By Dagoberto Valdés
On the night of Jan. 9, 2010, was to be the performance of the plastic artist Yamilia Pérez Estrella titled, “Without Permission II: Transition to Change.” The first part of this series was performed the previous Dec. 10, 2009 in Independence Park in Pinar del Rio on Human Rights Day. That one ended successfully, although with threats and a wide deployment of agents but they didn’t manage to prevent the performance.
On this second plastic action, the situation was quite different. For same days previously Yamilia and her husband, the well-known painter Pedro Pablo Oliva, were warned by the highest authorities of the province and the nation, to suspend the artistic intervention that ultimately could not be performed as planned.
The script for the performance anticipated the interaction of three characters: one white, Maikel Iglesias, representing peace, forgiveness, good; another red, Sergio Suárez, a reference to the oppression, power, censorship; and the artist Yamilia Pérez herself who wold be dressed in black, alluding to the pain, sacrifice, the cross. They would walk from Independence Park to a little park nearby about 200 yards away.
After several days of pressure and threats, in the end, on that same January 9, both parks were taken over by people dressed in civilian clothes, amplified music and a collection of chairs that filled up the second place. Just after 8 pm, Maikel Iglesias, poet and member of the Convivencia Magazine Editorial Board, acting in his personal capacity in the performance art, was taken from the Home Workshop of Pedro Pablo and taken by two agents to a car nearby where he was put and driven to within a few yards of his house.
The other two artists decided to leave the Home Workshop and take another route to Courthouse Park, also close to the place. But they were intercepted by a mob screaming Viva Fidel, Viva Raul, Viva la Revolucion, and even made to kneel in the middle of the public space.
In this way the physical and violent repression against artistic expression continues, and in the last months has accelerated throughout the length of the Island. A sign of the impotence and exhaustion of a project that is left with no other resources. When they resort of repressing, with brute force, cultural performances they are not only transgressing against the social and cultural rights of people, but they are oppressing the soul of a nation. And this, as we all know, is very serious. It is worth reflecting calmly on the anthropological damage that this and any kind of repression is causing to Cuba.
Dagoberto Valdés (Pinar del rio 1955)
Director of the magazine Convivencia