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Corcoran Gallery reacts to protests. 11/24/04





Corcoran Gallery suspends program at Cuba’s Interest Section amidst protests

November 24, 2004.

The Washington Post reported today that the Corcoran Gallery of Art has abruptly cancelled an evening program at the Cuban Interest Section scheduled for November 30th (“Corcoran Pulls the Plug on Cuba Night, p. C11.)   The announcement coincided with the initiation of a grass roots campaign protesting the event and questions by the U.S. government regarding adherence to regulations that restrict funds to the Castro regime.

Yale professor Carlos Eire, recipient of the 2003 National Book Award for “Waiting for Snow in Havana,”  expressed his dismay to Corcoran’s President David Levy in a harsh letter. Referring to the invitation to Cuba’s diplomatic mission as an opportunity to get in touch with the “real Cuba and it people,” he stated:  “Your phrasing raises a very interesting philosophical question:  Are Cubans on the island the only "real" ones?  Are exiles less "real" than the place they flee?”  Calling the Cuban regime “one of the most reprehensible in the world,” he added: “I am certain that back in the 1980's, you would not have associated with any representatives of the former Republic of South Africa, with its apartheid laws.”   Among others who wrote in objection to the event is Elena Maza, Cuban American artist from Maryland who is a member of the Corcoran’s Alumni Association.

The Free Society Project wrote to Corcoran’s President and Chair of its Board of Trustees:  “It' is truly objectionable that your distinguished institution affords legitimacy to officials who only represent a brutal tyranny and offers to serve as instrument of their senseless propaganda. 
Hopefully, this has been an oversight by Museum staff unfamiliar with Cuba's Constitution, Penal Code, and many other laws that clearly state that art and culture in Cuba are solely allowed for the purposes of the totalitarian Communist state.”  It offered to help organize an educational program on repression of cultural and artistic freedom in Cuba and bring Cuban artists in exile to recount their experiences.  Citing thousands killed or disappeared by the Castro regime, the letter highlights the 1979 assassination while under arrest of 16-year old Máximo Galán Zaldívar, detained at the State Security Office for "ideological deviation" for leading a rock and roll group.

The Free Society Project is a non-profit, tax-exempt organization that promotes human rights  through research, scholarship, and publications. Its Truth Recovery Archive on Cuba is documenting the cost in lives of the Cuban Revolution.

Corcoran had led educational trips to Cuba under general licenses issued by the U.S. Treasury Department to allow travel for people-to-people exchanges despite the long-standing embargo on Cuba.  The Bush Administration suspended general licensing for these exchanges amidst reports of widespread abuse as the Cuban government reaped the economic benefits while limiting free exchanges with the Cuban people. U.S. visitors reportedly enjoying highly structured and mostly tourist-oriented opportunities.
Maria C. Werlau
President - Free Society Project, Inc.
Of. Tel. 973.701-0520
Mobile 973.219-7000


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