Cuban Visual Arts, affected by the US blockade

The economic, financial and commercial blockade imposed by the United States against Cuba in the field of plastic and applied arts (visual arts not including cinema) has caused losses estimated at more than two billion dollars over the past year; however the Cuban creators are highly demanded by the US people.

The US Treasury Department took action to prevent attendance of Cuban artists at fairs and international exhibitions organized in the United States, where they would show the work of our best contemporary artists; and to prevent works being sent to auction houses whose headquarters are located in the US, despite the existence of the Bergman Amendment, related to the Cuban art acquisition.

The possible confiscation of all the cash from Cuba passing through U.S. banks or their subsidiaries generates difficulties with the payments to participate in the above mentioned events, since this way they force Cuba to look for alternatives that negatively affect sales and income.

Other aspects to take into account are the delay in the granting of visas to the participants of those fairs or exhibitions, as well as the impossibility of direct transportation of the artworks which increases costs and consequently, that makes it difficult for those art collectors living in the US who would like to purchase Cuban art.

Part of the pressure on the US Treasury Department is from the most reactionary sector of the Cuban emigre community that campaigns against the presence of works or artists from Cuba at events there.

This occurred last year when websites of several publications, including the Miami Herald newspaper, attacked the attendance of La Casona gallery representatives at the Houston Art Fair, where consequently – unlike at other Art Fairs -Génesis art Gallery from Cuba was not able to sell any work.

Last year, the Cuban Galería Habana was allowed to participate at a fair held in the United States and it did 44 percent of its sales right there. This confirms the demand for the Cuban art in the States exists but cannot be advertised.

Certainly, it seems we are not living those times like in 1988 when the ‘El pavo real’ (Peacock) work by outstanding Cuban painter Manuel Mendive was burned in the United States; however nearly three decades after that barbarous event, they persist in suffocating Cuba.

UN Vote on the US blockade against Cuba

On 28 October 2014, the United Nations General Assembly voted for the 23rd consecutive year on a resolution calling for an end to the illegal blockade of Cuba. Just as in 2013, 188 countries voted for an end to the blockade with just the US and Israel in support.

Cuba presented its annual report detailing the economic and human damage caused by the blockade to the United Nations in September. This year the economic sanctions imposed by the US have cost the island US$3.9 billion in foreign trade, bringing the accumulative total to US$116.8 billion lost over the past 55 years.

The figure of $116.8 billion was expressed in current prices. When factoring in the depreciation of the dollar against the international price of gold, the figure rises to US$1.11 trillion, the government estimated.

” … There is not, and there has not been in the world, such a terrorising and vile violation of human rights of an entire people than the blockade that the US government has been leading against Cuba for 55 years,” Deputy Foreign Minister, Abelardo Moreno told reporters at a press conference following the presentation.

The United Nations has passed the resolution against the blockade for 22 straight years with overwhelming support. In recent years the US has become completely isolated at the United Nations as many of its traditional allies, including those who may be critical of Cuba, speak out against them.

Other US laws have strengthened the blockade over the years, imposing fines on companies from third countries that have business in Cuba and also in the United States. International banks have also pulled out of the country after facing large penalties from the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) as a result of Cuba ludicrously remaining on the US list of state sponsors of terror.

In September, President Obama extended the application of the Trading with the Enemy Act to Cuba for the 47th consecutive year.

The Trading with the Enemy Act (or “TWEA”), enacted in 1917 as the US prepared to enter World War I, gives the President authority to prohibit, limit or regulate trade with hostile countries in times of war. It is a statutory foundation on which the entire range of US sanctions toward Cuba rests.


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