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Let Cuba Live
Vinie Burrows in Maine introduces Antonio Guerrero’s paintings
Tom Whitney, Jan. 24, 2011
Vinie Burrows came to Portland Maine on January 19 to help open an exhibition of paintings at University of Southern Maine Library by Cuban Five political prisoner Antonio Guerrero. The well known actress and dedicated political activist was the featured speaker at a well- attended event there organized by the Maine group Let Cuba Live. The paintings are on display for a month.
In her remarks, Vinie Burrows called for freedom for the Cuban Five prisoners and denounced U.S. cruelty in preventing two wives, Adriana Perez and Olga Salanueva, from visiting their husbands in jail. Burrows reminded listeners of Cuba’s exemplary contribution to international solidarity. She cited as examples Cuba’s participation in the anti-apartheid struggle in southern Africa and in worldwide medical outreach, most recently in Haiti. Ms. Burrows also noted that socialist Cuba takes responsibility for the basic needs of all Cubans – education, health care, housing, and food. That serves to protect families, the main casualty, she maintained, of wars and havoc prevailing in the world today.
Beginning her presentation, Vinie Burrows called for a moment of silence honoring Rev. Lucius Walker, who died recently. Walker, who founded and led IFCO/Pastors for Peace, was a stalwart in the continuing campaign of solidarity with Cuba.
Beginning in the 1990’s five Cuban men - Antonio, along with Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino, Fernando González, and René González - were monitoring private paramilitary groups in Florida in order to provide advance notice on preparations there for anti-Cuban terrorist attacks. They were arrested 12 years ago, subjected to a biased trial, convicted on conspiracy charges, and subjected to savagely long sentences. At their trial, expert witnesses demonstrated that the prisoners posed no threat to U.S. secrecy, properties, and interests.
Describing how he became a painter, Antonio Guerrero has recounted the story of his artistic development, recalling ideas behind the pictures, techniques he acquired, and tutelage by fellow prisoners. Citing Jose Marti’s dictum “Truth needs art,” Antonio maintains, “Truth reigns in our hearts, forged with love and commitment to the just cause of our heroic people: That is my motivation for each work of art!” This exhibition of 30 of his paintings has toured nationwide for almost a year. They will be on display in late February at the Cuban Interests Section in Washington, DC, and in March, in Lexington, Kentucky.
Vinie Burrows read from Antonio’s book “From my Altitude,” with poems in both Spanish and English. “They say I am a spy,” she intoned, but “I am a simple man/dedicated in his life/to serve and to create.” She also read: “Walker of peace take my hand/ Only together will we make the planet alive./ The river born of the mountains will swell/When in its way, a brother joins.”
Maine poet Gary Lawless was on hand to read other Guerrero poems. One, “Song of the Full Moon,” speaks of longing: “In the midst of solitude and a verse/ Gusts of silence awaken me. / Flashes of love becalmed pierce/ her mystery, her light and her universe.”
Extending greetings from Lawrence, Massachusetts, Jose Cruz recalled that Cuba and Puerto Rico are “two wings of the same bird,” each with parallel independence aspirations. Similarly, he observed, independence fighters of both nations have been political prisoners in U.S. jails.
Many of those attending the event signed a new petition to President Obama urging him to release the Cuban Five. The petition is available on line at for readers to sign.
While in Maine Ms. Burrows performed at events honoring Martin Luther King staged at Bates College in Lewiston, at the University of Maine in Farmington, and at the Frontier Café in Brunswick. Her tour was organized by the Maine Peace Council
Vinie Burrows has long served as Permanent United Nations Representative for the Women's International Democratic Federation. In that capacity, she’s toured the world on behalf of peace, in the process visiting Cuba several times under the auspices of the Federation of Cuban Women. She is a proud member of the Granny Peace Brigade.
Burrows concluded her remarks honoring Antonio Guerrero and his paintings by reading the poem “Reign of the Peoples,” written by the late Haitian poet and revolutionary Paul Laraque. It says: Paul Laraque (Translation from French by Rosemary Manno)
(Translation from French by Rosemary Manno)