The American Experience: Fidel Castro

I watched the documentary on PBS last night and, while there were a few moments where I was deeply troubled by what was being represented on the screen, including one particular instance where I was physically sick to my stomach, found it to be a relatively apt interpretation of the facts surrounding castro’s rise to power.

I did feel the end was a bit ambivalent and was bothered bythe fact that there was no direct mention of the encarcerated journalist and other political prisoners. Still, I think Adriana Bosch did a superb job in not only tackling such a subject, but – and Im certain this happened – of going against the media grain and spin and working to demystify the castro legend.

All in all a good expose of the tyrant and his shortcomings.

Gracias, Adriana. For turning on a few lights.

14 thoughts on “The American Experience: Fidel Castro”

  1. I thought it was fair overall. One thing I noticed in Fidel, the movie and then this documentary was the complicity of NYTimes and CBS in building the myth of Fidel when he was in the mountains with only a handful of men while students were down in the city dying in street battles. Brings new meaning to the phrase “useful idiots”.

  2. I found the documentary great. It tried to explain who is Castro and how he stole the Island, and I think it achieved that. I know it doesn’t expose nearly a quarter of the human rights’ abuses of the regime, but that would be a long long series totally dedicated to it. That history needs to be told and surely will be.

    Now, we Cubans need also to focus our attention on the evident problems of our political culture, we need to check our histoy. The cult of the macho, the mesianic instinct, the justification of violence, the I shout louder than you. Will we learn?

  3. I was not able to see the documentary, because of a prior engagement. But I read the interview with the lady author and I detected the traditional naivety of persons that were very young in 1959 and did not leave Cuba prior to the Bay of Pigs Invasion.
    Over the years many people have made projects about Fidel and the Cuban Revolution, the die was cast forever in 1961 the past 46 years are already history, all that can change is the final outcome of this tragic episode for the Republic of Cuba with the passing on of the central figure.

  4. I saw the documentary, but unfortunally it left out some issues: for example la libreta de racionamiento, a 45 year fixure in the cubans home. Also at least some of the more indignant humans rigt abuses, like el paredon, the boat 13 de marzo, the massacre of the canimar river and the almendares river in Havana, etc.

    One of the items that I like more was the way she presented the way Castro traiciono al Che guevara, the argentinian aseesing who whent to Cuba to kill cuban people (my father was one of them) When I travel to Latin America and see those t-shirt w/ his face, i feel mad. Well, know even in our malls in s. florida you see them.

    The result of this “revolution” have been bad to our poor country. I agree with Eduardo: we need to let go of the Mesianic vision of leadership, they have created a desaster in our country. Nathing is more beautifull that see every four years a new president sworn in even if you din’t vote for the guy, but at least you now taht in 4 more year someone else will come along.

    Is sad, but this is our history, and the truth is that Castro regime have lasted 46 years abd that is a long time for one place.

  5. Val, watched the documentary because you posted it. Found it extremely interesting and informatime. My husband (came to USA in ’61) and me (in ’67) were still talking about it this morning. Even though I remember my paternal grandfather forbidding anyone in his household to listen to Castro on the radio (my grandfather was Batistiano) and living through the “paredon” & Bay of Pigs era I was too young to really understand what was happening. The documentary made me aware of many things I did not know or had forgotten.

    J.Scott your comments on CBS & NYT are right on the money. Some things don’t change!

  6. After reading the synopsis on the PBS web site, I was fearing some kind of Fidel love-fest mixed with “exile hard-line” rantings, but instead I found the documentary to be fair and balanced. Congratulations to Adriana Bosch for a job well done.

    I came away from watching the documentary with 2 main feelings: sadness and pity. An almost overwhelming feeling of sadness for the people of Cuba who have had to suffer the consequences of an awful and brutal regime. Sadness for the history and legacy of Cuba which, in spite of its rich history, culture and wonderful people, is one of failure and suffering. A great sense of pity for Cubans all over the world. I also felt a little bit of pity (this was shocking and not expected whatsoever) for Fidel – yes Fidel – himself. He forgot the idealistic notions and values of his youth and instead turned into a killer and megalomaniac who trounced on everyone he promised he would help. He fell into the same trap of the person he replaced – Batista – and he brought the Cuban people down with him.

    I wonder if Fidel were to see the documentary, if he would feel a great sense of failure deep inside his soul. He’s too intelligent not to realize that he has failed the very same people he promised to help 46 years ago.

  7. Val, I agree with you. The documentary had segments where I was yelling at the screen (in Spanish, of course). I would have preferred less Duran and more Valladares, more on the last fifteen years of human rights oppression and less of the health and education stuff (as you predicted yesterday in your post). As a caller rhetorically asked Bosch in the interview segment after the show, if the educational system was so horrible in Cuba, why are the Cubans in the US who fled the island in the 60s so successful?

    We need more programs like this one and we need them from film makers who are not Cuban-American and who have standing in the industry. Some of the callers last night used the old ‘how can an anti-castro Cuban be fair’ canard. Obviously, we can’t count on the Hollywood or New York of Oliver Stone, Michael Moore, and Robert Redford to do it so, sadly, we will have to wait.

    That said, however, it is the first time since Frontline’s excellent ‘Cuba and Cocaine’ (aired in the late 80s) that PBS has produced a less than complimentary examination of fidel and his regime. My congratulations to them for airing this and giving Americans a cursory look at the real fidel.

  8. Me parece a mi ques Fidel no es el unico culpable de la tragedia en Cuba, toda la gente esa que estaban en el documental gritando paredon estan ahora aqui en Miami apoyando el embargo. A y que hicieron cuando Fidel le s piso el cayo? Hecharon un pie. Los pueblos tienen el gobierno que se merecen y no hai mejor ejemplo que los Cubanos. A y que hacen los cubanos en Cuba para quitarse el yugo de Fidel de encima? Nada, absolutamente nada. No mejor dicho resolver……

  9. Nobody mentions that in 1958 a dozen american citizens working for the Frederick Snare Corporation and Moa Bay Mining Company in the town of Moa, Oriente were kidnapped by Raul Castro and taken to the Sierra Maestra, where they were captives, in protest of Eisenhower helping Batista. My uncle was one of the kidnapped americans. My uncle asked Raul Castro where they kept the prisoners and Raul answered “oh, we don’t keep them, we hang them with barbed wire fencing until they die”. Later, Raul invited all those americans to his wedding which was held at the Club the Cazadores in Santiago de Cuba. I went to the wedding with my uncle. My uncle was building a sailboat in Moa, in which he planned to leave Cuba, and live on the sailboat. Raul tried to steal the boat from my uncle and my uncle had to leave, on an unfinished sailboat, during the night, to keep from losing his boat.

  10. I watched the documentary last night and I have to say that Ms Bosch did a commendable job in presenting the “history” of Fidel Castro. As another viewer commented before, it would take hours to describe the atrocities and abuses that have been so prevalent these 46 years of Castro’s regime.

    I agree that we needed more Valladares and less Duran in the program. We also needed more stories about the patriots that stayed behind and fought and died for freedom instead of fleeing the country and waiting for the US to intervene. Many heroes gave their lives for a lost cause after suffering so many years under Batista.

    It is sad to see that our country has lost the splendor that it had. I hope we are seeing the end of the most destructive force this Hemisphere has seen…and hopefully the cuban people will be able to return to their pre-castro way of life, even though it might take decades to accomplish.

  11. I thought the documentary was ok, but didn’t really address the mechanisms of Castro’s repression, such as the formation of the CDRs, DTE and other such formal and informal chivato organizations, and that as a result, every single person in cuba–but one, and we know who that is–lives in some degree of fear. IMHO, the whole system survives because it is based on fear, not a true loyalty based on one’s heart-felt beliefs.

    It also gave very short shrift to the true levels of suffering during the “special period.”

    One other observation–no mention was made during the segment on the Bay of Pigs that Kennedy pulled the plug on air support at the very last minute, and basically condemned the invasion to failure from the get-go. Who knows if the group could have ultimately incited the locals into rebelling had the group not been defeated at the Bay of Pigs, but it seems pretty likely that if they had received the air support originally promised by Kennedy, they may not have lost the initial battle.

  12. I liked the documentary. One other thing it failed to mention is the systematic medical apartheid, where the only ones that get the “good” medical care are the communist elite or tourists.

  13. My comment is about what awaits Cuba after the death of Castro.
    In a nutshell: There are not enugh white people left in Cuba for a normal society to be rebuilt.
    The racial catastrophe caused by the Castro regime is not reversible, just like the corresponding situation here in the US is not reversible unless a) A natural disaster of enormous magnitude forces the population to get in touch with their basic instincts AND
    b)TV and other anti-white-controlled mass media disappear for a long time.

    Another aspect of the cuban conundrum is this:
    If Castro is allowed to die of natural causes, the nation won’t be salvageable either, because it won’t deserve to exist. The only way the cuban nation can regain its right to exist is by a cuban man to face and kill the satrap by himself.
    That is a condition sine-qua-non for the “cuban nation” to claim any legitimacy.
    If this does not happen, if not a single one of those who call themselves ‘cuban men’ in the island and elsewhere, has the balls to do it, then it makes no sense to speak of a “cuban” nation, because it does not exist.
    The same applies to the US. While we watch Football, drink beer and watch how our children dress and act like apes, continue “celebrating diversity” there will be no comeback to a civilized society for us or for the cubans.

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