10 October: A group of nearly 20 activists and artists were detained in La Habana for hours after trying to reach the headquarters of San Isidro Movement, as reported by ADN Cuba. Before the detention, the group was attacked by a mob who insulted the artists and afterwards shouted “Fidel, Fidel”, alluding to the late dictator Fidel Castro.
El acto de repudio a Tania Bruguera en el barrio San Isidro. Lo publica en las publicaciones de la oficialista Prensa Latina un perfil con rostro de Carlos Marx y que se hace llamar Mario Valdés. Escuchen el “civismo” de esta turba lo que le grita a Tania. pic.twitter.com/PDkcvoLc9P
— Rolando Nápoles (@RNapoles) October 12, 2020
The San Isidro Movement is composed of several artists and activists and had organised an event for 10 October, on the 152nd anniversary of “El Grito de Yara”, the beginning of the fight for Cuba’s independence. Along with a “Concert for Freedom”, the movement had also published a declaration against the violence committed by the police in Cuba; however, due to the arrests, none of the civic and cultural acts took place.
Among the detained were art curator Anamely Ramos and writer Katherine Bisquet, who was prevented by a mob from entering Ramos’ house – both were arrested by the police for a few hours. Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara, a visual artist previously interviewed by Freemuse, was also among the arrested artists. “Over the course of two years, I have been arrested more than 20 times. It affects the way you live your life, you cannot plan ahead (…) because in the blink of an eye you can get arrested and disappear,” Otero Alcántara told Freemuse during the interview from September 2020.
The Cuban rapporteur for the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (CIDH) Stuardo Ralón condemned the repression against the activists and stated that Cuba has international obligations to fulfil, among them is the respect for the dignity and human rights of its citizens, including the rights to free thinking and speech.
— Stuardo Ralón (@StuardoRalon) October 11, 2020
Other detained artists, activists and writers were Kirenia Yalit Núñez Pérez, Camila Ramírez Lobón, Tania Bruguera, Aminta D’Cárdenas, Amaury Pacheco, Claudia Genlui, Alfredo Martínez, Michel Matos, Iliana Hernández, Héctor Luis Corcho, Esteban Rodríguez, Oscar Casanella, Iris Ruiz, María Matienzo and Gretel Kairús. Several of these artists already suffered from arbitrary arrests in Cuba in the past.
The arrests were widely criticised in social media, and international groups such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch directly condemned the incident.