Five years ago, in his home province of Holguín, in eastern Cuba, actor and playwright Yunior Garcia Aguilera asked to speak at an assembly of the Hermanos Saíz Association (AHS), a cultural organization made up of prominent Cuban writers, artists, and intellectuals up to 35 years old. Without hesitating a second, he asked 15 “uncomfortable” questions about the reality of the island.
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These questions are transmitted today from hand to hand and were the germ that led García Aguilera to promote the historic protests of July 11 in that Caribbean country. The playwright is the main convener of the new mobilizations that will take place this Monday 15 against the Revolution.
What were the questions of Yunior García Aguilera that most bothered the Cuban authorities
In 2016, in front of García Aguilera was the then first secretary of the Holguín Communist Party, Luis Antonio Torres Iríbar, the highest political authority in the territory. The actor and playwright did not flinch, he looked at him and asked why he had gone to the paradise resort of Varadero in the midst of a cholera and dengue epidemic that was hitting the province.
But that was just an introduction. The questions grew increasingly sharp. “Why in the national media do we criticize Arizona’s anti-immigrant law if they still ‘palestinians‘(as those born in the east of the island are contemptuously called in Cuba) we need a residence permit Or a temporary residence to work in Havana? ”, asked García Aguilera.
And there was more: “Why do we criticize a hegemonic world if within Cuba we live the hegemony of a single party?”.
Yunior García Aguilera’s tough question: why not legalize corruption
The artist was raising the stakes more and more and came to ask why not legalize corruption to force the corrupt at the head of cultural institutions on the island to pay taxes for what they steal.
The questions went straight to the heart of the system. The silence was total. The last question revealed the tension in the environment: Why were some friends afraid that I would read these questions?”.
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The audio with the 15 questions was recorded by a “colleague” present at the assembly and since then it has been passed from hand to hand, converted into flash memory.
Who is Yunior García Aguilera, the playwright who calls for new protests in Cuba
At 39, Yunior García Aguilera lives with his wife, the teacher and film producer Dayana Prieto, in La Coronela, a popular neighborhood in Havana. He works for the Council for the Performing Arts. His salary, he said, does not reach 4000 pesos, about $ 166.
As a teenager, in his native Holguín province, he was one of Jehovah’s Witnesses until at age 16 he was expelled from the congregation for arguing with the religious leadership. He always defined himself as a nonconformist.
Yunior, as he is known in the Cuban art world, studied at the National School of Art (ENA) in Havana, where he graduated as an actor. He also attended the prestigious Higher Institute of Art (ISA) in the Cuban capital and lived for some years in London. There he worked at the Royal Court Theater. He currently directs the group on the island Clover Theater. Today he is a renowned Cuban actor and playwright.
How Yunior García Aguilera became one of the promoters of the protests in Cuba
On July 11 the island was hacked by the first popular protests since 1994. García Aguilera decided then that he should join the mobilizations and attended, together with a small group of people, at the doors of the Cuban Institute of Radio and Television (ICRT), converted today into the Institute of Information and Social Communication.
There, he demanded to exercise the right to reply to explain on TV the reasons that had led thousands of Cubans to take to the streets. But his attempt was short-lived. He was put into a truck and detained by the police.
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After being released, García Aguilera founded a platform for political debate on Facebook called Archipelago and that today has 27,000 members. From there discussions were generated and it was decided to call a new protest for November 20. The government responded by organizing military exercises on the same date, coinciding with the National Defense Day.
That is why it was decided to set a new date for the call: Monday, November 15. But this time permission was requested from the authorities, who after a few weeks of silence rejected outright the possibility of allowing a protest mobilization. They also denounced that the organizers promote a regime change under the auspices of the United States.
But the artist redoubled the bet and called out to the street. “We don’t want to exclude anyone, not even them, the communists. We want a country where everyone fits, a plural country where the rights of absolutely all citizens are respected. Of course I know they will try to stop meMaybe they will put surveillance on me in front of the house so I can’t go out. I will try to get by ”, he confided, quoted by the AFP.
What the Cuban government says about the playwright Yunior García Aguilera, the promoter of new protests on the island
Until a few weeks ago, TN maintained regular communication with García Aguilera. But it is already impossible to contact him from the outside. “They cut off our Internet and even the local telephone,” he was quoted as saying. France24.
The official press accused him of being an agent in the service of the United States and a report of a spy who reportedly reported on his activities on a recent trip to Madrid. According to that report, the playwright was at “an event in September 2019 on the role of the Armed Forces in a transition process, sponsored by the Madrid branch of the North American University of Saint Louis.”
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The complaint was attributed to the doctor Carlos Leonardo Vázquez González, “Who for more than 25 years has been the agent Fernando of the State Security organs,” published Reasons of Cuba. According to the complaint, García Aguilera participated in actions “guided by the United States government” through international entities from that country and from European and Latin American countries aimed at “the establishment of a fundamentalist and privatizing capitalism” on the island.
Yunior García “showed that follow unconventional warfare manuals to the letter, applied in countries such as Venezuela, the former Yugoslavia and Nicaragua ”and is seeking confrontation with the Armed Forces and the Minint (Ministry of the Interior). He openly stated that upon his arrival in Cuba he was going to dedicate himself to the counterrevolution”Wrote the newspaper Granma, spokesman for the ruling Communist Party.
What colleagues of Yunior García Aguilera think about the playwright who promotes new protests in Cuba
But some of his Cuban colleagues disbelieve these allegations and highlight his performance in the world of Cuban culture.
Actor and playwright Misael Hernandez Pino, resident in Spain, told TN that García Aguilera is “daring and brave.”
“Something must generate, something must have this boy when they are so nervous with Yunior García Aguilera and they try at all costs to discredit him. I believe in what he says and in his way of dealing with it”, He confided.
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Also in dialogue with TN, the director of Theater of the Moon from Havana, Raul MartinHe recalled that he was García Aguilera’s teacher at the National School of Art (ENA) in the Cuban capital.
“From the beginning I realized that I was going to be a well-rounded artist because he also turned out to be a very good actor and playwright. I am very proud to see the growth he had as an artist. Yunior grew as a man. He is a honest and honest human being and that is reflected in his work. It has the germ of creativity. It is in the generation of young Cuban artists. It is fortunate for Cuban theater to have artists like him“, he claimed.
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Martín also said he disbelieved the accusations against his former student. “All those arguments they have invented to discredit him, beyond being a scandalous lie and a betrayal of the truth, are childish because it is laughable to suggest that he may be a CIA agent and other things they have invented,” he said.
And he concluded: “Associating your experiences in other countries or here (in Cuba) with a job as a mercenary (…) has a very weak livelihood.”