Censorship against Sandra Ramos: Letter to Mayor Vince Lago

Censorship against Sandra Ramos: Letter to Mayor Vince Lago

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Alejandro de la Fuente started this petition to Mayor of Coral Gables

July 17, 2021
 
The Honorable Vince Lago
Mayor, Coral Gables
Florida
 
 
Dear Mayor Lago:
 
As scholars of Cuba and of Cuban culture, we write to strongly protest the recent decision by the Coral Gables commission to censor the work of Cuban American artist Sandra Ramos. As reported by the Miami Herald, Ramos was to be part of the “Illuminate Coral Gables” art show. Her exclusion was based on the argument that she is, or was at some point, a “communist sympathizer.”
 
As Cuba specialists, many of us have experienced different forms of state censorship in our own work or dealt with it in our scholarship and our teaching. We strongly feel that, when it comes to art or to intellectual creation, any ideological purity test is by definition antidemocratic, exclusionary, and repressive. The commission is certainly entitled to choose which events to support. Trying to interfere with the curator’s decision about what or who to include, however, and demanding the exclusion of certain artists, are acts of censorship. These acts are similar to those experienced by artists in Cuba every day, against which they have protested tirelessly over the years.
 
Furthermore, when it comes to Sandra Ramos, this is a massive injustice. If the charge is that Ramos was at some point in her life a “communist sympathizer,” our reaction is that of course she was. Besides the point that she is entitled to whatever beliefs she finds congenial (there is a difference between believing something and hurting people because of it), any person born in Cuba in the 1960s or 1970s had to be a “communist sympathizer.” People like her were born under a regime that did not tolerate any pluralism, attended schools where ideological conformity was mandatory, and grew up with limited employment and professional opportunities. The state was the only employer in Ramos’s Cuba.
 
It is therefore a testament to her creativity, and to her caliber as an artist and intellectual that Ramos’s entire body of work has been a critical appraisal of Cuban society and of Cuban socialism. In fact, no other artist has captured the Cuban postsocialist condition like Sandra Ramos. Since the early 1990s, her work has conveyed the frustrations, the dissention and despair of an entire generation of Cubans. Ramos’s Cuba is a sinking Cuba, a wreckage of a nation without hope or future. That is why she, like many of us, left.
 
Tens of thousands of Cubans have been on the streets demanding freedom, democratic reform, inclusion, and pluralism. We fully support those demands and ask the commission to reconsider its decision. A free republic, of free people, cannot reproduce the procedures of totalitarian regimes. Censorship is abhorrent in Cuba. It is equally abhorrent in Coral Gables.
 
Alejandro de la Fuente, Harvard University
Wendy Guerra, writer
Armando Chaguaceda, El Colegio de Veracruz
Francisco Moran, Southern Methodist University
Marial Iglesias, Harvard University
Manuel Barcia, University of Leeds
José de la Fuente, Universidad de Castilla la Mancha
Jennifer Lambe, Brown University
 
 
 

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