by Prague Daily Monitor/ČTK / published 26 February 2007
Washington/New York, Feb 23 (CTK) - The arbitrariness of the Cuban
Communist regime is documented by the exhibition of photos of mothers
and wives of imprisoned Cuban dissidents opened at the Czech embassy in
It was staged by the Czech organisation People in Need along with the
U.S. Center for Free Cuba.
The 21 photos by a Czech photographer publishing under the pseudonym of
Alexander Polo describe Cuban women whose sons and husbands were
sentenced by Fidel Castro's regime during the "Cuban spring" in 2003 to
many years in prison.
The women bear witness on how they struggle for justice for their
husbands and sons. The photos also show how they are persecuted by the
secret police, local authorities and their own neighbours as mothers and
wives of dissidents, writers and librarians.
We never took much interest in what our husbands did, Julia Nunez
Pacheco, whose husband was sentenced to 15 years in prison as one of the
75 opposition activists, says under her photo.
But now, as our husbands are in prison, we have taken interest in
politics, too. It is also our affair, she added.
With the exhibition, the People in Need wants to highlight the situation
in Cuba before the American public, Kristina Prunerova from the
foundation told CTK.
"The photographs create a very strong impression and they call for help
similar to that we used to receive in Czechoslovakia under the
totalitarian regime," she added.
The opening was attended by former Czech president Vaclav Havel. He made
perhaps the shortest speech in his life as he only shouted: "Cuba Libre!"
The touring exhibition has been to Europe and Latin America. In
Washington, it has its North American premiere. In the following months,
it will also be installed at Czech diplomatic offices in New York,
Chicago and Los Angeles.
Czech photographer Tomki Nemec has donated 100 books of his photographs
of Havel to the People in Need. They were sold for at least 30 dollars a
piece at the opening of the exhibition, Prunerova said, adding that the
proceeds would be taken by couriers to Cuba and given to the families of
the imprisoned dissidents.
The Czech diplomatic office in Washington actively supports the Cuban
dissident movement, monitors human rights and advocates democratic
principles in Cuba.
Last Easter, Czech diplomats sent a personal Christmas greeting to the
Cubans imprisoned for their political views.