Artist Hamlet Lavastida, who was detained in Cuba in June due to his criticism of the government, has finally been released.
After 3 months of detainment, Lavastida was released last weekend from the prison. Katherine Bisquet, writer and Lavastida’s girlfriend, said that the couple has been exiled to Europe as one of the conditions of his release. In a Facebook post made after the artist’s release, Bisquet said that she is hopeful for the two of them.
Hamlet Lavastida was arrested on June 26 in Havana, few days after he had returned to the country. Hamlet Lavastida was in Berlin for many months for his residency at Künstlerhaus Bethanien. Reportedly, he was being kept at the Villa Marista prison. Lavastida was arrested while being under the mandatory quarantine period enforced in Cuba for all international travelers.
Lavastida is an outspoken critic of the Cuban government and a free speech advocate. He is a member of N27, a group of Cuban activists against government restrictions on artistic freedom. One of the artworks Lavastida presented in Berlin was the confession under interrogation of Cuban visual artist Javier Cosa in 2010. He also recently contributed to “Padilla’s Shadow”. The project included the 1971 anti-censorship statement of Cuban poet Heberto Padilla.
Since his arrest, many names in the art world have called for his release. James Mayor, the dealer who represented Lavastida, called it a ‘tragic’ event. Julie Trébault (Director, PEN America) said: “The spurious charges imposed on Hamlet—which was arbitrary in every way and lacked any semblance of due process—is emblematic of the lengths to which the Cuban government will go to silence those who defy them, and the special cruelty they reserve for those who, through the power of art, can move others to resist as well.”