'MISSION AGAINST TERROR'
An interview with the film-makers Bernie Dwyer and Roberto
Anyone who has tried to explain the case of the Miami Five to someone who has not heard of it before will appreciate how difficult it is to do justice to the complex situation leading up to the arrest of the five men and their unjust imprisonment. They are heroes and household names in Cuba, but their case is relatively unknown in Europe. This film, "Mission against Terror" is a powerful and compelling account of Cuba's struggle against terrorism and the five men's role in that struggle, when they infiltrated anti-Cuba terrorist groups based in Miami to prevent further atrocities against Cuba.
It begins with an account of 45 years of US-sponsored terrorism against Cuba, starting with the chilling cockpit recording of the last words from the pilot of the Cubana passenger plane bombed out of the sky with the loss of 73 lives in 1976. It describes the arrest on spying charges of the five Cubans in 1998, with testimony from their families, and goes on to document their 'trial' in Florida which Leonard Weinglass, the eminent US civil rights lawyer calls a 'violation from start to finish.'
The film goes on to give a moving account of their draconian sentences and imprisonment, the denial of their rights in US jails and the continuing suffering of their families denied access. It includes interviews with groups and individuals involved in the fight for justice for the Five, in the US and Britain. The film is an inspiring tribute to the Miami Five's determination to fight for Cuba's sovereignty and should be seen by everyone involved in solidarity work with Cuba.
At the end of their UK tour, and before taking their film to Europe, Bernie and Roberto spoke eloquently and movingly to a lively and appreciative audience at their Brighton premiere. Afterwards I had the opportunity to interview them.
I began by asking Roberto why they made this film.
'The film demonstrates why from the legal point of view
Cuba has every right to infiltrate the terrorist groups that have existed
since the Revolution in Miami.
We want to highlight the fact that they were accused of crimes they hadn't committed, and that the right-wing elements of the Cuban-American community in the US have worked on their judicial authority to be an accomplice in the actions against the Cuban people, even by contravening the legal system of the USA. The defence knew that the trial could not be fair in Miami, because of the Cuban-American influence. Lawyers did object, and according to US law, the trial should have been moved to a different area. Refusal to do so was in itself a breach of US law.'
We showed our film at huge public meetings in the USA and 95% of people were supportive though previously ignorant of the facts about US terrorism. We found both here and in the USA that many people had not heard about the biological warfare against Cuba and the blowing up of the Cuban airliner. That is why the case of the Miami Five is so important - the US and Europe are talking about the War on Terror, but notorious terrorists like Orlando Bosch and Luis Posada Carriles give interviews in the New York Times openly flaunting their involvement in terrorism against Cuba and Carriles, who is wanted for trial in Venezuela, is welcomed to apply or political asylum in the US. The Miami Five are powerful symbols of the real war against US terror.
The facts are all verifiable and cannot be disputed - we must simply work harder to spread the message about Cuba and about US involvement in other Latin American countries. The Free the Five Campaign in Britain has been very successful and we must expand this work.
Bernie spoke about the role of Europe and Latin America as news came through of the vote against Cuba at the UN Human Rights Commission in Geneva when the UN supported the United States motion against Cuba.
The United States has used extreme pressure to secure this result and the countries, which abstained simply caved in to the US threats, which in the past are known to have included threats of heavy economic penalties to be paid by countries, which did not support US policy.
Our next project will be a documentary about the so-called dissidents in Cuba and will show the reality of the campaign against the Cuban government and the United States' role in financing and encouraging it.
Our tour of Europe will raise awareness of United States terrorism throughout the world. Latin America solidarity is crucial in the struggle against US terrorism and imperialism, and it is becoming stronger, with more governments and indigenous movements challenging United States' domination.
Finally I asked about the mood in Cuba now
Cubans feel in imminent danger from the US - their anti-Cuba line is getting tougher, but if the United States tries to invade Cuba it will be the last invasion they ever try. Though Cuba is prepared, we think the battle should be a battle of ideas, not a war. 'Freedom' is Bush's buzzword, but from him it is empty rhetoric. To Cubans, freedom has real meaning, and we must work tirelessly to give people the real facts about Cuba.