ACN Interviews Journalist Bernie Dwyer on “The Day Diplomacy Died”
HAVANA, Cuba, Aug 27 (acn) Irish journalist and filmmaker Bernie Dwyer granted an interview to the Cuban News Agency on her latest documentary,
“The Day Diplomacy Died”, and its tour throughout Europe. Dwyer spoke on her reasons to make the documentary and the public reaction to it.
-ACN: Bernie can you please tell us what made you decide to direct and produce this documentary?
Bernie Dwyer: I decided to make this documentary; “The Day Diplomacy Died”
as far back as 2003, soon after a book called “The Dissidents” was
published here in Havana. This book featured interviews with former Cuban
state agents who had infiltrated various groups that were working under
the direct influence of diplomatic staff at the US Interests Section office in Havana.
Shortly before the book was published there had been a public outcry in
the international press because of the arrest and jailing of 75 so-called
independent journalists, librarians and trade unionists. This action by
the Cuban government was used to exploit the old chestnut peddled by the
right-wing press that there is no freedom of speech or assembly in Cuba.
However the same foreign press journalists that condemned Cuba did not
rush to interview the state agents to get their side of the story. So I
decided that their story had to be told. The documentary has been a long
time in the making because I suffered a serious illness and had to abandon
the project for a couple of years. However, at last it is ready.
-ACN: Why did you decide to tour Europe and launch the documentary?
B.D: I spent quite a time waiting for the right moment and place to launch
the film. As there are Cuban and US interviewees I had to arrange for
subtitles in both Spanish and English and I did this in Ireland.
I was then invited to launch the documentary at a city centre cinema in
Dublin. So on the 29th of March this year we had a special presentation at
the Screen Cinema in Dublin for an invited audience followed by a question
and answer session. About 150 people attended. These included people from
the political, community, trade union and arts and cultural world in
Dublin. It was a very successful evening leading to interesting questions
and discussions. This is often the best part of a presentation with the
director present as questions usually cover topics as far ranging as the
medical system in Cuba to Fidel Castro’s health to the urban agricultural
practices being developed in Cuba.
After that, there were several showing around Ireland including Galway in
the west and Co. Down in the north of Ireland.
-ACN: What countries did you visit?
B.D.: After that I went to the European Solidarity with Cuba meeting in
Sofia, Bulgaria. This was a particularly successful presentation as there
were more than 20 European countries represented. In fact after the
showing the president of the Bulgarian Friendship with Cuba group
presented a copy of “The Day Diplomacy Died” to the heads of each delegation.
A tour to Denmark, Sweden and Norway followed which took in seven showings in Copenhagen, Oslo, Stockholm and other Swedish cities.
In May I went to Detroit to take part in the US Social Forum. More than 15,000 people attended that event. However it was very fragmented and
although we had a workshop to present the documentary, it only attracted 50 people.
-ACN: What was the people’s reaction to the documentary?
B.D: The reaction was always interesting. In a lot of cases people didn’t
really understand the situation because of the way Cuba is presented in
the foreign media but after some explanation they began to realize the
role the US diplomatic staff was playing in interfering in Cuba’s internal
In my opinion, the discussion and question and answer session is one of
the benefits of this type of documentary. It gives people an opportunity
to ask about the reality of Cuban life and it also helps to explain the
history of US involvement in trying to bring an end to the Cuban
Revolution. This is why I use a lot of archival material as well as
personal testimony to clarify the situation.
-ACN: You had at tremendous success on your previous tour to the US with
your documentary Mission Against Terror on the Cuban Five, are you
planning to tour the US with your new documentary?
B.D: There is tour planned with “The Day Diplomacy Died” in October for
the west coast of the US taking in San Francisco and Los Angeles as well
as other cities. The US is such a huge place that this time I will tour it
in segments. The last time in 2005 I did 28 venues in 31 days right across
the US. Yes, it was very successful but I don’t think I could do that
again health wise.
-ACN: Is there any relationship between the Cuban Five and this issue?
B.D.: Yes, the cases are just two sides of the same coin. The Cuban Five are imprisoned in the United States for the same reasons that the four
former Cuban state agents interviewed in “The Day Diplomacy Died” spent years and years of their lives posing as counterrevolutionaries by
infiltrating groups supported by the US Interests Section in Havana. That is to protect their people and their country from on-going attempts to
destabilize the Cuban Revolution.
In the case of the Five, they infiltrated terrorist groups in Miami which are already responsible for the deaths of more than three thousand Cuban
people and the injuries of another two and a half thousand. Their mission was to report to the Cuban government on the on-going and future plans of
these groups so that steps can be taken to put a stop to such illegal and horrific acts. The Cuban government has constantly asked successive US
administrations to put a halt to this violence against Cuba emanating from Florida and in the absence of any action taken against the Miami
terrorists by the White House, they had no option but to send in their own people. Unfortunately when the Cuban government presented their finding to
the FBI, the Cuban Five were arrested in Miami and the terrorists still freely walk the streets.
The Cuban state agents featured in “The Day Diplomacy Died” were working in Cuba against the so-called “internal opposition” set-up and supported
by US diplomats in the US Interests Section in Havana from the very beginning except for a period under the presidency of Jimmy Carter.
So yes, there is a huge similarity between the work of the Cuban Five in Miami and the work of the former Cuban state agents in Cuba with the same
goal; to put a stop to US interference in Cuba’s sovereign right to develop its own society at the behest of the Cuban people.
-ACN: What is next?
B.D.: Right now I am working on distributing “The Day Diplomacy Died” as far a field as possible. I have sent copies to more than fifty Members of
the European Parliament in Brussels. There is a crucial vote coming up in the European Union on September 10th. There will be a review of the EU ‘Common Position’ on Cuba. This position was introduced against Cuba by
former Spanish President José Maria Aznar in 1996 with the support of then British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, and George W. Bush. After the arrests
in 2003, the ‘Common Position’ was hardened and is now up for review. I am hoping that at least those voting on the issue will take half an hour to
view the documentary to hear the other side to the story.
Although there are many subjects I would love to explore, making documentaries is very hard work when there is no money available and the
sort of films I want to make doesn’t attract any backers. That’s another reason it takes such a long time to make even one.
However I do have a long cherished project to make a documentary on Cuban
Hero Julio Antonio Mella’s mother who was an Irish woman from Cavan. It’s a wonderful story and maybe that will be my next work.