Segments in this Video

Spanish Conquistadors in Cuba (02:27)


Five hundred years ago, Spanish Conquistadors defeated indigenous cultures and proceeded to rule Cuba for the next 300 years. Rather than be taken as slaves, the natives hanged themselves and slaughtered their children.

First Cubans (02:01)

Calling themselves Cubans, insurgents rise up against the Spanish. Imperialists eye Cuba's vast wealth. In 1898, the battleship "Maine" explodes in Havana Harbor and the Spanish-American War begins. U.S. governs Cuba until 1959.

President Batista: Corruption and Coup (02:06)

In 1940, President Batista begins a system of graft to enrich himself. He retires to the U.S. four years later with $20 million in his pocket. U.S. backers help him stage a coup to retake Cuba's government.

Batista: Gambling and Poverty (03:27)

American Meyer Lansky takes charge of Cuba's gambling, making Cuba the richest country in the Caribbean. Batista accumulates a $300 million fortune while most of the island's population lives in poverty. The U.S. supports Batista.

Revolution in Cuba (02:18)

Fulgencio Batista dissolves Congress. Revolt is in the air. Leaders of the opposition are tortured brutally. A young leader named Fidel Castro is arrested. Revolution spreads throughout the island. Che Guevara leads his troops to victory.

Changes in Cuba (03:34)

Members of the Batista regime face the firing squad. After that, the Cuban diaspora begins. Over the next 40 years, 10% of the Cuban population would flee to the U.S. Bay of Pigs Veteran Alfredo Duran urges an end to the embargo.

Former Prisoners in Miami (02:09)

In Little Havana today, former prisoners, some imprisoned as young at 13, continue to yearn for Cuba. Life in Miami is difficult to accept entirely, as they live in a fantasy about Cuba.

In Honor of Dead Rebels (02:45)

Former prisoners of the Castro regime gather regularly to honor those who have died and to discuss their fight against communism. They find it offensive that people talk about Castro as if he were a good man.

Eisenhower and Kennedy on Cuban Missile Crisis (02:22)

Archival film footage and the voice of a former revolutionary reveal the violence of the revolution. In the U.S., former President Eisenhower counsels J.F. Kennedy to prepare an attack on Cuba to topple communism.

Cuban Missile Crisis (02:29)

At the height of the Cuban missile crisis, Fidel Castro, flush with revolutionary fervor, urges the Soviets to fire their missiles against the U.S. Cuba prepares for war while the U.S. tries to negotiate with the Soviets.

President in (02:41)

President Carter secretly engages a negotiator to free political prisoners in Cuba. By 1978, 3600 political prisoners are released from Cuban jails. The U.S. rejects Benes, the negotiator, as a traitor.

Cuban Americans: Political Force (02:39)

In Florida, presidential elections are usually very close, as the populace is almost equally divided politically. A block vote of the Cuban population could make a significant difference and essentially "kidnap" U.S. foreign policy against Cuba.

Cuba: Evil Empire (01:47)

Representative Lincoln Diaz-Balart (R-FL) speaks about Cuba as a terrorist state. In 2002, Jimmy Carter visits Cuba. Advocates for a free Cuba wonder why American politicians do not admit that Castro is a tyrant.

Cuba and War Against Terrorism (02:25)

The message and meaning of Jimmy Carter's message to Cuba was undermined by John Bolton's announcement that Cuba had weapons of mass destruction capabilities. Political rhetoric refines the accusations against Cuba.

Cuba: Weapons of Mass Destruction? (01:17)

Rep. William Delahunt (D-MA) warns against repeating accusations that Cuba harbors weapons of mass destruction. John Bolton's lie spreads like wildfire. The U.S. could be embarrassed as it was in Iraq if there are truly no WMDs.

Anti-Embargo Activism (02:31)

Silvia Wilhelm is an anti-embargo activist actively seeking to quells the waters of agitation between the U.S. and Cuba and in her own family. Silvia comes to America as a child and returns 33 years later to visit.

Cuban Embargo (01:40)

The embargo against Cuba is the longest and most severe in modern times. In 1996, President Clinton signs the Helms-Burton bill that prevents any President from lifting the Cuban embargo without Congressional approval.

Embargoes Work Against the Poor (01:54)

Cuban citizens blame the U.S. government for starving them with the embargo. On the other hand, U.S. officials blame Castro for not taking care of his people. The embargo, in place for 44 years, has not yet accomplished its goal of a regime change.

Medical Supplies Blocked (03:35)

Medicine and medicine equipment stands ready in warehouses to ship to Cuba, but licenses to do so are nearly impossible to obtain. Castro does not allow international agencies to supervise distribution of goods in his country.

Anti-Castro Movement (02:51)

Castro intimidates the press and those with dissenting views about the communist regime. Former Castro followers form Alpha 66, an anti-communist organization under the leadership of Eloy Menoyo.

Eloy Menoyo: Subversive? (02:48)

In August 2003, Eloy Menoyo announces that he is staying in Havana to open an office for his political group. He hopes to form a moderate opposition to what he calls Castro's "socialist dictatorship."

Slaughter of the Innocents (02:13)

Throughout the 1960s, clandestine exile groups wage war against Cuba. They know that innocents will be slaughtered but believe it is a necessary sacrifice. Extremists strick out against anyone that disagreed with their politics.

Violence of Cuban Extremists (03:56)

In 1976, Cuban extremists blow up a Cuban airliner. The FBI has warned all U.S. government agencies to no avail. The extremists punish innocent people in Cuba with their terrorist activities. Among the dead was the entire Cuban fencing team.

GOP Opportunists (02:31)

The Cuban community in South Florida had become a large block of single-issue voters. Jeb Bush seizes the opportunity to become politically involved, and the GOP ramps up its efforts to register Cuban voters.

Release of Terrorist Bosch (02:43)

Cuban exiles protest for the release of Dr. Orlando Bosch, a right-wing Cuban responsible for dozens of bombings aimed at the Castro government. The Bush family is involved in Bosch's release from Venezuela, and in 1990 releases him from prison.

Hypocrisy of G.H.W. Bush Administration (01:58)

The Justice Dept. agrees to release terrorist Orlando Bosch because "he renounced terrorism." G.H.W. Bush allows Bosch to stay in the U.S.A. on one hand while decrying terrorism on the other.

Interview with a Terrorist (03:53)

Dr. Orlando Bosch, terrorist responsible for the death of 73 innocent people on a passenger airliner, gives one of his last interviews. He takes credit for many assassinations and bombings and appears to have no regrets.

Voice of a Terrorist (02:41)

Dr. Olando Bosch's fanatical statements include his conclusion that he would kill Jesus Christ if He spoke well of Castro. Bosch justifies all the deaths he has caused. He says that "none are innocent." He aligns himself with G.H.W. Bush's philosophy.

George Bush's Decree (02:05)

On Oct. 21, 2004, Fidel Castro injures himself in a fall. In May of that year, George Bush announces tightened restrictions on Cuban exile travel. This, however, is unconstitutional, and considered by Cuban Americans to be just like Castro's decrees.

GOP Loses Support of Cuban Americans (03:35)

Americanized Cubans protest the Bush administration's decree against Cuban travel. Families are divided. The GOP rapidly loses support of the Cuban community.

Florida's 2004 Political Campaigns (02:03)

Representative Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) runs a vigorous campaign in 2004. Eloy Menoyo returns to Miami to rally Cuban Americans to use their votes to change American policy towards Cuba. Conservatives win legislative seats.

China and Cuba Trade Agreement (02:15)

In 2004, China's president visits Cuban to make a bilateral trade agreement. The U.S. government threatens Eloy Menoyo with 10 years in prison for visiting Cuba. The U.S. government freezes Menoyo's assets in America.

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Tell Me Cuba

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Beginning with a summary of Cuban history from the island’s 16th-century subjugation by Spanish conquistadors to the 20th-century Communist revolution, this program scrutinizes the current state of U.S.-Cuba relations through the eyes of progressives, who want to put the past behind them for the benefit of Cubans still suffering from the decades-long U.S. embargo, and the anti-Castro expatriate community, which sees normalization of relations as a victory for despotism and a repudiation of their deeply held convictions. The political standoff between America and its Communist neighbor has consistently defied remediation, and filmmaker Megan Williams does not pretend there is a universally acceptable solution. “Williams takes a complex and divisive subject and captures it with a clear-eyed, intelligent perspective,” says the South Florida Sun Sentinel. (88 minutes)

Length: 88 minutes

Item#: BVL41691

ISBN: 978-1-61616-692-2

Copyright date: ©2006

Closed Captioned

Reviews & Awards

“While it would have been easy to make a pointedly propagandist film, Williams wanted instead to explore the complex and deeply sad stalemate that exists between Cuba and the United States.” —Palisadian-Post 

2006 Spirit of Independents Award—Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival

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