The disease shut down Cuba’s art market completely, so people there had to rely on online markets to make a living. Artists say that because of US sanctions on Cuba, there is still censorship. They say that US-based platforms like Open Sea even delete content and accounts connected to the country.
In January, Fabrica de Arte Cubano, an art gallery that showed work by new artists, suddenly closed its account. This was the start of censorship.
Gabriel Bianchini, a Cuban visual artist and the creator of the CryptoCubans project, says, “The embargo’s restrictions are so vague that platforms just don’t want to take the chance and deactivate our accounts.”
This kind of repression is often put on Cuban artists who show their work online. Ernesto Cisneros, a musician and NFT artist, told the sad story of how he lost all of his Patreon income because of the embargo during the epidemic. He went to web3 because of this, but he didn’t know that the same thing would happen again. He said:
“I helped to integrate many artists into web3. But then OpenSea started blocking Cuban artists one by one. I shut down this marketplace altogether when I found out they were censoring because of the embargo.”
They also think that hackers are more likely to go after Cuban artists because of the restrictions. Avinro, an NFT artist who lives in Havana, agrees. “There are antivirus programs that don’t work right because I’m in Cuba,” he says. He says that because digital security wasn’t good enough, an attacker was able to zoom in on a virus to send to him, which the software should have caught. The attacker made it look like he wanted to buy. Avinro said that because of this mistake, the attacker was able to get into his Metamask wallet and steal his winnings and delete his user accounts on several NFT markets.
Even so, there are clear signs that technology is getting better through legal channels. The Cuban government recently said that it is open to using cryptocurrency, which gives people more hope that it will be used quickly. But even if that happens, the general public will have to follow strict rules. Smart contracts on the blockchain have made things different for Cubans who want to talk to the rest of the world. Bianchini declared:
“Nothing is more independent than a smart contract. Once you know how to program them, there’s no stopping them. What happened to Fábrica de Arte was an alarm to give the community a new direction. I believe we will build our independence because now we have this opportunity.”
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