By Magaly Cabrales – Cuba | email@example.com
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
During the relentless struggle for the Five’s release, did you ever feel alone?
My life strategy was to prepare for the future day by day, even though I had no idea when it was going to come. But I still did what I could every day. Gerardo always taught me that: live each day as if it were your last. And that’s what I did, even though I felt that all the sentimental burden I was carrying was hardening me. I got so hard that I reached the last stage of the campaign terribly exhausted from a sentimental point of view. Despite that exhaustion, I found the strength to welcome Gerardo, Ramon and Tony when they finally arrived in their homeland on December 17, 2014.
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.
By Ana Álvarez Guerrero,
Student of Journalism of the Faculty of Communication of the University of Havana. On Twitter: @aaguerrero97
Irene Pérez, Cubadebate photojournalist. Graduated in Journalism from the University of Havana (2014). Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org, on Twitter: @irenepperezz
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
Heroes of the Republic of Cuba, Gerardo Hernandez and René Gonzalez, spoke today with Cubadebate about the Cuban premiere of the film “Red Avispa” at the 41st New Latin American Film Festival.
What did you both think of the film directed by French director Olivier Assayas?
The answer to this question and their impressions of this film – one of the most controversial of this edition of the Festival – were shared by Gerardo and René this afternoon, in an exchange that was transmitted through Cubadebate’s Facebook page.
Some of Gerardo and René’s impressions of the film
The film, as many people have said, is not exactly the story of the Five, it is the story of part of the Five, but it also goes beyond that to the story of the confrontation between Cuba and the United States. It seems important to me that from the point of view of a European, who has no direct relationship with this conflict of so many years, a film has been made on a subject that, during the time in which this story unfolded, was a subject censored by the media of the world. That is the fundamental value of the film. I know that it will generate debate in the Cuban public, because it is the most difficult audience for a film like this. This is because it knows the case, it lived it. If the film gets a rating of 50 points from Cuban viewers, it’s a good film.
What I liked most about the film was the boldness of placing the subject of terrorism in Hollywood. It is known that in Miami they have threatened to burn cinemas that show it. I think it’s brave to make a film that, without being pro-Cuban, embraces the truth and this truth favors us because we’ve been the victims for more than half a century.
The film shows 50 years of aggression, terrorism, crimes against Cuba. They are not so afraid of the film as they are of the story, a story that if they could have told it they would have done it, they have money, connections. This was a trial in which the 12 members of the jury, when they left the courtroom, took an oath of silence, did not dare to speak. In another case, each one of those 12 members would have made his book of when he was a juror in the case of the 5.
This case filled the judicial system, the judge, the jury, the prosecutors with shame, that’s why it’s a story that they can’t tell and that they’re afraid of, and that for so long they hid and tried to let nobody know. They are afraid that the history of U.S. aggression against Cuba, for so many years, will be known.
Expect an expanded summary of Gerardo and René’s statements to Cubadebate.
Author: Rolando Pérez Betancourt | email@example.com
December 8, 2019 22:12:47
A CubaNews translation. Edited by Walter Lippmann.
Finally exhibited at the 41st New Latin American Film Festival, The Wasp Network (Olivier Assayas, 2019) makes it clear with historical objectivity that the Cubans who infiltrated counterrevolutionary Miami exile organizations had the right to watch over the security of their country, and thus stop the wave of terrorist attacks of the 1990s carried out under the protection of the United States.
This is an important aspect to be taken into account in the film by the Frenchman Assayas, a prestigious director whose work is known in our country. He has made it possible to appreciate the sensitivity of an artist capable of tackling the most dissimilar human problems from intimate stories.
Based on the book The Last Soldiers of the Cold War, by Fernando Morais, Assayas himself wrote the script about a conflict that – it could not be otherwise – establishes who are the aggressors and who are the victims in a history that goes back half a century.
It was enough for the Miami counterrevolution, without seeing the film, only news after its presentation at the Venice Film Festival, to make a fuss and a pathetic warning: in those lands, the film couldn’t even show its head.
The theme of the Five Heroes and the stories that flow from it would allow us to make a few films and series. But in any work based on reality, there is a selection of events and characters, along with artistic licenses put into function of a dramaturgy and simplification of the plot. From Morais’s book, Assayas highlights what he considered pertinent to build a web of events that span several years and not a few intrigues. Although the film has been promoted as an espionage thriller, the director says that it is a historical vision conceived with the intention of capturing a feat that, after he learned about it it, captivated him.
It was advisable, however, to balance the tone and balance the conflict in such a way that a whole point of view in favor of the revolutionary cause did not prevail in a film with foreign funding and international distribution. Besides, the assumption of the political factor in any subject is always a reason for division of opinions and even entrenchments. These can be seen now, even, in “artistic” criticisms in which ideological positions against the “Cuban communist regime” stand out more than an unprejudiced practice of professional analysis.
But facts are facts and artistic honesty, although it is necessary to qualify, cannot be detached from them.
For this chronicler, The Wasp Network ends up being a film worthy and meritorious to see, which is not free of inconsistencies in its realization. Of these, the most significant, is the dispersion motivated by wanting to cover everything and explain more than necessary, taking into account the possible ignorance of the subject that an international audience could have. In this sense, the script resorts to leaps in time and an entry and exit of characters that leaves gaps in terms of purposes of the story and the lack of roundness of certain situations, such as the one concerning the flight to Cuba undertaken by the infiltrator Juan Pablo Roque (Wagner Moura).
Another debatable card -which for a Cuban spectator has nothing revealing about it- is the surprise factor that is intended to impregnate the infiltrators in Miami. It first, it makes them appear as traitors who escape from the Island and later, in their real function, a double game devoid of the dramatic force that, it is guessed, was among the director’s goals.
The Wasp Network is focused on the stories concerning René González (Édgar Ramírez) and his wife Olga Salanueva (Penélope Cruz, in an excellent performance).
Also the afore-mentioned Roque and the wife who is sought in Miami (Ana de Armas), each couple with their very particular love-political conflicts and was carried with considerable ease in the plot. Gael Garcia Bernal plays Gerardo Hernandez, leader of the group. It would be necessary to see the opinions that the real characters have regarding their characterizations.
The film efficiently reconstructs the terrorist attacks against tourist facilities, shows the maximum faces of the counterrevolutionary exiles and resorts to excerpts from the archives as a reminder that everything that counts comes from reality. This is how President Clinton and Fidel appear separately, towards the end, during an interview with an American journalist. Fidel is conclusive about the right of the most spied country in the world, Cuba, to know what the enemies are doing on U.S. soil to attack the Cuban people.
September 6, 2018
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
Spain’s Penélope Cruz and Mexico’s Gael García Bernal will join Venezuelan Edgar Ramírez to round off the cast of French director Olivier Assayas’s Wasp Network, RT Features and CG CINEMA announced today in a press release.
WASP NETWORK, whose plot is based on the book THE LAST SOLDIERS OF THE COLD WAR by Brazilian writer Fernando Morais, will focus on the story of a group of Cuban anti-terrorists sent into the United States during the 1990s.
Morais‘ book tells the story of Gerardo Hernández, Fernando González, Ramón Labañino, Antonio Guerrero and René González, the Five; and Juan Pablo Roque, another member of the network who returned before the arrest of his companions.
The cast of this feature film will also feature Brazilian Wagner Moura, known for his performance of Colombian drug trafficker Pablo Escobar in the series Narcos.
Winner of the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for VICKY CRISTINA BARCELONA (2008), Penélope Cruz released this year the film TODOS LOS SABEN, in which she shares the stage with her husband Javier Bardem, and played Donatella Versace in AMERICAN CRIME STORY: The Assassination Of Gianni Versace, for which she was nominated for the Emmy for Best Supporting Actress in a Limited Series.
Gael García Bernal, winner in 2016 of the Golden Globe for best actor in a comedy series by Mozart in the Jungle, starred this year in the film Museo by Mexican director Alonso Ruizpalacios.
Another film project that will deal with the same theme is currently in production by a Canadian team.
(With information from EFE)
CubaNews translation edited by Walter Lippmann.
A CubaNews translation. Edited by Walter Lippmann.
Antonio Guerrero, a member of the group of comrades Heroes of the Republic known as The Five, referred in his Facebook profile to the post of Raul Capote on the same social network entitled “I AM IN THE CANDIDATURE”. It is not surprising that those who rushed to take advantage of the words of the wife of one of our heroes to attack the legitimacy of the ongoing electoral process in Cuba, against the intention of that comrade, now keep silent on both Tony’s words and those of another Hero of the Group of Five, Gerardo Hernández Nordelo, which we published before.
“SELFISHNESS IS THE STAIN ON THE WORLD AND DISINTEREST ITS SUN ” JOSÉ MARTÍ
Capote, the last time we met I told you about my limitations to get into the networks [the internet]. I have read your writing and here I am trying to publish something. I AM ALSO AMONG THE CANDIDATES. “The well-told truth, said in time dissipates, as if they were smoke, its enemies.” And I continue with the Apostle. “The duty of a man is where he is most useful.” And “[it] must be fulfilled simply and naturally”. If everyone does their part “nothing can defeat us”.
And what I think is essential to Marti’s thoughts: “If I ever was of any use, I can’t remember: what I want is to be of more use”.
Eternal glory to our National Hero José Martí!
Fools like Silvio and his song.
Faithful always to Fidel and the Revolution.
EVER ONWARD TO VICTORY!
LONG LIVE FREE CUBA!
Words from Raúl Capote on his Facebook profile to which Tony refers:
In the candidacy for the ANPP there are those who have to be. There are the workers, the peasants, the students, the humble citizen and the brilliant professor, the heroes and the unknown, working men and women, the Chinese, the black, the mulatto, the white… a broad spectrum of Cuban society.
That the modest and unknown student, almost adolescent, is there, is good; that the peasant from way out in the mountain, the self-employed, our next-door men and women, women of the neighborhood, very, is very, very good.
There are the non-state sector, health, research, education, as well as the peasant and the cooperative member, workers of culture, the media, the military, sports, religious institutions and social organizations.
We are not going to vote for an assembly only of generals and doctors, there are the people, the free country represented in all its dignity.
Of the 605 Parliament candidates nominated on January 21, 47.4% are delegates from constituencies; therefore, all municipalities in the country will have representation in Parliament with at least two deputies, and one of them of municipal origin.
Women represent 53.22%, which places us as the second Parliament in the world with the largest female participation, “The vote of an entire people, of all the constant and visible entities of the Cuban people that can speak frankly, is an honor such that it anoints the one who receives it, cleanses his heart of the passions that could disturb him, and magnifies, as if by divine dispensation, the sworn forces over all the obligations of the earth, taking it to the first and foremost one: to build man a safe and decorous house on the independent soil of the homeland”. (Jose Marti)
Our democracy, new, sincere and truly popular, is based on Marti’s principle, With all and for the good of all; and it needs, given the danger of the greater war that is being waged against us, the unity of the revolutionaries. Such is the main legacy of Fidel, UNITY UNITY UNITY
Comrades all, let us all vote for all. I am also among the candidates, not in name but worthy and fully represented.
This is an English translation of a posting on Iroel Sanchez’ blog, La Pupila Insomne.
January 29, 2018
A CubaNews translation. Edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews
On Saturday, January 27,  I posted a comment on Raúl Capote Fernández’s Facebook profile to which Gerardo Hernández Nordelo, Hero of the Republic of Cuba, replied as follows:
“Certainly, brother Iroel, anyone who has an honest opinion has the right to express it, but it’s outrageous to see the way some opportunists who never raised their voice in defense of The Five when it was most needed are now throwing up their hands in horror to ‘defend us’ by adding fuel to the fire…”
This was Gerardo’s reply to my comment:
“Right this minute I can’t but remember that the owner of the journal OnCuba described as ‘unfortunate’ musician Francis del Río’s demand of freedom for The Five on Miami television. ‘It’s like going to a synagogue to speak ill of the Jews”, the said owner remarked at the time, putting Southern Florida’s filthy media on a level with a temple, and stating the journal’s view that Alan Gross was the ‘U.S. contractor imprisoned in Cuba for acts against the law’—it could be assumed that he drove through the red light or a ‘Stop’ rather than being involved in U.S. Cuba policy of subversion. Our heroes, however, were serving ‘harsh sentences’—never unjust ones—‘because they were working for the Cuban State Security apparatus.”
By Yunier Javier Sifonte Díaz
October 24, 2017
As part of the academic program of the I International Scientific Convention of the “Marta Abreu” Central University of Las Villas (UCLV), Ramón Labañino, Hero of the Republic of Cuba, gave a keynote address today and spoke with those present about the main challenges of updating the Cuban economic model.
With a title as controversial as “Is Cuba returning to Capitalism?” , the Vice-President of the Cuban National Association of Economists and Accountants, presented in his talk the main characteristics of the national context. He discussed the need to understand the changes made in the Island as a way of working to ensure a better standard of living and an equitable and fair benefit for all citizens of the nation.
“The name of my talk is just a hook, a provocation to discussion, but what really matters is to draw attention to the most negative characteristics of capitalism and what are the inviolable essences in our country in order to maintain the social model chosen by the island for more than 50 years,” he added.
In his presentation, Labañino outlined the main characteristics seen in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics years before the fall of Socialism in that country. The role of the party, the need to keep the media in the hands of the people, to avoid regionalism, as well as the “wholesale privatization and commodification of the socialist economy” are factors that are essential for us not to repeat in Cuba the mistakes made in the Eurasian nation, he said.
He also referred to the importance of preserving the policy of a single party against alternatives aimed at dismantling that idea and advocated confronting imperialism’s cultural war with intelligence and a critical sense.
“The single party strengthens us as a nation. Defending alternative formulas to ours, based on a model of democracy that has already proven its ineffectiveness in many countries, means playing Imperialism’s game. Our party has the essences of that created by Marti in 1892: anti-imperialist, sovereign and with a defense of national dignity as the first inviolable law. These characteristics make it strong and necessary in every moment of the country’s history. “
Issues such as monetary dualism, the role of the press in the country, non-agricultural cooperatives, work in the agricultural sector, the development of the labor force in the public and private sectors and the need to increase labor productivity in all the areas of the country as a basic rule to achieve an effective growth of the Cuban economy, were also among the main issues discussed between the Hero and the delegates gathered to hear it.
Regarding the new economic figures that emerged in the heat of the changes implemented in the Cuban economy, Ramón spoke about their importance to free the state from the unnecessary wear and tear of controlling small spheres, but warned of the importance of carrying them out so that their income also plays a key role in the development of society.“What we transfer to private hands is not property, but the management of social property,” he summarized.
Similarly, Labañino discussed the relevance of the main transformations to the economic, political and social model of the country. He defended the idea of that these changes are essential for subsistence as a nation, but always for the sake of maintaining our social achievements .
“In a highly democratic process, the greatest news was consulted with the majority of Cubans, because one of our great strengths is that the measures applied are based on all citizens, especially to defend the most underprivileged. Although we want a greater speed in implementation, sometimes we must stop, rectify what is wrong and move forward, because we can not afford to make mistakes and waste the few resources at our disposal,” he said.
After his comments, the Hero of the Republic of Cuba talked exclusively with Cubadebate. He said the the merit of sharing his experiences in an event like the one organized by the UCLV, a Department of Advanced Studies “with highly-qualified professionals in both the technological and the political, as well as the scientific and academic.”
Likewise, Labañino spoke of his experience of returning to the island after 15 years of absence. He said he found a country “always changing, with a beautiful and well-done opening, especially since there is an awareness that the transformations in our society exist because of an historical necessity and not because of a whim or an idea of playing at Capitalism,” he said.
Questioned on the main challenges for Cuba’s present and future, Labañino did not hesitate to describe the blockade imposed by the United States as the first of them. “Although people sometimes do not see it, every economic action bears its stamp. If this were not so, our country would do better, because we have a high cultural and educational level, natural conditions and a high professional capacity to rub shoulders with first world nations. “
In a simple dialogue, always open to discussion and sharing experiences, the anti-terrorist fighter recalled the importance of knowing history so as not to repeat negative experiences. Likewise, in these times of “empty and manipulative discourses,” he highlighted Fidel Castro’s legacy for the construction of an increasingly prosperous and inclusive country. He warned of the importance of maintaining essential principles of the Cuban Revolution, such as internationalism, anti-imperialism and solidarity with the peoples of the Third World.
By L Eduardo Domínguez, Claudia Yilén Paz Joa
June 17, 2017
When Sunday is celebrated in several regions of the world as Father’s Day, Gerardo Hernandez and Adriana Perez, will have two new reasons to celebrate the special date. The family they built together, fighting two life sentences and 15 years, has already grown to five members, like the five who were the heroes of their cause. The three children born in less than three years, although it is hard to believe, were dreamed of almost exactly as they arrived.
What is a day in the life of the hero who named in letters the children who were going to be born? How did he feed his hope and that of his beloved, more than ninety miles from an infernal hollow? What does a man feel when he fulfills all his dreams and a review of his life is full of impressive coincidences?
Behind the studio glass headsets and microphones are adjusted. They are ready now. Excited and happy, they share laughter and tears, after the poem that provokes memories, music and anecdotes of love. Don’t stop listening to the exclusive interview with the Hero of the Republic of Cuba that from his space “The Light of Memory”, Radio Rebelde gives to parents on their day this Sunday at 11:00 p.m. At Cubadebate we bring you the exclusive.
A CubaNews translation by Walter Lippmann.