By Rosa Miriam Elizalde
Cuban journalist. First Vice President of UPEC and Vice President of FELAP. She has a PhD in Communication Sciences and is the author or co-author of the books “Antes de que se me Olvidar”, “Jineteros en La Habana”, “Clic Internet” and “Chávez Nuestro”, among others. She has received the “Juan Gualberto Gómez” National Journalism Award on several occasions. Founder of Cubadebate and its Editor-in-Chief until January 2017. She is a columnist for La Jornada in Mexico.
On twitter: @elizalderosa
July 9, 2020
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
Since Netflix decided to release The Wasp Network on June 19 and reached the captive audience through Covid, the film has become a media success for unconventional reasons.
In Florida, they have threatened to burn down movie theaters if the film is ever shown, and signatures are being collected to force Netflix to withdraw the film, not understanding that the download site is not a television channel. People have the option of watching it or going on, although the scandal must have boosted the rating of a film that had passed through the Venice Film Festival without any sorrow or glory, despite a celebrity cast headed by Penélope Cruz.
But in Miami right now the theme of the film has become a sort of anti-communist conga with the local media dancing the cool step of attacking the French director, Olivier Assayas. They’re accusing him of making pro-Cuba propaganda. The great detail is that The Wasp Network narrates real events that have been documented by the United States authorities themselves, in a trial that is considered the longest in the history of that country’s jurisprudence and in which three generals, an admiral, a former presidential advisor and self-confessed terrorists, who appear on screen as what they are, testified.
The plot of The Wasp Network began in Havana in the early 1990s. René González (Edgar Ramírez in the film), a flight instructor at a military airbase, steals a plane and flees Cuba. He begins a new life in Miami, away from Olguita, his wife (played by Penelope Cruz) and their young daughter. Other Cuban “deserters” soon follow him and set up a network to infiltrate organizations based in that city, responsible for attacks on the island, including a hotel bombing campaign that killed an Italian tourist. Instead of capturing and prosecuting the terrorists, responsible for atrocious crimes, the U.S. government locks up and subjects Cuban agents to blackmail and punishment.
It’s the story of what happened in its pure state, naked in the opinions or interpretations of the screenwriter and director; an intolerable truth for one of the real characters in the film, José Basulto. He presented himself in those years as a good Samaritan, savior of rafters in the Florida Straits, but he supported his excursions with drug trafficking, cheerfully violated Cuban airspace and financed shootings against bathers on the beaches.
Paradoxically, the evidence of his crimes was not provided by the Cuban Ministry of the Interior, but by the FBI, which was aware of everything that was going on, as the film shows. Now Basulto shouted against Netflix and shook his fist in front of the cameras: “I more than agree with Trump that the relationship and agreements with Cuba should be terminated.
There’s a story that seems merely anecdotal of events that occurred over 20 years ago, but it’s current if you look at it correctly. Genuine people like José Basulto or Luis Posada Carriles, who organized the bombing of hotels in Havana and the sabotage of a civil airplane in which 73 passengers and crew members died, are not marginal in American society today.
The Cuban from the island who saw The Wasp Network at the Havana Film Festival last December knows that the hatred that inspired the Mayan attacks in the 1990s permeates today the speeches of President Donald Trump and conquers other radicals who swarm the Facebook forums and YouTube channels linked to white supremacists. Moreover, George W. Bush unleashed his war on terrorism from others while protecting his terrorist friends at home, and now Trump courts Florida’s arsonists and is evasive in condemning the right-wing extremists who have left a trail of death during his administration from Charlottesville to Minneapolis to El Paso.
A study by the U.S. Extremist Crime Database indicates that 74% of the terrorist attacks that occurred on U.S. soil after September 11, 2001, through 2016, were the work of the extreme right. Since Trump became president in 2017, most attacks against defenseless civilians have been carried out by supremacists. The profile of the aggressor does not vary much: a white man, inspired by other violent acts and speeches, and with easy access to assault weapons. He is the archetype of José Basulto, who benefited as the current right-wing extremists from the American law, which only allows the designation of foreign groups or attackers as terrorists.
Virtues and shortcomings of performance apart, The Wasp Network is unusual and courageous. It focuses on explaining what was hidden for decades and still does not want to be looked at head-on: why Cuban agents were sent to the United States. This is the heart of the story that has set the networks on fire, that tries to censor on Netflix and that has the right-wing making common cause against the Spanish vice president, Pablo Iglesias. He accompanied the film’s Twitter feed with three words of unsurpassed precision: “Seen it. Heroes. Great Movie.”
by Rolando Pérez Betancourt
July 4, 2020
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
The controversy and the pandemic have meant that The Wasp Network continues to be seen far beyond what the most flattering estimates had predicted.
This is despite the fact that some involved in the film plot have vowed to ignore it and continue to call for a boycott, while demanding legal redress “for damages”.
But they betray themselves and, in the loneliness of their homes, sit in front of the Netflix platform, eager to know. Afterwards, they can’t stop themselves and they explode, even though the shouting is evidence of having broken a pact with the Brothers, as happened to Ramón Saúl Sánchez, an old sidekick of the terrorist Posada Carriles and a counter-revolutionary linked to those first groups determined to return Cuba to what it was before 1959.
Sanchez is offended because the film “is more a political project than a cinematographic story”, a statement that invites one to imagine a science fiction plot, with the French director Olivier Assayas, the producers from different countries, technicians, actors, and Netflix itself, involved in an international conspiracy
interested in advocating Cuba’s right to defend itself against the terrorists in Florida, who are being suckled by the United States Government.
What really bothers the explosives expert of the Omega-7 terrorist group is that the film presents him as one of the many who have made counterrevolution a lucrative business, and it is true that many of his lineage are trying to shake off the image of the “patriot” swimming in ugly money that does not dignify the cause.
That’s why the also member of the Alpha 66 group (with a bloody record of service against the Cuban people) is indignant about the uncomfortable position in which the film places him and he claims, with an air of offense, that the money that came out of his pockets to unite the Cuban family was not a small thing. A statement after which -according to statements published on the Internet- he explains what a lavish money-maker he is: “I even had to pay a bill for 800 dollars in calls to Cuba once”.
A reminder of the “who’s who” of the adventure of moving around social networks by watching the reactions to The Wasp Network. This is how Carlos Alberto Montaner emerged, an old terrorist and agent of the cia (with an evidentiary record) who had become a “political analyst” without ceasing to be an ardent counter-revolutionary. He was another one of those who, “without wanting to”, watched The Wasp Network, because – in keeping with the ideals of the high-ranking intellectual who questions everything – he could not believe the argument that the tape “was pure propaganda paid for by Havana”. In other words, supposedly devoid of prejudices and ideological positions, the analyst saw the film, after which he considers it a mistake, because, in effect, “it is propaganda paid for by Havana,” a risky slander – he should have known – since he too could be sued by the film’s producers and, on this occasion, not without reasons to open a court case.
Once again, cinema and art, in their historical implications, are blinded by extreme positions that prefer bonfires to analysis. Hatreds, swearwords, disqualifications, emptiness, savagery of the verb, unhealthy propaganda against those who simply give a frank opinion, as happened to the Spanish vice-president, Pablo Iglesias. “Sight. Heroes. Movie”, wrote the leader with total frankness, and the furious claque, which is never absent, waved torches and went out to set fire to the nets.
Published: Wednesday 08 July 2020 | 12:10:47 am
By Mileyda Menéndez Dávila
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
Let me shut up about your silence.
Have you noticed how many times a man explains to a woman or a girl something she already knows, often in an affected tone? That attitude is a type of micro-machismo that since 2008 is identified with the term “mansplaining” (its literal translation would be “macho-explanation”), and it is a typical [form of] gender violence, a patriarchal mechanism that takes away from the value of the female experience in order to silence it.
It can be an unconscious act, transmitted for centuries through diverse cultural channels. When it is brought to their attention, some revise their attitude and try to unlearn it.
WHEN DOES IT HAPPEN?
It can happen at home, at work or in any public place, to women of any age or social status:
You tell a story and he interrupts you because he thinks he can tell it better, even if it’s an experience of your own.
In a children’s fight, the boy is first asked to explain what happened and is held responsible for what the girl involved does or says.
Male health care workers downplaying female ailments
You propose to discuss a vital issue and you are stopped with a derogatory ¨no start with your stuff¨
A service provider disregards your opinion about the problem whose solution you are going to entrust to him
When you complain about the way they treat you, they ask you if you are ¨on your days¨
When arranging a payment or service you are asked if there is not a man in the family to represent you
Your colleagues reinterpret your ideas to present them as their own, without giving you credit
You are describing something and a man interrupts you to talk about another source ¨más importante¨, without acknowledging your expertise on the subject
They refer you to deepen your publications on a subject and they don’t even notice that they are yours
In a task of your responsibility, they ask someone of a lower professional level for his judgment because he is a man!
Anatomy of the macho-explicator:
Interrupts with intimidating or arrogant gestures
Explaina in a condescending or professorial tone
Raises his voice to cancel yours
Smile with irony and dismiss your demands for respect
He doesn’t look at you when he talks, he prefers to look at another man
If you criticize him, he establishes a hostile silence
Cut the chain:
To curb male chauvinism, you must first be aware that not because it’s often right
Let him know that you perceive that attitude as violence, and that even if it’s not intentional, it hurts
Stand firm when speaking, change your tone slightly and raise your voice if necessary so that you are not cut off
Defend your position with firm arguments, without apologizing for having your own viewpoint
If they insist on explaining the obvious to you, ask questions that will show how deep your knowledge is
Support other women when you see them being silenced, both at home and in public spaces