Back in 2009, we wrote about the show Desde Mi Altura (From My Altitude), held at the old Smokebrush Gallery. This collection of paintings, pastels and drawings were completed by Antonio Guerrero, an inmate of the high-security United States Penitentiary in Florence.
Guerrero was then serving 10 years plus a life sentence as a Cuban intelligence officer who was arrested, along with four other men, in 1998. The group, known as the Cuban Five, are embroiled in controversy, with many who believe these men are wrongly imprisoned, that their trial was biased. Today, four of the five men are still incarcerated.
Over the last 11 years, the largely self-taught Guerrero has created works of art. While not technically perfect, they were strong enough to show, along with Guerrero's poetry, outside the prison. We couldn't speak with Guerrero at the time, but former Smokebrush director Holly Parker told us, "They're not images made from boredom or desperation to pass the time. They're not emotionally charged in a negative way."
For more on Guerrero, visit the pro-Cuban Five site National Committee to Free the Cuban Five. Read a message from Guerrero after the jump.
I've arrived at my destiny, the prison where René's furtive presence of peace, respect, friendship, his dedication to study and physical exercise still lingers.
Yes, I'm talking about the medium security prison of Marianna, in Florida.
A brief summary of my trip:
I left Thursday the 5th (January), from Florence headed to the airport of Pueblo (Colorado).
Already waiting for us, to our surprise, was the plane from Oklahoma for the first exchange of prisoners, the ones who would remain in that zone of Colorado and those of us who would travel to the Transit Center.
We flew to California. I had never flown so far to the west. I was "close" to Gerardo, because there we picked up the ones who were leaving Victorville.
Then it was a direct flight of several hours returning to the center of this extensive country, that is to say, to Oklahoma. Nothing new awaited me there. I was on the list of the first ones who exited the plane: those of us headed to the "hole."
Already reserved for me was the same cell during my last stay there. Yes, the same "secluded place" where various poems were created two years ago.
This time, "the girls" who distributed the medications were no one I could recall. There was no time nor inspiration for verses. I left Oklahoma this past Tuesday the 10th.
We flew in another long journey with destiny to Jacksonville. There a bus picked us up that took us to a prison in Tallahassee, where we barely spent a few hours "sleeping."
At 3 in the morning on the 11th, we were already getting ready to travel by highway to our final destiny. It felt to me like an endless trip, a dark morning of intense rain.
We have had no communication until today the 12th (it is always a 24 hour delay when you get to a new prison).
Oh, I almost forgot: this time, finally, there was no "black box" (a torturous box around the hands of an inmate in transit).
I have missed you all, although as I told you, you have accompanied me and always will.
Later I will be giving you my first impressions here.
Tony Guerrero Rodríguez
My new address is:
Quarters: APACHE A
Marianna, FL 32447-7007