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Vol. 78/No. 19      May 19, 2014

Nebraska: Prison paintings
attract support for Cuban 5
(feature article)
LINCOLN, Neb. — “This is a good beginning in Nebraska, to get more people aware of the case of the Cuban Five and why they should be free,” Mark Vasina, president of Nebraskans for Peace, told the Militant at an event at the Malone Community Center here opening an exhibit of prison paintings by Antonio Guerrero titled, “I Will Die the Way I’ve Lived.”

More than 40 people visited the April 22-23 exhibit before it moved across town for display at the Meadowlark Coffee and Espresso for six days, which started with a similar opening event.

“This center threw its doors open wide to everyone in the community years ago when many places here excluded African-Americans,” said Larry Williams, executive director of the Malone Center, who welcomed people to the event there. “This beautiful exhibit is part of our efforts to continue opening doors to people, with their culture and their exposure of injustice.”

In addition to the Malone Community Center, sponsors of the two exhibits included Nebraskans for Peace, Nebraskans for Justice, Metro Gallery, Meadowlark Coffee and Espresso and Amnesty International Local Group 173.

“I got one of those mailings, I’m not even sure from which of these organizations, but I knew I had to come,” said Jean Eden, who works with a prisoner support group. Pointing to the picture of Fernando González on the wall, she said, “You see, years ago I visited this man in jail in Wisconsin. I am very glad he is finally back in his country, but we have to let people know that three remain in jail,” referring to Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino and Guerrero.

“When working people and others from different walks of life learn about the Cuban Five, including facts on their frame-up and conditions of their imprisonment, many identify with their struggle,” said Joe Swanson, a leader of the Socialist Workers Party in Nebraska and one of the speakers. “Millions have had a bitter taste of U.S. capitalist ‘justice’ or know someone close to them who has.

“The paintings, and the stories that go with them, show the brutality of the prison system, as well as the discipline, integrity, courage and creative spirit with which the Five have resisted,” Swanson said. “They highlight the kind of exemplary human beings who have been forged in the Cuban Revolution, and the caliber of working-class fighters that is needed to build that kind of movement in the U.S. and around the world. The Five were framed up and jailed because they represent the men and women of Cuba who for 55 years have refused to submit to Washington’s dictates.”

Cuba’s aid to Chernobyl victims

Steve Larrick, one of 30 people at the event, said that in the early 1990s he had a neighbor who moved to Nebraska from Ukraine after the 1986 explosion at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant there. “I did what I could to help and I know some people got some help from others,” Larrick said. “But there was no program to help people.

“Until I read it in the Militant last week,” he continued, “I had no idea that Cuba set up a special program, treating thousands of children and others regardless of cost and that the program continues to this day. That is so different!”

Speaker Richard Hargesheimer of Nebraskans for Justice talked about the case of Mondo we Langa and Edward Poindexter, known as the Omaha 2, who were framed up in the death of a police officer in 1970. “They are innocent. They are still in jail after all this time. Like the Cuban Five, we must fight for their freedom,” he said.

More than $800 was contributed at the events to help cover the costs of framing and displaying the art.

“This was a great example of a project that was carried out by many people, each of whom played an important part in carrying out a multifaceted endeavor,” said Christy Hargesheimer, who together with Richard Hargesheimer helped build the exhibit, raise money and prepare the displays.

L.J. Meyers, a member of the Lincoln Central Labor Council, visited the Malone exhibit on the second day after learning about it at the council’s April board meeting where Mike Arnold, president of Communications Workers Local 7472, gave a presentation on the Cuban Five. “I am so pleased that the paintings were exhibited in Lincoln as part of the world tour so more people can find out who the Cuban Five are,” she said.

A table in the center of the room featured material from Nebraskans for Justice on the fight to free the Omaha 2, including art that we Langa painted in prison. Also on the table were prints of Guerrero’s paintings for sale and the Malone Center’s brochure. Another table had refreshments provided by the center. A third table featured the Militant and books on revolutionary politics from Pathfinder Press.

Ten Militant subscriptions and 25 books on revolutionary working-class politics, including nine on the Cuban Five, were bought at the two exhibits.

On May 17 the exhibit will open at the Malcolm X Center in Omaha, on the city’s north side. From June 4 to 7 it will be at Gallery 72 in south Omaha; and from June 8 to 14 it will show at the McFoster’s Natural Kind Café. A gallery in Kansas City has requested the exhibit for July after learning about it from Richard and Christy Hargesheimer.
Related articles:
May Day marches in Cuba ‘make the earth shake’
US embargo on Cuba part of unbroken attack on revolution
Who are the Cuban Five?
Exhibits of paintings by Antonio Guerrero
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