Curacao (Covering Cuba 6)

2008: Fernando Alonso Hernandez (left) and Alberto Rodriguez Licea (right) escapees from Castro’s forced labor crews in Curacao

“CURACAO” is the shocking story of the Castro regime’s blatant abuse of Cuba’s labor force for almost 50 years.

It exposes the fate of 100 Cuban workers subjected to slave-like conditions, sent to work at the docks in the Caribbean Dutch island of Curacao with the collaboration of the government of that island.  How they were punished if they had an accident and were denied medical care.

Two of the most highly skilled of these workers talk about the abuse and oppression their co-workers experienced. And their own ultimate escape to freedom.

An article by the Cuba Study Group about this situation:

Olivia Ocampo well remembers the night the two Cuban workers came to her house in January 2005.

Exhausted and afraid, they had escaped from the premises of the nearby Curaçao Drydock Company, where they said they and some 100 other Cubans had been forced to work 112 hours a week fixing ships for three cents an hour.

Ms. Ocampo approached the police and government authorities in Willemstad, the capital of the Netherlands Antilles, a Dutch dependency in the southern Caribbean, but “they just wanted to push all the trash under the carpet and say that everything is fine,” she said.

But last month, a federal judge in Miami ordered the shipyard to pay the workers and one of their colleagues a total of $80 million in damages, after finding it had conspired with the government of Cuba to force them into what was, in effect, slave labor.

The case has focused a spotlight on the shadowy corners of the global economy, where capital moves freely across borders and laborers are sometimes forced to follow in bondage. While most cases involve abuses committed in developing nations with poor human rights records, this took place within the Kingdom of the Netherlands, home to the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court.

These types of violations are not out of the ordinary for the Cuban government,” says Tomas Bilbao of the Cuba Study Group in Washington, which helped the workers bring their suit. “What’s surprising is that it happened in a dependency of the Netherlands, a country known for its interest in human rights.”

The three men testified that they had been sent to Curaçao to work off Cuba’s multimillion-dollar debt to the Curaçao Drydock Company, a private company whose largest shareholder is the government of the Netherlands Antilles.

Their passports were seized at the airport and they were rarely allowed to leave the shipyard complex, and only in groups with a minder. They typically worked 15 days in a row and when off-duty had to watch Fidel Castro’s videotaped speeches.

Working conditions were perilous, they testified. One of the men, Fernando Alonso, burned his hand while welding steel without proper safety gear. Another, Alberto Rodriguez-Licea, broke his foot and ankle when a rope he was dangling from snapped. The third, Luis Casanova, was ordered to work in water and says he was shocked so severely that electricity shot from his tongue.

“They faced the worst choice you can imagine: to continue being slaves not knowing if they would live or die because they were being treated so badly or to try to escape, knowing that even if they were successful it would be horrific for their families in Cuba,” says Miami-based attorney Seth Miles, who represented the men.

Their kids have been kicked out of school, their relatives have lost their jobs, and neighborhood gangs harass their families.”

Mr. Castro’s nephew, Manuel Bequer, was a senior manager of the shipyard at the time. He is still listed as the production manager on the company’s website.

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The Rats Below (Covering Cuba 4)

Elian with his father, Juan Miguel Gonzalez (2000)

Presented with the kind permission of Agustin Blazquez

Based in part on James B. Lieber’s book, Rats in the Grain: The Dirty Tricks and Trials of Archer Daniels Midland, the Supermarket to the World, this controversial documentary seeks to expose the relationship of giant “corporate welfare” recipient, Archer Daniels Midland Corporation (ADM), to Fidel Castro’s oppressive regime and the Clinton administration, and bring to light the part ADM played in ensuring Elian Gonzalez was returned to Cuba.

A 1995 report by the Cato Institute (Archer Daniels Midland: A Case Study In Corporate Welfare) stated …
http://www.cato.org/pubs/pas/pa-241.html

… (ADM) has been the most prominent recipient of corporate welfare in recent U.S. history.

ADM and its chairman Dwayne Andreas have lavishly fertilized both political parties with millions of dollars in handouts and in return have reaped billion-dollar windfalls from taxpayers and consumers.

Thanks to federal protection of the domestic sugar industry, ethanol subsidies, subsidized grain exports, and various other programs, ADM has cost the American economy billions of dollars since 1980 and has indirectly cost Americans tens of billions of dollars in higher prices and higher taxes over that same period.

At least 43 percent of ADM’s annual profits are from products heavily subsidized or protected by the American government.

Moreover, every $1 of profits earned by ADM’s corn sweetener operation costs consumers $10, and every $1 of profits earned by its ethanol operation costs taxpayers $30

Elian with his very own dictator, Fidel Castro (2005)

 

 

 

This is Cuba

Presented with the kind permission of Chris Hume

Director Chris Hume traveled to Cuba four times without applying for any special permits to film. Armed only with a tiny Hi-8 camera, he crisscrossed the island, gaining access to people and places that would have otherwise been off-limits. In spite of the danger, he has brough t back a haunting portrait of a land that has defied history.

The Next Generation (Covering Cuba 2)

Presented with the kind permission of Agustin Blazquez

Documentary by Agustin Blazquez and Jaums Sutton. The riveting testimonies of the new generation of Cuban Americans born and educated in the U.S. Through their families, they are fully aware of the realities of life in Cuba. They are aware of the misinformation and deceptive ways of the U.S. media reports on their parents’ homeland. And they are taking the torch to fight for a free Cuba.

Featured: ANA C. DUARTE, ARTURO ESTOPIÑAN, CAMILA RUIZ, CRISTINA PORTUONDO, DENNIS ALBAIJES, JESSIE TORRES, JORGE RODRIGUEZ, JOSE MONTERO, LORI MONTENEGRO, MARIO MORLOTE, MANUEL OCHOA, MERCEDES M. VIANA, RAMIRO INGUANZO, RUBEN PORRAS, SANDY ACOSTA and VICTOR TRIAY

Also appearing: ALBA HERRERA ROHDES, ISRAEL MOYA, JORGE BENITEZ and LAZARO ALVAREZ, JR.

Che Guevara: The other side of an Icon (Covering Cuba 7)

Presented with the kind permission of Agustin Blazquez

This film profiles the life of Ernesto Guevera the man killed in Bolivia, known as “Che”, the icon, who lives on today. It presents the real man behind the myth, his legacy and why he has become so popular among the youth, revolutionaries and terrorists of the world. It explores the dangers of believing in Che’s carefully constructed fake public image–herein lies the real Che.

This documentary is based on sources who worked directly with him, knew his family in Argentina and Havana –who were intimately acquainted with Che’s personal and political trajectory as well as his academic scholars.

Director: Agustin Blazquez.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Elian (Covering Cuba 3)

Presented with the kind permission of Agustin Blazquez

The compelling story of Elian Gonzalez from the Cuban American point of view. It is the answer from the exiled community, much maligned by the U.S. media, to the abuses of the Clinton administration. It exposes the travesty of justice perpetrated against the citizens of America by a corrupt administration that violated its own laws. It is dedicated to the memory of Elisabet Broton, Elian‘s mother, who died bringing her son to freedom in America. A documentary by Agustin Blazquez and Jaums Sutton.

 

Act of Repudiation (Covering Cuba 5)

Presented with the kind permission of Agustin Blazquez

“Act of Repudiation” as practiced by the Cuban government, is the official use of public intimidation and repression against individuals and their families because of their views, through the used of trained mobs and violence, akin to those employed by Nazi Germany and the Ku Klux Klan.

ARTS AND POLITICS ARE INSEPARABLE IN CUBA

This is the story of the Act of Repudiation directed at internationally renowned concert guitarist Carlos Molina and his family. Molina and daughter Maritza, a child at the time of the assault, describe the acts of the government-incited mobs that attacked their home and the resulting trauma they still feel today. The Act resulted from Molina’s request to emigrate, with his American-born wife, Marisa and his three daughters, to the U.S. Molina, lauded as founder of the Cuban School of Guitar, began his performing career in 1969, the same year he graduated from the School of Law at the University of Havana. Daughter Maritza, an artist, relates the trauma she suffered by the Act of Repudiation directed at her family, which to this day, impacts her life and her artwork.