CubaBrief: Bipartisan group of U.S. Senators introduce resolution expressing solidarity with Cuban artists, and calling for an end to violence against them.

Despite an international pandemic and political crisis in the United States, officials of the Cuban Ministry of Culture physically assaulting peacefully gathered artists, journalists and artists attracted attention. “A bipartisan group of US Senators introduced a resolution in support of Cuba’s artists, many of whom are frequent targets of state-sponsored censorship and harassment that has been steadily escalating,” reported Valentina Di Liscia in Hyperallergic.

Senators Marco Rubio and Bob Menendez, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee

Senators Marco Rubio and Bob Menendez, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee

“U.S. Senators Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) were joined by Senators Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Ben Cardin (D-Md.) in introducing a Senate resolution expressing the U.S. Senate’s solidarity with Cuba’s San Isidro Movement, a collective of independent artists and activists who have recently been targeted by the Cuban regime for protesting in support of their right to freedom of expression. The bipartisan resolution calls for the immediate release of arbitrarily detained artists and activists from the San Isidro movement, urging governments and legislatures across Europe and Latin America to renew their support for democratic activists in Cuba,” revealed Senator Menendez’s office in their press release that also provided quotes from the Senators introducing the resolution.

“With this resolution, we stand in total solidarity with the courageous artists and activists in Cuba’s San Isidro Movement and join their call for greater respect for freedom of expression and social rights in the island,” said Senator Menendez. “Footage of the regime’s own culture minister physically attacking members of the San Isidro Movement makes one thing clear to the world: The Cuban people are still violently repressed and imprisoned. I urge my counterparts in Europe, Canada, and Latin America to join us in shining a light on this reprehensible situation and standing up for democratic values in Cuba.”

“The Cuban regime continues to target artists, dissidents, activists, academics, and journalists and the members of the San Isidro Movement are not exempt from the Diaz-Canel’s and Castro’s repression,” said Senator Rubio. “I’m proud to join Senator Menendez and my Senate colleagues in introducing this resolution condemning the latest wave of brutality by the Cuban dictatorship against the Cuban people.”

On January 27, 2021, officials of the Ministry of Culture, led by Minister Alpidio Alonso and Vice Ministers Fernando Rojas and Fernando León Jacomino, physically assaulted a group of 20 to 30 artists gathered outside the Ministry of Culture to restart a dialogue process with authorities and demand an end to the repression against the artistic community.

Screen Shot 2021-02-11 at 11.40.27 AM.png

Vice Minister Fernando Rojas, Minister Alpidio Alonso, Vice Minister Fernando León Jacomino

Minister Alonso, Vice Ministers Rojas and Jacomino, and the political police violently detained protesters. This led one of the artists, and a former prisoner of conscience, Maykel Osorbo to dedicate a song and release a video criticizing Culture Minister Alonso that is embedded below.

The Center will continue to monitor the progress of the introduced Senate resolution backing the San Isidro Movement in Cuba, and the cause of human rights in Cuba more broadly. The world is watching and free Cubans are not alone.

Hyperallergic, February 10, 2021

US Senators Introduce Resolution in Solidarity With Cuban Artists

The bipartisan group of politicians urges the release of Denis Solís, a rapper arbitrarily detained last year, and expresses solidarity with the San Isidro Movement artist-activist collective.

by Valentina Di Liscia

In November last year, artists and activists were trapped in an apartment in Old Havana, surrounded by state police, after attempting a peaceful protest. Several artists staged a hunger strike that gained international attention. (photo by and court…

In November last year, artists and activists were trapped in an apartment in Old Havana, surrounded by state police, after attempting a peaceful protest. Several artists staged a hunger strike that gained international attention. (photo by and courtesy of Katherine Bisquet)

A bipartisan group of US Senators has introduced a resolution in support of Cuba’s artists, many of whom are frequent targets of state-sponsored censorship and harassment that has been steadily escalating. The legislation calls for “the repeal of laws that violate freedom of expression and the immediate release of arbitrarily detained artists, journalists, and activists” and expresses solidarity with the San Isidro Movement collective, formed in 2018 to advocate for the rights of artists.

The congressional text denounces Decrees 349 and 370, two regulations proposed in 2018 by the Cuban government that strictly regulate cultural activity and curb freedom of expression on the Internet, respectively. It also demands the immediate release of Denis Solís, a rapper who was sentenced to 8 months in prison for insulting a police officer who entered his home without a warrant last November. 

When members of the San Isidro Movement organized a peaceful demonstration against Solís‘s detainment at a private residence, state police blocked access to the house and confiscated food and supplies, spurring a hunger strike that made headlines around the world. 

During the strike, the resolution says, authorities “allegedly contaminated water sources in order to sicken the artists and activists” and later used tear gas on the approximately 300 people who gathered outside the Ministry of Culture in Havana on November 27. Despite efforts by members of the eponymous 27N Movement to dialogue with Cuban officials, the regime has refused to engage non-violently with activists and has used state-controlled media to label the peaceful demonstrations as treason, “a crime subject to imprisonment and penalty of death.”

More recently, members of the 27N Movement have filed a legal motion for the resignation of Minister of Culture Alpidio Alonso, who was captured physically assaulting a journalist in a video circulated widely on social media last month.

S.Res.37 is sponsored by Democratic Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey and co-sponsored by Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL), Sen. Benjamin Cardin (D-MD), and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL). Menendez, the son of Cuban immigrants, regularly voices his opposition to the Cuban government.

“With this resolution, we stand in total solidarity with the courageous artists and activists in Cuba’s San Isidro Movement and join their call for greater respect for freedom of expression and social rights in the island,” Senator Menendez said in a statement shared with Hyperallergic.

“Footage of the regime’s own culture minister physically attacking members of the San Isidro Movement makes one thing clear to the world: The Cuban people are still violently repressed and imprisoned,” he added. “I urge my counterparts in Europe, Canada, and Latin America to join us in shining a light on this reprehensible situation and standing up for democratic values in Cuba.”

The current impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump and ongoing budget negotiations mean the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is unlikely to convene a legislative business meeting to vote on the resolution until next month. A spokesperson for Menendez’s office said the senator would try to push the process as soon as possible.

https://hyperallergic.com/621164/us-senators-cuban-artists-solidarity/


Office of Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), February 09, 2021

U.S. Senators Introduce Bipartisan Resolution in Support of Cuba’s San Isidro Movement

WASHINGTON — U.S. Senators Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) were joined by Senators Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Ben Cardin (D-Md.) in introducing a Senate resolution expressing the U.S. Senate’s solidarity with Cuba’s San Isidro Movement, a collective of independent artists and activists who have recently been targeted by the Cuban regime for protesting in support of their right to freedom of expression. The bipartisan resolution calls for the immediate release of arbitrarily detained artists and activists from the San Isidro movement, urging governments and legislatures across Europe and Latin America to renew their support for democratic activists in Cuba.

“With this resolution, we stand in total solidarity with the courageous artists and activists in Cuba’s San Isidro Movement and join their call for greater respect for freedom of expression and social rights in the island,” said Senator Menendez. “Footage of the regime’s own culture minister physically attacking members of the San Isidro Movement makes one thing clear to the world: The Cuban people are still violently repressed and imprisoned. I urge my counterparts in Europe, Canada, and Latin America to join us in shining a light on this reprehensible situation and standing up for democratic values in Cuba.”

“The Cuban regime continues to target artists, dissidents, activists, academics, and journalists and the members of the San Isidro Movement are not exempt from the Diaz-Canel’s and Castro’s repression,” said Senator Rubio. “I’m proud to join Senator Menendez and my Senate colleagues in introducing this resolution condemning the latest wave of brutality by the Cuban dictatorship against the Cuban people.”

“While I have supported a change in our failed 50 year policy of isolating Cuba as a way of opening the island to new ideas and values, that does not mean giving the ruling dictatorship a pass on its abysmal democracy and human rights record,” Senator Durbin said. “The repression of the country’s artistic community, continued jailing of Jose Daniel Ferrer, and failure to hold anyone accountable for the death of Oswaldo Paya all demand continued international attention.”

“The U.S. continues to stand in solidarity with the Cuban people who peacefully advocate for more freedoms and rights from their government,” said Senator Cardin. “I am proud to support this resolution that highlights the efforts of the San Isidro Movement activists. I urge the Government of Cuba to release those unjustly detained and to engage in constructive dialogue with its critics.”

Find a copy of the resolution HERE.


117TH CONGRESS 1ST SESSION

Expressing solidarity with the San Isidro Movement in Cuba, condemning escalated attacks against artistic freedoms in Cuba, and calling for the repeal of laws that violate freedom of expression and the immediate release of arbitrarily detained artists, journalists, and activists.

Mr. MENENDEZ (for himself, Mr. RUBIO, Mr. DURBIN, and Mr. CARDIN) submitted the following resolution; which was referred to the Committee on RESOLUTION

Expressing solidarity with the San Isidro Movement in Cuba, condemning escalated attacks against artistic freedoms in Cuba, and calling for the repeal of laws that violate freedom of expression and the immediate release of arbitrarily detained artists, journalists, and activists.

Whereas artists, journalists, and activists in Cuba have faced increased censorship, persecution, and arbitrary detention by the Government of Cuba as a result of Decrees 349 and 370, which seek to restrict artistic freedoms and silence independent media in Cuba;

Whereas, in December 2018, Decree 349 entered into force, requiring that artists and those who hire them receive prior approval from the Government of Cuba to operate in public or private spaces or otherwise be subject to confiscation of materials, fines, or sanctions without the right to an appeal;

Whereas, in July 2019, Decree 370 entered into force, regulating and imposing sanctions with respect to the free distribution of information through the internet and leading to increased repression, arbitrary detentions, and censorship by the Government of Cuba;

Whereas international human rights groups, including Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, have condemned Decrees 349 and 370 as violating fundamental freedoms and contradicting Article 54 of the 2019 Constitution of Cuba, which guarantees freedom of expression;

Whereas, in 2018, the San Isidro Movement (MSI), an organization of artists, activists, academics, and journalists, began to peacefully protest increased censorship and persecution in Cuba; Whereas Denis Solís González, a musician and member of the San Isidro Movement, was detained on November 9, 2020, and sentenced to 8 months in prison on ‘‘contempt of authority’’ charges after sharing a live video online of a police officer entering his home without a warrant;

Whereas, on November 19, 2020, artists and activists from the San Isidro Movement launched a day of poetry and gathered at a private residence to discuss actions to protest the arbitrary detention of Denis Solís González, and during that peaceful activity, state police blocked access to the house, confiscating all food and humanitarian supplies;

Whereas, in response to the events of November 19, 2020, 17 independent artists and activists went on a 7-day hunger strike at the private residence, during which state authorities allegedly contaminated water sources in order to sicken the artists and activists;

Whereas, on November 26, 2020, state security agents forcibly entered the protest site to remove the 17 artists and activists, blocking internet connectivity and communications throughout Cuba during the raid;

Whereas, on November 27, 2020, approximately 300 people gathered outside the Ministry of Culture of Cuba to peacefully protest the lack of artistic freedom in Cuba and the arbitrary arrest of Denis Solís González and other artists and activists in an unprecedented demonstration against the Government of Cuba, and, despite the use of tear gas by state security forces, the protesters were undeterred;

Whereas, as a result of the protest on November 27, 2020, Cuban officials met with 30 artists and activists, including 5 leaders of the San Isidro Movement, and agreed to stop harassment of Cuban artists and initiate a dialogue between the San Isidro Movement, other activists, and the government;

Whereas, despite that commitment by Cuban officials, the Government of Cuba subsequently escalated its attacks against the artists and activists who participated in the meeting, including by surrounding and blocking access to their homes;

Whereas the Cuban regime used state-controlled media to label the acts of peaceful protest by the San Isidro Movement as treason, which, according to Article 4 of the 2019 Constitution of Cuba, is a crime subject to imprisonment and penalty of death;

Whereas, on December 4, 2020, the Government of Cuba unilaterally ended the dialogue process with Cuban artists and independent civil society and political activists;

Whereas, on January 27, 2021, officials of the Ministry of Culture, led by Minister Alpidio Alonso and Vice Ministers Fernando Rojas and Fernando León Jacomino , physically assaulted a group of 20 to 30 artists who had gathered outside the Ministry of Culture to restart a dialogue process with authorities and demand an end to the repression of the artistic community;

Whereas, following the assault on the group by Minister Alonso and Vice Ministers Rojas and Jacomino, Cuban state security forces violently detained protesters; and

Whereas, despite the suspension of the dialogue process by the Government of Cuba, artists, activists, and independent journalists continue to bravely advocate for fundamental freedoms and denounce human rights violations in Cuba: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That the Senate—

(1) stands in solidarity with the members of the San Isidro Movement and their efforts to advance freedom of expression in Cuba;

(2) calls on Cuban authorities to engage in a meaningful dialogue process with the members of the San Isidro Movement and other artists and activists seeking to advance freedom of expression in Cuba;

(3) calls on the Government of Cuba to immediately release Denis Solís González and other arbitrarily imprisoned artists and journalists;

(4) urges the officials of the Ministry of Culture of Cuba to refrain from physical violence and any other acts of repression against Cuban artists and journalists;

(5) calls for the immediate repeal of Decrees 349 and 370 and other laws in Cuba that violate freedom of expression;

(6) urges democratic governments and legislatures in Europe and Latin America to renew their support for democratic activists in Cuba and speak out against the repression of artists and journalists in Cuba; and

(7) encourages the Secretary of State to condemn the persecution, threats, and intimidation of Cuban artists and journalists.

https://www.foreign.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/CAN21099.pdf