New Decree 349 will criminalize independent art in Cuba
BRATISLAVA, STOCKHOLM, PRAGUE - People in Need is deeply concerned about the impact of the newly adopted Decree 349 targeting freedom of expression for artists in Cuba. PIN stresses the seriousness of the situation together with other members of the Europe-Cuba NGO Network, specifically PIN Slovakia and Civil Rights Defenders.
The legislation entitled ‘Violations of Cultural Policy Regulations regarding the Provision of Artistic Services’, known as the Decree 349 and signed by Miguel Díaz-Canel on 20 April 2018, will come into force on December 7. The legislation will severely censor independent artwork and freedom of expression of all artists that, according to the Decree 349, are acting against the law.
People in Need therefore emphasizes that the new legislation is part of a wider strategy of the new administration to continue restricting critical voices of independent artists and intellectuals in Cuba. The Europe-Cuba NGO Network commits to monitor closely the human rights abuses under this law.
Despite the Cuban government’s claims that the aim of the Decree is to restraint discriminatory contents in the artwork, People in Need understands that in actual terms the Decree 349 aims at legalizing censorship of the independent artwork in Cuba. The legislation introduces sanctions on all artists performing in public or private spaces without prior approval of the Ministry of Culture. At the same time, the Ministry has the power to suspend any artistic event that does not have its authorization to perform at any time.
People in Need understands the importance to express its concert to what, in practice, could mean a heavy persecution of independent artists and, in this sense, the crackdown of independent artworks surely can be expected in the country in the upcoming months and it may be accompanied by confiscation of artworks targeted by the Decree, including confiscation of books.
Furthermore, People in Need condemns the broadness of the legislation, especially of the Article 3, which establishes that “a violation is considered to be the use of audiovisual media that displays the content of: g) anything that violates the legal provisions that regulate the normal development of our society in cultural matters.” People in Need considers this criteria worrisome in the sense that it paves the way to criminalization of any artistic expression that do not follow the official guidelines of what is considered culturally appropriate in Cuba.
People in Need stands in solidarity with all Cuban artists that have been raising their voices against the legislation since early 2018. Additionally, members of the Europe-Cuba NGO Network are committed to monitor and bring forward the cases of those unfairly and arbitrarily repressed under this legislation. With firm belief that it is precisely the independent artistic community that have been defining the rich Cuban culture nowadays and raising new voices in support of Human Rights for all Cubans we stand for its preservation we will continue to support the artists whose voices will be silenced under the Decree 349.
The Europe-Cuba NGO Network is a partnership between European organizations working in Cuba, which meets with the purpose of coordinating, networking and knowledge sharing, aiming at the improvement of its work on the island and with the goal of advocating on behalf of those who are repressed.
The initiative, led by the Czech NGO People in Need, is the heir of the International Committee for Democracy in Cuba, founded in 2003 by renowned international political figures, diplomats and intellectuals, as a response to the crackdown that ended up with the detention of 75 Cuban dissidents.
Its current active members are: Christian Democratic International Center, Christian Solidarity Worldwide, Civil Rights Defenders, International Society for Human Rights, Konrad Adenauer Foundation, Observatorio Cubano de Derechos Humanos, People in Need Czech Republic, People in Need Slovakia, Post Bellum, Swedish International Liberal Center and Race & Equality.