An open letter to American cultural institutions, arts professionals, journalists, and various Cubaphiles
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An open letter to American cultural institutions, arts professionals, journalists, and various Cubaphiles

e-flux

Protest outside the Ministry of Culture, 2020. Photo: Nelson Jalil Sardiñas.

December 2, 2020
An open letter to American cultural institutions, arts professionals, journalists, and various Cubaphiles
www.e-flux.com

This morning, Cuban artist Tania Bruguera was threatened once again by state security agents for her role in the historic November 27 meeting between Cuban artists and state officials about state repression of the cultural sector. Cuban journalist Carlos Manuel Alvarez, who has been reporting on the hunger strike by art-activists that preceded the November 27 meeting for El País and The Washington Post, is being demonized on Cuban state media. These intimidation tactics are likely to be a prelude to formal charges being brought against both of them as well as others, followed by arrests and possible imprisonment.

Both Bruguera and Alvarez are being called mercenaries paid by American foundations and state agencies to destabilize the Cuban revolution. Other artists that were involved in the November 27 discussion are also being targeted by Cuban state media. Among the original group of Cubans that declared hunger strike in protest of the arrest of rapper Denis Solis, several are still under house arrest. Luis Manuel Otero Alcantara, one of the hunger strikers, was just arrested again today after daring to walk outside. Many will say this is just a Cuban issue, but it is not. I am asking Americans to stop pretending that your silence has no political consequences. Bruguera and Alvarez are among the best-known Cubans outside the country and are being targeted precisely because they are known in the United States, precisely because they have been supported by American institutions. This is indeed an American problem as much as a Cuban one.

What else has to happen in order for American foundations, museums and newspapers that have supported Tania Bruguera and Carlos Manuel Alvarez to speak out about this situation? Where are all the museum curators that gush about Tania's work? Where is MoMA? Where are the collectors that have bought it? Where are the editors that have published Carlos Manuel Alvarez? Where are the funders that have given Bruguera and Alvarez grants and awards? Let me name a few of the benefactors so as not be to be unnecessarily vague: The Guggenheim Foundation, The Herb Alpert Foundation, The Rockefeller Brothers Fund, The Cisneros Foundation, The Meadows Foundation, and The Open Society Foundation in philanthropy. The New York Times, Vice, and Greywolf Press in publishing. Where are the Black Lives Matter leaders that took time to salute Fidel upon his death but say nothing about police brutality against Black artists in Cuba? Why does American progressive media ignore this? There has been nothing about this in The Nation, Mother Jones, In These Times, The Intercept, Democracy Now, Latino USA or Remezcla or Radio Ambulante

To all those Americans that shower me with questions about Cuba geared to satisfy their touristic urges or their political delusions, when will you answer my questions about your silence on the issues that matter most? I'm not the tour guide you want, but I may be the tour guide you need in order to wake up.

-Coco Fusco
December 2, 2020

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