Castro'$ Deep Love for Cuban Art

Since 1959 thousands of works of art of the Cuban patrimony, many of them from private residences of Cuban families that had fled the country, were disposed of by prominent members of the Castroist élite. Most were taken to large warehouses in Avenida del Puerto and later sold abroad, mostly in Canada and Europe, for a considerable profit, through Cubartimpex, a foreign trade enterprise.

The dissappearance of Cuban national art began discreetly, in the form of "loans" of works of art from museums to decorate Castro's Palace of the Revolution and other places frequented by the nomenklatura. That way, invaluable archeological pieces from the collections of the Montané Archeological Museum at the University of Havana were taken on loans and dissapeared forever. Similarly, many pieces from the Napoleonic Museum, the Museum of Decorative Arts, the Museo Bacardí and many others have been dissapearing.
Proof of the systematic stealing of Cuban works of art by the Castro government are, for example, Roberto Borlegui's November 1996 Cuban art sale in Dallas, as well as a sale of 350 paintings in September 1994. In the same fashion, in November of 1989 Christie's held an auction of Cuban works of art in London. The previous year, Sothebys London held an auction in London in which a multimillion-dollar sale of paintings by Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida (1863-1923), a part of the Oscar Cintas collection, took place. Cintas, a patron of the arts, had left a legacy of artistic works by Cuban and foreign masters in the care and custody of the Museum of Havana. Ansorena, a Spanish gallery in Madrid, hosted a sale paid for by the Cuban government and held by a Swiss art dealer.

Between 1960 and 1970, approximately 30 million dollars in books, most from private libraries, but also from the Cuban National Library and similar institutions, were sold to western Europeans through East Berlin. There were also sales to dealers in Buenos Aires, Mexico City, Madrid and Barcelona. In Toronto and Montreal many auctions of Cuban rare books have taken place.

Advertisements have been placed in art magazines describing lots as being furniture, paintings and jewelry from the palaces of Havana and other Cuban cities. One documented example of this type of sale in Canada is from Montreal's Frazer Brothers Auctioneers in 1969.

In May 1994 in Milan, Italy, at the Casa Delle Aste, Milan's Instituto Italiano Realizze sold, at auction, 700 lots that were described as decorations and objects from diplomatic residences in Havana. The "diplomatic residences" were, in reality, the private homes of Cuban families whose properties had been stolen by Castro. The total sale of 138 paintings alone was estimated at more than $8 million. Notice of the auction by the Italian press indicated that the items had received approval for export from the Cuban Ministry of Culture on March 12, 1994.

In mid-1996, Cuba's National Museum of Art (Museo de Bellas Artes) was closed indefinitely, allegedly because of "building repairs."
But Jesús Rosado Arredondo, head of registry, inventory and conservation at the Museo de Bellas Artes in Havana until November 1996, has confirmed that the closing of the museum was part of an operation ordered by Castro in June 1996 and carried out by officers and personnel of the security forces of the Ministry of the Interior. During the operation code-named "Operación Canasta," 50,000 paintings, sculptures and other works of art valued at $500,000,000 were removed and hidden in three buildings controlled by the security forces. Mr. Rosado presented lists and proof of many works that vanished while he held his position at the museum. In the summer of 1997 Cuban National Heritage, an organization of the Cuban exile community monitoring the illegal sale of stolen Cuban works of art, issued a press release regarding these most recent attempts to dispose of the richest art collection of the Cuban nation. As it is customary, however, the American liberal press has ignored their plea.

The loss of important government documents stolen from Cuban archives has not been any less. Thousands of documents from the National Archives and the National Library have been systematically sold to dealers worldwide. The stamps and seals of these institutions are easily identifiable on books and documents, clearly indicating their place of origin.The most valuable rarebooks, illustrated with maps and engravings have disappeared from archives and libraries. In 1993 two copies of the Libro de los ingenios, illustrated by Laplante, mysteriously disappeared from the Palacio del Junco in the Matanzas Museum. Similar works, such as a rare edition of Miahle engravings, have disappeared from library of the Sociedad Económica de Amigos del Pais. It is believed that the precious books have been sold abroad to engross the Comandante's reserves.

Granted, before Fidel Castro Cuba knew of many corrupt politicians who stole the government's money. But, bad as it was, corruption in pre-Castro's Cuba pales in comparison with the way the Castroist Mafia have been systematically stealing everything that is not nailed to the ground and even some things that were nailed to the ground of the one-day prosperous Caribbean island. By any standard, Castro and his cronies have redefined the terms graft and corruption in Latin America.

The American Left still keeps mumbling about about the marvels of free education and health, the absence of discrimination, prostitution,
gambling, government corruption, and unemployment, in a Cuba where all capitalist vices have returned with a vengeance.
But, notwithstanding the overwhelming evidence of his corruption, the Left keeps praising Castro as the greatest example of honesty and unselfishness. The hypocrisy of the Left, Liberation Theologists included, proves that actually they have nothing against the exploitation of the poor by the rich and powerful, but, as in the case of Castro's Cuba, they just want to change the rich and powerful who exploit the poor.