Statement by Maria Arena, Chair of Parliament’s Subcommittee on Human Rights, on the health situation of the Cuban human rights defenders and members of the San Isidro movement.
"I wish to express my deepest concern over the deteriorating health condition of several members of the San Isidro movement in Cuba, who are on a hunger strike since mid-November. By doing so, they want to protest against the imprisonment of musician Denis Solís González and give a voice to their plight, while denouncing the ongoing harassment and intimidation the San Isidro movement is facing.
Artists, poets, academics, LGBTI activists, and independent journalists cannot be criminalised for peacefully exercising their right to protest against Decree 349. Freedom of artistic expression belongs among the fundamental rights. Limiting this right sends a negative message, not only to the Cubans, but also outside the country. I strongly encourage the Cuban authorities to urgently engage in a dialogue to de-escalate the situation, to release Denis Solís González and to refrain from any intimidations of the San Isidro movement or of any peaceful protesters."
The San Isidro movement started its protests because of Decree 349 that was signed by President Miguel Díaz-Canel in April 2018. Under the decree, all artists are prohibited from operating in public or private spaces without prior approval by the Ministry of Culture, hiring artists without authorisation is sanctioned, and working without prior approval allows for confiscation of materials and fines. The Cuban authorities also have the power to immediately suspend a performance and cancel the authorisation granted to carry out an artistic activity. This decree therefore restricts human rights and the freedom of expression.
The imprisonment of musician Denis Solís González has also further exacerbated the tensions and as of 19 November, eight members of the San Isidro group have been on hunger strike at the movement’s headquarters in Old Havana.