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Distinguished Cuban Guests Offer Their Picture of Cuba

(This article expired 17.03.2016.)

A standing ovation and a roar of applause greeted internationally renowned blogger Yoani Sánchez as she spoke to an audience of over 100 people at the Embassy of the Czech Republic, marking her first visit to Washington and the opening of the exhibition Country of Pixels (País de Píxeles) with exhibition director Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo and graphic artist Rolando Pulido on March 19, 2013, at 6:30 pm.

The pictures exhibited on the walls at the Embassy showed many aspects of Cuban life, from children having fun in the countryside, to everyday life in the city, graffiti and propaganda in the streets, and new buildings reflecting the old collapsing city. The Czech Embassy also presented 95 additional digital photographs through a rotating slide presentation during the opening of the exhibition.

“The ‘pixel’ is a unit of meaning,” Lazo said.  He revealed that the purpose of the competition was not to highlight who won or lost, but to bring the community together. “It was a dream becoming reality,” said Lazo, “the frontier falling down.” 

Over 80 participants each submitted ten digital works via the internet on the theme Cuba and the Current Landscape of Its People. The digital works were published in the collective blog Voces Cubanas (http://vocescubanas.com/cubafotosocial/).

According to Lazo, the exhibition serves as another way to recover the collective voice of the individual without censorship of any kind. The blog became a way for the participants to share their view with the world and receive feedback beyond the barrier of the island.  

During the Q&A session following the opening of the exhibition, Yoani Sánchez was asked to retell her parable of the bird in the cage. “Now, we are going to create literature,” Sánchez said.

She began talking about how she grows tired of explaining the “free healthcare system” in Cuba where she needs to bring a fan, a bag of food, and clean sheets for relatives or friends that need to go to the hospital because these things are not provided in hospitals. She continued saying, “I am tired of explaining how the people in Cuba are paid on average $20 a month,” which also needs to go towards this free healthcare and education. She also said that she grows tired of explaining the price of ideology behind a free education. “My own child has six pictures of Fidel Castro in his classroom alone,” said Sánchez.

She used the metaphor of a bird in a cage, where the bird feed and water are replaced with Cuba’s educational and healthcare system. She said that she would go without the “bird feed and water.”  

The caged bird wants to be free.

The event concluded with a reception. Distinguished guests at the opening included Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL); Carl Gershman, President of the National Endowment for Democracy; Kenneth Wollack, President of the National Democratic Institute; Martin Palouš, former Czech Ambassador to the United Nations; State Department officials, among others.  


Country of Pixels