Fernando Botero's remarks to open the Abu Ghraib exhibition in Chile.
Dear Friends, unfortunately, I cannot be present at the opening of my Abu Ghraib exhibit at the Museum of Memory and Human Rights in Santiago, Chile. Due to several commitments this year, in which I am turning 80, it was not possible for me to attend this very important event. The day prior to the opening of the exhibit in Santiago, I am inaugurating a sculpture exhibit in Assisi, and the following week, I am inaugurating another exposition, the largest of my life, at the Fine Arts Palace Museum in Mexico City. Thus, due to reasons beyond my control, I cannot be there with you this time. However, I am glad to know that two great friends of mine are there on my behalf: scholars Harley Shaiken and Beatriz Manz, both professors at the University of California, Berkeley. What is more, I can say that to a great extent, I owe to them the wide publicity this collection has received in the United States. Harley and Beatriz knew about this series of paintings and drawings because it had already been exhibited at some European museums, but they also knew that it had been rejected by several American museums, which is why they decided to contact me and suggested presenting it at Berkeley. Delighted, I accepted, of course, and in that moment, they made the miracle happen. In only seven weeks, they were able to arrange the exhibit in the university’s facilities. The exhibit caused a significant impact and met with great interest, both on the part of the faculty as well as the students, because they all shared the same indignation that this atrocious news, that of the tortures in the Abu Ghraib prison, 32 kilometers away from Iraq’s capital city, had generated everywhere.