Cuba: Winds of Change
By Michelle Laque Johnson
If you can watch only one television program this week, make it “Cuba: Winds of Change,” an extraordinary documentary filmed undercover in Cuba as well as in the United States, and airing exclusively on EWTN. (This EWTN Original Production airs at 10 p.m. ET, Oct. 13 and 5 a.m. ET, Oct. 16.)
Filmmaker Jordan Allott, whose mother is American and whose father is British, made the high-risk move of entering Cuba through Mexico with his British passport, claiming to be a tourist. Knowing that Cuba has imprisoned more journalists than any country in the world, why would this filmmaker take such a risk?
Allott was inspired by a Cuban priest* he had met in Mexico many years before. He had hiked the countryside with this priest and heard his stories. Later, he watched that priest choke back tears as he told the Mexican people during a Mass at Guadalupe that he would be returning to a country where living one’s faith was exceptionally hard. He pleaded with Mexican Catholics, whose history includes similar struggles, to live their faith “with all its possibilities.” In this documentary, you will see that priest’s plea and watch as his country’s firing squads execute Catholics, many of whom imitated the great Mexican martyr, Father Miguel Pro, who spread his arms just before being shot and famously shouted, “Viva Cristo Rey!” (“Long live Christ the King!”)
Allott wanted to know what Cuba was like 10 years after the late Pope John Paul II’s visit to the country – a visit whose importance it is almost impossible to overstate. What changes have been wrought? What keeps the faith of the people strong? What obstacles do they still face?
This documentary takes you through the Cuban revolution, explaining why most Cubans and most Catholics supported Castro, who denied being a Communist, and explains how Castro betrayed his people and set about destroying the Church. You’ll actually hear Castro tell his people that he was for “representative democracy and social justice.”
You’ll hear from people imprisoned by the Cuban government for their beliefs, such as Armando Valladares, U.S. ambassador to the U.N., a Catholic who initially supported Castro. He learned just how misplaced that trust was when government functionaries visited his desk at work and asked him to put up a “poster” saying, “If Fidel is a Communist, put me on the list,” signaling his agreement with Castro. When he refused to allow this, they said to him: “You do not agree with Fidel?”
Valladares said, “If he’s a Communist, no.”
For that, he was sentenced to 30 years in prison.
That’s just one of many stories. You’ll learn about Our Lady of Charity, patroness of Cuba, and the miracle one woman experienced after praying to her. You’ll see the remarkable crowds that turned out during the Pope’s 1998 visit. You’ll marvel at the faith of ordinary Cubans and the courageous opposition to the government from women whose loved ones have been imprisoned or murdered.
You’ll also hear about Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet, a doctor who is serving a 25-year sentence, largely because of his outspoken criticism of forced abortions and infanticide. The story of Dr. Biscet, who has been beaten, tortured and placed in solitary confinement many times, so affected Filmmaker Jordan Allott that he made a film about this man’s fight called “Oscar’s Cuba,” which he has screened all over the world. (View a trailer on YouTube at www.oscarscuba.com or on Facebook at http://on.fb.me/dy3t63.) Dr. Biscet was given the Medal of Freedom for his extraordinary courage by former President George W. Bush. Portions of his story are also included in the documentary airing this week.
The stories in “ Cuba: Winds of Change” need to be heard by people all over the world. You can make a difference by telling everyone you know to tune into this haunting documentary.
It is well worth your time.
This is not OSCAR'S CUBA documentary, this is ANOTHER documentary created for Jordan Allott, exclusively to be broadcast by EWTN.
* The Cuban priest that Jordan met in Mexico is from Camaguey