American Museum of the Cuban Diaspora names interim director

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The original title of this article is “As rivals brawl over Miami’s Cuban museum, a new director is named, a lawsuit filed.” Marcell Felipe, chairman of the American Museum of the Cuban Diaspora’s board of trustees, announced the firing of the museum’s director, Ileana Fuentes, and the role of architect Carmen Valdivia as interim director. [The museum is located at 1200 Coral Way, Miami, Florida.] Andres Viglucci and Sarah Moreno (Miami Herald) report:

brawl over the fate of Miami’s taxpayer-funded Cuban museum intensified Thursday when its board chairman installed an interim director days after taking control of the institution’s Coral Way building and firing its founding administrator, while a rival slate of trustees filed suit in an effort to block his actions.

Attorney Marcell Felipe, chairman of the American Museum of the Cuban Diaspora, called a news conference at the institution’s building to announce that Carmen Valdivia, an architect who has produced a HistoryMiami museum exhibit and a documentary on the Pedro Pan operation that brought Cuban children to Florida after the 1959 revolution, would run the two-year-old museum on a volunteer basis until a permanent director is hired.

The announcement came six days after Felipe fired founding museum director Ileana Fuentes and her daughter, Carisa Perez-Fuentes, who served as director of design and communications. On Thursday, Felipe said Fuentes and her daughter defied his efforts to ascertain the state of the sparsely attended museum’s finances by withholding records, left a trail of unpaid bills exceeding $300,000 and nearly lost the building, funded by $10 million in Miami-Dade County bonds, to foreclosure.

While stressing there is no evidence of malfeasance, Felipe accused Fuentes and her daughter of “kidnapping” the museum from the board of directors and mismanaging the institution. Felipe also announced the hiring, also on an interim basis, of Ana Cristina Carrodeguas to take over Perez-Fuentes’ functions. “We had to put this house in order,” he said, referring to himself and a group of trustees who have backed his actions.

Felipe’s version, however, was sharply contested in a lawsuit filed against him by former museum chairman Rafael Robayna and five other board members. Robayna’s group, contending they constitute a legal board majority, allege that if anyone usurped control over the museum it was Felipe. They contend Felipe acted in “rogue” fashion by firing Fuentes and her daughter and“breaking into” the building last week without board authorization.

“Mr. Felipe’s actions have caused physical damage to the facility, damage to the goodwill and reputation of the museum and the reputation of the board members has been tarnished,” the suit, filed by attorney Monica Amador, reads.

The spat over control of the museum, dubbed The Cuban, reflects a sharp split among the institution’s trustees that has resulted in two different, rival slates, each claiming to be the museum’s legitimate, legally constituted board. [. . .]

For full article, see https://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/community/miami-dade/article225367655.html

For more on the museum, visit the museum site: https://www.thecuban.org/

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