Tania Bruguera, along with the other activists and artists who were recently arrested in Cuba for protesting against the government, were finally released. The government also announced that Decree 349, the law they protested and got arrested for, will no longer be enforced as planned.
The law’s announcement caused a public outcry and several protests as many feared that it would allow the government to censor the works of artists. Decree 349, which was published in July and set to be fully enforced last week, gives government inspectors the right to stop performances and exhibitions that they consider as a violation of Cuba’s values and seize the artists’ belongings.
The Decree requires artists to register with the state to “provide services” in any public space, including private ones, updating an existing law that was only concerned with state-run spaces.
Cuba’s Vice-Minister of Culture, Fernando Rojas, told the Associated Press that the “supervising inspectors” that the law empowers would only be able to shut down shows “in extreme cases, such as public obscenity, racist or sexist content”. He further added that “there wasn’t an advance explanation of the law and that’s one of the reasons for the controversy that it unleashed,” adding that “artistic creation is not the target.”
When asked about the protests that resulted in mass arrests, Rojas referred to Tania Bruguera, Michel Matos and Luis Manuel Otero Alcàntara as part of a foreign-backed “aggressive project against institutional order in Cub”.
After releasing the many artists and activists, the government continued to defend the law but said it will now consult the artists for how it will be implemented.
“Everyone has made their concerns heard from their own field, which I think is a democratic act like we have not seen for years in Cuba,” Bruguera told Reuters.