Last week, Cuban filmmaker Carlos Díaz Lechuga announced that his film Santa and Andrés had been excluded from the competition in the 18th Havana Film Festival of New York, which will take place in that city from March 30th to April 7th.
This is not the first time that Lechuga’s film has been censored. Last December, it was banned from the Havana Film Festival, in Havana, Cuba. This exclusion, though unjustified, followed its own logic: Santa and Andrés shows the repression and harassment against a homosexual Cuban intellectual a few decades ago. The censorship from the Cuban cultural institutions against Lechuga’s film was a confirmation of the very repressive nature of the system.
But if it is logical that in Cuba the regime rejects its own reflection, it is inconceivable that a cultural institution in New York would emulate a dictatorship.
We, filmmakers, artists and creators, strongly denounce the censorship of Cuban artists, not only in their country of origin, but also in the United States, a nation in which so many artists from around the world have sought refuge from the violation of their right to express themselves, and to create and disseminate their work.
If we are repulsed that these things occur in Cuba, it is more intolerable for us that such authoritarian practices take place in the United States. Particularly when this is done while invoking the need to create bridges between both countries, which is what Carole Rosenberg, Executive Director of the Havana Film Festival of New York, did to justify her collaboration with Cuban cultural authorities in the double censorship of Santa and Andrés.
Establishing links with institutions from a dictatorial regime, while at the same time closing the door to the freest and most critical voices of a repressive society does not promote bridges, it thwarts freedom of expression and democracy. Collaborating with the repressors is an attack on liberty in any place and time, all the more so in New York, a city in which José Martí, Félix Varela, Reinaldo Arenas and so many other intellectuals and artists lived and created in freedom.
We call on public and private institutions that sponsor the Havana Film Festival of New York to withdraw financial support to projects that go against the free and inclusive spirit of the city of New York and the Constitution of the United States.
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