Oliver Stone vs. The Truth.
By Marvin Olasky
HBO gave director Oliver Stone a forum to kiss up to Field Castro. Tom
Jicha, TV writer for the (Fort Lauderdale) Sun-Sentinel, described
Stone's interviews of Castro this way: "His questions are so soft they
would embarrass Larry King. Stone basically fills the role of the
straight person in an infomercial, asking the host to explain why the
product is so great. .. Stone essentially gives Castro an open
microphone to make outrageously disingenuous statements (such as) 'It's
the people who are in power… My constitutional powers are highly
What I've heard from Cubans in communications and while on a
humanitarian mission here is very different. A Cuban typically doesn't
even refer to Castro by name -- he moves his hand under his chin as if
stroking a beard -- but he knows that the dictator's attempt to impose
communism has crashed, and that "the beard" is becoming more furious as
his failure becomes more apparent
"The people" are in power only when they break the law by buying needed
food on the black market, or by paying for medical care when the state
health system fails them. The Castro regime's powers in practice are
unlimited -- 75 more people who crossed Castro were jailed last year and
given prison terms that average 18 years -- so anxiety is always
present. I've seen dire poverty in India and political oppression in the
old Soviet Union, but Cuba's combination of poverty plus nagging fear
under sunny skies is extraordinary.
One expression often heard in Havana is no es facil (it's not easy).
Every aspect of life, from gaining basic material sustenance to
traveling across town to remaining psychologically relaxed when any
neighbor or associate might be an informer, is difficult. A second
expression heard around Havana, ni comen ni dejan comer (they don't eat,
neither do they let others eat) comes because churches are ready and
willing to do better than the government in helping the poor and
particularly the elderly. Officials, though, turn down church requests
to build old age homes and even citizen attempts to organize the
collection of rotting garbage.
That's because ideologically the state is responsible to provide all
social services. Everything compassionate people do is an indictment of
government failure -- and 77-year-old Fidel Castro, like Oliver Stone,
desperately tries to avoid facing the truth. Many Cubans agree with the
beard's favorite slogan, un mundo mejor es possible (a better world is
possible), but add one caveat: Only when Castro is gone.
Right now, many Cubans are resigned to peddling in a peleton like those
in the Tour de France, with all the cyclists riding together and
thinking about when to try a breakaway -- but in this case, no one knows
where the finish line is. Many Cubans expect real upheaval -- furious
cycling -- to come when Castro dies, but they know that they could end
up in prison if they push hard prematurely.
So the waiting game goes on in ways large and small. One young man in
eastern Cuba would love to travel abroad and become a great cook, but
the best he can do now is short-order work in eastern Cuba. He once got
hold of a bag of 20 frozen crawfish and experimented on cooking each one
like a lobster, developing recipes that he hopes to use when things open
One of Havana's many ironies is that just across Havana harbor from
Habana Vieja (the Old City) stands a 48-foot-tall statue of Christ,
unveiled on Dec. 25, 1958, just one week before Fidel Castro triumphed.
Church attendance is growing in Cuba, particularly in casas cultos
(house churches), as many Cubans with insufficient faith in either Fidel
Castro or Oliver Stone pray for God's grace.
José F. Sánchez
Source: La Nueva Cuba
April 20, 2004