Gusano: A Cuban Documentary on Government Repression

Alfredo Fernández

From the documentary "Gusano"
From the documentary “Gusano”

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.

6 thoughts on “Gusano: A Cuban Documentary on Government Repression

  • So what? What did you do to help? Nothing as usual you should be ashamed.. You tell us and expect conscious Cubans to believe your lies? You have the audacity to claim that you were 4-5 houses back?? And did not help Who are you??
    r I am Cuban NOT simply married to a Cuban Let me tell you this ” IF” ur that close your ass would have been in jail You are nothing but a liar and i know you do not live here What you are is possible a spy wanna be
    who only gets online and talks Typical outsider married to a sell out stfu!

  • These “gusanos” are the classic “worthy victims”. What they suffered pales exponetially to what others have gone through, not only in US client states, but in the US itself, which is widely ignored. I’m too busy trying to make a living to recount any of the dozens of obvious examples, but anyone who has read A People’s History or Killing Hope cannot be impressed. Nor can anyone who objectively reads the news today. 55 unmarked graves of underclass kids found so far at the Florida School for Boys, zero prosecutions, Casas de pique – dismemberment houses run by the right-wing, government tolerated paramilitaries in Buenaventura, Colombia. Dozens of minority kids shot multiple times with impunity by the police in US cities. Ect., ect. And we are supposed to be incensed about garbage being dumped on the doorstep of individuals who are in many if not most cases, agents of a very hostile, very powerful, foreign country ?

  • A civilized government does not encourage one group of its citizens to harass and beat another group. We can debate how many Cubans truly oppose the dissident movement in Cuba but it should be agreed that most Cubans do not support the actions of those relatively few Cubans who participate in “repudiation rallies”. I personally witnessed such a rally take place in front of a home on San Lazaro in Havana. The owner was a member of the Ladies in White. What I saw with my own eyes was a yellow, donated from Canada, government school bus loaded with Cubans from outside the neighborhood brought in to feed the rally. I witnessed PNR cops use their cars to block off a main arterial street (San Lazaro) to allow this disgusting travesty to spill into the street unmolested by traffic. My friends, all decent people, were upset and ashamed by this and begged me not to get any closer than a block away . I got as close as four or five houses away and could clearly see who was later identified to me as the political police in street clothes directing the crowd with chants and telling people to throw the garbage from a nearby overturned dumpster at the front door of the house. That day, in those moments, there was no US embargo, no USAID dollars, no aiding nor abetting dissidents, no nothing. What I saw was a liquored-up mob set up by a cowardly-regime led by a diaper-wearing despot being directed to harass the home of Laura Pollan.

  • Now let’s see, history is always unforgiving with ideologues, a darling puppet of the United States, President Carlos Andres Perez wins the elections on an anti neoliberal platform then wins and implements a neoliberal program ferociously. When in 1989 hundreds of thousands of people begin to protect (which makes these rich kids’ protest in Venezuela look like microprotests) Perez send the army which killed between 2-3,000 Venezuelans. Bush in a declassified phone call tells Perez that these measures are hard to swallow but necessary! This minuscule “dissident” movement aided and abetted and financed by the US in Cuba enjoys the contempt of the majority of Cubans. That may not excuse the excesses but explains the anger they elicit in Cuban patriots. “I
    know that devaluation and price increases are difficult medicines
    to take…” Bush–Perez.pdf

  • There are not many people who try to justify this kind repression on US imperialism. I have read far more comments from people like you who justify the ‘war on the people of cuba’ on castro’s repression.

  • I am curious to read how apologists for the regime will defend this. How does a purported 50-year economic war´ waged against the people of Cuba justify such disgusting behavior from one Cuban against his neighbor.? How can a government allegedly ´under seige´ justify encouraging if not facilitating this barbarism? What kind of leadership, except the most paranoid, would allow this to become standard operating procedure´ as a means of maintaining control?

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