•  HOME 
  •  BOOKS 
  •  WWP 
  •  DONATE 
  • Loading

Follow workers.org on
Twitter Facebook iGoogle

'Mission Against Terror' wins supporters for Cuban 5

Published Feb 17, 2005 8:23 PM

City by city, the award-winning documentary "Mission Against Terror" is chipping away at the curtain of silence surrounding the case of the Cuban 5--five men from Cuba who are unjustly imprisoned in the United States for preventing terrorism against the Cuban people.

Accompanied by Irish co-writer/director Bernie Dwyer, the national 22-city tour is distributing a new and powerful organizing tool to social justice and Cuba solidarity activists. The National Free the Five Committee and the National Network on Cuba initiated the tour. Its organizers in large and small cities are bringing the fight for the Cuban 5 to wider audiences as the anniversary of their appeal hearing approaches March 10.

Starting in Miami, the tour reached its mid-point Feb. 12 at a Detroit screening co-sponsored by the Justice for Cuba Coalition, Swords into Plowshares Peace Center and Gallery Saturday Matinee Film Series. There university students, union, legal, academic, religious and Cuba solidarity organizers raised funds for a local Free the Five ad campaign.

Just across the Canadian border from Detroit, the Canada Cuba Friendship Association/Windsor had shown the film at the School of Visual Arts at the University of Windsor earlier in the day as part of a film festival. The Windsor committee reported that people in the audience, who had a youth soccer team with them at the time, narrowly missed being in the lobby of the Havana hotel that was bombed in July 1997 because of a last minute change of plans."

In New York the week before, an overflow crowd, with dozens turned away, bought all 40 copies of the film on hand. In Philadelphia, Boston, Washington, D.C., New Paltz, N.Y., Chicago and Minneapolis, meetings and interviews are introducing people to the Five, their families and the support of their larger Cuban family.

Through interviews with former CIA agent Philip Agee, attorney Leonard Weinglass, Cuban National Assembly leader Ricardo Alarcon and others, woven together with dramatic historic film footage, "Mission Against Terror" artfully and compellingly tells the story of these extraordinary men.

Audience reaction

How are audiences reacting to the documentary? Dwyer told Workers World, "When the film finishes there is usually silence and then applause because the ending of the film is really quite poignant. People do take a moment to reflect when it is over."

"What has really surprised me is not so much that people haven't heard about the case of the Five, because that is a particular case and also there has been a wall of silence around it in the U.S. mainstream media. What really shocks me, because I was brought up in Ireland, is the lack of knowledge about the 45 years of U.S. aggression with the trade blockade, economic blockade and actual physical violence.

"The CIA has backed active anti-Cuban right-wing groups in Miami to carry out assassination attempts on Fidel Castro and also on the people of Cuba. I'll tell you," Dwyer continued, "the people of the United States are really, really shocked when they realize this has been carried out in their name."

When asked why she and co-director Roberto Ruiz Rebo took on this project, Dwyer explained that in addition to her work as a journalist for Radio Havana assigned to covering the case of the Cuban 5, she had been involved in campaigns in Ireland to free Irish political prisoners who were in British prisons.

Similarities with Irish prisoners

"I could see similarities here," said Dwyer. "I could see that thing that goes on--'We have to convict them, we have to charge them, we have to put them in prison.' Also the way family members are treated. Irish families hated going to England to see their family members. Games are played--'We don't have a prisoner by that name,' because the prisoner was taken out the back door. This is happening as well with the case of the Five.

"There was the case of Antonio Guerrero's mother--who is not a young woman--going to the States to visit her son. It's not easy for them. They are treated badly. They are not used to being in a big vast country like this, not knowing anybody. She was there for a week to visit her son on different days.

"On the last day, she went to the prison to say goodbye to Antonio and so he could say goodbye to her. They told her there was no prisoner by that name. He was transferred to a hospital. She couldn't go to the prison hospital. It was too far away and the families can only travel within a certain perimeter. So she had to go back to Cuba without saying goodbye."

Although "Mission Against Terror" is off to the West Coast as the tour finishes, copies of the film are available from Cuba solidarity organizations across the country and it will continue to be shown.

Due to U.S. visa restriction, Cuban co-director Roberto Ruiz Rebo could not participate in the U.S. tour. However both he and Dwyer will continue the international tour together. In April they'll be in England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland, then in Germany in May.