Cuban Authorities Detained Artist Tania Bruguera While She Was on Her Way to a Protest Against Police Violence in Havana

Bruguera was one of at least 40 dissident artists and activists taken into custody by Cuban authorities prior to the event.

Tania Bruguera in Havana, on December 31, 2014. Photo courtesy Adalberto Roque/AFP/Getty Images.
Tania Bruguera in Havana, in 2014. Courtesy Adalberto Roque/AFP/Getty Images.

Cuban authorities detained Tania Bruguera yesterday while the artist and activist was on her way to a peaceful protest against police brutality in Havana. 

Bruguera, who has been detained numerous times for speaking out against Cuba’s authoritarian regime and its censorship of the arts, spent 10 hours in jail before being released.

Updates were posted to Bruguera’s Facebook page, reportedly written by her sister, explaining that police or military personnel dressed as civilians took hold of the artist outside of her house. The posts were accompanied by a screenshot of a text message from Bruguera that read, “they are taking me.”

The day prior to her arrest, Bruguera shared a video on Facebook discussing her plans to participate in the protest.

The artist did not respond to a request for comment.

REPRESION #30JunioCubaTania Bruguera ha sido llevada (aún no sabemos si por militares o policías vestidos de civiles…

Posted by Tania Bruguera on Tuesday, June 30, 2020

“When an artist who uses her voice to call for justice and social change finds herself arbitrarily detained on her own doorstep, it is obvious that a serious injustice has occurred,” wrote Julie Trébault, director of the Artists at Risk Connection program at PEN America, in a statement. “Bruguera’s arrest is just one more iteration in the Cuban government’s efforts to exert a vice-like grip over the cultural sector.”

Bruguera was one of dozens of prominent demonstrators taken into custody before the event, according to human rights nonprofit Cubalex. Others include artists Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara and Anamely Ramos González, and activist José Daniel Ferrer.

#YoMañanaVoyAEstar/11:00 a.m.- Cine Yara¡RESPONSABILIZO AL GOBIERNO CUBANO! de cualquier evento que pueda suceder…

Posted by Tania Bruguera on Monday, June 29, 2020

The protesters were detained prior to an event scheduled as a response to the death of Hansel Ernesto Hernández Galiano, a 27-year-old unarmed Black man killed by state police in the capital city last week. News of Hernández Galiano’s death sparked outrage on social media after the victim’s aunt posted pictures of his dead body.

For three days, the Cuban government did not publicly acknowledge the incident. On Saturday, the country’s interior ministry issued a statement saying that Hernández Galiano was running from police after allegedly stealing items from a bus stop. After two warning shots, an officer fired at Hernández Galiano, not intending to kill. 

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