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. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OHvmaOTKIuo
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.
Chair, Visual Artists Guild