HAVANA TIMES, July 4 — “Cubans have explosive personalities, but have had to learn to be patient,” President Raul Castro told Oliver Stone in his newest film South of the Border, while confirming that after 50 years of struggle, Cubans are willing to continue on. But President Castro rejected Stone’s suggestion that the new leftist leaders in Latin America are the heirs of the Cuban Revolution, saying that each of them are following their own path based on their own experiences.
A new world is possible Oliver!
Stone has been known for making movies about controversial personalities ranging from Nixon and “W” to Fidel and Jim Morrison (singer for The Doors) in such a way that he asks the viewer to “like” or at least show compassion for the protagonist. South of the Border is no different although less focused on one individual. In this author’s opinion, the film is certainly worth the ticket price as it is studded with precious gems delivered by the featured presidents, despite the mediocrity and laziness Stone brings to the endeavor.
That’s “Chávez” with an accent above the “A”
The first segment of the film is set in Venezuela and its main character is Hugo Chávez, whose name Stone refused to pronounce correctly throughout his narration of the ENTIRE film, (Equally disrespectful was his Anglican mispronunciation of Simón Bolívar). Unfortunately for those who know a little about Venezuela’s recent history, this segment is a real yawner. Footage of the failed coup attempt against Chávez in 2002 from the documentary The Revolution Will Not Be Televised is pieced together with stock clips of the 1989 riots in Caracas and Chávez’ own failed coup attempt in 1992.
Don’t say that!
The only new footage of Venezuela was the President visiting his home town and pointing out the merits of cooperatives and new agriculture projects. While this was educational and very entertaining, especially when Hugo makes a joke about the corn processing plant they are touring actually being where Iran is building its atomic bomb-to which Stone replies “Don’t say that!”- the viewer does not learn about the many social participation programs and “missions” underway in Venezuela, which would have been much more interesting than yet another rehashing of the 2002 coup.
Those leaves are no good
From Chávez on a bicycle, we go to chewing coca and kicking around a football with Evo Morales. Oddly as the narration is bringing us to Bolivia and reminiscing about the murder there of Che Guevara, the visual is of a statue of El Che in Santa Clara, Cuba instead of one of those actually in Bolivia.
But Stone knows no difference, just as he doesn’t know that the coca leaves in front of him are old. After teaching Stone the proper way to chew a new batch of leaves, looking annoyed, Evo concedes to play a bit of football with Stone. One gets the feeling that Evo isn’t happy with being treated like a caricature instead of a serious leader.
Nobody asks a man how many pairs of shoes he has
The current President Kirshner felt the same way and set Stone straight when he asked her how many pairs of shoes she owns before moving on to discuss important matters like the disastrous effects of neolibralism in Latin America. Mr. Kirshner, for his part, recalled when U.S. President “W” personally confided in him that war was just about making money.
End the embargo, war in the Middle East & invite Hugo to U.S.
In Brazil President Lula didn’t ask the U.S. for much, just an end to the embargo against Cuba and the military occupation of the Middle East and, for good measure, a friendly invite to President Chávez. He also spoke of a common South American currency and a united constitution!
As long as we can have a military base in Miami
Back in Havana, Ecuadorian President Correa, who speaks fine English, spoke in Spanish to Oliver’s cameras using Fidel Castro’s long time English interpreter, Juanita Vera. Correa asked the U.S. to be reasonable: if the U.S. thinks it is no problem to have a foreign military’s base in one’s country, then fine. The U.S. can keep its base in Manta, that is, if Ecuador can open a base in Miami! Of course we all know that his logic prevailed and there is no longer a base in Manta.
Now we are millions
The leaders’ overall message is made clear by the film. The people of America’s South are uniting and demanding respect and equal treatment by the continent’s North …and its local representatives like Bolivian ex-president Sanchez de Losada, who could barely speak Spanish after living so long in the U.S. as President Kirshner pointed out. But is the example of the Cuban Revolution to blame? Or is it Chávez fault? Of course not, it has been a long time coming. In the film Evo Morales quotes tribal ancestor Tupak Katari’s last words before he was drawn and quartered by the Spanish: I die as one, but I will come back as millions.
“Now we are millions.” Evo smiles.