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Urban artist at risk in Cuba
Published on August 29, 2017 Email To Friend    Print Version

HAVANA, Cuba -- After being arbitrarily detained on 17 August, Yulier Perez, a graffiti artist known for painting dilapidated walls in Havana, is at risk of being imprisoned again, after months of intimidation and harassment from Cuban authorities.

State officials arbitrarily detained Yulier Rodriguez Perez, or Yulier P., known for his art work on the ruined walls of Havana, the capital, on 17 August in Central Havana. He told Amnesty International that he was released on the evening of 18 August on the condition that he remove all his artwork from the walls of Havana by 25 August.

Amnesty International has followed the case of Yulier Perez since early 2017, when he told the organization he had been forced out of his art studio. His international profile has increasingly grown.

In 2016, he told newspaper 14 y medio, “My pictures are like fables, a portrait of people’s experiences…They are like souls, because at some point we stop being people and now we are souls in a purgatory called Cuba.”

In April 2017, police summoned and questioned him about his interviews with the international press and his opinions about his art. Yulier Perez said that state security officials threatened to charge him with “dangerousness” (peligrosidad), or a range of other provisions of the Penal Code.

In July, Yulier Perez travelled to the USA to participate in an art exhibition. On his return, police summoned him again. Subsequently, he hand-delivered letters to the minister of culture and minister of external relations, asking for their intervention in the frequent police harassment.

Decree No. 272 (20 February 2001) establishes administrative penalties for infringements on public adornments and monuments, and establishes that any alteration of walls or external parts of buildings is a fineable offence. Such an offence is not contemplated in the Penal Code.

Yulier Perez is at risk of being criminally charged with “dangerousness” solely for the exercise of his right to freedom of expression. Cuban authorities have frequently used this vague and overly broad provision against human rights defenders and any others who appear to contradict the “norms of socialist morals”.

Provisions foreseeing the punishment of individuals not because of their actions or attitudes, but because of the likelihood of potential, future and uncertain actions breach the principle of legality.
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