A group of Cuban artists has submitted a legal request to the National Assembly of People’s Power, Cuba’s legislative parliament, calling for the revocation of the mandate of Minister of Culture Alpidio Alonso. The move represents “an unprecedented shift in the relationship between the citizenry and public institutions in the Republic of Cuba,” according to a statement from the 27N Movement, a collective formed last year to advocate for creative freedom and an end to artistic censorship on the island.
The motion was filed this morning by activists Solveig Font and Carolina Barrero on behalf of 1,252 artists, and counting, who signed a petition in its favor. Among the signatories are prominent Cuban cultural figures, including artist Tania Bruguera, writer Carlos Manuel Álvarez, artist Sandra Ceballos, historian Rafael Rojas, and painter Tomás Sánchez.
Members of the 27N Movement have made several attempts to engage in dialogue with Cuba’s culture leadership, most recently last Wednesday, January 27, when they planned a demonstration in front of the Ministry’s headquarters in honor of poet and writer José Martí. In a video shared widely on social media, Alonso appears to hit journalist Mauricio Mendoza after the group requests the removal of armed guards from the Ministry’s premises. Following an altercation between Alonso and the artists, the latter were detained by Cuban state police and carried away in buses.
“As citizens of the Republic of Cuba we believe in the right to peacefully assert our rights and we emphatically condemn any manifestation of violence, in particular any manifestation of state violence promoted by institutions and exercised by public officials,” wrote the 27N Movement in a statement from January 31.
“Public officials must act with civility, transparency and respect for human dignity,” the group added. “A public servant cannot use of violence to limit citizens’ rights with impunity.”
The full text of the legal procedure, along with the signatures collected to date and instructions on how to sign, are publicly available on 27N’s Facebook page.