Thursday, September 18, 2003

BBC NEWS | Europe | East Europe grandees blast Castro

I watched the great Oliver Stone interview with Castro at the Brasilia film festival last week. Right after some fairly weak, nothingy sort of film about Derrida. Comandante a good and very surprising film.

Conclusion ... Castro is '"interesting". Very obviously a control freak. Probably lying about some things (certainly looked shifty occasionally, but then it's hard to read foreign body language)
Oliver Stone is sympathetic and ironic. Sympathetic in that he isn't out to damn Castro. Ironic when he jokes about to Castro that Bush will put him in prison.

He asks Castro awkward questions ... about informers in the street, the state's attitude to gays, Russian missiles etc. And takes the answers Castro gives without much judgement.

The missile crisis is obviously very close to Stone's heart, and emphasized as part of Stone's larger ongoing project of analyzing the 60s. And in the film the cockup explanation seems at least as plausible as conspiracy : Cuba young newly revolutionary country, convinced they're about to be invaded by US, turn to Russians to protect them, Russians send missiles.

OTOH Castro's claim that his government is attempting to reduce a macho homophobic culture is pretty lame. Other macho South American cultures have managed much better.

The tragedy is, the guy claims to have ideals, some of his analyses are right, his government has done a great deal to educate, improve health, and empower blacks and women. And undoubtedly the biggest problem facing Cuba is the vicious 30 year trade embargo. Without that, Cuba might easily have found some modern accomodation with capitalism, much as south east asia has.

But Castro should have stood down as leader a long time ago, and put a sensible system of elected leaders in place (even if not a first past the post one).

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