tear gas bombs. Our brothers are dead. That means that our President sends us to attack with armed men, when we have come with a peaceful struggle … “, included the speech.
According to the Cuenca High Life, Mayor Palacios referred to the performance as “inappropriate” and later Tamariz was discharged from her position. The mayor said the firing was because of “other administrative issues”.
On 30 January Tamariz held a press conference, where she stated that she is a victim of intolerance and censorship. “It is totally unacceptable that I was asked to resign for a message that artists expressed on stage”, she said. “You, Mr Mayor, have set a disastrous precedent for the city and contribute to the prospect of censorship becoming the daily norm. This is a violation of the basic right of free speech by citizens which, in my feeling, is a fundamental part of democracy”, reported the Cuenca High Life.
After the events, a group of 500 people from the cultural sphere signed an open letter addressed to Palacios, supporting Tamariz and confirming that her firing was an “attack on artistic freedom”.