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Tom Richmond reviews his trip to Cuba

MAD cartoonist Tom Richmond reports back about his recent trip to Cuba along with Jeanne Schulz and others for an artistic and culture exchange with Cuban artists. Other’s participating in the trip: Justin Thompson, Brian Narelle, Lex Fajardo, and Hilary Price.

I was contacted several months ago by Jeannie Schulz, the widow of the great “Peanuts” cartoonist Charles Schulz, and asked if I’d participate in a cultural exchange trip with a group of cartoonists and representatives from the Charles M. Schulz Museum to Havana, Cuba. The trip would last 6 days, during which time we’d meet with a number of newspaper cartoonists, animators, fine artists, students and art teachers in Havana. The idea was to learn about cartooning, animation and art in Cuba while we shared with them what we do back in the United States. There would of course also be time to see Havana and experience some of the culture of Cuba.

How do you say “no” to THAT??

Community Comments

#1 Mark Tillar
January/25/2010
@ 12:57 pm

You say no to “that’ by asking them will they be visiting the political prisoners including journalist locked up in Cuban jails, and will they be visiting the graveyards of Cuba where the Castro Brothers sins are buried. Then the next question is will Cuba Communist let free expression of ideas after you leave.

Why would you not honor the boycott of the evil government like was done in south africa?

#2 Phil Judd
January/25/2010
@ 1:35 pm

I agree with the above comments sentiment but dialogue has start somewhere…besides hasn’t the USA done similar things abroad and in it’s own country at different times? I don’t the world boycotting them? I am sure it encouraged those artists in a difficult environment to pursue what they love by seeing these guys and the fact they care enough to make an effort…sharing the passion they do for cartoon art…does everything have to be political?

#3 Phil Judd
January/25/2010
@ 1:36 pm

I don’t see the world boycotting them… correction..

#4 Mike Cope
January/25/2010
@ 1:47 pm

@Mark Tillar: What do Cuban newspaper cartoonists, animators, fine artists, students and art teachers have to do with the sins of their government?

Your comment is as ridiculous as me (a Canadian) saying that I do not want to exchange in any cultural dialogue with American newspaper cartoonists, animators, fine artists, students and art teachers because of your government … Which, for the record, I do NOT have any issues with, so long as you leave our health care alone :)

I really think you’ve missed the point.

#5 Paul Fell
January/25/2010
@ 3:34 pm

It’s pretty hypocritical to have the kind of sanctions and travel restrictions we do against Cuba while our government encourages people to do business and travel to places like Vietnam and China, among other totalitarian regimes. I dare say more American lives have been sacrificed at the hands of those two nations than with military conflicts with Cuba.

The embargo we have had in place since the Cuban missile crisis has done nothing to dislodge the Castro regime. All it has done is make the common people suffer.

Having visited Cuba three times (as a cartoonist and journalist) since 1999, I can say that the more exchanges of the kind Tom and his group did, the better for understanding and friendship among people everywhere. If you want to get people talking and laughing together in spite of their political and cultural differences, just send in a group of cartoonists. It works every time.

#6 Tom Richmond
January/25/2010
@ 5:20 pm

Wow, the ignorance of your statement is truly staggering, Mark.

If I refused to spend any time in any countries who’s government did things that were atrocious, unfair and just plain wrong, I’d better start looking into property on the moon.

The people of a country are different than their government, especially in the case of a government they had no say in electing. Castro and his revolution replaced a brutal dictatorship with something that is arguably just as bad and brutal as Batista’s was… but I didn’t go there to visit Castro or to support his “government” and ideology. I went to meet and learn about the work and lives of cartoonists and animators who live in another country. These are people who are trying their best to create with their talents and feed their families.

To their credit, despite the fact that the embargo our country continues to impose on them makes their lives a lot harder, they can separate the policies of our government from us as individuals. Every person I met was delighted I was there and full of questions about our country. You should try that attitude sometime.

#7 Mark Tillar
January/25/2010
@ 11:09 pm

Not one of those commenting on my opinion addresses the main point of the repression of Cuban journalists, political prisoners, and other’s who try to exercise free speech as we know it. So keep making excuses for ignoring the political prisoners that are in jail right now, and yesterday, and for the entire time the Castro’s have seized power.

Herny Ford and Charles Lindbergh did the same with Hitler and the National Socialists. So did Walter Duranty. So are the people attacking me instead of my point.

Delusional in my opinion, if you think a stream of hollywood leftists have freed any Cuban political prisoners.

#8 Tom Richmond
January/26/2010
@ 2:52 pm

@Mark Tillar- you have no point to attack. That the Castro regime represses free speech, imprisons people unjustly for their political views or for trying to express them is not a “point”, it’s a fact that no one here has disputed in the slightest. Your misguided idea that a group of cartoonists traveling to Cuba to learn about how those sharing the same profession live and work in their country somehow is wrong is ludicrous to the point of being absurd.

And, for the record, nobody on that trip did not “honor the boycott” of Cuba. The entire visit was legally sanctioned by the U.S. Government via the Treasury Department, and we all traveled under U.S. authorized travel affidavits… so our own government gave us their blessing.

Sheesh.

#9 Mark T. Tillar
March/2/2010
@ 1:01 am

Tom:

HAVANA, March 1 (Reuters) – The Cuban government detained at least 126 people, including dissident blogger Yoani Sanchez, in a crackdown following the hunger strike death of political prisoner Orlando Zapata Tamayo, a Cuban human rights group said on Monday.

Many were attending or en route to Zapata’s funeral on Thursday in the eastern city of Banes when they were detained, most for less than 24 hours, said Elizardo Sanchez, spokesman for the independent Cuban Human Rights Commission.

He said the government was attempting to prevent protests over Zapata’s death, which was condemned internationally and prompted calls from the United States and Europe for Cuba to release its estimated 200 political prisoners.

“The government has applied this wave of repression to neutralize expressions of condemnation and rejection of the fact that it let Orlando Zapata die,” he told Reuters.

He predicted the crackdown would continue.

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