The Victims of Communism Museum opened its temporary gallery, “Cuban Communist Prison,” a visual arts exhibition on Cuban political prisoners. The exhibit reflects the harsh reality that the island has been going through since 1959, where thousands of people have been imprisoned and deprived of their human rights. Through Cuban activists’ works, we can gather different experiences of Cuban political prisoners and their families, focusing on the impact of the repressive system on different population levels during the last 64 years under Communism. The exhibition includes supporting materials such as interviews with political prisoners and a timeline of political imprisonment, civil unrest, turmoil, and repression in the country.
The opening event featured participating artists, several of whom have been imprisoned or ostracized for their political views, and are now widely recognized internationally for their work:
Tania Bruguera, with her Performance Coro, will be exhibited for the first time in Washington D.C. and will have the unique collaboration of human rights activists Yoaxis Marcheco, Mario Felix Lleonart, Yosmani Mayeta, and Keylilli de la Mora.
Angel Delgado is a visual artist who was imprisoned in Cuba in the 1990s and whose work is being exhibited in a series of pieces created while he was incarcerated.
Hamlet Labastida participates with his series of drawings, República Carcelaria, where he recreates aerial views of different detention centers.
Annelys Perez Marrero uses data from different sources and human rights organizations to recreate the map of Cuban prisons and the timeline of political imprisonment in Cuba since 1959.
Anyelo Troya, a photographer and video artist, documented the recording of the famous song Patria y Vida, which received a Latin Grammy. This song became an anthem during the civil demonstrations in Cuba in July 2021. In the photographs are the artists Maykel Osorbo and Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara, recipients of VOC’s Human Rights Award and still imprisoned in Cuba.
This event included a special guest, Keylilli de la Mora, a young Cuban recently admitted to the United States as a refugee after being a political prisoner. Her testimonies have also been used to create the exhibition’s central work, an immersive and sensory experience with the lived experiences of different Cubans who have faced repression on the island in recent years.
Valia Garzon Art Services produced this exhibition with the support of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation.