HARRY BELAFONTE, A TRUE BELIEVER
by Agustin Blázquez with the collaboration of Jaums Sutton
Cubans in need of democracy and human rights instead are accustomed to the throng of international true believers visiting their island as guests of the Castro regime for the past 42 years. Many are part of the Hollywood crowd that spouse far-left, socialist and communist causes, like Jane Fonda, Robert Redford, Jack Nicholson, Ed Asner, Peter Weller, Jack Lemon, Woody Harrelson, Leonardo di Caprio, Frances McDormand, Naomi Campbell, Francis Ford Coppola, Joel Coen, etc.
The people in Cuba realize that many are naïve fools that are being used and others are die-hard Marxists and Stalinists. They all seem clear about what they think is best for the Cuban people while they visit as pampered guests of the Cuban elite. They are seen, however, as collaborators of Castro’s repression and their activities are noted.
They are also seen as bricks in Castro’s foundation that they help extend all over the world. After leaving Cuba, they talk about the fraudulent accomplishments of the revolution as if they were real, thereby misleading and misinforming others abroad and recruiting more for the constant pilgrimage to the island of Dr. Castro.
The effort is broad – extending also to journalists. Recently the deputy editor of the Commentary pages of The Washington Times, Benjamin P. Tyree, visited Cuba as part of a group of journalists. Tyree, by just quoting Castro’s officials repeating propaganda without any analysis, made his resulting series published in the Times nothing more than more duly laid bricks.
As in former communist countries, Cuba began drawing these fools in 1959 and has developed and perfected the technique of attracting and making the most of them. The structured visits make it almost impossible for the guests to see through the propaganda. In the communist inside jargon these people are classified as "useful fools." Indeed, they are.
In the article Harry Belafonte's Havana Farewell, published on July 18, 2000 on FrontPageMagazine.com
(http://www.frontpagemag.com/archives/radosh/2000/rr07-18-00.htm) written by Ronald Radosh, he says "Most American admirers of Harry Belafonte probably don't realize that the popular singer and actor is an unreconstructed Stalinist." Among other information he says, "In April 1997, Belafonte was the featured speaker at the 60th Anniversary celebration of the Veterans of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, where he honored the efforts of these self-proclaimed ‘premature anti-fascists’ who in reality served as Stalin's brigade in Spain, the enforcers of Soviet policy."
A look at this article reveals Belafonte’s long history of Stalinism. Of course, in our democracy he is free to think and promote whatever he wants. But the article exposes what lies behind this seemingly harmless humanitarian. If he had been a fan of Hitler, Belafonte’s reputation would have been destroyed long ago. And that is a double standard when you take into account the crimes of the Nazis vs. the crimes of the Communists. Both should be equally repudiated by all people of goodwill. There is no place for either one in a civilized world.
With the excuse of "supporting the Cuban people," Belafonte’s multiple trips and speeches at communist rallies in Cuba are very much resented by those opposed to Castro inside the island, who consider him nothing less than a collaborator of the regime. His interference in internal Cuban affairs is not welcome, especially since he is an entertainer, not a Cuban and has never lived there as an ordinary citizen for any of the 42 years of suffering the most brutal regime in the 500 years of Cuban history.
What is incredible is that for the past 14 years Belafonte has been UNICEF's Goodwill Ambassador and in his constant visits to Cuba has never denounced Castro’s regime for violating the United Nations Charter since 1959 as well as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. For example, among others: Article 3, "Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person." Article 5, "No one should be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment." Article19, "Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers." Article 20, No. 1, "Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association." No. 2, "No one may be compelled to belong to an association."
Apparently, Castro can do no wrong in the eyes of Belafonte even though he promised to the Cuban people to restore the 1940 Constitution, to provide an entirely civilian government, to have full democratic political freedom of expression and press and to have honest and free elections. Instead, Castro installed a totalitarian communist regime, which in reality is totally illegitimate, because it violated the 1940 Constitution. But apparently, the fact that the little Cuban people under Castro do not have the same rights he enjoys is fine with Belafonte.
In 1990 and 1991, I saw on PBS, Belafonte’s series Routes of Rhythm. I wrote to Belafonte agreeing 100% that Cuba was the lunching ground and source of inspiration for popular music in this hemisphere. But what I could not overlook was that "for the last 32 years no more new rhythms have evolved and been launched from that island. That is very revealing indeed. I wonder if it has anything to do with freedom of creation."
After pointing out the propaganda he was exposed to in the making of his series, distortions and revisions to the history of Cuba according to Castro I continued, "Your show, with the unfortunate misinformation it contained, may fool/foul many Americans. But the eyes of a Cuban, who remembers the past and is up to date with the present reality, can see through the routes of your show Ruse of Rhythm.
"It is a shame that there is plenty of information about Cuba in public records that no one bothers to research. The lack of interest to know and hear what has really been going on in Cuba and the apathy of reporting by the [U.S.] media has made it possible to cover up the truth, to create the myth of Fidel among gullible intellectuals and political activists and help the longevity of that regime in detriment to the Cuban people trapped inside that island."
The last paragraph of my still unanswered 10-year-old letter said, "The people interviewed in your show have not possessed freedom of speech as we know it since 1959. So, in their interviews they are doing their best under the circumstances. The only free people in Cuba are the political prisoners in jails and concentration camps, and the dead."
On March 26, 2001, at the Lincoln Center in New York, Harry Belafonte, 73, will perform a concert to benefit the Center for Cuban Studies, a non-profit organization with a long history of pro-Castro activities. Founded in 1972 and headed by Sandra Levinson, this organization is dedicated to counter the effects of American policy toward Cuba. This concerned-about-Cuba veteran Calypso singer has not raised his voice before for the outrageous violations of humans rights going on in Cuba for 42 years, but now is going to raise his singing voice and collect money for a notorious pro-Castro organization.
This concert is also sponsored by the pro-Castro Artists and Writers Committee for Normalization of Relations with Cuba. Actor Danny Glover, who is the founding member of this organization, will host the evening. Glover, described in his bio as a "humanitarian," is also a frequent guest of the Castro regime. However, the humanitarian Glover has never raised his voice on behalf of the Cuban people’s human rights, the existence of the shameful tourist apartheid, the disproportionate majority of black Cubans in Castro’s dungeons or the absence of black Cubans in key government positions. What has Danny Glover done on behalf of the black Cuban political prisoners Vladimiro Roca or Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet?
As further evidence of what lies behind the scenes of this event, the fanatical pro-Castro "religious" organization Pastors for Peace is also promoting this fund raising.
Belafonte, an American from the U.S. says, "It would be very difficult to find a nation more committed to the culture of its people and the development of the culture than I have witnessed in Cuba.'' However, Maritza Lugo Fernandez, a Cuban political prisoner from her dungeon in a women’s jail in Cuba is accusing Castro’s regime of "keeping the Cuban people in complete ignorance about politics and democracy." Who has better knowledge of Castro’s Cuba, Belafonte or Maritza?
Unfortunately, people like Belafonte and other true believers from the Hollywood crowd contribute with their extraordinary influence to the misunderstanding of the Cuban situation. Far from helping the Cuban people victimized by a brutal regime, they willingly serve at the side of their executioners.
Agustin Blázquez, Producer/Director of the documentaries:
COVERING CUBA, CUBA: The Pearl of the Antilles & COVERING CUBA 2: The New GenerationABIP@olg.com