In 1998, more than 15,000 Cubans immigrated to the United States. Kcho, however, has not emigrated from Cuba.
Kcho's first solo exhibition in 1996 at a gallery in New York was picketed by angry Cuban exiles. They claimed that support in the form of an art exhibition for anyone who chooses to remain in Cuba directly supports Fidel Castro's regime. In the early 1990s Cuban officials allowed the artist to travel abroad to show his work, leading to the assumption that he is a "Castro-approved artist." In 1997, however, the United States denied Kcho an entry visa, making it impossible for him to create a wall drawing that was to be part of an exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles. The rejection notice from the State Department took the place of the drawing in the show.
"Cuba is not Fidel lying on the Caribbean," Kcho says. "Cuba is something made by nature, and I am happy to have been born in Cuba. I love Cuba. It is my birthplace. For me, denying that is like rejecting your own mother. This is something that the land does not forgive. It is absurd to deny the land, especially when Cuba is so beautiful."