By Circles Robinson
HAVANA TIMES, August 2 – Benicio del Toro was back in Havana last week to accept an award for his lead role in the two-part four and a half hour film “Che.” He, the producers and other actors presented the epic last December at the Havana Film Festival and received an enthusiastic reception.
Del Toro, a Puerto Rican, was presented with the award from Cuba’s Writers and Artists Association (UNEAC) for his portrayal of Ernesto “Che” Guevara, the Argentine revolutionary that accompanied Fidel and Raul Castro in the war against the dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista from the end of 1956, when they sailed to eastern Cuba from Mexico, to victory day on January 1, 1959.
Actors Robert Duval, James Caan and Bill Murray were also present at the ceremony invited by the Cubans.
Ordinary US citizens are banned by the Obama administration from traveling to Cuba without special permission from the US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control.
The travel ban has persisted for nearly a half century with a short lapse under the Carter administration in the 1970s.
HR 874 and other bills currently in Congressional committees would suspend the travel ban. President Obama has not said whether he would sign legislation if passed. During the Bush administration attempts to free US citizens to travel to Cuba were nixed by the veto threat from the White House.