Cuba in Stitches

I will have visited Cuba four times by the end of 2020. In 2019 I started making small travel quilts while I was there. My artist friend Julio César Cepeda Duque was generous with his treasure trove of found objects and historical papers, and I have incorporated many of these.

Cuba is a land of contradictions. It has a highly educated and culturally advanced population, at the same time as it suffers daily in materials needs. The embargo imposed by the US government starting with the arms embargo on March 14, 1958 has only increased in scope in following years.  [The Cuban embargo is enforced mainly through six statutes: the Trading with the Enemy Act of 1917, the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, the Cuban Assets Control Regulations of 1963, the Cuban Democracy Act of 1992, the Helms–Burton Act of 1996, and the Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act of 2000.]

The Helms-Burton Act further restricted United States citizens from doing business in or with Cuba. In 1999 President Bill Clinton expanded the trade embargo by also disallowing foreign subsidiaries of U.S. companies to trade with Cuba. In 2000 Clinton authorized the sale of food and “humanitarian” products to Cuba.

On December 17, 2014, U.S. President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raúl Castro announced the beginning of the process of normalizing relations between Cuba and the United States. The US Embassy in Havana was reopened in 2015 (it had been closed since 1961). But then on June 16, 2017 President Donald Trump stated that he was “canceling” the Obama administration’s deals with Cuba, and the Embassy was soon nearly closed down, and many travel restrictions re-imposed.

I have followed all of this closely, and favor the resumption of normalized relations between the US and Cuba. I was instrumental in bringing Cuban Artist Julio Cesar Cepeda Duque to Reading, PA for a residency in 2018, and my husband and I maintain a friendship with him and his family.

Stay tuned for more Cuba-themed work!