May 2, 2006

Che Killed People?

Maybe it's a good movie and maybe it's not, but Humberto Fontova says the critics of Andy Garcia's film should at least get their history straight. Instead they're too busy tripping over their Che myths and their Castro revolutionary propaganda to give "The Lost City" a fair hearing.

Garcia has seriously jolted the Mainstream Media's fantasies and hallucinations of pre-Castro Cuba, Che, Fidel, and Cubans in general. In consequence, the critics are unnerved and disoriented and their annoyance and scorn are spewing forth in review after review.

"In a movie about the Cuban revolution, we almost never see any of the working poor for whom the revolution was supposedly fought," sniffs Peter Reiner in The Christian Science Monitor. "The Lost City' misses historical complexity."

Actually what's missing is Mr. Reiner's historical knowledge. Andy Garcia and screenwriter Guillermo Cabrera Infante knew full well that "the working poor" had no role in the stage of the Cuban Revolution shown in the movie. The Anti-Batista rebellion was led and staffed overwhelmingly by Cuba's middle - and especially, upper - class...

...In 1958 Cuba had a higher per-capita income than Austria and Japan. Cuban industrial workers had the 8th highest wages in the world. In the 1950's Cuban stevedores earned more per hour than their counterparts in New Orleans and San Francisco. Cuba had established an 8 hour work-day in 1933 -- five years before FDR's New Dealers got around to it. Add to this: one months paid vacation. The much-lauded (by liberals) Social-Democracies of Western Europe didn't manage this until 30 years later.

Cuba, a country 71% white in 1957, was completely desegregated 30 years before Rosa Parks was dragged off that Birmingham bus and handcuffed. In 1958 Cuba had more female college graduates per capita than the U.S.

The Anti-Batista rebellion (not revolution) was staffed and led overwhelmingly by college students and professionals. Here's the makeup of the "peasant revolution's" first cabinet, drawn from the leaders in the Anti-Batista fight: 7 lawyers, 2 University professors, 3 University students, 1 doctor, 1 engineer, 1 architect, 1 former city mayor and Colonel who defected from the Batista Army. A notoriously "bourgeois" bunch as Che himself might have put it.

By 1961, however, workers and campesinos (country folk) made up the overwhelming bulk of the anti-Castroite rebels, especially the guerrillas in the Escambray mountains. And boy, would THAT rebellion make for an action-packed and gut-wrenching movie. If by some miracle it ever got made you can bet these learned critics would pan it too. Whoever heard of poor country-folk fighting against their "benefactors" Fidel and Che?

Interesting. Lots more.

Posted by dan at May 2, 2006 12:11 AM