One performance artist smeared excrement on her face in front of Havana’s Capitol building. A group of artists and musicians tried to organize a protest concert, but were arrested. And other artists and academics in Cuba and abroad signed open letters and online petitions.
All were protesting a new Cuban government decree that legalizes censorship.
All but hidden in a special edition of the Official Gazette that has more than 100 pages, Decree 349 issued by the Culture Ministry tries to control art not sponsored by the government. It bars independent artists from presenting their work in both public and private spaces, and from being paid for their work.
The decree also establishes fines and seizures of property for painters and other artists who sell their works without government permission, as well as those who distribute music or videos that “use the national symbols in violation of existing law.” It also punishes those who sell books “with content that damages ethic and cultural values” and those who “make abusive use of electronic equipment or media.”