Hamlet Lavastida has been described as a political activist by way of art. Lavastida uses his art to document human rights abuses in Cuba and to criticise Cuban authorities.
Lavastida pushes boundaries of censorship in Cuba and highlights the distinctly Cuban spirit of cultural resistance. His work reconstructs old Cuban political and military propaganda.
Throughout his career, Lavastida has sought to use his art to fight for transparency and freedom of speech in order to fight against the Cuban government. He sees his art as a non-violent tool to fight against the current regime. Lavastida has been involved in various protest movements in Cuba, including the 27N movement which grew out of the protests held on 27 November 2020. The movement works to bring attention to the censorship of artistic expressions in Cuba.
In June 2021, Lavastida was arrested after returning from a residency at the Künstlerhaus Bethanien in Berlin. He was accused of ‘incitement to commit a crime’ because he suggested that other artists stamp images related to the San Isidro and 27N movements on local currency. Following his arrest, Amnesty International named him as a ‘prisoner of conscience’. Lavastida stayed in prison for 87 days. He was finally released without charges.
Lavastida has been living in exile in Europe since September 2021. He has been warned that he will be arrested immediately if he ever tries to return to Cuba. Lavastida is deeply concerned by the situation. While has experienced threats and censorship targeting his art throughout his career, he is now experiencing threats against him as an individual. He believes this is part of a greater trend of censorship in Cuba.
Lavastida plans to continue creating art and speaking up about the situation in Cuba.