CounterPunchers who have followed José Pertierra’s fine reports of the Luis Posada Carriles trial in El Paso and are dismayed by Posada’s acquittal, might want to take a look at Saul Landau’s new film, “Will the Real Terrorist Please Stand Up.” It won’t help bring anyone to justice and may not improve your mood, but it provides a good look at some of the protagonists in the trial, including Posada himself, and an inside glimpse of the anti-Castro Miami Cubans, who Landau and his associates have captured on tape, unabashedly describing their fifty-year long terror campaign against the rebel island.
The interviews are startling. Orlando Bosh goes on and on about his exploits, dismissing the killing of innocents as “unfortunate.” Three Miami Cuban radio hosts, two former FBI agents, four former CIA agents, one former member of the National Security Council, one of the founders of Brothers to the Rescue, and several other self-exiled Cubans tell their story. They detail the bombings they sponsored inside Cuba, their botched attempts to assassinate Castro, and the exiles’ successful efforts to silence—through assassination or intimidation—any Cuban in Miami who publicly endorsed a U.S. dialogue with Castro. It is all upfront. Nobody is ashamed of what they did and are doing. Accustomed to acting with impunity, they do not hesitate to enumerate their crimes.
The film is also a reprise of U.S.-Cuban relations since the guerrillas’ triumphant ride into Havana on January 1, 1959. Landau takes us through it all, from the early exodus to Miami to the phony Brothers to the Rescue effort, an open attempt to pull on Castro’s beard and provoke an international incident.
Most of it is old news. What makes it new and riveting is that much of it is told by the exiles and their enablers in the U.S. Government, who smugly deliver the inside story. Typically, one ex-FBI agent, an active ally of the exiles, when asked if he had ever been to Cuba, smirks and says, “Yes, free Cuba, in Guantanamo.”
At the beginning of the film there is a scene from a guerrilla camp in the Sierra Maestra. A young Castro, speaking in English, tells the camera that “this is only the beginning.” A beginning to a wonderful story—a band of bearded dreamers taking over a country, expelling the imperial power, taking Charlie Chaplin movies out to the countryside, sending troops to Africa and doctors around the world, finishing an incredible third in the Olympics, and inspiring revolutionaries everywhere—that is now coming to an end.
The people who helped kill it go free. José Posada Carriles, their proud representative, has just been acquitted. He reports that he sleeps well.
FRANK BARDACKE taught at Watsonville Adult School, California’s Central Coast, for 25 years. His history of the United Farm Workers and Cesar Chavez, Trampled in the Vintage, is forthcoming from Verso. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org