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Documentary shows Cuba's Castro as young rebel
Reuters ^ | 5/31/05 | Anthony Boadle

Posted on 05/31/2005 9:04:12 PM PDT by freedom44

HAVANA (Reuters) - How did a well-to-do country boy with a conservative education called Fidel Castro turn into a fearless rebel and enduring leader of one of the world's last Marxist states?

For Finnish documentary-maker Folke West, granted rare access to early Cuban state archives, the answer lies in Castro's formative years, long before he became a Communist.

His 2-hour, 50-minute "Young Fidel" traces the Cuban president's life from his father's ranch through Jesuit schools and volatile university politics to a nearly suicidal raid on Cuba's second largest military garrison, prison and finally exile in 1955.

"Most biographies jump most of his life before 1955. Without that background you cannot understand Fidel Castro and how he developed into what he became. Clearly, he was not a Communist," West said.

West got access rare for a foreign film maker to pictures of the young Castro in state archives. His documentary is based on 27 interviews that include fellow insurgents, historians and biographers. Only one family member, Castro's elder brother Ramon, agreed to be interviewed.

West plans to release the film in Cuba in August, to coincide with Castro's 79th birthday, and at international film festivals in Toronto in September and Amsterdam in November. It will also be shown on Cuban television.

The film shows pictures of Castro hunting and fishing, a love of nature that later helped him survive in the mountains where his small band of rebels held out against a brutal right-wing dictator, Fulgencio Batista.


At Jesuit schools, Castro learned discipline with no discussion allowed, which he later demanded of his followers.

"The Jesuits taught him discipline and when he became a leader he was always the unquestionable leader who would not stand opposition," West said.

Castro's university days developed his oratorical skills and turned him into a man of action who inspired a movement of young idealists ready to die for their cause.

The penniless young lawyer was so determined that there was no escape plan if things went wrong in the 1953 assault on the Moncada barracks in Santiago de Cuba.

"It was a suicidal plan, doomed to failure. Sheer idealism," West said.

The assault was repulsed and almost all the 120 attackers were killed or captured, but it established Castro's leadership of a national movement that would oust Batista in 1959.

Castro was convinced a revolution needed a strong leader and the political movement had to come from the grass-roots: 90 percent of the Moncada attackers were workers, not students. With the exception of Castro's younger brother, none were Communists.

Castro and his insurgents were not reading Marx and Engels. They took their inspiration from Cuban independence hero Jose Marti, who was killed in battle, following his motto that to die for the fatherland is to live, West said.

It was two years after his rebels won in 1959 that Castro, facing American antagonism and invasion by CIA-trained Cuban exiles, became more radical and declared his government Socialist, turning to the Soviet Union for aid.

At odds since then with the United States, Castro has sought to weather the collapse of the Soviet bloc and preserve the one-party Communist system.

"We wanted to bring out the other Fidel. What we see today is an elder guerrilla giving endless speeches, but he is still the agitator he was as a young man," West said.

TOPICS: Cuba; Foreign Affairs; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: 1955; 1959; amsterdam; anthonyboadle; baloney; batista; boadle; canada; castro; catholics; communists; cuba; documentary; fidel; fidelcastro; film; folkewest; fulgenciobatista; jesuits; josemarti; marti; mediabias; moncada; moncadabarracks; moviedeals; netherlands; ramoncastro; santiagodecuba; thenetherlands; toronto; west; youngfidel

1 posted on 05/31/2005 9:04:12 PM PDT by freedom44
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To: Cincinatus' Wife; nuconvert; Pan_Yans Wife; The Bronze Titan; MonroeDNA; MattinNJ; Luis Gonzalez; ..
On or Off Cuba Ping.
2 posted on 05/31/2005 9:04:52 PM PDT by freedom44
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To: freedom44
It was two years after his rebels won in 1959 that Castro, facing American antagonism and invasion by CIA-trained Cuban exiles, became more radical and declared his government Socialist

Eisenhower's fault!

3 posted on 05/31/2005 9:07:19 PM PDT by dead (I've got my eye out for Mullah Omar.)
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To: freedom44

The fall of Communism

4 posted on 05/31/2005 9:09:15 PM PDT by BigSkyFreeper (A Democrat is a Democrat; Liberal a Liberal ; Tiger is a Tiger)
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To: freedom44

Maybe the director and Oliver Stone(d) can get back together for a reunion in Cuba...Jeesh..why is this man always glamorized...I know the CIA and America are to blame for the Che assasination but c'mon..enough already...Let the people enjoy their "great" leader...perhaps Amnesty International can give a positive evaluation over there in Havana and show us Americans how to really treat people with respect and dignity! (Sorry about the rant)

5 posted on 05/31/2005 9:12:35 PM PDT by Ramstein75
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To: Ramstein75

Death precursor Bump!

You always have to trot out the "young dictator" shows prior to their deaths. It's like the "cold" they invariably catch.

6 posted on 05/31/2005 9:38:24 PM PDT by datura (Molon Labe)
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To: freedom44
Peter's friend, Frank Sturgis, tried eight times to have Castro killed. He also saved Reagan when he exposed a plot by Libyans to kill him. From freedom fighter to commie bastard. How much better life in Cuban might have been if one of Frank's attempts succeeded.

7 posted on 05/31/2005 10:03:00 PM PDT by doug from upland (MOCKING DEMOCRATS 24/7 ---
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To: freedom44
Sound familiar?

* Herbert Matthews :
The U.S betrayal of Cuba was based on two phony claims. The first was that Castro was anything but a communist. This was necessary in Order to hoodwink Americans and keep them asleep until after the fact. Toward this end the State Department had the close cooperation of the New York Times, a pillar of the Establishment. Only three months after Castro holed up in the Sierra Maestra, Herbert Matthews, a Times reporter with strong pro-revolution sympathies, was invited by Castro to interview him. The three stories which came out of Matthews' interview with Castro, featured on the front page of the Times, were a litany of stunning lies and fabrications.
After demonizing Cuba's president, Fulgencio Batista, Matthews described Fidel Castro as a "man of ideals" who "has strong ideas of liberty, democracy, social justice and the need to hold elections." Not only was there "no communism in Castro's movement," but his program was "anti-communist." Thus began the colossal deception of the American public, an exact replica of the way in which, a few years earlier, the Times had vilified China's Chiang Kai-shek and concealed the fact that the Chinese rebels were communist.
Happy with Matthews' crimes against the truth, the State Department even required its newly appointed ambassador to Cuba, Earl Smith, to be briefed by him shortly after the mendacious articles appeared in the Times in the spring of 1957.
---- "Times Lends a Hand," The New American Feb. 19, 1996

8 posted on 05/31/2005 10:08:01 PM PDT by piasa (Attitude Adjustments Offered Here Free of Charge)
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To: freedom44

He's an arrogant, stubborn megalomaniac.

9 posted on 06/01/2005 2:25:30 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
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To: Cincinatus' Wife
One suspects Fidel would have been a fascist in the 30s just as he became a Communist in the 60s. He has no guiding ideology but power and was ready to embrace whatever would best help him keep it.

(Denny Crane: "Sometimes you can only look for answers from God and failing that... and Fox News".)
10 posted on 06/01/2005 2:30:22 AM PDT by goldstategop (In Memory Of A Dearly Beloved Friend Who Lives On In My Heart Forever)
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To: goldstategop


11 posted on 06/01/2005 2:30:46 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
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