I don't like Andy Garcia as an actor, but I sure do admire him as a human being. He's the moving force behind and star of The Lost City, a movie that highlights to the destruction the revolution brought to Cuba and, more disturbingly for the complacent Left, that points out that Che was not a cute motorcyclist, but was, in fact, a cold blooded killer. According to a FrontPage magazine article, the Leftist media, profoundly ignorant of actual history, and living in a world of pro-Cuba propaganda, has taken him to task — indeed, has savaged him — for daring to present historical reality:
"In a movie about the Cuban revolution, we almost never see any of the working poor for whom the revolution was supposedly fought," sniffs Peter Reiner in The Christian Science Monitor. "The Lost City' misses historical complexity."
Actually what's missing is Mr. Reiner's historical knowledge. Andy Garcia and screenwriter Guillermo Cabrera Infante knew full well that "the working poor" had no role in the stage of the Cuban Revolution shown in the movie. The Anti-Batista rebellion was led and staffed overwhelmingly by Cuba's middle — and especially, upper — class. In August of 1957 Castro's rebel movement called for a "National Strike" against the Batista dictatorship — and threatened to shoot workers who reported to work. The "National Strike" was completely ignored. Another was called for April 9, 1958. And again Cuban workers ignored their "liberators," reporting to work en masse.
"Garcia's tale bemoans the loss of easy wealth for a precious few," harrumphs Michael Atkinson in The Village Voice. "Poor people are absolutely absent; Garcia and Infante seem to have thought that peasant revolutions happen for no particular reason—or at least no reason the moneyed 1 percent should have to worry about."
What's "absolutely absent" is Mr Atkinson's knowledge about the Cuba Garcia depicts in his movie. His crack about that "moneyed 1 per cent," and especially his "peasant revolution" epitomize the clichéd falsehoods still parroted about Cuba.
"The impoverished masses of Cubans who embraced Castro as a liberator appear only in grainy, black-and-white news clips," snorts Stephen Holden in The New York Times. "Political dialogue in the film is strictly of the junior high school variety."
"It fails to focus on the poverty-stricken workers whose plight lit the fires of revolution," complains Rex Reed in the New York Observer.
Here's a UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) report on Cuba circa 1957 that dispels the fantasies of pre-Castro Cuba still cherished by America's most prestigious academics and its most learned film critics: "One feature of the Cuban social structure is a large middle class," it starts. "Cuban workers are more unionized (proportional to the population) than U.S. workers. The average wage for an 8 hour day in Cuba in 1957 is higher than for workers in Belgium, Denmark, France and Germany. Cuban labor receives 66.6 per cent of gross national income. In the U.S. the figure is 70 per cent, in Switzerland 64 per cent. 44 per cent of Cubans are covered by Social legislation, a higher percentage then in the U.S."
In 1958 Cuba had a higher per-capita income than Austria and Japan. Cuban industrial workers had the 8th highest wages in the world. In the 1950's Cuban stevedores earned more per hour than their counterparts in New Orleans and San Francisco. Cuba had established an 8 hour work-day in 1933 — five years before FDR's New Dealers got around to it. Add to this: one months paid vacation. The much-lauded (by liberals) Social-Democracies of Western Europe didn't manage this until 30 years later.
Cuba, a country 71% white in 1957, was completely desegregated 30 years before Rosa Parks was dragged off that Birmingham bus and handcuffed. In 1958 Cuba had more female college graduates per capita than the U.S.
The Anti-Batista rebellion (not revolution) was staffed and led overwhelmingly by college students and professionals. Here's the makeup of the "peasant revolution's" first cabinet, drawn from the leaders in the Anti-Batista fight: 7 lawyers, 2 University professors, 3 University students, 1 doctor, 1 engineer, 1 architect, 1 former city mayor and Colonel who defected from the Batista Army. A notoriously "bourgeois" bunch as Che himself might have put it.
Clearly, I'll have to put aside my unhappiness in watching Garcia on screen and go see this movie. (And I will note that this is a twist for me, because the norm has been that I some actors while hating their politics.)