A mental asylum for Michael Moore?

world | May 15, 2007 | By Martin Barillas

The lawyer-turned actor-turned politician-turned actor Fred Thompson responded to a call from liberal icon Michael Moore to a debate on healthcare issues. A former US Senator from Tennessee, and possible 2008 presidential candidate, Thompson was seen in a short video carried by the Breitbart news service saying that he “did not have time” to speak to Moore – a fellow denizen of Hollywood and movie sets.

 

However, Thompson did call upon Moore to speak with Cuban dictator Fidel Castro who the film-maker has visited. Like other prominent Americans in the media, such as Oliver Stone and Ted Turner, Moore has made the pilgrimage to Havana to meet the hirsute Caribbean strongman. Thompson asked Moore to speak to Castro about the case of Cuban dissident and fellow documentary movie-maker Nicolás Guillen. According to Thompson, Guillen was imprisoned for an unflattering portrayal of Castro and the Cuban regime and then interned in a mental asylum where he was subjected to electro-shock therapy.

 

Thompson says, rhetorically, at the end of the video “A mental asylum, Michael. Maybe that’s something you ought to think about” before turning in a chair and returning to his cigar.

 

Thompson was apparently referring to famed Cuban cineaste Nicolás Guillen Landrián, nephew of the equally famous poet Nicolás Guillen Batista, who suffered for his inclusion of footage of Fidel Castro in one of his films and then substituting the original soundtrack with the song “Fool on the Hill” by the Beatles.

 

Guillen Landrián was incarcerated for nearly a decade by Castro and released after abusive treatment in the Mazmorra mental institution in Cuba. He was briefly imprisoned again in the 1980s and eventually left to live in the US. He died at the age of 65 in 2003. Guillen Landrián made eighteen documentaries and received various prizes and awards in Europe and Latin America. His uncle, the poet Nicolás Guillen Batista, was a Communist and critic of dictator Fulgencio Batista. The elder Guillen is sometimes referred to as the founder of the movement of “Negritude” in Cuban poetry.

 

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Spero News editor Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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