Thursday, June 21, 2007

Max of two Havanas

I had a chance to see The Man of Two Havanas last night (trailer here) in Washington. The politics of this movie are not going to be to everyone’s liking, and its subject, Max Lesnik, may not be your cup of tea or santo de tu devocion. But it’s an interesting movie with strong documentary value even if you find its politics wrong and its style of argument tendentious.

At its core this film is a love letter from a daughter to her Dad. Filmmaker Vivien Lesnik grew up wondering what drove her father – a 26 of July Movement veteran who left Cuba early in the revolution, started a magazine in Miami, and had his office bombed 11 times in the 1970’s violence in that city – to remain so passionate about Cuba. She tells his story, and tells of her own rediscovery of her Cuban roots.

The film is full of archival footage of the anti-Batista revolution, the early years of Castro, the violence in Miami, the 1970’s dialogue, and more. It includes news footage of Orlando Bosch and Luis Posada Carriles that I had never seen, and concentrates on the 1976 bombing in Barbados of the Cubana airliner.

Cubans’ separation, according to this film, is all the fault of the United States. It’s fair enough to criticize U.S. travel restrictions, and I do so all the time. But other things bear mentioning too: human rights and economic problems in Cuba, and Cuba’s unique concept of salida definitiva for emigrants, for starters. And when the film blames the United States exclusively for the state of bilateral relations, it ignores the Ford Administration’s quiet and very serious attempt to normalize relations, a huge opportunity that the Cuban side allowed to pass.

Interesting film, very interesting family/historical angle, but you may need a grain of salt, maybe a very big one.

[News agency photo]


Anonymous said...

I'd be there, were it not for a scheduling conflict with a triple root canal without anesthesia.

leftside said...

Can we get an explanation of the salida definitiva? As I understand it, this is not an absolute for all those who leave - only those who leave illegally. Maybe there is something else that (PRE?) that allows one to go back and forth if you get a proper exit visa? Do all those who get the definitiva also lose their citizenship automatically? I know in the States you lose your citizenship if you gain naturalization in another country or if one renounces their Cuban citizneship (as is required of Cubans entering the US I believe). So how is their emigration policy different from ours?

Anonymous said...

dear leftside, Americans aren't killed when they try to leave the country.

Phil Peters said...

Good question, I will look for the details, and readers who know are invited to chime in.

But the salida definitiva category is definitely not only for those who leave without permission. Ever notice those who sit still, clutching their papers, after the plane lands in Miami on a Havana-Miami flight? The flight attendants ask all who have salida definitiva to wait and go together for immigration processing.

leftside said...

Oh please anon, that is like saying the Los Angeles Police Department kills people who commit crimes, because there's been a few tragic accidents. The deadliest border is the US-Mexican desert where one person dies every day.