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A Cuban film series in Halifax

HALIFAX - LAST fall the Nova Scotia Cuba Association (NSCUBA) initiated a public series of popular films on Cuba and related topics. The four films included: ¡Salud!, on the Cuban health system; The Revolution will not be Televised, on the attempted coup in Venezuela; Washington's War Against Cuba; and The Trial - the Untold Story of the Cuban Five. The aim of the series was to bring to the Nova Scotian polity information that is censored or suppressed about the island republic, the challenges it faces, and its undeniable achievements.

The Series began on 2 November at the Dalhousie Law School with much fanfare with the showing of ¡Salud!, a documentary on the Cuban health care system. Participants were honoured by the presence of Basilio Gutiérrez, Vice-President of ICAP (Instituto Cubano de Amistad Con Los Pueblos - Cuban Institute For Friendship With the Peoples), who was on hand to make a presentation entitled "A World of Friendship: Cuba's Internationalism in a Time of Global Conflict" along with this film. It was well attended and well received.

"Revolution Will Not Be Televised"

"Revolution Will Not Be Televised," shown on the 15th of November, is an extraordinary documentary which has won 12 awards. With its often gripping footage it manages to vividly capture all the key events during the failed coup of the Venezuelan government of Hugo Chávez on 11 April 2002. The 75-minute film was produced by a television crew from Ireland's Radio Telifis Eireann. Filmmakers Kim Bartley and Donacha O'Briain were inside the presidential palace when Chávez was seemingly deposed and two days later when he returned to power, recording "what was probably history's shortest-lived coup d'état."

It portrays Chávez's first years as president before the coup and the undeniable support his government had among the poor. But what is devastating is its illustration of the role of disinformation spread by the media, the privately owned television channels, business and upper class opposition, who accuse Chávez of being an insane communist dictator. Given what have come to be called "colour-coded revolutions" in Yugoslavia, Georgia and the Ukraine, the film and the events portrayed are an eye-opening capsule of well-designed plans of undercover political subversion being orchestrated by Washington throughout the world.

"Revolution" shows how the media promoted seemingly spontaneous "popular" demonstrations against Chávez and worked together with some military bigwigs and huge corporations to create an anti-Chávez climate leading to the day of the coup. On 11 April 2002, this so-called opposition finally organized a demonstration that went to Miraflores presidential palace to demand Chávez's resignation. However, a huge crowd of Chavistas was already waiting at Miraflores to support the president. "Revolution" shows Chávez's supporters being shot down by snipers, with controversial footage of Chavistas shooting back. But at whom? The private media channels were reporting that the Chávez's supporters were shooting at the unarmed anti-Chávez crowd, a big atrocity story, when they were actually shooting towards an empty street with armoured vans from where the shots against them were coming. A journalist claims that he resigned from one of the privately-owned TV channels after being forbidden to talk about any pro-Chávez demonstrations taking place at the time. The coup was instigated by US-organized internal forces, US warships were stationed just off the coast, and the US and Canadian media announced to the world as fact that Chávez had resigned when no such rsignation had taken place.

Making the NSCUBA event special was the participation of Jay Harding from the Bolivarian Circle movement of Canada.

Ms Harding, who has made a number of trips to Venezuela, led a lively discussion after the film on the significance of the Bolivarian process, referencing significant improvements in education, health care, distribution of the oil revenue and grassroots democracy and and political empowerment for the vast majority of Venezuelans who were largely impoverished aned excluded from the political process just a decade ago. Amongst other things, the Chavez government has brought in Cuban medical professionals to deliver health care to the poor areas where old-school Venezuelan doctors refuse to go. The relationship between Venezuela and Cuba is a very positive one.

"Washington's War Against Cuba: Posada Carriles and Terrorism - Made in the USA"

The third film, shown on 22 November, was a hard-hitting, well-researched and fast-paced Telesur documentary "Washington's War Against Cuba: Posada Carriles and Terrorism -- Made in the USA." This film, with its high production values, showed how the anti-Cuban terrorists were linked directly to the highest levels of the US state and how their targets were by no means limited to the Castro government in Cuba. They operated in both Central and South America. The exposé, with fact after fact, illustrated with archival TV footage, maps and photos, convincingly drove home the double standards of the US "War on Terror" in that the US government harbours terrorists and even recruits and deploys terrorists. The fast-paced film is colourful and dramatic.

The anti-Cuban terrorist groups in Miami have killed 3,200 Cubans and injured more than 2,000 since 1959. Like the bombing of a Cubana airliner off the coast of Barbados that killed 73 innocent people on board, including the entire junior fencing team, the film notes that, in their vast majority, those acts were planned and organized from within US territory with the support, protection and financing of its successive governments. It offers a detailed record of actions carried out by Posada Carriles both in Cuba and in other Latin American countries. These include his participation in Operation Condor, a campaign of kidnappings, torture, assassinations and forced disappearances carried out by Latin American military dictatorships with the backing of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency.

It also refers to the string of terrorist bomb attacks on Havana hotels in 1997, one of which killed a young tourist of Italian origin, Fabio Di Celmo, a resident of Montreal.

Incidentally, Telesur is a completely new South American television network, a project initiated by Venezuela, Uruguay, Argentina and Cuba in May 2005, aimed at reducing the virtual monopoly of North America over news and information. Reflecting this, the documentary united together researchers from several countries who brought to the TV screen the results of an outstanding investigation, digging up and tieing together loose ends in order to reveal the truth behind events that happened twenty to fifty years ago, and whose consequence extends until today.

The film's only limitation, said Tony Seed, editor of this magazine and a participant in the discussion, if it can even be said to be a limitation, is that it overlooks the role of Canada, which has not only been targeted by Cuban American violence (Air Canada offices in Miami, Cuban consulate in Montreal) but has also provided sanctuary for terrorist cells such as Omega-7, about which the Canadian government has been suspiciously silent. It maintained the legal fiction that as Fabio Di Celmo had not received his citizenship, he was a foreign national and hence refused to speak out against his bloody murder, the culprits organized by Posada Carilles or the demand of Venezuela and Cuba to extradite Carilles from Panama and the United States, where he was briefly detained before being released by the Bush administration.

"The Trial-- The Untold Story of the Cuban Five"

The final film, shown on 29 November, was the documentary, "The Trial-- The Untold Story of the Cuban Five." The Cuban people have been heroically fighting to maintain their right to self-determination against the vicious attacks from the U.S. administration, including the unjust imprisonment of the Cuban Five, Gerardo Hernandez, Antonio Guerrero, Ramon Labañino, Fernando Gonzalez and Rene Gonzalez; political prisoners held in U.S. jails since 1998 for protecting their country from anti-Cuban terrorist groups based in Miami, Florida. The film deals with these five political prisoners who were sentenced to long prison terms in the US because of their role in investigating on behalf of the Cuban government the terrorist groups in Miami. Unjustly imprisoned since 12 September 1998, they infiltrated the anti-Cuban groups. When the Cuban government informed the United States of new criminal activities that were being planned, the FBI arrested the five Cubans instead of the terrorists.

The wrongful convictions imposed by the United States government include four life sentences plus 75 years in prison. To date, the right to a new trial for the Five in another city than Miami has been denied. This film is narrated by famed actor Danny Glover. While the sound quality was not the best, it is very informative, relating a large number of interesting facts and the ongoing efforts to release the five heroes from prison.

Campaigns and other actions in 2008 to free the Cuban Five

Incidentally, various campaigns and other actions around the world in 2008 to free the Cuban Five are already well underway. On 14 January, the U.S. National Committee to Free the Cuban Five issued a call to organize international "Day After" actions, so that whatever the outcome of the current hearing of the Cuban Five to appeal their unjust convictions and whenever it comes, people will be ready to militantly respond. The hearing, which took place on August 20, 2007, dealt with in particular the charge of "Conspiracy to Commit Murder" laid against Gerardo Hernandez. According to the Cuban Friendship Institute (ICAP) there are now almost two thousand organizations in solidarity with Cuba around the world and one of the main tasks of these groups is to fight for the release of the Cuban Five.

In Canada, Cuban solidarity organizations started the year by continuing regular monthly pickets to free the Five. In Montreal on 26 January, the Table de concertation de solidarité Québec-Cuba joined with many others to march through the streets as part of the Québec Social Forum/World Social Forum international actions held that day. In Vancouver, on 17 January, the Free the Cuban 5 Committee-Vancouver held its first protest of 2008 to kick off a new year of fighting for the liberation of the Five. Committee coordinator Noah Fine reminded people of the two years of monthly protests in Vancouver. He concluded by informing the participants about the "Day After" Campaign.

On 1 February, nearly two dozen solidarity activists gathered on the famous Hollywood Boulevard in downtown Los Angeles, California, to unveil a bulletin board boldly proclaiming "Free the Cuban Five Unjustly Held in U.S. Prisons" to motorists on the busy freeway. The U.S. National Committee to Free the Cuban Five organized the billboard campaign with important financial assistance from supporters of the Cuban Five around the United States and around the world.

The Nova Scotia - Cuba Association (NSCUBA) was established in 1989 by a group of students, professors, and activists to promote education and advocacy on issues concerning Cuba, to facilitate cultural exchanges and to assist development projects.

The NSCUBA film series will resume later in 2008.

For information about the Nova Scotia Cuba Association:
contact by e-mail: info@nscuba.org or visit the website at www.nscuba.org

*The DVD of The Revolution Will Not Be Televised can be ordered online at

For indepth information about the Cuban Five visit


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