Thursday, September 24, 2009

Viva Le Revolucion!

Miguel Muro is a brave and gifted filmmaker whose documentaries have taken on the corruption and violence of Cuba’s monolithic ruling Party and crushing bureaucracy.

Muro’s style is controversial and confrontational: he specializes in placing authority figures in awkward situations—on film--wherein they must either defend their actions or be make to look like simpletons or bullies.

For instance, Muro brought a group of elderly and infirm Cuban citizens to one of Havana’s “tourist only” health clinics and demanded to know why Cuban citizens were forbidden to enter.

“Why can’t a man who has worked all his life for Fidel and the Party receive the same quality care that rich visitors from Europe and South America get here?”

His question was not answered. Rather, he and his retinue were forcibly removed from the clinic.

In another film Muro infiltrated one of Cuba’s youth camps and demanded to know why children were being indoctrinated in party dogma and mindless worship of the Castro brothers instead of being taught factual history. He also wanted to know and why Cuban children were not allowed to live with their parents.

“Given that Elian Gonzalez was forcibly removed from the United States, after his mother had sacrificed her life to get him there, because, supposedly, his father wanted him back home; why then do parents in Cuba have no say in where their children may live and what they may learn?”

Again, Mr. Muro was escorted out by armed guards, but his question was not answered.

In his most recent documentary Muro showed up, uninvited, at several of the vast palatial estates owned by the Castros and other members of Cuba’s nomenklatura. Muro demanded to know why Cuba’s ruling elite saw fit to live in luxury while the Cuban people starved and did without basic necessities.

Muro’s films have been honored at Sundance and the Cannes Film Festival. He has become an international celebrity and, not surprisingly, a cause of consternation and anger for the Communist Party of Cuba.

Or rather, he would be, if he actually existed. But of course he does not. He cannot exist. There may be many potential Miguel Muros among the Cuban people, but no filmmaker hostile to Cuba’s ruling regime will ever be granted access to Cuban institutions or be given permission to film anywhere in Cuba.

Such a filmmaker, if he were a foreigner, would have his film confiscated and destroyed. Should a Cuban citizen attempted to make such a documentary, he would be imprisoned and probably tortured. His family and friends would be rounded up and beaten in front of him. He would be asked if he wanted to apologize and recant, and he would, most likely, say: “Yes, of course I want to apologize. Viva Le Revolucion!”

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