A collection of photographs taken in Cuba is being exhibited at the Galarie Langhans in Prague, capital of the Czech Republic. The exhibit is entitled "What You Must Not See." Proceeds from sales of the pictures will benefit the independent Czech humanitarian relief group, People in Need, and will be used to assist families of Cuban political prisoners. People in Need spokesman Igor Blazenic says, "There are many of them in Cuba and I think that it is an obligation of our society to help them."
The pictures were taken by Helena Houdova, a fashion model and a former Miss Czech Republic. Ms. Houdova told the Prague Daily Mirror newspaper that she and a friend, Mariana Kroftova, a psychologist, went to Cuba to see how they could assist children there. Among other things, Ms. Houdova photographed slums near Havana, Cuba's capital.
As a result of taking pictures, Ms. Houdova and Ms. Kroftova were detained by Cuban authorities for more than ten hours. During their detention, the two women were denied access to the Czech Republic's embassy in Havana. Richard Krpac, a spokesman for the Czech foreign ministry, said the Cuban government "clearly violated international law." While one roll of film was seized, Ms. Houdova managed to hold on to a digital chip containing other pictures.
Ms. Houdova told a reporter that in Cuba, "People can't do what they want." She says that by denying the existence of poverty, the Communist regime only makes the situation worse.
Among those at the Prague exhibition's opening was Vaclav Havel. A playwright, Mr. Havel was the first president of the Czech Republic, leaving office in 2003 after serving two terms. He told a reporter that he admires Ms. Houdova's human rights activities.
Ms. Houdova plans to continue raising funds for children's causes. Calling attention to the plight of Cuba's people – especially its children – is critical to bringing pressure on the Cuban government to permit democratic change.
President George W. Bush has said that the United States "will always stand firm for the non-negotiable demands of human dignity" -- in Cuba and elsewhere.
The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.