"Covering Cuba 3: Elian," banned by the American Film Institute (see earlier postings), got its first national exposure on Fox News Channel Sunday afternoon. Host Gregg Jarrett interviewed director Agustin Blazquez and associate producer Jaums Sutton about the possible impact of their film on the 2004 election. Jarrett seemed to treat Agustin Blazquez as the Cuban-American Michael Moore. Although the Fox network gave Moore a TV series in 1995, "TV Nation, " and hasn't offered anything to Blazquez, at least not yet.
Here's the transcript:
Gregg Jarrett (host): That is a clip from a documentary about little Elian Gonzalez, the Cuban refugee who was fished from the ocean off the Florida coastline and the custody battle that arose over little Elian ended up actually playing a role in the 2000 election and now nearly 4 years later there is a documentary out. It is being released in the U.S. It attacks the way the Clinton Administration handled the case so here is a question for you: “Could the film be as favorable to President Bush in this year’s election as it was in 2000?” Well, lets put that question to a couple of folks. We are talking to Agustin Blazquez, producer and creator of Covering Cuba 3 and Jaums Sutton, interviewer for the documentary. Gentlemen, thanks for being with us and we will get to that question in a moment, but first, Agustin, it move you to the press release because your press release states the following and I’m quoting: “The film offers the opportunity to tell the American people what the Clinton Administration and the U.S. media censored! The media manipulated information to fool the American people.” Now, Agustin, that’s a pretty serious charge and I’m no apologist for the Clinton Administration, but I’m a member of the media. I covered the case. What did we in the media censor and manipulate?
Agustin Blazquez: But, wait a moment. Your station got very good ratings in my documentary and also Diane Sawyer got very good ratings in the documentary. It’s other networks like CNN, Lucia Newman and also. . . .
GJ: What did we manipulate and censor?
AB: Well, there was a lot of information that actually existed that wasn’t released at that time, like for example that the Cuban Constitution actually gives all the custody of the children to the parents—I mean to the state, not the parents.
GJ: We don’t recognize in a court of law the Cuban Constitution. We recognize American law. American law was very clear; both family and immigration law, the biological father, absence of any evidence of abuse, dictates the course of a child.
AB: Absolutely. The problem is that what the American people did not understand is that when that child was returned to Cuba that it was going to be in the custody of the state. That’s why the Cuban Americans were trying to protect that child from going back to Cuba . . ..
GJ: We knew that and we reported that, Agustin. Jaums, let me turn to you. Most of the Cuban American People you interviewed for this documentary were actually born in the U.S., as I understand it, thus they have little or know personal knowledge of Cuba. So, in fairness, what do they really know about the realities of life in Cuba?
Jaums Sutton: They grew up with this from their families. Their parents lived it and have discussed it. It became part of their soul because of their families.
GJ: Agustin, let me move back to you again. You accused the U.S. government of violating the law, that’s in your press release. Now look, I am a lawyer, as I mentioned. I covered it. It was litigated in both state and federal courts, which denied Elian Gonzalez political asylum. Even the U.S. Supreme Court sided with the father and refused to intervene. All those judges were wrong and you’re right?
AB: No I don’t mean that I am right. It seems to be that the justice was violated. You just have to see the documentary in order to understand what the people are talking about and what happened. I think the people in my documentary are very eloquent and speak clearly about the whole thing.
GJ: Yeah. Jaums, back to you. Your documentary clearly tells what is a heart-wrenching story from the Cuban American point of view, so you’d admit that it’s not objective, correct?
JS: Right. The whole point was to get across a side that is—we felt was lacking in the media of the U.S. That Americans needed more information from the Cuban Americans who were closer to it.
GJ: And, Jaums, still with you. Elian spent the last 4 years with those who love him, I mean his father, his, Elian’s brother, extended family in Cuba. He just celebrated his 10th birthday. I mean, we hate communism, we loath it, but whose to say this little boy is not better off with his immediately family in that environment?
JS: Well, he’s physically, we understand from family in the U.S., that he is physically with his family there, but there is also a guard at the front door and a guard at the back door that’s not there to protect him from the outside. It’s to make sure that they can’t get away and can’t do anything, that Elian and his father can’t do anything that the government wouldn’t like. He is the government poster child there. He is not—doesn’t have—a normal life of a child there.
GJ: No easy answers here. Again a heart-wrenching story. Thank you both for being here—Agustin Blazquez and Jaums Sutton. We appreciate it.