HAVANA TIMES — I find it incredible that the Cuban documentary Gusano (“Scum”) already has over three hundred thousand views on YouTube. This, which is impressive in and of itself, is quite remarkable for a Cuban film, for, once on the Internet, it is deprived of its natural audience (which is why materials produced on the island rarely get fifty thousand views or anything close to that).
The documentary directed by Aller Gonzalez and Antonio Rodiles, which proved an exception to this rule, deals with Cuba’s actos de repudio (“acts of retaliation”), highlighting the government action of December 10, 2013, taken against the home of activist Antonio Rodiles, which served as the venue of the International Human Rights Day event held that day. The film tells the sad story of these practices which became part of the domestic policy of the revolutionary government following the events at the Peruvian embassy in Havana in 1980.
Cuban poet Rafael Alcides, bloggers Regina Coyula, Luzbely Escobar and Rebeca Monzo, former military officer Fernando Damaso and others offer an overview of these practices and their intimidating intent, aimed more at those who perpetrate them than those who become their victims. Through these acts of violence, the government clearly shows common citizens what they can expect if they join the opposition.
“Let ‘em have it, they’re not that many,” the rabble yells in front of the meeting place of the Ladies in White, located on Neptuno street. Blogger Luzbely Escobar filmed the incident and claims to have felt nauseous after seeing such brutality.
The documentary has been very well received in Venezuela, where the Internet can still be freely accessed and where the government is taking more and more steps to be more like Cuba.
I think it is important that alternative Cuban cinema should be tackling the issue. Regrettably, a great many acts of retaliation survive only in the memory of the people who suffered them and friends who witnessed it, as there was no technology to record them at the time.
A case in point is the action taken against poet Maria Elena Cruz Valera and her child in 1990 in Alamar, where they were forcibly taken out of their apartment and beaten with impunity. The saddest thing is that many of the people who take part in these “actions”, who hurl insults at people and often beat them, don’t even know why they’re doing it.
Gusano is a timely contribution to efforts at rescuing our historic memory. It would be interesting if Cuba’s Round Table program aired it, even if only to discredit its authors, making the people see how US imperialists takes advantage of naïve young people and makes them produce such misguided films, so as to finally do away with the reputation of our inaptly-called “dissidence.”
See the documentary which has English subtitles.