Juan Abreu, the Cuban painter and writer, exhibited for the first time in the European Parliament his 90 portraits project that bears the title “1959” and features the faces of the men shot during the regime of dictator Fidel Castro.
This exhibition consisted of a compilation of photographs and documentation of the last decades in which the MEPs of the Spanish Citizen Party, Javier Nart and Teresa Giménez Barbat, organized the event which aims to be a tribute to the people killed by the Cuban dictatorship and can be seen at the European Parliament’s Brussels headquarters until February 10.
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In an interview with EFE, Abreu, who left Cuba on a raft in 1980, reported that his work is named “1959” because that was when the slaughter began in Cuba of the Castro regime’s enemies.
This artist indicated that for several years he collected photographs of the approximately five thousand people who were shot in 1959 and 2003.
He explained that “Many photos were of relatives, some whom had never been seen, from the 1950s.”
Abreu added that his desire was to fill with the portraits with joy and color, because he did not want the victims of Castro‘s brutality to appear sad.
He said that “I want anyone who sees the work to think about life and color. The opposite of death. Rescue these people through the beauty of art. The art will remain, the criminals will receive their just deserts.”
Spanish MP Barbat, said that he has been in contact with Abreu since he began collecting the photos and admitted that he felt his role was to lead the “European Parliament in this matter, because it seems that Cuba has had a facelift as of late,” referring to recent attempts to rehabilitate the dictatorial regime’s image.
Teresa Giménez added that, “While it seems that everything has normalized, there is a past that we must not forget and human rights are still not respected in Cuba. The population continues to live under a dictatorship.”