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An Independent Report on Contemporary Cuba

We invite undergraduate and graduate students to meet and welcome Professor Valdes Navia, as he embarks on an academic project about contemporary Cuba. Lunch will be served.

After the social protests in July 2021, as a result of the dire economic and social realities in Cuba, mostly led by artists and intellectuals, the Cuban government continues to repress and punish virtually all forms of dissent and public criticism. At the same time, Cubans continue to endure an economic crisis, which impacts their social and economic rights. Cuban officers have also systematically detained independent journalists and artists. Victims include members of the coalitions of artists known as the "San Isidro," "27N," and "Archipelago" movements, as well as those involved in "Motherland and Life" - a viral song that repurposes the Cuban government's old slogan, "Motherland or Death" (Patria o Muerte) and criticizes repression in the country. Valdes Navia has published independently via La Joven Cuba (an independent blog) op-ed pieces regarding freedom of speech and the current situation in Cuba. Journalists, bloggers, social media influencers, artists, and academics who publish information considered critical of the government are routinely subject to harassment, violence, smear campaigns, travel restrictions, internet cuts, online harassment, raids on homes and offices, confiscation of working materials, and arbitrary arrests. They are regularly held incommunicado.

Mario J. Valdes Navia is an historian, essayist and researcher.
He came to Duke as the 2023-2024 Scholar at Risk and is a visiting professor of Romance Languages at the National Humanities Center.