Artists have been expressing their feelings through social media and paintings. The viral slogan “patria y vida”, meaning homeland and life, is what we’ve been seeing on many signs, flags, and now murals across South Florida.
The slogan is a spin on the communist regime’s decades-old slogan of “patria o muerta", which means homeland or death.
The song accuses the Cuban government of destroying the quality life on the island, a message that quickly found traction with protesters who are demanding change.
Last week hundreds of people in Miami attended a street concert featuring the Cuban music group Gente de Zona and singer Yotuel Romero.
South Florida artist Alexander Mijares turned to social media, posting pieces that depict the heart-wrenching reality of the island’s regime.
"I would definitely say that my style is heavily influenced by Cuban culture. You can see it in the line work and the colors that are used in most of my pieces," said Mijares.
One piece has the Virgin Mary on one side of the sculpture and on the other side, two hands tied together with chains.
"Cuba when I went and what it’s been is smoking mirrors. In the front you have this beautiful saint, like you see in all these churches, but in the back the reality is these people are chained and they’re locked up and they don’t have the freedom that anyone thinks that they have," he said.
In 2015, about 15 Cubans made the journey from Cuba to Key West. Mijares used that vessel as one of his art pieces.
"I saw a saying the other day it says, Cubans can make it anywhere in the world except Cuba. It resonated a lot with me because I know my father and many people, some of the wealthiest people in Miami, were all born in Cuba, they came here and they made it to where they are because they’re hard workers," said Mijares.
Miares said his work pays homage to the Cuban community and hopes for change.
"I hope that my kids or the next generation or my kids kids, can eventually buy a house in Cuba and hope that this will soon end so we can go back and appreciate the real beauty of the island," he added.