Friday, June 30, 2006

Hollywood Turns on Castro

Hollywood Turns on Castro
By Roger Aronoff | June 29, 2006
Castro is not only a killer, like Zarqawi, but a rich one.

It's hard to believe, but a new film has been produced about life before
and after Castro that ends Hollywood's long-time love affair with the
Cuban dictator.

The very accomplished actor Andy Garcia, who left Cuba as a child, has
gone outside the studio system to produce, direct and star in "The Lost
City," a film that took him 16 years to bring to the screen. The film
got little attention, and we would be very surprised if it will be
honored when the Golden Globes and Academy Awards come around. It is a
beautiful and epic film, full of passion and music. But it takes the
rare view in Hollywood that while Castro's predecessor, Fulgencio
Batista, ruled Cuba with a strong hand, Castro and his allies, including
Che Guevara, were far worse.

Some critics praised its epic style and passion, but it was hard to find
praise for its realistic and negative portrayal of life in the early
years of Castro's communist dictatorship. I did discover one such
review, in the Philadephia Daily News, by Christine Flowers. She says,
"Andy Garcia refused to make the communists look like the good guys."

Alluding to the negative reviews, she wrote that "The reaction to
Garcia's film reminds me of how the chattering classes lobbed grenades
at [Mel] Gibson's 'Passion,' calling it everything from anti-semitic
to—surprise!— 'historically inaccurate.'" Flowers says that "Andy Garcia
tells some uncomfortable truths about his homeland, and Hollywood won't

With Venezuela's Hugo Chavez taking center stage as the most
anti-American ruler south of the border, the antics of aging Cuban
dictator Castro get far less attention these days. His latest absurdity
is to have called the U.S. airstrike that killed Abu Musab al-Zarqawi a
"barbarity," saying he should have been put on trial. Castro accused the
U.S. of acting as "judge and jury" against the al-Qaeda leader in Iraq,
who is blamed for thousands of deaths in Iraq. "They bragged, they were
practically drunk with happiness," Castro said about the news in the
U.S. of Zarqawi's demise. "This barbarity cannot be done," said Castro.
This is from the same Castro who murders or imprisons his political
opponents, while almost one-tenth of the population of his Cuban island
"paradise" has fled.

Castro is not only a killer, like Zarqawi, but a rich one. In May,
Forbes magazine reported that Castro is worth an estimated $900 million.
In an article titled "Fortunes of Kings, Queens and Dictators," Forbes
ranked Castro in seventh place, and nearly twice as rich as Queen
Elizabeth II. He responded by saying that "All this makes me sick…Why
should I defend myself again this rubbish." While Forbes acknowledges
that its calculations for all of the leaders are "more art than
science," there appears to be solid reasoning to support the finding.

Cuban-born journalist Humberto Fontova has studied Castro closely for
many years, and believes Forbes to be only partly correct. In a recent
article he wrote for Human Events, Fontova says Forbes lists only "the
tiny tip of the Castro-wealth iceberg." Castro has systematically
nationalized and seized countless businesses since he seized power in
1959. Fontova describes how Castro ruthlessly controls his population,
and how he has manipulated many Western journalists to treat him as the
"Cuban Robin Hood," who supposedly takes from the rich to give to the
poor. What Castro has really done is make all people poor-except for
himself and his close associates.

In an interview with FrontPageMag, he described the nature and extent of
Castro's gulag, and the sympathetic treatment Castro has received from
many in Hollywood, Congress, and the media.

In terms of Congress, the news got buried by the liberal press, but the
Center for Public Integrity did a review of congressional travel and
raised enough questions about a Rep. Charlie Rangel trip to Cuba to
force the congressman to disclose that the Castro regime helped pay for
it. You can see a copy of Rangel's check to the Cuban government, a
reimbursement for some of the costs, on the center's website.

Roger Aronoff is a media analyst with Accuracy in Media, and is the
writer/director of "Confronting Iraq: Conflict and Hope."

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