The Miami Herald
October 10, 1999
Concert foes pack 'Libertad' showing
Tale of escape moves crowd


 A mile away from where an audience shook and swayed to the music of the
 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'' -- get
 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 invasion,
 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 Juan Perez
 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 health care
 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 and torture

 ``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 forced to
 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 Gables medical
 consulting office, said she couldn't consider it either. Not yet, anyway.

 ``When they have Willy Chirino and Gloria Estefan play in Havana,'' she said,
 ``then I'll listen to a Cuban band.''

                     Copyright 1999 Miami Herald