On CNN, Filmmaker Jon Alpert Blames U.S. for Communism Failing in Cuba

Appearing as a guest on Friday's New Day a year after Fidel Castro's death to promote his film about Castro's Cuba, film maker Jon Alpert blamed the United States for the economic failures of communism on the island nation as he charged that the U.S. ruined the Cuban economy by flooding the sugar market in the 1970s.

 

 

After noting that Fidel Castro's brother Raul is expected to retire next year, host Chris Cuomo asked his guest's opinion about "whether that place is better off without the Castros, with a real democracy."

Alpert began by claiming that Fidel Castro made some "useful changes" in the early years after gaining power:

Since we spent 45 years, we look at this under a very, very long line, so if you look at Cuba under Batista and the changes that the Castros initiated, those were useful changes. The real tragedy is the ideas -- the things that I agreed with -- I think that you might agree with -- universal free education, better health care for everybody, the alphabetization of the island -- they never really got a chance to put into practice.

He then pushed blame onto the U.S  for the failures of communism as he added:

There were some early years back in the '70s when Fidel bet everything on the sugar crop, sugar prices were at an all-time high, the money was flowing in -- they were building schools, hospitals -- they were doing the type of stuff that we want to do here in our country, then the United States took -- and we dumped our sugar reserves on the world market, crashed the sugar price, blew the bottom out of the Cuban economy, the Soviet Union collapsed, 85 percent shrinkage in their economy. At that particular point, they were out of gas, and they stayed out of gas for a long time.

Alpert's been at this for a very long time. In 1986, Rolling Stone hailed Alpert for being a Sixties activist with a camera, and reported Alpert has been boosting the Castros since Nixon was president: 

Their big break came in 1974, when they became friendly with members of the Cuban mission to the UN: "We were able to convince them to allow us into the country with our camera," Alpert says. Their Cuba documentary ended up on PBS (The New York Times called it one of the ten best television shows of the year)"...

On CNN, Cuomo pushed back by pointing out the lack of freedom in Castro's Cuba. Below is a transcript of the relevant portion of the Friday, November 24, New Day:

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CHRIS CUOMO: With so much content, with so much experience, you're going to wind up developing feelings over time. They're going to change, they're going to ebb, they're going to flow. Where do you come out now, a year after Castro being gone, about whether that place is better off without the Castros with a real democracy?

JON ALPERT, FILM MAKER: Well, I think, since we've spent 45 years, we look at this under a very, very long time line, so if you look at Cuba under Batista and the changes that the Castros initiated, those were useful changes. The real tragedy is the ideas -- the things that I agreed with -- I think that you might agree with -- universal free education, better health care for everybody, the alphabetization of the island --  they never really got a chance to put into practice.

There were some early years back in the '70s when Fidel bet everything on the sugar crop, sugar prices were at an all-time high, the money was flowing in -- they were building schools, hospitals -- they were doing the type of stuff that we want to do here in our country, then the United States took -- and we dumped our sugar reserves on the world market, crashed the sugar price, blew the bottom out of the Cuban economy, the Soviet Union collapsed, 85 percent shrinkage in their economy. At that particular point, they were out of gas, and they stayed out of gas for a long time.

CUOMO: That's just economics, you know. The criticism's going to be about human rights. Money isn't what made him punish democracy and punish free speech. That's where the criticism is going to come.

ALPERT: So, you know, I have characters in our film that went to jail. We didn't hide that, so I don't think we ducked any of this in terms of the program, and I think the longitudinal look at Cuba -- and nobody has ever done this before -- that's why I think this program is useful.

CUOMO: The perspective has to be beneficial no matter where you're coming from. Thank you for being here.


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