Coral Gables Mayor Vince Lago vs. Cuban artist Sandra Ramos
With leaders like Coral Gables Mayor Vince Lago, who needs enemies?
At a time when Miami plays a crucial supporting role in advancing the cause of freedom in Cuba, here is a local politician with his own underground agenda that will seriously damage the cause – and the credibility of the Cuban exile.
As the island’s Cubans are rounded up, beaten, imprisoned and killed for their beliefs, Lago sets out on a commie hunt, questions the policies of the artists involved in a city project, and in so doing delivers great injustice.
Last week, amid global calls for freedom in Cuba, Lago called Miami-based Cuban artist Sandra Ramos a “Communist sympathizer” and ended her participation in the public art project “Illuminate Coral Gables” .
He also excluded from a list of 20 entrants world-famous New York-based Chinese artist Cai Guo-Qiang for something he said in 1995 about communism in China.
“The most mind-boggling part is that it’s the same thing the Communist Party secretariat in Cuba does,” Ramos tells me from his home in Miami Beach, his voice cracking with legitimate outrage. “It’s heartbreaking, if it’s like that in Miami, what’s the future?”
The famous artist, known for his poignant installations that capture the essence of being Cuban and the pathos of Cuban immigration, fled the island’s suffocating censorship, as artists often do. Little by little, they are carving out a place for themselves in this country and internationally.
And, here it is – decades after its first show in Miami in 2003, where people cried over a facility that seemed to collect the tears of a nation and bring them to these shores – its loyalty questioned and its character vilified by the mayor of a large city in Miami-Dade County.
“For the Cuban artist, his nation is drowning in rain, ocean and tears,” was the title of the Herald story I wrote on the occasion of his exhibition.
Her art, I say then, is not only remarkable for her artistic merit, but also “because she is an avant-garde artist in Cuba, part of a generation which, during the last decade, broke through some of the constraints of censorship and made art, music, films and author’s work reflecting the harshness of Cuban reality.
Her art, exhibited from Mexico to Tokyo and included in major museum collections, has only grown more powerful and sophisticated, and while Lago denigrates her, she is busy supporting Cubans on the island, including those who are censored and abused.
Comthe munist label is not suitable
The woman Lago slandered comes from a family of scientists ostracized and ostracized in Cuba for refusing to join the Communist Party. His slander puts his family in danger by drawing attention to them.
But this mayor thinks he knows better. All of this, allegedly, because Ramos, like many Cuban artists, lists on his resume a studio in Havana, which is often just a room in a relative’s house.
They do this to maintain their authenticity and their ties to the island as Cuban artists, to impose an independent space where censorship reigns. In other words, to fight the good fight for the creation of freedom in Cuba.
And they do so to satisfy unstable US and international art markets that punish exiles by questioning the strength of Cuban identity art like Ramos’ art. These artists are caught between two forces: censorship and the risk of exile in Cuba against prejudices against their status as exiles in the United States and elsewhere.
Lago places Miami, once again, in the category of intolerant backsliders who dislike free speech and use red bait to turn disinformation for political gain.
“The timing couldn’t be worse,” said Rafael Peñalver, a Coral Gables resident and longtime civic activist. “Once again, we are diverting attention from the situation in Cuba.”
Lago owes Ramos a public apology and he should reinstate his stake in Illuminate Coral Gables.
She is not a communist.
His fraudulent accusation is typical behavior of a sickening policy of spitting out baseless accusations to win the election. Cuban Americans who behave like him – a right-wing mirror image of the Cuban regime – prevent others from winning the moral war against the dictatorship.
The Miami Commie Hunters Squad strikes again – and this time the damage is deeper and extends beyond the mere politics of exile. Cuba’s very freedom is at stake, not to mention Miami’s sanity.
Stop it, just stop it.
In Coral Gables or Havana, art is free – or it isn’t.