Monday, October 02, 2006

Nobody Listened

If you are curious about Cuba and what all the hullaballoo is about, there is a movie you should rent from netflix. It's called Nobody Listened. It's a 1984 documentary about human rights in Cuba (or the lack thereof) comprised mainly of a series of first person accounts of the conditions in which political prisoners were/are held in Cuba. The interesting thing is that the people speaking are not the Batistianos that all fidelistas claim exiles to be. There are men and women, young and old, black and white speaking about the atrocities inflicted upon them by castro and his regime. The most striking part is when proud communists denounce castro. I repeat, these are unapologetic Cuban communists denouncing castro for his human rights abuses.

The thing that really kicks you in the gut is knowing that when the movie was filmed it looked like the world was finally opening its eyes to the reality of Cuba, that the word was getting out there. But here we are 22 year later and it's the same old story. The international left loves to talk about social justice and human rights but they continue to be apologists for one of the longest running human rights abusers in the history of the world. Unfortunately there is still nobody listening.

Two notes on the movie. If you don't speak Spanish it's going to be rough following the movie because the English subtitles are white and the backgrounds are often light/white. And secondly there is a a very passionate discourse at the end of the movie by Eloy Gutierrez Menoyo who later returned to Cuba to try to start a "dialogue" with the regime. I'll leave that to the reader to judge for himself/herself.


Anonymous said...

I saw this documentary at it was great. Plenty of interviews, inside and outside of Cuba. I would also ecommend a documentary called "Balseros" by
Carlos Bosch and Josep Maria Domènech, nominated for an Oscar in 2002.

I wouldn't consider this documentary as an illustration of "all the hullaballo" about Cuba, but rather one important aspect, which is the human rights record of Cuba.

There are excellent descriptions of the horrendous conditions that political prisoners went through (and some are still suffering) in Cuban prisons. Yet, it is imporant to remember that prisons in any society are open to such horrible practices, even here in the US, or by US military. These are notes about the state of prisons in its entirety.

The striking part about the Communists in Cuba (few exists now on the island) during the filming is that they hold up and show the UN approved Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The tragedy here is that most industrialized nations do not abide by those UN principles, and the overall history of the Universal Declaration is pretty much in tatters. Not even the US will recognize it and except basic international law.

This documentary still has great relevance, as a case study of Cuba's human rights record at the time. Even as "one of the longest running human rights abusers", Cuba should not be singled out. If we want to talk seriously about human rights in general then we should be concerned with what Human Rights Watch calls "the most serious human rights and humanitarian situation in the [latin] region", which is Colombia, not
Cuba. []

The best part of the movie, in my opinion, was the interview with Eloy G. Menoyo. His ideas for reconciliation and a "free space" with Cuba and the US, despite his long and torturous prison sentence, shows that there is still hope for a better future if we find a way to patch things up.

Menoyo said in the documentary:

In Cuba (circa 1984), there are many Communists in prison. There are Communists in exile. After all, Communists are Cuban too. When Castro falls, you can't apply a policy of hatred. It must be of love. As Marti said: "With all and for the good of all."

Henry "Conductor" Gomez said...

Dear Anonymous,

I used the word "hullaballoo" because I perceive that ousiders (non-Cubans) don't understand why we are always "fussing" and "complaining" about Castro. Someone who stumbles on this blog may not understand the need to blog about Cuba and its problems.

As for Menoyo, what he says in the documentary is correct but here's the thing about dialogue and reconcilation: it can only work if both sides want it. And as much as we may want it, castro has NEVER shown any inclination for it. On the contrary when things seem to indicate a rapprochement fidel does something to sabotage it. That's because he is not concerned with Cuba and the Cuban people. To him they are the means to an end. His end is to confront the US. To go down in history as the man who confronted the US. So no accomodation will ever satisfy him. He needs conflict. There CAN BE NO DIALOGUE with fidel castro but not because of us, because of him.

And as far as Colombia goes, I can't speak to that. After all this is not Colombian-American Pundits. But I can say that the coutnry has been torn apart by narco terrorists and can somewhat understand the heavy handed approach taken by the DEMOCRATICALLY ELECTED president of that country. But I'm not going to make excuses for him, because I don't have to. Cuba's human rights abuses have nothing to do with Colombia trying to paint one as relatively "worse" than the other is not a valid construct. Two wrongs don't make a right.

As far as the US and Human rights, please take that argument somewhere else. You can walk right up to the white house and pitch a tent across the street and call the president whatever you want and you won't be arrested. Far from it, you will be protected by the ACLU and many others. That's a losing argument buddy.

Yasser said...

I wonder what happened to the guy who returned to try and start the dialogue

Henry "Conductor" Gomez said...

It's all documented at the page that is linked to Menoyo's name in the article.

Henry "Conductor" Gomez said...

Sorry anonymous, I don't agree with your points nor will I post them. Your interpretation of Castro's desire to reach an understanding go against every act he has ever undertaken. Why is it so hard to understand that he simply DOES NOT WANT an undertstanding with the U.S.? Why is it so hard to believe that he is set in his ways?

He HAS sabotaged attempts at Rapprochement. Angola, Mariel, BTTR. Every time there has been an opportunity he has sabotaged it.

You are the very naive one. In terms of setting the ground rules for the negotiation, I think its perfectly understandable and acceptable. They want us to change the policy, we say we are willing but that certain steps must be taken first as signs of good faith. Remember they want something from us not the other way around. You don't give up your negotiating leverage before the negotiation even begins.

That's why, while Castro wants the embargo removed, he doesn't want a serious negotiation. He would have to free political prisoners which would destablize his regime. He would have to make certain reforms and guarantees that would further destablize his regime. So his answer is to have the US unilaterally lower the embargo and to achieve that end he employs people, politicians and others like you to sway public opinion.

Well sorry Charlie, not buying it. The good news is that all of this will be irrelevant within a few months because fidel is on his last legs and the government of raul castro will by all indications be short.

Henry "Conductor" Gomez said...


You are beginning to tire me. I am an intelligent man. I have my opinions and you aren't going to change them by feeding me the same old propaganda lines.

There is no moral equivalency between the United States of America and Castro's Cuba. To begin an argument with that is to lose immediately.

Your assertions are wrong. If the Embargo is of such little consequence that Castro doesn't care anymore why does the official Cuban media continue to harp on it? Why are Cuban officials quoting billions of dollars worth of damages to British newspapers as the UN gets ready to condemn the embargo for the 14TH YEAR IN A ROW!

Oh they want the embargo removed. And you sir are one of them.

So you think the shootdown of two unarmed civilian aircraft (even if they did violate Cuban air space which they didn't) is justified????

You think unleashing a wave of criminals and mental patients on the US among a throng of 125,000 immigrants is justified???


If he did he would have stepped down a long time ago. He inherited a country that was truly growing economically (not on the basis of venezuelan oil subsidies and US remittances like today) and made it into one of the poorest in the hemisphere.

The castro regime has been a failure and apologists for it, like you, will be confined the trash bin of history.

Good day sir,

now run along!