Director Oliver Stone ripped President Bush while praising Cuban dictator Fidel Castro before the premiere of his movie “Looking for Fidel,” at the 52nd San Sebastian Film Festival in Spain.
Stone charged that Bush stole the election with the help of anti-Castro Cuban-Americans in Florida, according to a report in Cuba’s Granma newspaper.
“When (Vice President Al) Gore lost, or rather, when they stole the elections from him, I sensed that something dirty was going to happen, but the harm has already been done and its extent is very significant,” said Stone. “Now, I am praying that something of that sort does not occur once again. George Bush will go down in history as one of the great baddies.”
A reporter asked: “What kind of power does the anti-Castro lobby in the United States have?”
“To start with, anti-Castro groups were vital in implementing the dirty business of the butterfly ballots ensuring Bush’s victory at the 2000 elections,” said Stone. “The right wing is the same everywhere, in Cuba or Viet Nam. It is like an octopus, snatching everything with its tentacles. They control the Internet, radio and TV stations, and newspapers. But above all, they are perfectly organized. Right wingers master the art of negative publicity and are capable of destroying the image of anyone they consider to be their enemy. They annihilate anything opposed to their interests, utilizing mass emailing, articles, and reports. In the United States, censorship is the order of the day. It is really sad to think that Florida may end up deciding the November elections once again, and that the extreme-right wing, including anti-Castro groups, may manipulate the results for a second time. These people are blinded by patriotic fanaticism and are ready to invade any country, and shoot down planes if necessary. They thought that my first movie about Castro, ‘Comandante,’ was hideous, and they killed it almost before it was even born. They were merely afraid of it.”
On the other hand, Stone had nothing but praise for Castro, who has clung to authoritarian power with no elections in Cuba for half a century.
“Street demonstrations in favor of Fidel Castro are not a fake,” claimed Stone. “If they were, those demonstrators should win an Oscar for best acting. I can testify to this because I have seen the joy on their faces when people come up to the president.”
Stone also said: “President Bush has set the world on fire.”
“In Cuba, I observed an openness and freedom that I had not found in any other country in the region, the Caribbean or Central America,” Stone said. “I have met many world leaders in Panama, El Salvador, and Nicaragua, but have never seen the kind of spontaneous affection for a leader expressed on the streets as I have seen in Cuba towards Fidel.”
A journalist asked Stone if the scenes of popular expressions for Castro in his movie were staged.
“They were totally spontaneous,” said Stone. “We have visited several hospitals where they could have been expecting us, but having looked at people’s faces, I know that none of this was a fake. I have directed actors and I know when people are pretending and when they are not. Castro repeatedly asked me where I wanted to go next, and wherever we went, people would spontaneously come up to him. Where else in the world would this happen?”
Stone was effusive in his praise for Castro.
“I admire Fidel because he is a survivor,” he said. “He has survived several U.S. presidents who have tried to eliminate him.”
He also said he admired Castro because of “his self confidence and honesty.” The filmmaker confirmed that Castro “is one of the few world presidents who does not have one cent stashed abroad, and, at the same time, has brought his people to such a high educational level.”
And what’s the state of the USA in this presidential election year?
“My country is becoming more violent and negative every day,” he said. “Bush has never been interested in consensus. In the year 2000, as we have unfortunately come to learn, a dangerous radical with a huge hidden agenda was hiding behind the mask of a compassionate conservative. This is a shame and a tragedy. The world would be completely different today had Bush not stolen the elections from Gore. Bush is only adding more fuel to the fire. He is a slave and the puppet of the large weapons and oil companies which put him into office.”