Oliver Stone’s “Snowden” as Related to Cuba

December 8, 2016 |

“Without the information to start a public debate, we’re lost.” (Edward J. Snowden)

By Vicente Morin Aguado

From Oliver Stone's "Snowden".

“And we won’t give up.”  From Oliver Stone’s “Snowden”.

HAVANA TIMES — Oliver Stone will present “Snowden” at the Havana Film Festival to take place in Havana from December 8th-18th.

The movie focuses on an extended conversation between Corvin, a veteran CIA agent and Internet expert and the super hacker Edward Joseph Snowden. Reading through this script carefully implies a difficult message for a Cuban audience to take in because of the authority-bureaucracy combination we have in this country determining censorship.

“When those in power try to hide by classifying everything, we will call them out on it. And when they try to scare us into sacrificing our basic human rights, we won’t be intimidated, and we won’t give up, and we will not be silenced.”

Although the movie directly points out the United States, where a long tradition of respecting individuality is put into question by the massive illegal interference by government intelligence agencies, the reality is that the quoted 3 billion messages that are checked in the US are not an individual case, as the Cuban website 14 y Medio recently reported:

“In July 2014, Governments in Cuba and China signed a “cyberspace cooperation” agreement.” The Asian country has passed on some of its experience in surveillance and blocking web content to the island, especially what they learned after they put the Golden Shield Project into action in 1998, which is more famously known worldwide as the Great Firewall of China, which employs over 30,000 censors.” (03/09/2016)

The magazine founded by Yoani Sanchez underpins the Cuban government´s widespread state interference in cell phones, especially in SMS messages, which also extends to private email accounts and blocking web pages or entire digital magazines.

The government is supported by fact-based evidence that come from words that serve as a filter, this technique is similar to the one used in the film: “It´s like a Google search, but we see everything: emails, chats, facebook, everything.”

There are filter words and phrases that are being checked in Cuba: Guillermo Farinas, hunger strike, Castro, human rights, Cubanet, Diario de Cuba…

The worst thing isn’t this interference that the bureaucracy-government pair carries out, but that they do so without appealing to any kind of law, outside of any court decision. In Cuba, when it comes to matters connected to its misinterpreted politics, judges don’t judge. Eleven million people are left to be judged by a handful of government officials.

Why is the Cuban government welcoming Stone and allowing this film to be shown?

It’s about a tiny risk they run in exchange for presenting a democratic and tolerant image, which is especially directed at people abroad, supported by the film director’s fame who has also made two feature documentaries about the Comandante, which by the way, have not been shown across our country.

s1snowdenFirst of all, the movie Snowden is 2 hours and 10 minutes long, with a special focus on documents, little action, factors which won’t attract 90% of the Cuban people, who are too engrossed in their daily battle for survival. In this case, soap operas on Spanish-speaking channels come first along with “action flicks”.

When checking out ten places where private people offer the “Weekly Package” of pirated audio visuals, only one of them – in the Fin de Siglo market on San Rafael Boulevard- had Oscar award winning films from recent years. It isn’t long now until this dense feature film we’ve been talking about comes here to Cuba. There is no risk of “contamination” for video customers.

The young neighbor who me a AVI version of this film warned: “Dude, this is heavy stuff, I don’t have the patience to sit down and watch it, it’s trying to pay too much attention to what they’re saying for a long time because otherwise you get lost and won’t understand anything.”

Secondly, “Snowden” might be publicly screened one day, with a claque of journalists and intellectuals who have been previously invited and viewers who were able to get a ticket that day.

Third of all, the myth of privacy is a US matter, in our country, we live under constant surveillance ever since the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution (CDR) were founded in 1960. We know we are being controlled without a right of reply and they have instilled the objective that Stone puts into the mouth of the CIA trainer:

“Most people don’t want freedom…they want security.” Secrecy becomes the path to “victory” in the face of the country´s enemies. However, Snowden´s screenwriter offers us another take: “You “don’t have to agree with your politicians to be a patriot.”

In the face of the challenge we currently face, the words of Julian Assange’s main team player:

  “The greatest freedom that I’ve gained is the fact that I no longer have to worry about what happens tomorrow, because I’m happy with what I’ve done today.”

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  • grok

    My opinion is that the stalinist regime in Cuba has always been under siege from its powerful Imperialist former colonial master — and too many cubans have let the resultant decades of degradation and immiseration cloud their judgement as to who is their real enemy.

    • Carlyle MacDuff

      The colonial master of Cuba for four hundred awful years was Spain. It was in Cuba that General Weyler invented concentration camps where it is estimated one third of those imprisoned died in the camps. It was against the Spanish colonial masters that Cespedes, Agramonte, Marti and Maceo led revolutions. Slavery in Cuba under the Spanish only ended in 1886, following which the Spanish imported indentured Chinese coolies to do the back-breaking hand cutting of sugar cane. In the 20th century the Cuban government comprising white catholic people of Spanish descent became concerned that the number of blacks might exceed the number of whites, so they offered financial incentives to Spanish Catholics from Galicia to farm in Cuba. Fidel and Raul Castro’s father immigrated from Galicia.
      I do not condone the history of the US in Cuba, in ‘Cuba Lifting the Veil’ I wrote that:
      “US policies towards the Latin American countries have been a succession of political blunders of magnitude since the adoption of the Monroe Doctrine in 1823..”
      but, Cuba’s woes and oppressive colonialism it suffered were far from being only at the hands of the US.
      I agree that with you that the Castro regime can be described as “Stalinist” especially in the purges and in the formation of the CDR administered by Alejandro Castro Espin, son of the dictator.

      • grok

        No one is letting the european Imperialists off the hook here. The U.S. simply ‘takes’ primacy, now.

  • Carlyle MacDuff

    Oliver Stone and Michael Moore are both well known as left wing propagandists. The problems of the CIA are deep seated, from its late start 1947/8 until a ‘contractor’ Edward Snowden was able to abscond with millions of secrets. Imagine a supposedly secret service engaging contractors for highly secret work. The CIA is obviously far too big, has made the error which Snowden exploited of committing everything to computers and which can be accessed by Senate and Congress committees. The USA just isn’t good at the game of spying.
    To describe the act of becoming a traitor to ones country as being a “patriot” is clearly nonsense and the term “intellectuals” has become a vapid description of those who like Tariq Ali are merely left wing verbal agitators. One merely has to watch Cuban State TV and programs like Mesa Redondo to know who the Castro regime views with favour.

    • grok

      Oliver Stone is a liberal (i.e. a real one). Michael Moore is — at best — a loudmouth millionaire ‘pseudo-Left’ Democratic Party shill.

      People reading this should know that you don’t know a damned thing about politix. Except your anti-communism.

      • Carlyle MacDuff

        You grok, are entitled to your opinion and to express it.
        It is knowledge of politics in which I have had a fairly reasonable involvement for a lot of years and knowledge of communism stemming from the French Maquis, to the USSR dictatorship in Eastern Europe and innumerable discussions with people who risked their lives to cross the Iron Curtain – upon which so many people died, to living in Cuba under the Castro dictatorship which provides me with experience.
        What’s yours?

  • grok

    Right… only you understand capitalist Imperialism.