Published Sep 01, 2001
Fidel Castro has been vilified for years by Cuban Americans in Miami, and by politicians like Jesse Helms. Why was Cuba the only country not invited to the Free Trade Agreement of the Americas meeting? Is it because they're less democratic than the governments in Latin America, and the Caribbean installed by the CIA? As one American in the documentary says, it's like American politicians have an "obsessive psychosis" about him.
This documentary is not his long awaited chance to get a fair appraisal - it's transparently pro-Castro. Commentary is made by prominent American personalities like Harry Belafonte, and Alice Walker. Former teachers, childhood friends, guerilla comrades, and long-time friend and author Gabriel Garcia Marquez also share stories about Cuba's aging leader. However, by referring to Castro by his first name, the title is misleading in its familiarity. Large chunks of his story remain unaddressed, and what is said about his private life is extremely vague: "he may have eight children, and he may also have eight grandchildren."
Fidel is portrayed at his charismatic best with more quotable quotes than printable. For many small developing nations, Castro symbolizes the promises of the post-colonial era. He's made Cuba free for the first time in its history. No longer a Spanish colony, an American plaything or a Soviet protectorate, Cuba's future is its own. He's survived the Bay of Pigs, the disintegration of the Soviet Bloc, and numerous assassination attempts. While visiting Castro at a hotel in Harlem, Nikita Khrushchev was asked if Castro was a communist, he replied, "I don't know if Fidel is a communist. What I do know is that I'm a Fidelist!" When presented in contrast to the mountain of anti-Castro propaganda, "Fidel" is an interesting history lesson, to be viewed with the same critical eye with which all media depictions should be scrutinized.