Shortly after Cuban President Miguel Díaz Canel took office in April of this year, he signed Decree 349 that bans the exhibition and sale of artworks and music shows not authorized by the state. Performing artists will need a government license. State inspectors will verify that artwork, exhibits and concerts comply with regulations on national symbols such as the Cuban flag. The decree also targets vulgarity, obscenity or sexually explicit lyrics in pop songs, singling out reggaeton music. The “abusive use” of electronic media or audio equipment can result in fines and the confiscation of equipment and studios Inspectors will be empowered to cancel shows and revoke licenses.
This Decree is supposed to take effect at the end of this month (December 2018), after artists protests and the government’ saying it would soften some of the decree’s provisions. However, no changes have been made so far and none are expected in the last days of this year.
Moreover, the government already is taking actions against some artists.
For example, Cuban painter Italo Expósito was fined $120 and his artist’s license was revoked for opening his house to an independent art festival. As a result, he will be banned from selling paintings and sculptures from his house and hosting young, deaf artists at workshops.
Authorities also have banned performers who have addressed subjects like racial discrimination and detained artists who have staged protests against the Decree.
A Cuban writer who is exiled in Spain, Ernesto Hernández Busto, said authorities will censor art as they see fit no matter what form the new decree takes. “Censorship existed, it exists now and will continue to exist. The purpose of the decree is to regulate a new world: private businesses, art galleries, people working from their homes. The alarm went off because it is a sector that is not under state control.”
 Pérez, ‘Absolute Control’:Cuba Steps Up Artistic Censorship, W.S.J. (Dec. 25, 2018),