August 15, 2015 Press Release: For immediate release:
      Visual Artists Guild welcomes Secretary of State, John Kerry's statement yesterday at the opening of the United States Embassy in Cuba in which he stated, "We remain convinced the people of Cuba would be best served by a genuine democracy, where people are free to choose their leaders, express their ideas and practice their faith."
      However, words must also be aligned with actions.  Visual Artists Guild is disappointed in Secretary Kerry's failure to invite Ms. Berta Soler, leader of the activists group Damas de Blanco (Ladies in White) to the opening ceremony.
      This failure of Secretary Kerry contrasts glaringly with the February 1989 visit to China by President Bush during which the Chinese dissident physicist Fang Lizhi was invited to the U.S. embassy reception to meet with the President.  While China's security personnel forcibly and successfully prevented Fang from entered the the embassy, it created international news and exposed China's reality to the world.
      The Ladies in White is a group of women with support from others has been protesting every Sunday after mass since 2003. Dressed in white, a symbol of peace, they silently press for the release of their husbands and loved ones.
      Despite the rapprochement, the Ladies in White has been harassed, beaten, imprisoned almost weekly since the announcement of rapprochement in December, 2014.
      In fact, as early as 10 days ago, Cuban rocker, Gorki Aguila, was arrested for attending a Ladies in White march and for authoring a song in honor of The Ladies in White.  Aguila was later released.
      Visual Artists Guild calls on President Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry, to bring out the current repression against the Ladies in White and their supporters by the Cuban government.  The silence by the United States government in fact makes the U.S. a collaborator of repression in Cuba.
Ann Lau
Chair, Visual Artists Guild