What Happened Jan. 27 at Cuba’s Ministry of Culture?

What Happened Jan. 27 at Cuba’s Ministry of Culture?

Exactly two months before on November 27th, hundreds of artists and intellectuals held a peaceful protest outside the Ministry of Culture. They remained until they managed to sit down with vice-minister Fernando Rojas. Now, a new meeting was agreed between Rojas and three representatives from the group that took on the name “27N”.

This meeting didn’t take place. Restrictions on movement and arbitrary arrests were the highlights of the day instead. The following is a timeline of events that day, which is open to updates:

**8:00 -10:00 a.m.: Artists and activists Tania Bruguera and Katherine Bisquet report police surveillance outside their respective homes.

Minutes later, their arrest by police officers is reported on Facebook, as they headed to the Ministry of Culture where three 27N representatives (painter Camila Lobon, curator Solveig Font and playwright Yunior Garcia Aguilera) had been summoned by vice-minister Rojas.

Journalist Camila Acosta was also arrested during this timeframe. Camila Lobon later posted on her Facebook profile that she had been intercepted by State Security agents.

**10:30 a.m.: The 27N group posted a timeline on its Facebook page, of messages, emails and meetings with vice-minister Rojas, after the ministry announced on December 4th that it was going to cut any chances of a dialogue with some 27N participants. This channel of dialogue – that had opened up – was not public knowledge until then.

-Young artists and independent journalists gathered outside the Ministry of Culture’s entrance. In the group’s Facebook about section, it states:

“Two months after the historic events of 27N, and a day before what would have been Jose Marti’s 168th birthday, we gathered together again to “cultivate and offer” our white rose. The white rose of peace, of dialogue, of civic friendship, of reconciliation, of forgiveness, of transparency, of kindness, the good and beautiful one, of poetry. A white rose for friends and for those who think of themselves as our enemies, like Marti himself told us. This because we believe in the importance of building a Cuba “with every Cuban and for every Cuban’s wellbeing”, taking our Apostle and poet’s values as our foundations.

“Today, we are here once again, to insist on a dialogue, but also to demand that we be heard, to exercise our freedom as citizens. To celebrate the unity, serenity and perseverance that we kept after what happened on November 27, 2020. In this regard, we will not give up on our demands that were made that night, and the demands that we later made public in statements that followed.”

Artistas reunidos en las afueras del Ministerio de Cultura de Cuba el 27 de enero de 2021. Foto: Tomada de la página en Facebook de Periodismo de Barrio.

Artistas reunidos en las afueras del Ministerio de Cultura de Cuba el 27 de enero de 2021. Foto: Tomada de la página en Facebook de Periodismo de Barrio.

**aprox. 11:30 a.m.: Vice-minister Rojas came to talk with those present and asked them to leave, reminding them of the Covid-19 emergency. The artists, activists and journalists present told him that people were arrested and they were awaiting news about their whereabouts.

**aprox. 12:30 p.m.: Other MINCULT officials, including Minister of Culture Alpidio Alonso, walk towards those gathered outside and the minister assaults a journalist who is recording with his cellphone on the street in front of the Ministry. Moments later, the group is taken away on a bus, the destination of which remains unknown.

The exact moment when Cuba’s Minister of Culture, Alpidio Alonso, physically assaults a person who was among the Cubans gathered outside the Ministry of Culture, exactly two months after #27N.

**aprox.1:00 p.m. Tania Bruguera is released.

**approx. 1:00 p.m.: Poet and activist Amaury Pacheco (Omnipoeta) is arrested by the police when heading towards the Ministry of Culture, and taken back to his home.

**1:35 p.m.: The Ministry of Culture issued a statement calling those gathered in front of MINCULT in the morning, “provocateurs”. It repeats that it will talk with “honest creators about any matter relating to the Cuban Revolution’s cultural policy” and it refuses to “accept provocations or to sit down and talk with mercenaries.”

**approx. 3:00 p.m.: Katherine Bisquet is released and taken back home where a police cordon is still up.

Internet users using VPNs, have reported interruptions in their mobile data services, across the country.

**4:28 p.m.: Tania Bruguera posts on her Facebook: “Cuban artists can’t accept imprisoned artists” and announced that she was heading to MINCULT in response to Alpidio Alonso’s invitation, saying he was open to talk to honest creators. She was arrested by a police patrol car that was stationed near her house.

**5:00 p.m.: The whereabouts of the artists, activists and journalists outside MINCULT, who were loaded onto a bus by police officers, still remains unknown.

**5:20 p.m.: Some of those present at the Ministry of Culture begin to be released.

**6:00 p.m.: Playwright Yunior Garcia Aguilera explains on a Facebook live broadcast organized by El Toque that he was unable to reach the Ministry of Culture for the meeting with Fernando Rojas because of the police cordon around the Ministry.  He added that Rojas was informed of the matter.

 

This article was translated to English from the original in Spanish.

Sobre el autor

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Contamos las historias de jóvenes como tú que se sienten protagonistas de esta Cuba que cambia; aquellos que transforman los barrios, que emprenden, dialogan y construyen iniciativas ciudadanas para su gente. Te mostramos cómo otros jóvenes superaron las barreras y hoy impulsan un proyecto propio.

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