Thu July 29, 2004

"Fahrenheit" shown on TV in Cuba

HAVANA (Reuters) - U.S. director Michael Moore's anti-Bush documentary "Fahrenheit 9/11" has been shown on prime time Cuban state-run television after playing to packed cinemas for a week.

In a country with a deep-seated distrust of U.S. governments, the film has generated widespread public interest and added to a recent barrage of official criticism of U.S. President George W. Bush.

Cubans have stood in long lines to buy tickets to see rough DVD copies projected at 120 cinema theatres across the island to unfailing applause.

"We hope this film will lead Americans to see the reality of their government, and not only deny Bush reelection but put him on trial for the harm he has done to humanity," said retired worker Armando Rodriguez on Thursday.

"The film is a work of love for humanity. It confirms what many of us believe, that George W. Bush is a real threat to the world," said University of Havana professor Arnaldo Coro Antich.

Hostility between Washington and Havana dates back four decades since President Fidel Castro's 1959 revolution, but relations have become very tense since Bush launched a plan to undermine Castro's communist-run government in May.

Restrictions put into effect by the White House on June 30 to cut back visits and cash remittances to Cuba by relatives living in the United States have annoyed Cubans on both sides of the Florida Straits.

In a speech on Monday, Castro portrayed Bush as a "sinister" religious fundamentalist bent on destroying Cuban socialism and lengthily discussed the U.S. president's past drinking problems as the root of his "bellicosity."

Castro drew laughter from his audience quoting Moore's book "Stupid White Men" which questions Bush's reading abilities.

Cuban dissidents who saw "Fahrenheit 9/11" praised the United States for its freedom of expression and lamented that such criticism of a president was not allowed in Cuba where the one-party state controls the media.