Castro’s death celebrations collide with Art Basel Miami

WYNWOOD, Fla. (AP) — “Fidel, may you rot in hell.” That was the stark message on a mural outside a popular thrift store in Miami’s Wynwood neighborhood that had dozens waiting in line to sign their name.

The trendy neighborhood is known for graffiti art outside most businesses. This year, the death of Cuban dictator Fidel Castro came just days before nearly 100,000 art buyers, gallery owners and celebrities flooded South Florida for Art Basel Miami Beach. Art galleries in Wynwood host many of the events.

An artist called the Give Good Works store and asked to paint something Saturday to commemorate Castro’s death. Murals along the store’s front wall are a common outlet for artistic expression. Artists did several during the election, including one that said `no walls’ referring to President-elect Donald Trump’s promise to build a wall along the Mexican border.

Regina Macdonald, part owner of the store, said about 100 people signed the wall. Many were passionate. It drew no complaints, she said.

“We try not to synthesize it too much. I thought, `Really, do we want to say that?’ … And people went crazy. There were lines down the street.”

One message read, “The tyrant is dead,” and another said: “Hope he chokes. Trump you’re next.”

The mural was removed Wednesday and replaced with a drawing of a woman with flowing, psychedelic pink hair holding a cup of coffee that read “Cuba Libre.”

Just a few miles away on Wednesday, hundreds of Cuban exiles in Miami rallied for freedom and democracy on the communist island.

Macdonald said the decision to replace the mural was not because of criticism but simply because they like to change things up.

“Wynwood is very much a forum for art. People come here to express themselves … when there’s something hot politically going on, we put it on the wall,” she said.

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