Cuenca Mayor Pedro Palacios has fired Cuenca Director of Cultural Affairs Adriana Tamariz following a Friday night performance by the band Mestizo that included criticism of the government’s handling of the October indigenous protests. The performance was part of the kick-off of Cuenca’s bicentennial year agenda in Plaza San Francisco which also featured jazz musician Su Terry.
In a short statement, Palacios’ office said that Tamariz was “terminated on Monday, January 27 due to inappropriate content of the performance program Friday night.”
Following annoucement of the firing, dozens of Cuenca cultural leaders, including musicians, actors and artists signed a letter demanding that Tamariz be rehired. The letter claimed that Mestizo was exercizing its right to free speech and that Palacios’ action was politically motivated.
Mestizo’s Friday performance began with a reenactment of the October 13 speech by an Amazonian woman, Sarayaku Miriam Cisneros, who complained of the “repression by President Lenin Moreno and the central government against my people.” The speech was accompanied by torch-bearing performers who climbed onto the stage and indigenous images projected onto a large screen.
The protest letter to Palacios supported the October protests and the “legitimacy” of the fight against neoliberalism. “The uprising was in the context of regional political disagreement in various Latin American countries such as Bolivia, Chile, Haiti, Colombia and Brazil, among others, with the failed but prevailing economic model,” the letter said.
On Wednesday, Palacios refused to answer questions about the firing while Tamariz said she would hold a Thursday press conference to explain her position.
See the Youtube video of the Mestizo performance below.