[Marxism] Cuba's struggle on film

Walter Lippmann walterlx at earthlink.net
Tue Jun 22 05:35:44 MDT 2004

Those who are peddling the old snake oil about Cuba's
past repression of LGBT people, claming that it still
persists, should particularly look at this new page
about the movie, WHICH IS TEN YEARS OLD! This showing
is a benefit for this year's Friendshipment Caravan.

It probably won't affect those whose prejudices remain
set in stone, but those who are open to the fact will 
be moved by this documentary production


Cuba's struggle on film

Documentary screenings to feature island's plight, raise
humanitarian aid

By LARRY MUHAMMAD . June 22, 2004
lmuhammad at courier-journal.com
The Courier-Journal

Louisville filmmaker Sonja de Vries' "Gay Cuba" will be
screened on Sunday at the Kentucky Theater.

Photo by MARY ANN GERTH, The C-J

"Gay Cuba" depicts a homosexual community in a
revolutionary society.

If you go .

The films "Gay Cuba" and "The Greening of Cuba" will be
screened Sunday at 3:30 p.m. at the Kentucky Theater, 651
S. Fourth St.

Tickets are $5 to $25. Proceeds will benefit the U.S./Cuba
Friendshipment Caravan, a humanitarian aid project
organized by the New York-based groups Interreligious
Foundation for Community Organization and Pastors for

For more information, call (502) 228-7123 or (502)

Ready for the latest on gay rights and organic farming in

Two films - "Gay Cuba," a documentary by Louisville
filmmaker Sonja de Vries, and "The Greening of Cuba," an
inside look at agricultural trends by the late California
filmmaker Jaime Kibben - will be screened Sunday at the
Kentucky Theater to support humanitarian aid to the poor
Caribbean island.

"This event helps send school supplies, medical supplies,
computers, bicycles and toys and things for children," said
Nancy Jakubiak of the Kentucky Interfaith Task Force on
Latin America, one of the benefit's co-sponsors.

Others are the Louisville Youth Group
www.louisvilleyouthgroup.org , a nonprofit organization of
homosexual youngsters under 21; and the Bardstown Road
Youth Cultural Center (also known as the BRYCC House).

"We want to raise awareness in the city about the situation
in Cuba," said Jakubiak, "and maybe it will help end the

President John Kennedy imposed the economic embargo in 1962
after failed attempts to assassinate and overthrow Cuba
President Fidel Castro.

Proceeds from the Louisville film screenings will benefit
the U.S./Cuba Friendshipment Caravan, a nationwide aid
campaign that also challenges the U.S. policy. "The
Greening of Cuba," a 38-minute documentary by Kibben,
covers the island's struggle for agricultural
self-sufficiency after the collapse of the Soviet Union,
which had been a primary benefactor. Since 1990, Cuba has
undergone a major conversion from industrialized
agriculture to organic farming, and Kibben's cinematography
and interviews communicate the impoverished nation's
determined efforts to feed itself.

"The Cuban military supports itself by growing produce,
which they sell at reasonable prices to the population and
use the money to feed its soldiers," said de Vries, the
Louisville filmmaker, who visited Cuba last month.

"That's part of the reason it's a great film and an
important film," she said of Kibben's work. "It shows the
incredible ingenuity of the Cuban people, faced with an
embargo, to farm in a way that's healthy for the

"Gay Cuba," de Vries' rendering of a dynamic homosexual
community in a revolutionary society, was shot in 1995 and
is not to be confused with "Before Night Falls," a 2000
feature film by Jonathan Schnabel that dramatized the life
of persecuted gay writer Reinaldo Arenas.

"My film is very different," said de Vries, who is a
daughter of Louisville leftist Henry Wallace, known for his
Henry's Ark animal farm on Rose Island Road. "During the
late '60s, up through the late '70s, there was quite a bit
of repression, and it started to change partly because of
education. Sex education in Cuba now is probably one of the
most progressive in the world, (teaching) that
homosexuality and bisexuality are valid and healthy. ...

"And my film was a Cuban-initiated project. The Felix
Varela Center, named after a progressive priest, wanted to
do the film to educate Cubans and people outside about this
human-rights issue."

The hour-long film covers 30 years of social transformation
- from horrific gay bashing under the nascent Castro regime
to the homosexual struggle for dignity and acceptance in
contemporary Cuba.

"I went to Cuba the first time in 1990 and used to take
delegations of people there," de Vries said.

"Of course, those delegations are no longer possible. The
Treasury Department has restricted travel to Cuba for a
long time, and I really feel it's completely immoral. ...
It's important for us to go to Cuba and see for ourselves
what it's all about."

Federal regulations severely restrict travel to Cuba and
outlaw many economic exchanges. Permitted activities
require a U.S. Treasury Department license. Violators face
maximum penalties of 10 years in prison and fines of
$250,000 per offense for individuals, $1 million for

The U.S./Cuba Friendshipment Caravan that the Louisville
screenings will benefit has delivered tons of humanitarian
aid to the island since it began in 1992, often returning
with honey and coffee for community groups in this country
- all in open defiance of travel and economic regulations.

A Treasury Department spokesman declined comment on the
caravan. It is to make its 15th annual trip to Cuba through
Mexico in July and is organized by New York-based groups of
activist ministers, the Interreligious Foundation for
Community Organization (IFCO) and Pastors for Peace.

The caravan stops in dozens of U.S. cities, including
Louisville next Monday at 6:30 p.m. at Crescent Hill
Presbyterian Church, 142 Crescent Ave. Participants will
share their cross-country experiences at a potluck dinner
and Cuban photo auction. (Call 502-280-9034 for more

A 2002 Gallup poll found that 63 percent of registered
voters thought Americans should be able to travel freely to
Cuba and 44 percent thought the economic blockade should
end. The IFCO/Pastors for Peace caravan confronts treasury
and customs officials confident of public support.

According to a chronology of the Cuba trips on the Web site
www.ifconews.org, the annual visits in recent years were
generally free of U.S. government interference - customs
officials took packages of rat poison brought back from
Cuba in 2001 but allowed solar equipment - and peaceful
demonstrations resolved disputes such as the 1996
confiscation of Cuba-bound computers, which were eventually

In a statement from the IFCO/Pastors for Peace on
www.ifconews.org, founder and executive director, the Rev.
Lucius Walker, said, "We are going to Cuba, as we always
do, proudly and openly, without asking for or accepting a
U.S. government license. This is the moment, as Paul said
to the Christians of Ephesus, to '... stand up against the
wiles of the devil; for we wrestle not against flesh and
blood, but against the principalities and the powers,
against spiritual wickedness in high places.'"

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