By ELAINE DE VALLE
A mile away from where an audience shook and swayed to the music
Cuban group Los Van Van on Saturday night, many in another audience winced
and wept as they watched Libertad -- a film about a young Cuban artist turned
political prisoner who escapes the island on a raft.
But before Fidel Jimenez Morales -- who by the end of the movie
changes his first
name to Jesus -- reaches a happy Florida beach, he is beaten repeatedly,
splashed with water as he lies naked in a cold torture cell and stuffed into a tiny,
dark, hot shed called ``the human drawer'' with several other men.
He sees other plantados -- or political prisoners who fight ``rehabilitation''
shot and is marched to a paredon, a wall in front of a firing squad, with another
prisoner. Though he is spared, he sees the other man shot after he shouts ``Viva
Cristo Rey,'' or ``Long live Christ the King.''
Once on the raft, the artist watches helplessly as one of the
refugees aboard is
devoured by a shark. He is separated from friends after a fight over which direction
to follow and, eventually, reluctantly, lets his dead cousin slip into the water.
Brigade 2506, whose members fought in the ill-fated Bay of Pigs
presented the film as a counter to the concert. The brigade had originally hoped it
could thwart the concert by taking over the Knight Center for Oct. 9 after the
concert promoter couldn't comply fast enough with city of Miami requirements.
Instead, promoter Debra Ohanian booked the Miami Arena.
Knight Center managers said about 3,000 people paid to see the
film at $10 a
ticket. More than 600 tickets were sold hours before the 6 p.m. start.
``They call us the hard-liners of Miami,'' said Brigade President
Franco. ``But in reality, we have to be hard and intransigent with an enemy who is
always attacking us from all sides.''
Many who went to the movie said the concert was akin to communist
Adria Valdesuso, 31, said she usually supports the right of artists
but that the
Cuban band was just a vehicle for the Castro regime.
``It is basically Fidel's way of saying, `Ha! Ha!,' '' said the
administrator whose parents were born on the island. ``The people at the concert
should see the film and see why they shouldn't be there.''
Dozens of people stepped out of the theater during the beating
``It was too much. Too sad. Too painful,'' said Juan Vivero, 64,
who was there with
his wife, Estrella, on their 39th anniversary. They weren't going to dinner after the
movie: They were going to the protest at the concert. Many others said they, too,
would drive or ride shuttle buses provided by the Brigade to protest outside the
Although more than half the moviegoers were older Cubans who were
leave their homeland, at least a third of the audience was young,
second-generation Cubans who said they preferred the movie to the music.
``This is more the truth, more reality,'' said Cristina Perez,
18, a senior at St.
Brendan High. ``What they're singing over there is a bunch of lies.''
``I couldn't even think of going to the concert,'' said Marianne
Fernandez, 22, a
teacher at Irving and Beatrice Peskoe Elementary in Homestead. ``That would be
like a betrayal to my family, to my roots.''
Zoe Garcia Duarte, who has a picture of Jose Marti in her Coral
consulting office, said she couldn't consider it either. Not yet, anyway.
``When they have Willy Chirino and Gloria Estefan play in Havana,''
``then I'll listen to a Cuban band.''
Copyright 1999 Miami Herald