Lightning Strikes When Destiny Calls

Lightning Strikes When Destiny Calls

I unexpectedly curated my friend, Alexey Camilo Merino Tellez’s first art exhibition in the United States all in the name of freedom or Libertad.

An Activation of Friendship

I first noticed the artivist Alexey Camilo Merino Tellez soon after one of his reels on Instagram went viral. It wasn’t his artwork that initially had gone viral but a speech he made while protesting for Cuba’s freedom in Merida, Mexico after the July 11, 2021 protests erupted across the island of Cuba. Alexey’s speech has appeared on all Spanish news networks. I saw it! Here it is. 

His response to eye-witnessing this unprecedented event, captured on live stream via social media networks, was the unified message shared among the global Cuban diaspora. “If Cubans are on the streets asking for freedom or Libertad, so are we.”

The climatic event reignited and reactivated the Cuban diaspora to serve as the collective conscience voice of the Cuban people and not the dictatorship that represses them. Activists took to social media to altogether amplify the voices of the Cuban people on the island — voices that had been silenced for over 62 years.

It’s no surprise to me the artists of the diaspora would be those who sprung to activism through Artivism. A new era in the history of the Cuban resistance has been born and again inspired by artist resistance movements within and outside the island like Movimento San Isidro, which I wrote about.

Drawing titled 29. Castro, La bestia de Biran by Alexey Camilo Merino Tellez.

Drawing titled 29. Castro, La bestia de Biran by Alexey Camilo Merino Tellez

One year later I contacted Alexey to request permission to feature his artwork in my Dear James Franco story.  Among the drawings I featured was the title drawing from the art exhibition, 29. Castro, La bestia de Biran.

He responded overwhelmingly with gratitude and appreciation to me for the opportunity to share his works with new audiences and thanked me profusely. We became friends instantly, like a spark.

Alexey shared his sentiments with me regarding his inability to find a venue to exhibit his artwork in Yucatan Mexico where he now lives. “The people there do not appreciate my art,” he wrote to me. I couldn’t fathom that idea as I had fallen in love with his art at first sight. His drawings spoke to my inherited broken heart. I knew his pain, as do all Cubans who have lived this painful truth.

Photograph or artist Alexey Camilo Merino Tellez posted to Facebook

l am not an Art Curator nor do I know of any curators that could help him but my promise to Alexey to be vigilant of a receptive exhibit space steadfastly lingered in the back of my mind.

Luckily, I have a few friends in high places among the Cuban resistance communities in exile who I knew would know should such an opportunity arise. My friends, the activists, Ivette and Kiele of the Jóvenes de la Asamblea de la Resistencia Cubana, graciously rose to the occasion with a vision they had long dreamt of.

Today I am honored and thrilled to announce I actually (surprisingly) did help my friend find a space where his very first art exhibit in the U.S. is taking place, as I publish this story. I even helped the artist to curate his pieces for the exhibit by translating his 30 written descriptions into English - a process I did selfishly in my pursuit of knowledge and to heal my inherited broken heart.

Throw Fire against Fire

My friends were looking for a space to exhibit collaborative mixed performance art by dissident resistance rappers, musicians, poets, actors, and writers to help raise visibility over our cause: freedom for Cuba and freedom for political prisoners in Cuba.

The name Fire Against Fire is inspired by a term Cuban dissident rap artists/musicians/writers frequently use to describe the impact of their art against the Cuban regime; rappers such as El Funky and Raudel Escuadròn, both of whom are performing at our events this month. Raudel’s very last verse of their collaborative song, JUSTICIA Remix perfectly captures this metaphor. He sings of his words, “This is fire until the dictatorship falls.”

Musician/rapper/writer El Funky, the Grammy Award-winning musician of the Latin Grammy 2021 Song of the Year, Patria y Vida, connected Ivette with his friend’s Galin2 Art Gallery in my native Little Havana neighborhood in Miami, Florida. The location, at the heart of the historic district, was a homecoming for me. From outside the storefront on Calle Ocho, I can see the corner of my grandmother’s block, the one she lived on for over 55 years.

Destiny it seemed had taken over the organizing and my friend, Ivette, became the magician who manifested into reality her vision in what has now become the Art of Conscience event series Fuego Contra El Fuego taking place over four Friday nights: June 21, June 28, July 5 and July 12, 2024 at 7 PM at Galin2 Art Gallery in Little Havana, Alexey will debut 30 artworks at his first Art Exhibition in the U.S. titled CASTRO, LA BESTIA DE BIRÁN. (1RA PARTE).  

His art or artivism is genius. I highly recommend that everyone (particularly non-Cubans from around the world) please read his impressively sufficiently written descriptions of his art. I learn something new each time I reread them. I certainly can’t wait to begin Parte 2 and to eventually publish Alexey’s first Art Book, but not before our four Friday night event series.

Unfortunately, the Blogger site ( I created for the exhibit has been censored by Facebook and Instagram since before the event launch last Friday. Facebook audaciously informed me that my non-monetized blogger website is SPAM, at least that was the first silly excuse they reported.

But who cares? Facebook comprises only a miniscule of the world’s cyberspace. I’m happy to announce the blog site for the art exhibition is viewable on the World Wide Web.  Someone at Facebook couldn’t take the Fire in Alexey’s art.  Perhaps it hit someone like HURANTI-CASTRO.

Drawing titled HURACASTRO by Alexey Camilo Merino Tellez
Drawing titled 1. HURACASTRO by Alexey Camilo Merino Tellez

Fuego Contra El Fuego {art of conscience}

Fuego Contra El Fuego {art of conscience} are events in spaces where resistance artists come together to express themselves and share with the community their art, e.g. visual arts, spoken words, poetry, music, and more. They are spaces to give support to protesting artists. $5 Admission at the door (includes a drink).

The Art Exhibition, titled CASTRO, LA BESTIA DE BIRAN. (1ra Parte), features 30 works from my friend, ALEXEY CAMILO MERIÑO TELLEZ will be on exhibit at Galind2 Art Gallery for four Friday nights: June 21, June 28, July 5, and July 12, 2024.

OPENING NIGHT Friday – June 21, 2024 – 7 p.m.

Tribute and Poetry – ‘Piche’ Ignacio Cuesta Valle “El Piche” is the only man alive who has served the longest prison term as a political prisoner with 29 years and 10 months. During his prison sentence, he wrote 5 books, 4 of which were destroyed by the Cuban regime. Piche will read poems from his book El Principe Negro.

Performances by El Funky @elfunkycuba - Latin Grammy Award Winning musician of the 2022 Song of the Year, Patria y Vida.

Friday – June 28, 2024 – 7 p.m.

ALEXEY CAMILO MERIÑO TELLEZ Performances by Luis Eligio Omni @omniluiseligioart and Kamankola @kamankola

Friday – July 5, 2024 – 7 p.m.

Tribute and Poetry – Angel Pardo, President of the Historic Political Prison of Miami, Plantado 24 years old, Author of Cuba Memoirs of a Political Prisoner will also have copies of his book available for sale.

Performances by Spanglish Generation @spanglish_generation, Kiele and H1P3R @h1p3r_onthebeat

Friday – July 5, 2024 – 7 p.m.

Performances by Lexter @lextersavio_, Legacy @thebornlegacy, and Raudel Escuadrón @raudel_escuadron See you in Galin2!

Iván Galindo, owner of the Galin2 Art Gallery in Little Havana, Miami, Florida, also makes custom jewelry and is a sculptor. We appreciate the support you have given to many artists of the protest resistance in our community.

QR Code for Fuego Contra El Fuego Conscience Art events Instagram page

Please follow the event series’ Instagram profile at for updates. 

Thank you for reading my story; hopefully, you learned something new about Cuba because you did. You cared just enough to open your mind to a plight you may have perceived to be different and that is exactly how lightning strikes when destiny calls to fight fire with fire. From the ashes, we shall see a new democracy rise in Cuba.


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