Citing artistic freedom of expression, officials at Reno-Tahoe International Airport said they plan no changes in a temporary art exhibit despite criticism of a painting of the Argentine revolutionary who fought alongside Fidel Castro during the Cuban Revolution. The painting of Ernesto “Che” Guevara will remain on display through May 9 with the other nearly 100 items in the employee art exhibit, says airport spokesman Brian Kulpin.
Jose Paz, 71, a native Cuban who now lives in northern Nevada, said in a complaint to the airport authority the black and red portrait with the word “Revolucion” is offensive and shouldn’t be displayed at a public airport. “It is like someone putting a painting of Osama bin Laden up in the airport with the word ‘Jihad,’” he told the Reno Gazette-Journal.
Paz said he moved from Cuba to Venezuela in 1956 before Castro and Guevara overthrew the Fulgencio Batista regime in 1959. He said he has lived in the U.S. for 55 years and moved to Nevada two years ago. “That (painting) in there is wrong,” he said. “We have thousands of people come into the airport. Thousands of people see it. If you want to do it, do it privately someplace else, but not in the airport.”
Kulpin says the artists have a right to express themselves, just as Paz does. “We fully understand that someone sees something that they don’t agree with,” he said. Kulpin said the freedom of expression is one of the reasons many Cubans fled to America. He said Paz’s complaint was the first one in the three months the mural had been on display in the exhibit in a second-floor corridor connecting two terminals.
Miami Marlins baseball manager Ozzie Guillen found himself under fire last month when he said he admired Castro’s longevity. His comment, “I love Fidel Castro” earned him a five-game suspension after hundreds of protesters gathered outside the team’s stadium in Miami, a city with a large Cuban-American population.
Linda Curcio, chairwoman of the University of Nevada, Reno history department and a Latin American history professor, said she was not surprised that a Cuban American such as Paz would be concerned about an image of Guevara, who left Cuba in 1965 and was captured and killed in Bolivia in 1967.
For full article, see http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/05/03/2781739/cuban-revolutionary-che-art-flap.html