Tania Bruguera, the artist who freed political prisoners from Cuban jails

Photo via Tania Bruguera's Facebook
In what may very well be a first, Cuban artist and activist Tania Bruguera has successfully negotiated the release of several fellow artists and activists from Cuban jails.

The island's government has been pushing for her to leave Cuba, fearing that she would cast a shadow on the 14th edition of the Havana Biennial that is to be launched mid-November. She accepted the offer but on the condition that other artists that have been critical of the government, such as Hamlet Lavastida or Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara, be freed.

Conscious of the disruption that silencing a well known and vocal artist could create as well as wanting to clean up Cuba's image as a country emerging from a state of dictatorship, the government accepted her terms and released most of the people requested by Bruguera.

As to why the island's governing body wanted her to leave, well, Bruguera had been very critical of efforts made to silence the voices of critics among the art world. Pointing out the censorship and suffering that she feels the Cuban people were subjected to. 


They want to erase with the #ImmoralBiennial the suffering of the Cuban people, to pretend that the violence against the artists from the #MSI and the @27Ncuba didn’t happened, this is why we ask for a 𝗕𝗢𝗬𝗖𝗢𝗧𝗧 to the #HavanaBiennial

— Tania Bruguera (@BrugueraEstudio) October 7, 2021


After reopening the country to vaccinated travellers amid a serious economic and epidemiologic crisis, Cuba is looking to paint a flattering image of itself through events such as the biennial. However its old totalitarian ways seem to have a tough time going away.