"Escape from Havana: An American Story" is worth seeing. I just watched a preview and it is a compelling documentary. The six characters are all remarkable in their own way.
Here's how CNBC describes the characters:
* Carlos Eire. Author of Waiting for Snow in Havana and Professor of History and Religious Studies, Yale University. Carlos last saw Cuba 48 years ago when his parents put him and his brother on a plane bound for America.Oddly enough, the sixth character in the film wasn't listed tonight on the documentary's website.
* Tomas Regalado. Mayor of Miami, Florida. Regalado was a young boy when his father, a journalist and critic of Castro, disappeared.
* Maria de Los Angeles Torres. Political Scientist and Director of the Latin American and Latino Studies Program, University of Illinois, Chicago. Maria was just 5 years old when Fidel Castro took over. Her parents supported the revolution that brought him to power, but their hopes for the future soon turned to fear.
* Candi Sosa. Singer | Songwriter. Candi caught Castro’s attention when he heard her sing. He tried to take her away to study in Russia. Her parents refused. The revolution really hit home when Candi’s father was arrested for treason.
* Carlos Saladrigas. Chairman and CEO, Regis HRG. Carlos arrived in Miami – alone and penniless – at the age of twelve. Prevailing has been his mission ever since that fateful day when he was airlifted away from his home.
Silvia Wilhelm directs a Miami group called Puentes Cubanos. She used to favor the U.S. ban on trade with Cuba, but shifted her view in the 1990s, not long after the Soviet Union broke up.
In the film, which lasts about 48 minutes, Wilhelm speaks out forcefully against the U.S. government's Cuba policy. She calls it a failure. So does Carlos Saladrigas.
Two other characters appear to favor normalization of U.S.-Cuba relations. Maria de Los Angeles Torres says she goes to Cuba regularly to do research. Candi Sosa returns, too.
I seriously doubt Tomas Regalado is making trips to Cuba. No Miami mayor could do that and last for long. And for sure, Carlos Eire doesn't go back.
Eire says he refuses to travel to Cuba because that would legitimize the socialist government. He says he wouldn't spend a penny on the island because that would benefit the government, not the people.
The film doesn't say much about current political conditions on the island. It says Fidel Castro was considered a liberator early on, but never held the elections he promised.
Among the historical tidbits the film reveals:
The CIA spread misinformation about the Cuban government in the early 1960s, creating panic and prompting many parents to try to send their children abroad.
Wilhelm says she believes the Peter Pan children were pawns, used by both sides for their own political purposes.
The only people who really had the kids' best interest at heart, she said, were their parents.