Friday, July 8, 2011

LPP Archive...

by Agustin Blazquez with the collaboration of Jaums Sutton

Dedicated to Reed Irvine

The New York Times, the creator of Castro’s myth (thanks to the famous Herbert Matthews series of articles that began in February 1957) and according to the tyrant himself, “I owe my job” to that newspaper, is one of the sponsors of this pro-Castro propaganda film festival that showed on April 18, 2005, the documentary “Miami-Havana.”
While talking to a Cuban defector, I mentioned that I had seen on the local PBS station in Washington, DC the 1992 documentary “Miami-Havana” during the 1993 season. To my surprise she said, “Oh yeah, Estela Bravo. She is a Castro collaborator.”
Being Cuban also, and knowing the different outlook and perspective firsthand experience inside a totalitarian communist society brings, I thought that this defector – who was involved in the performing arts in Cuba – might have a point. At the same time, that statement worried me, since our perspective as non-pro-Castro has been so harshly criticized and misunderstood by the U.S. media and so many in the U.S.
So I decided to get some information from the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS), the Washington, DC, distributor of Estela Bravo’s documentary.
What I received from Arwen Donahue, the documentary publicist at the IPS was revealing. It was Estela Bravo’s curriculum and an article by Andres Viglucci published by The Miami Herald on September 24, 1993, about the showing of her documentary on PBS.
Almost everything in this curriculum, and details in the article, fits the profile of what the defector implied when calling her a “collaborator.”
It’s going to be difficult to explain what the defector meant, unless you come from the inside and are acquainted with the mechanisms of a communist society. According to my experience in the U.S., it’s very difficult for Americans to comprehend or relate to the complex daily survival routine of people trapped inside a regime like the one Castro imposed upon Cuba. As a friend of mine still in Cuba hinted in a letter, it’s “totally surrealist.”
In my attempt to understand where this documentary came from, I found that Estela Bravo – who is an American born in New York City in 1933, has, since 1963, been dividing her time between Havana and New York.
I must explain: in the early 1960s many so-called “true believers” of the Castro revolution began arriving in a sort of pilgrimage to Cuba. Castro gave his true believers coveted jobs, expropriated houses and apartments in exclusive areas, access to foreigner-only stores and schools for their children and other privileges not allowed to ordinary Cuban citizens (the beginning of apartheid in Cuba).
That explains Estela Bravo’s privilege of commuting between Havana and New York since 1963 in opposition to Cubans who lost that simple freedom after Castro.
I learned that Estela Bravo briefly had a folk music radio show in Cuba and that she worked for the Cuban government in a cultural institute. Also, her Argentinean husband, Ernesto Bravo, a biochemistry professor she married in 1956 and who collaborated on all her films, was given a job in 1963 at the University of Havana as professor of medicine.
There is nothing wrong with any of this in any free and democratic society, but Castro’s Cuba is neither. But if you are a Cuban and you know the mechanism behind all these shenanigans, you understand perfectly what the defector meant.
With the knowledge I have of the Cuban situation after Castro I ask myself, where are the sympathies of this foreign couple? They joined the heard of true believers and went to work for Castro’s regime. Therefore he awarded them with privileges and desirable jobs. Never mind all the freedoms and human rights Castro castrated.
Apparently Castro became the leader of their new cult. That’s the only way I can explain joining something like that of your own accord. The defector’s comment seems not so far fetched after all.
Then I remembered that the defector also said that Estela Bravo is very well known in Cuba and that her documentaries are shown regularly on government controlled Cuban TV. That means a lot, since in that heavily censored propaganda machine (the Cuban media), when something is shown regularly it means that it is beneficial to Castro’s goals.
Sorry that I have to be so blunt, but just that’s the way it is. It’s a fact of life in Castro’s Cuba and Cubans are very much aware of it.
In Estela Bravo’s list of documentaries I see a lot of familiar far left militant themes. She has been reviewed and recognized by the official Cuban Communist Party newspaper Granma. Comments from leftie American folk singer Pete Seeger, “Deep down is her wonderful internationalist outlook . . ..” I must clarify that in the communist jargon “internationalist” means: a person who goes to other countries to work and fight for the advancement of the Communist cause.
She received glowing comments from Castro’s official filmmaker, the late Tomas Gutierrez Alea and official national poet, the late Nicolas Guillen. You don’t get those kind of official accolades unless you belong to Castro’s fan club and serve his goals.
I also found good comments by leftie American writer and filmmaker Saul Landau, who because of his pro-Castro views has been referred as “an incurable Fidelista” by analyst Don Kowet.
In The Miami Herald article Estela Bravo wouldn’t discuss her specific political views or sympathies for Castro’s regime. That also fits the profile of the true believer or collaborator. They invariably duck the question and dive away through a tangent line. She said, “I believe I was honest in making this documentary.” If she is really “honest,” why does she duck this most relevant question?
“We didn’t want to be political,” she said. However, the end result of “Miami-Havana” is a very much pro-Castro, anti-U.S., politically left-leaning documentary.
“We want to show the human cost of this terrible war.” What war? Unless she is referring to the war Castro declared against the Cuban people since 1959! But somehow I doubt very much that is what she meant. I think she meant – echoing Castro – the war that the Yankees declared on Cuba. What war?
I must point out that the slogan featured in this documentary “Cuba Si, Yankees No!” was created by Castro for the Communist international parade on May 1, 1960, just 15 months after he took control in Cuba and three months prior to his appropriation of all American properties in Cuba.
Even prior to that, Castro had already declared his own war against the U.S. to “fulfill his destiny,” as he wrote to his secretary, the late Celia Sanchez, on June 1958. Now we know what war.
Estela Bravo made “Miami-Havana” while, as a privileged foreigner in Cuba, she has the freedom of traveling between Havana, Miami and New York pitching Castro’s survival scheme: to lift the U.S. embargo. That is the political message and objective of her documentary – and, conveniently, Castro’s current goal. So it is a political documentary after all.
In this 1992 anti-U.S. embargo and pro-relations with good-old-Castro documentary, Estela Bravo also conveniently ignores the fact that Castro has been circumventing the U.S. embargo for years. Castro has been buying through Canada, Mexico, France, Spain, Italy, Japan and other capitalist countries.
I’m sure that Estela Bravo and her husband didn’t experience the same scarcity in Cuba as the typical Cuban citizen for 46 years. Don’t they feel any guilt about this peculiar duality? This documentary doesn’t explain that before Castro, Cuba produced its own food for consumption and even export. Can Estela Bravo explain what happened to pre-Castro productivity?
The problem obviously is not the U.S. embargo as Castro’s propaganda has been claiming for decades. Estela Bravo through her “honest” documentary keeps reinforcing ad nauseam Castro’s repetitive claim to dupe American audiences yet again.
The clear political objective this documentary pursues is to appeal to the uninformed American audience at the grassroots level so they start lobbying the U.S. government for the lifting of the embargo and to allow Americans to visit Cuba as tourists and investors - just what Castro needs to continue his reign of terror. Never mind the real feelings and desires of the oppressed little Cuban people.
Estela Bravo even asserts, speaking for over a million exiles in the U.S. alone (about 3 million world wide) that “I believe the majority of people want to normalize relations.” Somehow I don’t think so in Estela-Fidel terms. We want to see our loved ones living with dignity, human rights, freedom in a democratic society, but that is Castro’s anathema.
Echoing Castro’s claims, Estela Bravo’s documentary portrays the Cubans as being lured from their paradisiacal island by the bad exiles and U.S. propaganda. That’s got to be a joke! Estela, in your zeal, I think you went a tad too far. In the years I have been out of Cuba in Canada, Europe or the U.S., I have never met a Cuban who was lured in the fashion this “honest” documentary implies.
All the Cubans I know have left everything and risked their lives to escape in shark-infested waters are in search of freedom (about 77,824 documented deaths trying to escape in the Florida Straits). Those escapes and defections are symptomatic of all Communist tyrannies around the globe. Historically, human beings can’t stand to live under so much oppression. That is a fact of life. Sorry Estela, humans are humans.
All throughout this “honest” documentary - selected as one of the 10 Best Documentaries of 1992 by the PBS-POV (Point Of View) series – we are “tricked or treated” with the multiple incursions of “expert” Wayne Smith (the Dean of American apologists of Castro from the IPS), espousing the message of lifting the U.S. embargo.
And we are forced to see and hear Wayne Smith, wearing his promotional t-shirt of the Pan American Games (an event Castro happily used to advance his propaganda) asserting, “If elections were held today he probably still would win.” (“Still”? He has never been democratically elected to anything in Cuba!)
“He probably still has the support, it may be resigned support, but the support. Another thing is that the Cuban people see no alternatives.” Facing such speculation from “expert” Wayne Smith, I would like to pose the question: If he is so popular, why did he announce on April 9, 1959, that there would be no elections – a time when he supposedly was at the peak of his popularity?
And, why do “the Cuban people see no alternatives”? I think I can answer that: Because Castro has made sure there are none.
Another characterization we have to sit through in this documentary, again from Wayne Smith’s World (now referring to pro-Castro Cubans) is, “Cubans morally are very sensible, moderate people. You don’t have these extremes.” And referring to Cuban exiles, “But what you have in Miami, I think, is a very extreme ultra right group who want no kind of improvement on relations between the two countries.”
Well, well, well Wayne and Estela, for your information – as if you really care – the only thing Cubans ever wanted since 1959 was a return to a democratic form of government as originally promised by Castro, with respect for law, order, freedom and human rights for all and respect for family, private property and private enterprise. We also wanted our 1940 Constitution, one of the most modern and progressive in the world that Castro discarded on February 7, 1959, when his regime was just 38 days old!
Just for these simple desires, we have been chastised, vilified, accused of being reactionary and “extreme ultra right.” I guess the majority of Americans can be classified that way, too.
Why do Estela and her husband live and work in Cuba, a country whose un-elected ruler formed an illegitimate Mafia-like government, discarding the Constitution?
I don’t think I have enough space to continue dissecting all the inaccuracies, misinformation and propaganda contained in this documentary on an issue that it so obviously misrepresents. I don’t even think that it qualified for the PBS-POV TV series, because according to Marc Weiss, co-executive producer for POV, in the Miami Herald article, the documentaries in that series, “Are supposed to carry ‘a’ strong point of view.”
He explains that it doesn’t have to be “journalistically balanced in the traditional sense.” However, in the same article Estela was quoted saying, “We represented all views as much as we could.” So, how can the documentary represent “a” point of view and “all views” at the same time? I’m lost now.
As a friend of the late Oscar winning cinematographer, filmmaker and writer, Nestor Almendros, I am familiar with his trials and tribulations in his attempt to get financing and airtime on PBS for his documentaries “Improper Conduct” and “Nobody Listened.”
The first one, while shown and praised all over the world, was aired by just a few local U.S. PBS stations but not by PBS nationally.
The second one, which also received international acclaim, was finally aired by PBS in August 1990, after a lot of hassle, in a truncated hour-long edition (contrary to what its creator intended), in tandem with a Saul Landau pro-Castro documentary.
It is very revealing that when PBS has to choose between documentaries ridden with misinformation and propaganda covering up Cuba’s tragedy (the “charismatic” Castro version) rather than those exposing the true nature of the facts, the fantasy always wins.
Even PBS’s FRONTLINE rejected “Nobody Listened” by stating, “FRONTLINE doesn’t produce anti-Communist programs.” Apparently, PBS’s FRONTLINE is not “journalistically balanced” either.
Nestor Almendros said in 1990, that he believed, when it comes to documentaries, the taxpayer-funded network leans unashamedly toward the political left. “The only country that resisted [showing his documentaries], the only place where was still strong pro-Castro sentiment, was the U.S.”
When Nestor Almendros tried to get “Nobody Listened” on the PBS-POV series, after a lot of back and forth games, it was rejected for one reason or another. Marc Weis noted, “I never supposed I’d get such a strong negative response from the committee.”
In reference to the last rejection of PBS to include “Nobody Listened” because or was “to late” for POV’s upcoming season, Almendros said, “There is something very wrong somewhere when PBS, founded by American people who are the world’s greatest enemy of communism, refuses to broadcast by itself a film about Cuba’s Communist dictator.”
PBS appears to be not so finicky when dealing with documentaries of Estela Bravo’s political persuasion – even though she doesn’t want to talk about it and claims her documentary to be apolitical.
And literally finishing off “Miami-Havana,” I must not overlook the incredible ending sequence of the returning Mariel “excludables.” Estela doesn’t even mention that one of the demands following riots in the U.S. jails where they were in detention, was that they REMAIN IN U.S. JAILS RATHER THAN BE RETURNED TO CUBA. How conveniently forgotten! Brava Estela Bravo!
In her myopic version she interviewed some of them on their ominous trip back to Cuba. Cubans, very much aware of what they have to say in order to save their skins, blamed everything on the U.S. and have to express relief, finally being on the way back to their beloved Castroland.
After landing on the real promised land, they are shown being liberated from the U.S. shackles by friendly Cuban police at the airport while Estela uses on the sound track a known-to-be-Castro-official Cuban singer setting the mood. Then the happy ex-excludables (whom Castro forced to the U.S. in 1980) are shown leaving the Combinado del Este prison east of Havana while the same happy music plays.
Then incredibly and to my astonishment, Estela showed them going inside police cars and being delivered to their individual families for a happy reunion!
As a Cuban accustomed to these kinds of displays of “humanity” from Castro’s authorities, I started laughing.
But wait a moment. Should I be cynical or thankful? Probably thankful; because if it had not been for the opportune presence of friendly Estela’s camera, I could not have witnessed this “realistic” staging of the facts. Estela strikes again! Bravo PBS-POV, certainly a transparent and honest documentary about Estela’s belief!
However, Estela has the right to make her documentary and taxpayer funded PBS and the National Endowment for The Arts have the right to sponsor the POV broadcast in 1993, and now this New York Times’ pro-Castro film festival in New York City to show it. But being free in the U.S. I have the right to criticize this dishonest piece of pro-Castro political propaganda.
There is nothing like freedom. One day, not far in the future, I hope, in Cuba, Cubans will enjoy freedom in spite of the efforts of collaborators like Estela Bravo.

2005 ABIP
Agustin Blazquez, Producer/director of the documentaries
COVERING CUBA, CUBA: The Pearl of the Antilles, COVERING CUBA 2: The Next Generation & COVERING CUBA 3: Elian presented at the 2003 Miami Latin Film Festival and the 2004 American Film Renaissance Film Festival in Dallas, Texas and released on April 15, 2005, COVERING CUBA 4: The Rats Below and Dan Rather ’60 Minutes’ an inside view, available at:

Éste y otros excelentes artículos del mismo AUTOR aparecen en la REVISTA GUARACABUYA con dirección electrónica de:

OPINION ... Posted on 07/07/2011

Do not is ashamed Obama?

By Roger Castellon

Cubans are the footprints of the same dream: the eternal desire to be free. We have always succeeded in coming to win. Perhaps our impatience with speed the way to live as the freest has caused the loss of that value so beautiful. In recent fifties we remain pilgrims without effective voices to claim the rights lost by the Cuban people, and  sadly we are alone because they still know the truth of the life in our homeland.

Undoubtedly, our efforts to achieve freedom in Cuba, are not linked to the wishes or perhaps the interests of policy United States. Is there any action could prove otherwise? Today and now the measures taken by President Barack Obama Cuba-related event can not be considered neither accidental nor  ignorant, they are simply rules to reach a goal unknown to us, avoiding the use of democracy as well known  in this country.

Through its privileges the U.S. president "authorize flights from Fort Myers International Airport to Cuba, making in the twelfth Air Terminal to receive authorization to transport passengers to the Caribbean island as a gateway to Cuba  to prepare for the future when the flights to Cuba are completely standard input as a bridge to Cuba, "said Robert M. Ball, agency's executive director Lee County Port Authority.

With this authorization are officially offered a helping tyranny to blow up the land without democratic demonstrated a willingness to give rights and freedoms to the Cuban people maintaining all necessary rules and prohibitions to prevent free entry and exit of Cubans to the territory that Birth theirs and governed by the Castro tyranny, which determines who can enter Cuban territory and who can get involved. You can not understand support for a dictatorship over fifty years  located ninety miles off the coast free from U.S. and inhabited by over two million victims of that system.

Last January President Barack Obama approved measures  to support the Cuban people freely to determine the fate of his country, and among them is the permission to all airports International country that can offer chartered trips authorizedthe island.

They lie when making offers based on falsehoods. How can the president of this nation on meaningless words really? But how to support something without being? Who told you that Cuban people can freely determine the fate of their country? Something pain deep in every Cuban exile when you ignore the truth of life in Cuban territory. When you ignore the existence of a people persecuted, imprisoned or exiled. I'm worried about the Mr. President does not know the truth about Cuba, if he knew he would know that  there can not be free to choose anything. Know of the hands chained and silent mouths of our brethren in the island. Know  the truth of the elections for the positions of the leaders in which there is only one candidate for the position of master, which determines the names of the rest of the government cabinet.

Born, live, create, dream and die in these stages contain the truth  of our lives, but the sad fact of our existence is to know how our message to men and women eager to see our people Free does not reach the people supposedly capable of receiving, understand and make it part of their ideas.

It hurts the ignorance of a truth and old, with evidence of cruelty the latter regime and destroy dreams and lives still in existence.  It hurts to think about the death of so many brothers in their struggle to achieve return of the freedoms and rights of all Cubans.

It hurts to see how Cuban women are dragged and beaten with to silence their actions. It hurts to see people die in jail for protesting. It hurts to think about the loneliness of a people abandoned. It hurts much, much feel the ignorance of the truth demonstrated by those with the duty to see, hear and feel the pain of a  people destroyed by the wickedness of men tied to a doctrine cruel and destructive as communism.

Do not be ashamed to Obama?

U.S. retrial Cuba prisoner will be July 22

Thursday July 7, 2011 17:46 EDT
By Rosa Tania Valdes

HAVANA (Reuters) - Cuba announced July 22 for an expected appeal hearing that will decide  the fate of an American contractor was sentenced to 15 years jail, a case that the hostile ties worsened between old ideological foes, reported Thursday a state blog.
Jailed U.S. contractor Alan Gross, 62,  is imprisoned in Cuba since December 2009 and was sentenced in March past 15 years in prison for "acts against the independence or State's territorial integrity. "
Lawyers Gross, whose immediate release "reasons humanitarian "was requested by his family and the Government U.S., filed an appeal of the sentence.
"Today we announced that the Board of Crimes against Security of the People's Supreme Court held on July 22 the hearing of the appeal filed by the Philip Alan Gross U.S. citizen, sentenced to 15 years deprivation of liberty, "the site
The brief report, also published by the state site added that the "defendant and his lawyer were imposed of the decision Thursday morning, as authorities  U.S.. "
U.S. diplomats in Havana told Reuters received notice of the rehearing and are planning their  presence at trial.
Meanwhile, the Gross family had no immediate comment on the new trial scheduled.
"We will not comment until they see the new audience, "he told Reuters by telephone from Washington source close to the lawyers and family.

However, a source at the Interests Section in Washington Havana said earlier not ruled out any official reaction later on Thursday about the trial of appeals for the contractor U.S..
The case has led to relations between Cuba and the United States  stagnation after a slight improvement under the Government of President Barack Obama, who eased the trade embargo easing the travel restrictions and allow free flow remittances to the island.
Gross and the U.S. government argue that his trips to the Havana were only to help Jewish groups to access Internet and say they do not violate any law.
Cuba, however, has insisted that its work on the island is part of a plan financed by Washington to undermine the system and promote socialist subversion.
The final decision would be key to Gross, who faces a difficult family situation with her mother and daughter with cancer, according  family sources.
A U.S. delegation that recently visited Gross  said it looked good despite the circumstances they face, but wife Judy has reiterated that his health is deteriorating day, has lost about 100 pounds and "is suffering tremendously."
So far Cuba has given no clues about what might be  the final verdict, but China's state agency, Xinhua, quoted in May Chief Justice Ruben Remigio Ferro, saying that the appeal "is being considered for clemency or release on humanitarian grounds. "
(Reporting by Rosa Tania Valdes; Additional reporting by Nelson Acosta, edited by Silene Ramirez)

Popular Party: "To say that Cuba is going towards democracy insults the intelligence"