Cuba:  The Forgotten Revolution – My Review


[Westchester, CA ]    When most people think about the Cuban Revolution, whether you love him or hate him it is recognized Fidel Castro was the leader.

This past weekend Loyola Marymount University hosted “A Celebration of Cuban Arts and Culture.”  Among several activities, Professor Glenn Gebhard, noted film director and professor in the LMU School of Film and Television screened his Emmy award doc, “Cuba – The Forgotten Revolution.”   The film came out in 2015.

The piece is not just another bio-pic about Cuba.  What it does is update the historical record and highlights how Fidel rose to the ultimate leadership position.

I decided to make the film with the understanding that some would hate it and try to dismiss it, and others would love it!!  Professor Glenn Gebhard

 

Prior to the noted take-over in 1959, escalating in the 1950’s there were several opposition forces to the Bautista regime.   The film highlights leaders who at the time were more powerful than Fidel.  Two which deservingly captured the research of Gebhard was Jose Antonio Echeverria and Frank Pais.  Many young people across the island formed their activism while attending the University of Havana.    Jose Antonio Echeverria was student body president and developed quite a following which bled out of the University to the western part of the country.   Frank Pais (Pie-Es) was at the southeastern portion of the island in the Santiago region and also had assembled an impressive opposition group.

Fidel’s martyrdom is well documented.  Unfortunately,  Echeverria nor Pais lived to see the victory of the revolution.  Echeverria was killed at 25 years old in 1957.   Several months later in July País who was just 22 years old was also killed.

Even though previous historical accounts skip over their place in the revolution (highlighting Fidel as the primary leader), Gebhard’s film gives you a much better perspective how their actions fueled the revolution and successfully forced Bautista out.   After all, following the July 26, 1953 ill-fated battle at Moncada prison, where Fidel suffered a defeat and subsequently was captured and imprisoned, Echeverria and País had forces much larger than his.

 

In completing the film, Gebhard compiled a fledging team who were able to cull together solid documentation.  However, it was through his connection with Steve Krahnke and his team at PBS that finally made the film a reality.


The thing about a documentary is facts are pulled together from the perspective of the producers.  Some may dismiss their facts but just as Gebhard presented information to update the record, until others provide refuttable facts, the presentation becomes the current account.

My score, a 10 based on content.

**screening dates of the film are pending, however it is available on Netflix**

The one bank indicted from the mortgage crisis of 2008


The mortgage or housing crisis erupted across the nation in 2008 and crippled the U.S. economy.  Institutions, companies, cities, communities and individuals were not spared its devastation.  Even though recovery was a painful process and total restoration is a fleeting hope for many, it was felt those responsible, especially the well-known companies and their corporate leadership would eventually be held responsible for their involvement.

 

Shockingly, of all those who may have been involved in the nuances of mortgage lending and whose decisions resulted in historic loses, only one bank was indicted by the federal government.  Abacus Federal Savings and Loan headquartered in New York was dealt the wrath of selling fraudulent loans to the Federal National Mortgage Association (FANNIE MAE).

 

Too Big to Fail

You remember the panic, the desperation and the commentary from our political leadership? Most had never heard the phrase, “too big to fail!”  They would quickly learn it was akin to one of the great Chick Hearn phrases in announcing a basketball game, “no harm, no foul.” That basically meant that even though a foul may have been committed by the opposing player, it was not deemed worthy of declaring a foul or infraction.

2008 photo Ben Bernake, President George Bush & Hank Paulson

Instead, countless banks and mortgage originators were fined billions by various regulators, however there was no criminal prosecution as was the case with Abacus.  Even today there are many raw nerves, emotions and opinions when the topic of the mortgage crisis is discussed.  The how and why of Abacus being targeted raises more questions than it answers.  In 2016 a film about the plight of Abacus and impending trial was released.  Frontline, which specializes in showing documentaries on the public broadcasting network platform released the television version on September 12, 2017.

This spread the danger of risky mortgage loans, systematizing the housing market’s risks throughout the global financial system.23 These developments occurred in an environment characterized by minimal government oversight and regulation and depended on a perpetually low-interest rate environment where housing prices continued to rise and refinancing remained a viable option to continue borrowing.  When the housing market stalled and interest rates began to rise in the mid-2000s, the wheels came off, leading to the 2008 financial crisis.

Low hanging fruit

Abacus was eventually vindicated as the government was not able to prove their case.   Whatever your thoughts are about the crisis or your familiarity of the case, you ponder and ask what was so unique about Abacus that the government thought them to be “the poster of criminal intent and deemed a responsible party?”  There were so many well-known companies that were involved in the crisis.  As a matter of fact, each day lenders were imploding right before our eyes.  No doubt, they represented low hanging fruit that even a rookie prosecutor could attempt to give the public some sense of relief through indictments..  Yet, absent those who managed to survive and keep the doors open, their core penalty as mentioned was having regulatory fines levied against them.    From their perspective, dealing with a fine was much better than going out of business or worse, having to spend time in jail or prison.

 

Abacus goes down in history by being the only bank or mortgage lender to suffer the fate of being indicated and having to go through a full trial.

 

 

You can access the full film by clicking HERE