OAS and U.S. Mission Host Discussion on Artistic Freedom in Cuba

Cuban artists David Escalona, Michel Matos, and Henry Constantin are joined by Ambassador Carlos Trujillo, U.S. Permanent Representative to the OAS, and Deputy Assistant Secretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs Carrie Filipetti for the presentation on artistic freedom in Cuba, Washington, D.C.

On May 6, 2019, the General Secretariat of the Organization of American States (OAS) and the U.S. Mission to the OAS held a discussion on artistic freedom in Cuba at OAS Headquarters in Washington, DC..  The discussion focused on how freedom of expression is severely restricted and criminalized in Cuba, and the new censorship law (“Decree 349”) that restricts artistic freedom and puts it under state control.  Speakers included OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro, Ambassador Carlos Trujillo, Department of State Deputy Assistant Secretary Carrie Filipetti, and IACHR Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression Edison Lanza and dissident Cuban artists.

Remarks by

Ambassador Carlos Trujillo

May 6, 2019

Secretary General Almagro, distinguished guests.

On behalf of the Permanent Mission of the United States to the OAS, I wish to extend a warm welcome to everyone joining here today to address this matter of great importance for the people of Cuba who seek their freedom.

I would like to thank Secretary General Almagro and the staff of the Secretariat for all of your great work in helping us host this event here today. And also my colleagues at the State Department – Deputy Assistant Secretary Filipetti and the office of Cuban Affairs for your dedication in making this possible, as well as to the Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression.

And a special and very warm welcome to the artists joining us today from Cuba.  Please know we greatly value your courage and stand with you.

Today is indeed a great day for all defenders of democracy and human rights the world over committed to stand with and support the Cuban people in the quest to regain their right to democracy.

It is fitting we come together at the OAS — here in the Hall of the Americas — an institution that stands for the ideals and principles at the core of our hemispheric union — democracy, the respect for human rights, and for the God given right to live in liberty as enshrined in Article 1 of the Inter-American Democratic Charter which asserts that “the peoples of the Americas have a right to democracy and their governments have an obligation to promote and defend it.”

The people of Cuba deserve no less. Yet in Cuba today, we witness the continued subjugation of an entire nation, and the transfer of power from one generation of tyranny, dictatorship and oppression to the next. It is vital that all of us remain engaged and that the Cuban regime be held accountable and responsible for its egregious violations and systematic repression of the good people of Cuba. We, as a region and as an organization, must advocate and defend the right of all Cuban citizens to live in democracy where their human dignity is fully respected.

And Secretary General Almagro, I would like to express my appreciation for changing the course of this organization in which for far too long the suffering of the Cuban people was ignored, and for ensuring your motto of more rights for more people is truly consistent with the obligation we must all share when it comes to holding the regime in Havana responsible.

We all look forward to hearing from our special guests today, and I want to thank you again for your courage as artists and defenders of the right to freedom of expression. We stand with you, for your determination and for being here today to tell the world that the Cuban people will not be silenced, and that the people of Cuba too will be free.

Thank you.