Hyattsville, Md. — What are the impressions of 15 years of imprisonment? ”Me muero como viví” (“I shall die as I lived”) is the new watercolor exhibit produced by Antonio Guerrero, one of the Cuban 5, for the upcoming 15th anniversary of their initial arrest on Sept. 12, 1998. Unveiled at Casa de Maryland on May 15, the art work, with bilingual explanations of the significance of each painting, visually drills into those experiences for all to see and feel. The exhibit’s title is the last refrain line from the Silvio Rodríguez song, “El Necio.”
One painting looks down on swarming roaches with two pink semicircles peeking into the edge of the canvas — the tips of flip-flop sandals, which are the only footwear allowed to prisoners. Another looks like a tic-tac-toe grid, but is a number sign. Guerrero’s prison number is written on each of the four cross pieces, representing the replacement of a prisoner’s name with an inhuman number.
This preview of the exhibit coincided with the date in 1955 when public pressure forced the Batista dictatorship in Cuba to free Fidel Castro, Raúl Castro and others who had attacked the Moncada Barracks and subsequently been imprisoned. José R. Cabañas, chief of the Cuban Interests Section in Washington, D.C., noted that the same kind of pressure from public opinion would result in freedom for the Cuban Five and their return home.
5 days for Cuban 5
As part of the “Second 5 Days for the Cuban 5 in Washington, D.C.” from May 30 to June 5, the exhibit will be opened for public display at 7 p.m., June 3, at Bus Boys and Poets, 2021 14th St. NW, and will remain there until June 10. A discussion of Cuba in contemporary times will follow, featuring an international panel of writers and historians, including Ignacio Ramonet, former editor-in-chief of Le Monde Diplomatique; Jane Franklin, expert on Cuba-U.S. relations; Gianni Vattimo, European Parliament member; Miguel Barnet, current president of the National Union of Artists and Writers of Cuba; and Salim Lamrani, French professor and researcher. Attorney José Pertierra will moderate the panel.
On Saturday, June 1, a rally will be held at the White House at 1 p.m., with participation by a large number of Cuban Americans traveling from Miami, delegations from Quebec and many other cities in the U.S. and Canada. It will be followed by a 6 p.m. ecumenical-cultural event with Angela Davis; Nacyra Gómez Cruz, international relations secretary of the Christian Conference for Peace for Latin America and the Caribbean; poetry, and music by Barbadian Mighty Gabby and the DC Labor Chorus.
The schedule of events includes a press conference on May 30, discussion of Cuba’s role in Africa generally and the Cuban 5 in Angola, a meeting for elected union officials and rank-and-file members on June 3, lobbying Congress with international parliamentarians and a final plenary on June 5. Full information can be accessed at www.theCuban5.org. Much- needed donations for this strong program demanding the freedom of the Cuban 5 heroes can be made at thecuban5.org/wordpress/donate-2/ to meet a $5,000 matching fund.