Dear DJ Spooky,
It was announced yesterday in Diario de Cuba what you will be traveling to Cuba next week to perform in the Eyeife Electronic Music Festival.
I am sure you know it’s warm in Cuba but I think you should be aware of the cultural climate in the country that will receive you as a foreign dignitary.
A law is about to go into effect in Cuba on December 7, known as Decree 349. It will criminalize independent artistic activity carried out without prior authorization by the state. The law also calls for a cadre of roving censors to shut down any presentation by a musician, writer, artist, dramatist, or filmmaker if their work is deemed to run counter to the “values” of the Cuban government. Artists will be subject to fines, confiscation of their equipment, and even the loss of their homes.
This law imperils the entire artistic community in Cuba but no artist was consulted prior to its writing. For the past five months several artists have tried to raise awareness of the pending law and have also called on the government to have an open debate about the legislation with the community that will be directly affected.
The response of the Cuban government has been to refuse to engage with its protestors. In the past week several artists have been attempting to hold peaceful sit-ins at the Ministry of Culture and have been arrested. Tania Bruguera has been detained four times this week by state security agents. Luis Manuel Otero Alcantara and Yanelys Nuñez Leyva have been held for the last four days and may be processed for sentencing. Amaury Pacheco, Michel Matos, and Yasser Castellanos were detained for two days and released, but are returning to protest today until all their fellow activists are released.
It is time for the international community that claims to love and admire Cuban culture to stand up for human rights and freedom of expression. I am calling on you to consider this situation and what it means for you to be in Cuba right now. I am not telling you not to go. I am telling you to use your status and your platform to support Cuban artists.
THINK BEFORE YOU FLY DJ SPOOKY.
THE EYES OF THE WORLD ARE UPON YOU.
THIS LETTER IS BEING POSTED ON SOCIAL MEDIA.