Film: Wasp Network
Exciting Cuban spy thriller exposes US-sponsored terrorism
Scott Jones, East London Socialist Party
Action-packed and exciting, Wasp Network is a spy thriller that tells the story of the ‘Cuban Five’. Set in 1990s Havana and Miami, both cities are brought colourfully into your home via Netflix. The tale of several Cuban intelligence officers, their families, and the world of Miami’s Cuban émigré community, is told.
The story of how Cuba battled right-wing, US-sponsored terrorist groups in Miami during the 90s is little-known, so a film about it is very welcome.
Following the Cuban revolution which kicked out capitalism, the capitalists themselves – the super-rich, mobsters, casino owners and supporters of overthrown Cuban dictator Batista – largely took up residence in Miami. And from there, with the help of the CIA, waged war against Cuba.
Although Cuba was not a socialist regime, the revolution led to huge social gains for the people of Cuba, especially in healthcare and education, and inspired widespread international support among the working class and poor.
The groups based in Miami infamously failed in their ‘invasion’ of Cuba at the Bay of Pigs in 1961, and thereafter turned to terrorist methods to undermine the Cuban regime. The groups claimed they were fighting for democracy in Cuba, and were humanitarian organisations helping refugees. But as well as the terrorism they were involved in the drugs trade. As one character says: “You never know where the fight for a ‘free’ Cuba ends and drug smuggling begins.”
Cuba came to rely more and more on tourism, and it is this industry which the terrorists target, with scenes showing them blowing up hotels and firing guns at resorts. Like all intelligence agents, the Cubans working in Miami are duplicitous, and there are consequences for those around them. Amid all the action, there are some emotional scenes showing the impact on the families of the Cuban agents.
But they did thwart 20 terrorist attacks before being discovered by the FBI and arrested for ‘spying against the United States’, facing many years behind bars.
The film, refreshingly, attacks the US for its role and the brutal economic embargo it imposed against Cuba in the 1960s. But it also doesn’t sugar-coat the reality in 90s Cuba – austerity in place following the collapse of economic support from the Soviet Union, exacerbating the US embargo, and the top-down bureaucratic character of the Cuban regime.
A good film that shows the dangers capitalism poses to Cuba and the need to fight for genuine socialism.