05 March 2021 ~ 0 Comentarios

Plantados

By Carlos Alberto Montaner

The story begins in Miami. “Ramón” (splendidly interpreted by Gilberto Reyes), a former political prisoner who had suffered the cruelty of Castro jailers for being a plantado, a rebellious prisoner, thinks he has just seen one of his torturers. He follows him and confirms that it is the same person. The episode brings back painful memories of those ignominious decades of the 1960s and 1970s. The film is made by traveling from Miami to the past on the back of those terrible flashbacks. Ramón calls some of his companions, all exiles, and tells them what happened. They plan to kidnap the torturer. (I am not telling you anything else because I was allowed to see the film in a private screening, under the condition that I didn’t reveal the ending.)

“Can I not even tell my wife?”

“Not even your wife.”

The Miami Film Festival is one of the great things that happens in this city annually. The other is the Book Fair. This year they are showing Plantados, a film long awaited by moviegoers. Fortunately, it was directed by Lilo Vilaplana, a serious and experienced filmmaker, to whom we must thank that he faced a very dramatic story with total sobriety. The script was written by Ángel Santiesteban, Juan Manuel Cao and Vilaplana himself. The first two unjustly suffered political prison in Havana, although many years after the events depicted in this film. The soundtrack was created by Arturo Sandoval. Boncó Quiñongo abandons his humorous and entertaining role and takes on a dramatic role as a political prisoner.

The handful of Cuban political prisoners who declared themselves in rebellion despite the brutal repression that the Castro regime exercised against them were called “plantados,” a term that can be translated as “those who stood up.” They were beaten or killed merciless. Some of them had had a heroic and significant behavior against the previous dictatorship, that of Batista. I think of Huber Matos and Eloy Gutiérrez Menoyo. Others were not old enough to stand out, such as Ernesto Díaz Rodríguez or Ángel de Fana, and they displayed all their personal courage against Castroism, something they did (and continue to do) in a remarkable way.

In fact, the plantados were a few among the thousands held in communist prisons for many years. When the regime realized that it could not tame them and had to kill all political prisoners–something it could not do because of its image and the fact of its extreme visibility–, or seek some way to free them, it found the solution to its dilemma in the “rehabilitation plans” and, later on, in the fact that Jimmy Carter accepted them willingly on American soil. As has always happened, Cuban regime passed its problem on to the United States.

The Soviets, who were great experts in the matter, explained to Cuban communists that offering some reward to those willing to participate in the “plan,” such as early release, could only bring advantages for those who granted it. First, it divided the prison population into a group of “unruly ones,” determined to measure the quality of human beings by the capacity to accept suffering, and another, much greater, of “reasonable ones,” willing to admit that they had lost the war and took refuge in personal or family battles.

There was also a psychological mechanism that led most human beings to “believe what they said” and not the other way around, especially if they were mentally well-structured people. Therefore, all that had to be done was generating the conditions for the prisoners to repeat certain ideological foolish things like a mantra. It was taken for granted that many would try to deceive the “rehabilitators” in order to achieve freedom or to escape, but all would leave prison with a reluctance to return to the conspiracies, except the “plantados.”

One of those plantados was José Pujals Medero, a person of great integrity who had been in jail for 28 years. When he got out of prison and from Cuba (no pun intended,) he spoke a lot with Leopoldo Fernández Pujals, his nephew, a Cuban tycoon living in Spain, and he told him everything he had suffered at the hands of his jailers. It seems that the nephew, moved by the story, told him, “this deserves to be in a movie.” José Pujals did not live enough to see this film entirely financed by his nephew.

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