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Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Philip Agee Documentary at Cuba Film Fest

By Circles Robinson*

The Cuba-Irish connection of directors Roberto Ruiz and Bernie Dwyer has once again teamed up on a documentary: “One Man’s Story: Philip Agee, Cuba and the CIA”, which focuses on the dark side of United States foreign policy.

The 33-minute film had its premiere screening at the Havana Film Festival taking place through December 15th in the Cuban capital. It will now become a valuable teaching tool on US attempts to destroy the Cuban Revolution using mercenaries and US taxpayer’s money.

Filmed in Havana with excellent archive material of numerous US covert and direct involvements in Latin America, One Man’s Story allows Agee, who betrayed big brother and paid the price, to tell his captivating story.

Agee, like several repentant Vietnam Veterans, is obsessed with getting the record straight for a country, the United States, where recent history is barely taught and what is comes through a fine sieve.

“I entered the CIA as a patriotic conformist from a comfortable family,” explains Agee, now 71, in the documentary.

“I was only 22 and had romantic views towards things and it wasn’t until I got down to Ecuador and had been working there for a year or two that I began to get a political education.”

In all, Agee worked for 12 years in the Company (CIA) joining in 1957 and working in Washington, Ecuador, Uruguay, and Mexico until he resigned in 1968.

He has since become one of the most important whistle blowers about US support for the installation and maintaining of brutal dictatorships throughout the Western Hemisphere and beyond.

His first book, “Inside the Company” published in 1975, and the Covert Action Information Bulletin, betrayed many heinous secrets of US Intelligence and his passport was taken away in 1979, “to protect national security.”

Agee has lived in Europe and the Cuban capital of Havana, where the interviews for One Man’s Story were made by directors Bernie Dwyer and Roberto Ruiz.

One Man’s Story gives us first hand testimony that should send up smoke signals to people questioning the motives and actions of current US policy in Iraq and Afghanistan, Cuba, Venezuela and Bolivia, to name a few.

For years Agee has also been an outspoken critic of the US Blockade on Cuba, encouraging US citizens to find a way to continue doing business with the island and traveling there.

Part of the Big Picture

In their last co-production, Ruiz and Dwyer screened “Mission against Terror;” the story of how the Cuban Five followed the trail of US-based terrorism against their country, and were cruelly imprisoned while the Cuban-American terrorists they monitored enjoy freedom on the streets of Miami, Florida.

After outlining different terrorist acts perpetrated by the CIA against Cuba since its 1959 revolution, in One Man’s Story, Agee justifies Cuba’s need to send agents, like the Cuban Five, to Florida in order to protect the island.

For Cubans, both documentaries contain much information that is well known and rehashed often in the media and education centers and might seem redundant to some people in a country where political history is a constant.

However, for North American and European viewers, the film feeds curiosity about the sinister role the super power has played in the world and may serve as a way to reach young people still unsure with what being patriotic means.

The terrifying events at Abu Ghraib, the US Naval Base and offshore prison at Guantanamo Bay, and other clandestine cites, can be put into context with a better understanding of the CIA operations as told by Agee.

Hats off to Dwyer and Ruiz for telling a story that needs to be told again and again. The man they chose to tell it clearly knows his stuff.

Dwyer is an Irish filmmaker and journalist who lives and works in Havana as a radio reporter for Radio Havana Cuba. Ruiz hails from the far eastern Cuban province of Guantanamo and is a graduate in English and Spanish literature. He works extensively making documentaries for Cuban TV.

The duo has now made 5 documentaries. 1998: Che, the Irish legacy (traces Che Guevara’s Irish links); 2001: Che in Ireland (Che Guevara’s visit to Dublin in 1964); 2002: The Footprints of Cecilia McPartland (Irish mother of Cuban revolutionary martyr Julio Anotonio Mella); 2004: Mission Against Terror (Case of the Cuban Five) and now One Man’s Story: Philip Agee, Cuba and the CIA.

In their next project, Ruiz and Dwyer hope to document events relating to the Barbados Sabotage, when a Cuban commercial airliner was blown out of the sky in 1976 killing all 73 persons on board.


Blogger db said...

Very interesting comment, Mr. Robinson.

I wonder if Mr. Agee is by any chance a Native American. I have the name Agee in old family records, and they were supposedly Cherokee. Susan and Wyzena Agee were their names, and Wyzena was my great-grandmother. Susan was her mother.

I have always wanted to visit Cuba, but, ya know, being so free and all here in Yankland, it is illegal for me to do so. I am about to become an expat later this year (Belize), so maybe I'll attempt it from a somewhat safer homebase than here.

What is your story? How did you end up in Cuba, and what has been your experience? I understand a lot of Black Panther types ended up there. Were you one of them? Please don't think me prying or impertinent--I am truly interested.



4:29 PM  

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