Florida Sens. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott cosigned a letter to the National Endowment for the Arts sharply criticizing them for their support of works that feature communist revolutionary and suspected mass murderer Ernesto “Ché” Guevara.
The GOP senators cited a Texas museum that had been a recipient of a grant from the NEA that featured an exhibit called “Pop América 1965-1975.” The exhibit at the McNay Art Museum in San Antonio included images of the infamous Argentine Guevara and recently traveled to the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University in North Carolina, as well as Northwestern University’s Block Museum of Art in Illinois.
In the letter to NEA Chairwoman Mary Anne Carter, Rubio and Scott noted the celebratory tone toward Guevara on the Nasher Museum website that described his “bold contributions” to “social protest, justice movements and debates about freedom.”
“This statement is either blithely ignorant or deliberately deceptive, given the exhibition’s inclusion of propaganda celebrating a thug who mercilessly silenced his opponents with bullets,” the letter from the senators said of the Nasher description of Guevara. “It is disturbing that U.S. taxpayer dollars are being used to fund an exhibition that glorifies an individual who hated the United States, our commitment to democratic principles, and the values of individual freedom that we so deeply cherish.”
The senators, citing a passage in Exposing the Real Ché Guevara by Humberto Fontova, also note that Guevara was known to have been opposed to gay rights and even forced gay people into labor camps. “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,” the senators wrote. “His contempt for democracy, freedom of press, and LGBTQ individuals has been well documented.”
“Guevara was a sadistic butcher who murdered and tortured innocent people,” the letter continued. “We do not believe that U.S. taxpayer dollars that appropriated by Congress to 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.”
In a final call to action to Carter, the senators ask that an explanation for how the art and accompanying commentary was approved and how “a factual history of Ché Guevara’s bloody legacy are not included in the program.”
“We urge you to ensure that individuals responsible for war crimes or crimes against humanity are not featured in any NEA funded exhibits without clearly and unambiguously highlighting their heinous crimes and memorializing their victims,” Rubio and Scott said in conclusion.