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Fond Memories of Cuba (2002)

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clip 'Long live human rights' education content clip 2, 3

This clip chosen to be PG

Clip description

Dissident writer Mario is interviewed in the street where pro and anti Fidel protestors gather and argue. Mario is facing an eighteen-month prison sentence for criticising the government. Some of the gathered crowd shout 'Long live Fidel’, while a man under arrest shouts 'Long live human rights!’ as police put him in a police car.

Teacher’s notes

provided by The Le@rning FederationEducation Services Australia

This clip shows people on a street in Havana demonstrating their support for President Fidel Castro and the communist revolution of 1959, by holding up the Cuban national flag and singing the national anthem. Disagreements between individuals in the crowd about freedom in Cuba are then seen, followed by a street interview with another member of the crowd, a dissident writer called Mario. The police arrive to disperse the crowd and make arrests, and one man is viciously kicked and beaten by police as he attempts to escape. The clip includes English subtitles and narration by the director, David Bradbury.

Educational value points

  • The clip documents a spontaneous public demonstration, during which Cubans loudly proclaim opposing points of view on the subject of freedom of speech. Those who demand greater freedom of speech and who are concerned about abuse of human rights in Cuba are opposed by others who patriotically defend the state.
  • Cuban people are shown exercising the right to free speech. The Cuban Constitution declares that, 'None of the freedoms which are recognised for citizens can be exercised contrary to what is established in the Constitution and by law, or contrary to the existence and objectives of the socialist state, or contrary to the decision of the Cuban people to build socialism and communism. Violations of this principle can be punished by law’. Another excerpt declares that, 'Citizens recognise that freedom of speech and press must conform to the needs of the state’.
  • The clip also shows a dissident Cuban writer facing jail. According to Amnesty International (AI), in March 2006 there were approximately 72 prisoners of conscience in jail in Cuba. A prisoner of conscience is someone who AI defines as being detained solely as a result of exercising their right to freedom of expression, association and assembly. Prisoners of conscience are detained without trial or any formal charges.
  • The role played by the camera crew in bringing about the events being filmed can be questioned. The filmmaking not only documented the events, it may have instigated or at least become a focal point for them. It is arguable that the gathered crowd’s response, or strength of response, was to some extent influenced by the presence of the camera crew itself.
  • The Cuban national anthem is sung during the demonstration. In 1867 Perucho Figueredo, a lawyer, musician and poet, wrote the song 'La Bayamesa’ ('The Bayamo song’) as a call to arms for the men of Bayamo (where he was born) against the Spanish, who at the time ruled Cuba. Figueredo, who fought as a general in the Ten Years War (1868–78) against the Spanish, was captured and executed by firing squad in 1870. In 1940 the song was officially adopted as the Cuban national anthem and was retained after the communist victory in 1959.
  • Fond Memories of Cuba is a documentary by Australian filmmaker David Bradbury (1951–). Bradbury’s work is characterised by his choice of politically challenging subject matter. He has covered the 1974 Spring Revolution in Portugal, the overthrow of the Greek military junta (also in 1974), the final days of the Shah of Iran, covert CIA involvement in Nicaragua against the Sandinistas, and life under Augusto Pinochet’s military dictatorship in Chile. He has twice been nominated for Academy Awards for Best Documentary, for Frontline (1981) and Chile: Hasta Cuando? (1986).

This clip starts approximately 41 minutes into the documentary.

This clip shows people on a street in Havana demonstrating their support for President Fidel Castro by holding up the Cuban national flag and singing the national anthem. The words of the protesters are subtitled.
Man 1 This is the only flag that can wave here, the only one! Hasten to battle men of Bayamo, for the homeland looks proudly to you. You do not fear a glorious death, because to die for the country is to live. Long live Fidel!
Woman 1 Love live freedom in Cuba. There is no freedom in Cuba. This is only for tourists.
Woman 2 This is a revolution of the people and for the people.
Crowd Democracy!
Woman 2 The worm doesn’t understand.
Man 2 Long live human rights!
A man, later named Mario, speaks to camera.
Mario State security tried to accuse me of rebellion. I tried to run away, but I was caught 21 miles out to sea. I was sanctioned for one year.
David Bradbury narrates.
David (voice-over) I see more and more dissatisfaction. This man, Mario, is a dissident writer. He wants freedom of speech and free elections in Cuba. For that, he has paid a price.
Mario Eventually I did two years in gaol almost 500 kilometres from where I lived.
David (voice-over) He’s about to go before the court for criticising the state.
Mario It was very hard for my family to go and visit me there.
Crowd Long live Mario, who defends the freedom of Cubans!
David (voice-over) His supporters risk jail by turning up and being seen with him.
Translator (off screen) What’s the maximum sentence for this offense?
Mario One year, but if I don’t retract what I’ve written, another six months are added. I didn’t retract, so I’m looking at a year and a half in gaol.
Siren sounds. A police officer exits his car.
David (voice-over) Apparently, Jim, there’s no legal outlet for Cuban frustration. Some people are fiercely loyal, but others have had enough of not being able to say what’s wrong.
A man shouts at the camera
Man 3 I’m being arrested now for defending human rights. Yes I’m being arrested. I’m being arrested for defending human rights.
A woman yells at him.
Man 3 She’s provoking us.
Woman 2 I don’t care, I’m going and I’m proud.
Man 3 Long live human rights!
A woman and man are bundled into the police car.
Man 2 Long live Fidel! Long live socialism!
David (voice-over)And what is wrong? The revolution is old and tired. It’s not been able to refresh itself, to relegitimise itself. Now, it pays the price for clobbering the opposition, as did the far more brutal dictatorship of Batista years ago.
Police officers chase a man and arrest him on the street.

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