Germany: Dancer under threat detained in transit to SafeMUSE artistic residency programme

14 November 2019
Image: Gato / Via SafeMUSE


On 25 October, Guatemalan dancer Gato (real name Catun Quintana) was detained by the Federal Border Police at Frankfurt Airport while on his way to a 6-month artistic residency in Norway provided by SafeMUSE.

The artist was detained while going through a security check without any formal explanation. SafeMUSE – the organisation which coordinated the artistic residency for Gato in Norway – contacted the airport’s police station and was told that a lack of D-visa (an entry visa) for Germany and a short expiry date of Gato’s passport was the reason for his detention.

In his conversation with SafeMUSE, Gato said that “he perceived the situation as very threatening and unpleasant, and he was shown what he perceived being the police isolation cell.”

SafeMUSE Project Manager, Jan Lothe Eriksen, claims that the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration (UDI) had issued an appropriate visa, a residence permit for cultural purposes, for Gato to enter Norway and that the nature of the artist’s transit should occur no issues.

It was only after police officers received a confirmation of the presented visa from the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration that Gato could board the plane to Norway.

The artist describes that the incident has made him feel angry with the border police as he believed they knew the documents were valid. Gato claims that he was released only after the officers had a conversation with Jan Lothe Eriksen from SafeMUSE.

 “That to me is proof that I was treated with unjust. Their picture of me was already set,” Gato said.

One week before these Gato was refused to check in on an Air Canada flight for Oslo with a few hours of transit in Toronto. SafeMUSE had to buy a new flight ticket for the dancer. The Air Canada personnel claimed that the artist needed a full visa for Canada for his stay in the airport in Toronto, and that the transit visa that was purchased was not enough – although Canadian Immigration Authorities had confirmed that this was not the case. 

Gato has spent the last three years in Colombia in a safe space sponsored by SafeMUSE due to death threats from street gangs in Guatemala. He is expected to join other artists in production with Norway’s professional dance crew, Kingwings Crew.

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