Teen Review from Santa Fe New Mexican

Posted: December 12, 2011 in Uncategorized

Documentary details U.S.-Cuba conflict – My View
Marzia Dessi

Cuba’s history and its relation with the United States has been a topic of discussion in many cities across the country, including in Santa Fe. 

The documentary Will the Real Terrorist Please Stand Up? was screened at the Center for Contemporary Arts in Santa Fe this summer and continues to fill theaters across the country. 

The film is directed by Saul Landau and filmed by Haskell Wexler. And although the themes addressed are likely better directed toward and older audience, the film deserves the attention of younger viewers. 

The film describes nearly half a century of relations between U.S. and Cuba, beginning in the years of Cuba’s Revolution in 1959 until today. 

Many of the people in the film are from both sides of the isle and speak of the historical events that changed their lives. Landau uses a collage of interviews and recordings, as well as historical footage from the time to tell the tale of the Cuban Revolution, the Bay of Pigs and the Cuban Five. 

Landau interviews Miami-based counter-revolutionary forces, Cubans who foster hatred for Castro and his regime, as well as U.S. Central Intelligence Agency agents who supported the counter-revolutionaries in their epic battle. 

The shift of emotion becomes obvious when Landau moves from the historic footage to the five U.S. convicted Cuban intelligence officers known as the Cuban Five: Gerardo Hernández, Antonio Guerrero, Ramón Labanino, Fernando González and René González. 

Through current interviews Landau lets the viewer know how unaware many Americans — some of whom are Cuban exiles — are about the conflict between the U.S. and Cuba. Landau asks, “Do you know who the Cuban Five are?” and the common answer is, “That’s a music group, right?” 

The music used in the film, by the way, was by The Cuban Cowboys, not to be confused with the Cuban Five (since they are still serving prison time). 

Interviews of distressed Miami exiles and of right-wing political allies, follow a sequence of events similar to that of Shakespeare’s Macbeth, one domino of destruction leads to another. 

The Cuban Five were indeed sent by the Cuban government to spy on Miami’s exiled community in the wake of several bombings in Havana, masterminded by anti-communist militant groups wanting to interfere with tourist business and who wanted to portray Cuba as a bad tourist destination. Miami-based groups had different forms of support from the U.S., including the Brothers to the Rescue, a group formed by Miami Cubans who flew small airplanes in efforts to rescue rafters fleeing Cuba or to drop leaflets with information, acts that violated Cuban airspace. 

The movie shows many people, including our former-Gov. Bill Richardson, writer Gabriel García Márquez, and Saul Landau himself, all visiting Cuba with hopes of negotiating between the two governments. 

Fidel Castro, in one of the clips showed, asks, “How would Washington like it if Cuban planes flew over their city constantly?” Then-President Bill Clinton promised to revoke pilot licenses of those involved in the flyovers, but he never did and two of the planes where shot down by the Cuban military in 1996. Before this incident, the Cuban Five were arrested in Miami, accused of being terrorists. 

University of New Mexico sociologist and Cuban history expert Nelson Valdez said that Americans need to lobby in Washington, D.C., in order to change Congress’ views and policies against Cuba. 

Marzia Dessi is a junior at Española Valley High School. You may contact her atazulamarz@rocketmail.com



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