Hispanic Activists, Mayors Ask Netflix to Stop Promoting Communist Film as ‘True Story’

(L-R) Ramon Labanino, Antonio Guerrero and Fernando Gonzalez, three of the "Cuban Five" intelligence agents arrested in Miami in 1998 and convicted of espionage, talk at the end of a ceremony in Caracas on May 4, 2015. The Cuban spies whose release by the United States helped pave the way …
JUAN BARRETO/AFP via Getty Images

Over a dozen Hispanic advocacy groups, activists, and public officials signed a letter sent to Netflix on Thursday urging the streaming service to stop promoting the film The Wasp Network, glorifying Cuban spies whose work killed four Americans, as based on “true events.”

The letter also requests that the streaming service carry the true story of the victims of the “Cuban five,” as the spies grew to be known. The work the spies did in Miami resulted in the unanswered killing of four U.S. citizens in 1996.

Those outraged by the film note that those the spies killed are left out of the narrative entirely. Instead, the film portrays almost the entire Cuban exile community as a terrorist cell and the spies as patriots braving the danger of free American society to save one of the most brutal communist regimes of the past century.

Prior to the letter, a petition urging Netflix to stop promoting it gathered nearly 20,000 signatures. Ana Margarita Martinez, a real Cuban exile played by the only Cuban star of the movie, Ana de Armas, issued a statement noting that she “had no involvement or was never consulted on” the project.

“Every person seeing this film is contributing to the proliferation of the Castro regime’s propaganda. I call out to anyone who stands for truth, to avoid watching this film and show the streaming service how this type of content is simply a bad investment — a film which is already a failure having only made USD 1.4 million worldwide to date,” Martinez said.

In contrast, the film received effusive praise in the pages of Granma, the official newspaper of the Cuban Communist Party, which claimed it “leaves clear, in historical objectivity, that the Cubans infiltrating counterrevolutionary organizations in the Miami exile community had the right to protect the security of their country and thus prevent the wave of attempted terrorist attacks of the 1990s under the auspices of the United States.”

The film, the communist propaganda outlet declared, “leaves clearly established who are the aggrieved and who are the aggressors.”

The Assembly of the Cuban Resistance, a human rights group based in Florida, is spearheading the campaign to convince Netflix to begin correcting the error committed by distributing The Wasp Network. Among the signatories are the mayor of Miami, Francis Suarez; the mayor of Doral, Florida, Juan Carlos Bermudez; and members of groups like the 2506 Brigade, the fighters who fought in the Bay of Pigs liberation action thwarted by President John F. Kennedy. Venezuelan and Nicaraguan activists have also signed the letter, which at press time continues to add signatories.

Among the many faults listed against the film is the fact that it is based on a novel written by a noted Marxist with very little in common with reality and that some scenes filmed in Cuba were done so on property that Fidel Castro illegally stole from American citizens, potentially opening Netflix up to lawsuits under Cuban Libertad Act, passed in 1996 but only allowed to take effect under President Donald Trump.

“The Pollack Mansion in Havana Cuba for example, is the site location where the wedding reception scene is filmed. By conducting a for-profit business within the footprint of stolen property in Cuba, the filmmakers are in breach of federal law,” the letter noted. “Netflix has now purchased the rights to this film knowing that it features the evidence of the illegal activity taking place.”

The Wasp Network film takes the regime’s talking points and promotional objective from print to film,” the letter to Netflix CEO Wilmot Reed Hastings and the stars of the film – only one of which is ethnically Cuban – read. “Internationally recognized actors uttering the mantras; the embargo (not the regime) blamed for Cuba’s condition, downplaying the level and reach of the WASP network’s espionage and murder conspiracy, the blanket labeling and portrayal of Cuban exiles as terrorists, attempted justification for crimes proven in a court of law and total disregard for the real victims.”

“This is straight out of the Cuban Regime’s playbook and it is ‘now playing’ under the false and slanderous pretense of being ‘Based on True Events,'” the letter lamented. “Netflix has become the latest influencer propping up a decrepit, criminal regime and turning a blind eye to all their victims.”

The letter notes that the film is not based on a nonfiction book, but “spy thriller” – The Last Soldiers of the Cold War by Brazilian Marxist Fernando Morais, who used “the literary format to present propaganda all dressed up and marketed in a book format.” Given that the source material for the story is not non-fiction literature or journalism, the group urges Netflix to remove the text “based on true events” from promotional material for the film.

“Given the degree of regime rhetoric, false narrative and facts withheld, Netflix is adding its name and reputation towards the legitimization the Cuban Regime’s talking points. This movie was based on a book whose origins clearly establish its motive for being published,” the letter noted.

In place of the false advertising, the letter urges images and text relaying the names of the dead that the heroes of the film helped kill.

Carlos Costa, Armando Alejandre, Mario de la Peña, and Pablo Morales, were four American members of a group known as Brothers to the Rescue, which specialized in aerial missions to rescue Cuban balseros, or rafters, adrift in the Caribbean during the 1990s. In 1996, the Communist Party ordered its military to shoot their planes out of the sky despite their legal presence over international waters (and the Cuban military’s illegal presence there). That mass killing was possible because the “Cuban five” had infiltrated Brothers to the Rescue, among other Cuban-American humanitarian groups.

The Assembly for the Cuban Resistance also requests “the opportunity to address the Netflix audience about the messaging of this film from the perspective of the Cuban exiles, Cubans within the island and victim families.”

The groups requested a response from Netflix by August 9.

Follow Frances Martel on Facebook and Twitter.


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