This is truly a documentary like no other. Starting out before Castro took hold of Cuba and right up until the 2010’s this film is utterly engrossing and really worth a watch. If you want to know the story of the Cuban five with out too many details then stop reading now and go check the film out, might I suggest via The Glasgow Film Festival. But if you are curious and want to know more then sit back and let me paint you a picture.
Like many of you I am from a Western country, one with Western Ideals. So my opinions on Cuba have been shaped by where I am from. I know about Fidel Castro, his brother and of course the iconic Che Guevara. I even know about their military campaign to liberate Cuba and how this would not only lead to Cuba and South Africa having a proxy war but also Cuba would one day be a pawn in a game of chess that would nearly end our species. But this film goes so much deeper than that and shows me what being in Cuba was like for the average Cuban.
We spend our time split between Cuban Exiles, Cuban Spies and a few Americans. The film establishes why Castro was able to come to power and how his entry into life in Cuba helped bring a sense of hope with it. The hope that change would come, the hope that the poor could be seen as being worth something. While at the same time the richer members of Cuba’s populace would flee to Miami and begin plotting their revenge.
Here is where the story really ramps up…
Turns out there is a lot about the world that I do not know, for instance I had no idea that there where Right-Wing Cuban Terrorists in exile. Maybe I am just naïve to not think that they would exist. Castro’s Spies goes into great detail about what these men did, how they where linked to the bombing of an airplane, one filled with regular people, how they sent bombs to Cuba and how they even fired upon the nation. The groups leader would even say that he would sooner see the nation destroyed than left under the Communist regime. Now I am no Communist, but if someone repeatedly attacked my home I would want to fight back.
From here onwards we see into the minds of men driven to extremes. Plucked from the Cuban army and given one job – Seek out our enemies and infiltrate their ranks.
Imagine being one of these men, not only has your closest Neighbour tried to invade you, but there are now terrorists in that country who are trying to end your way of life. Mix that in with a indoctrination through State Media and a love of your homeland and you have the perfect catalyst to recruit young men. Men who by the way walked away from their families without even a goodbye. men who sacrificed everything for what they saw as the greater good.
This is the first reason why I love this story, because even if we do not agree with what these men believed in, we can still be sympathetic to them as fellow humans.
My second reason for loving this movie is even though it is a documentary it is still a good old fashioned spy thriller. you learn about how these boys from Havana got Jobs in American Military bases, infiltrated Anti Castro groups and survived in a world that must have been alien to them. And they did all this with the help of beepers, a shoestring budget and floppy discs, no fancy James Bond gadgets for these guys.
And my third and final reason is the story is just well told, even if you are not familiar with the history and politics you will find really easy to follow.
So if you want to watch compelling tale about a few chaps risking everything for their home, then this is the movie for you.