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December 31, 2014 8:14 AM ET
Cuban artist Tania Bruguera had a plan to test just how tolerant Cuba had become of dissident voices.
She planned a performance at Havana's Revolution Square for Tuesday afternoon. She would provide a microphone and Cubans were encouraged to speak about their vision for the island.
NPR's Lourdes Garcia-Navarro spoke to Bruguera on Monday and asked her why she was planning the performance.
"It's just to tell people in the street come and share with us your doubts, your happiness - whatever you think right now about what is happening in Cuba, and what is the idea of Cuba that you want?" Bruguera said.
Bruguera's performance would be the first event to really challenge the Castro regime's tight control of political dissidence, since Cuba and the United States announced their intent to normalize diplomatic relations.
Before the performance, Cuba's arts council issued a statement saying that after long conversations with Bruguera, they had decided not to support a performance of Yo también exijo, or I also demand.
The council said the performance was "unacceptable" in such a symbolic space and especially because of the "vast media coverage and the manipulation which the performance has received by counterrevolutionary media."
Ultimately, authorities blocked the performance from ever happening. According to 14ymedio.com, a news site run Cuban dissidents, Bruguera was arrested on Tuesday.
The site spoke to Yoani Sánchez, one of the site's contributors and Cuba's best known dissident, who said her husband Reinaldo Escobar was released from jail on Tuesday and he saw Bruguera at the same facility wearing a "gray prison uniform."
Diario de Cuba, a news outlet run from Spain, spoke to Bruguera's family who said Cuban state security agents knocked on Bruguera's door for hours before arresting her.
The news site reports that the plaza where the performance was going to take place was surrounded by police. One painter, a photographer, a former political prisoner and two journalists with Diario de Cuba were arrested as they made their way to the performance.
Several activists and Reinaldo Escobar, editor-in-chief of '14ymedio', arrested
The director of this news outlet, Yoani Sánchez, is under house arrest
14ymedio, Havana | Diciembre 30, 2014
Contacted by phone at her home, the director of 14ymedio, Yoani Sánchez, explained the circumstances of the arrest of her husband, Reinaldo Escobar, and of several other people this Tuesday in Havana. She is under house arrest. Patrol car No. 507 is stationed in front of the building where she lives, while four plainclothes offices are controlling the building entrances. Sánchez has confirmed that in the evening hours of Tuesday a second patrol car has been stationed in the back of the residential building.
Reinaldo Escobar was arrested when he left the building where he lives in the company of the activist Eliécer Ávila, founder of the group “Somos Más” (We are More). Both were handcuffed and put in a patrol car waiting in front of the building in the Havana neighborhood of Neuvo Vedado. Reinaldo’s daughter, Luz, who was with her father, has not been arrested, but a State Security agency told her, “We are not going to let you leave.” The same official visited Luz Escobar’s home yesterday to warn her not to go near the Plaza of the Revolution today, where the artist Tania Bruguera has scheduled a performance titled “Tatlin’s Whisper #6” for 3:00 in the afternoon, to demand freedom of expression for Cuban’s citizens.
Activist Omar Fayut of the opposition group Unión Patriótica de Cuba (UNPACU) was able to reach the Plaza of the Revolution together with other leaders from this group. He has confirmed to 14ymedio from the Plaza that there are tens of people gathered, some of them from opposition groups and others are young people who learned about the demonstration this past weekend when they were gathered at G Street, a popular spot for hipsters in Havana.