But those are only obvious examples. This twisted love for totalitarians permeates much of the Hollywood culture. A director friend of mine told me with amusement that while on one of those Eighties cultural exchanges to Cuba, his wife couldn’t resist planting a big kiss on Castro’s cheek when the dictator made a surprise appearance at a reception they were attending. Such stories are typical.
I doubt Soderbergh or Stone or certainly the director’s wife ever spoke with Huber Matos, perhaps the most moving speaker at the Echo Park demonstration. In his nineties now, Matos was one of Fidel’s original comrades in the fight against Batista . But he made the mistake of voicing concern that the revolution was turning communist. For that, Che, in his typical fashion, wanted to put Matos in front of a firing squad (Al paredon!), but Fidel, not wanting to turn him into a martyr, intervened. Instead, the Caudillo incarcerated his former comrade for his views in the notorious prison at the Isle of Youth. There, Matos was tortured and had his cojones cut (quite literally) as he waited for twenty years to get out.
But back to the demonstration, the many Castro prisoners of today and Andy Garcia. These days, Cuba seems to be pretty much off our radar, except where Fidel’s health is concerned or for debates about the degree his brother Raúl is loosening things up (answer: not much). And given the interests of the current administration – its seeming disinterest in the activities of totalitarian regimes – this is not likely to change. All the more reason Andy Garcia – actor and Laker fan – is to be praised and supported. And, as you will see in the video, in LA’s Echo Park last weekend he was getting plenty of that praise and support from his fellow Cuban-Americans (and from Perez Hilton!). He deserves it.