The Cuban artist and activist Tania Bruguera was detained and interrogated in Cuba yesterday (12 January). Bruguera was travelling by car from Havana to the Cuban city of Baracoa to deliver humanitarian aid, such as rice and mattresses, to the victims of Hurricane Matthew. She was delivering the aid as part of her work for the Institute of Artivism Hannah Arendt (Instar), which she launched two years ago.
Bruguera and her companion, the scientist Oscar Casanellas, were “intercepted" by police who needed to carry out an inspection and a document check on the vehicle in which they were travelling, according to an Instar statement posted on Facebook. The artist's sister, Deborah Brugera, tells The Art Newspaper that after being interrogated for around six hours she was released but told she would not be allowed to deliver the aid.
The artist is expected to fly back to Boston, Massachusetts today where she is teaching at Harvard University.
Bruguera was arrested in January 2015 after she attempted to organise a performance in Havana’s Plaza de la Revolution. Cuban authorities confiscated her passport and charged her with incitement of public disorder, resistance of police and incitement to commit a crime. She was released the same month but only had her passport returned after seven months later. Since then, she has been detained by Cuban authorities on numerous occasions.