Florida’s two U.S. senators – Marco Rubio and Rick Scott – have written a blistering letter demanding that the chairwoman of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) explain its support for an exhibition containing a glowing image of Che Guevara.
“Guevara was a sadistic butcher who murdered and tortured innocent people,” Rubio and Scott wrote to Mary Anne Carter, the chair of the NEA.
“We do not believe that U.S. taxpayer dollars that appropriated by Congress in the National Endowment of the Arts should be used to glorify or romanticize an individual who so openly disdained American principles and fundamental rights and freedoms. Guevara’s very image is deeply offensive to many Cuban-Americans and other freedom-loving people around the world,” they wrote.
The NEA awarded a grant to the McNay Art Museum in San Antonio for an exhibit called Pop America 1965-1975, which features portraits paying homage to Guevara and Mao Tse Tung and additional works exploring the interplay of U.S., European, and Latin American artists working in the Pop Art vernacular. The exhibit has moved to the Nasher Museum at Duke University and Northwestern University’s Block Museum of Art.
The two GOP senators wrote that the NEA should evaluate “the appropriateness of content” featured in the exhibit.
The Argentinian born Guevara joined Castro’s revolutionary movement, which led to the overthrow of dictator Fulgencio Batista in 1959. The Bolivian army killed Guevara in 1967, but he’s become a pop icon and inspiration for leftists around the world.
But while many on the left romanticize Castro and especially Guevara for their revolutionary politics, the two are hated in South Florida in particular, where legions of anti-Castro Cuban exiles and their family members reside.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio learned that first-hand earlier this summer, when he quoted Guevara in Miami while addressing striking airport workers, earning the wrath of both Republicans and Democrats in South Florida.
Scott and Rubio wrote in their letter that “those who choose to praise Guevara fundamentally ignore his role in the mass murder of innocent lives during the Cuban Revolution, as well as those who were denied the right to due process. His contempt for democracy, freedom of press, and LGBTQ individuals has been well documented.”
The NEA did not immediately respond for a request for comment.