Humberto Fontova
In the movie Robert Redford production The Motorcycle Diaries Mexican-born actor Gael Garcia Bernal reveled in the role of Ernesto Guevara “I cannot remember when I didn't know about Che," he sighed during an interview in 2004. "Che has so much to do with your ideals as a young man. His mythification, Che the icon, is not three-dimensional. To have the T-shirt doesn’t mean much. With the film, we wanted to bring that character closer to ourselves."

Now, in the movie “No” Bernal is playing the role of Rene Saavedra, a Chilean PR man mounting a press campaign against Chilean President Augusto Pinochet during a 1988 referendum. The movie’s title “No” refers to how the Bernal character wants Chileans to vote regarding Pinochet’s continuation as Chilean President.

“This made me realize the profound pain caused by the (Pinochet) dictatorship and it hit me hard," he told The Associated Press this week in Santiago Chile. "The director wanted to make a movie about the history of what went on in 1988, as well as an introspection and reflection on democracy."

While prepping for his role as Che in The Motorcycle Diaries Bernal admits to often visiting Cuba for coaching by the Stalinist regime’s KGB-founded propaganda ministry. The regime co- founded by Che Guevara has banned voting under penalty of firing squad and prison for half a century.

After 14 years in power Pinochet allowed a vote that ousted him. After 53 years the regime co- founded by Che Guevara stills outlaws it.

But we search in utter vain for any expression of “pain” felt by Bernal on behalf of Cubans, or any “reflection” by him (on the extinction of) Cuban democracy for a period OVER THREE TIMES as long as its absence in Chile.

But why pick on Gael Garcia Bernal?

Back in 2006 Fidel Castro got sick and seemed on his deathbed shortly before Augusto Pinochet passed away. So both names were much in the news. This provided a controlled setting, a veritable laboratory, for testing media bias.

The terms "human rights abuses," along with "murders and tortures" appeared consistently in the articles on one Latin American leader, while being almost completely absent from stories about the other.

One leader jailed more political prisoners as a percentage of population than Stalin—and for three times as long. Modern history’s longest-suffering political prisoners languished in the prisons and forced-labor camps established by his regime. According to the Harvard- published “Black Book of Communism,” he executed 16,000 subjects by firing squad. These ranged in age from 16 to 68 and included several women, at least one of them pregnant. According to the scholars and researchers at the Cuba Archive, his regime’s total death toll— from torture, prison beatings, machine gunning of escapees, drownings, etc.— comes to more than 100,000. According to Freedom House, 500,000 Cubans have suffered in his gulag and torture chambers. Today, 53 years after the establishment of the totalitarian police state, political prisoners still languish in his regime’s prisons for quoting Martin Luther King and Gandhi.

He is the one where the news articles omitted the terms "human rights abuses, torture and murders" and where "gains in health care and literacy" predominated.

One led a coup to oust a Marxist regime that had been declared unconstitutional by his nation’s legislature and Supreme Court. In the "dirty war" immediately following the coup 3,000 people were killed and 30,000 arrested. Within a few years, all had been released or exiled.

He was the one reviled for "human rights abuses, killings and tortures." To wit:

From the Washington Post 12/10/06: “Gen. Augusto Pinochet, 91, the former Chilean dictator whose government murdered and tortured thousands during his repressive 17-year rule, died yesterday.

From the New York Times 12/11/06: “Augusto Pinochet, Dictator Who Ruled by Terror in Chile, Dies at 91 Gen. Augusto Pinochet Ugarte, the brutal dictator who repressed and reshaped Chile for nearly two decades and became a notorious symbol of human rights abuse and corruption, died yesterday at the Military Hospital of Santiago.

These consist of the very first sentences of these MSM stories on Pinochet.

Absolutely nothing regarding “human rights abuses,” much less “murder” or “torture” appeared regarding Castro.

In a Reuters article titled "Legacies Bind Castro, Pinochet in Their Twilight," which ran everywhere from the Washington Post to MSNBC in December 2006, Anthony Boadle dispensed with the subtleties and tackled the double standard head on. "Dozens of Pinochet’s agents were convicted of assassination and torture," he wrote "and Castro’s government has not hesitated to jail dissidents. But there are no credible reports of disappearances, extrajudicial killings and torture in Cuba since the early 1960s, according to human rights groups."

Just what "human rights groups" Boadle consulted he didn’t say. But let’s hand it to him for boldly displaying his bias on his shirtsleeve. His concern with "extrajudicial killings" presents a thoroughly fascinating specimen of logic. Applying it to other historical settings we discover that the regimes responsible for the Great Terror and the Nuremberg Laws are preferable to the one responsible for the Kent State killings. The first two were perfectly "judicial," after all. The third was not.

Indeed, Stalin’s massacres were usually preceded by "trials" featuring detailed "confessions" from the "criminals" with cameras and reporters on hand lest anyone doubt these proceeding’s scrupulously "judicial" nature. Among the westerners who lauded these trials’ propriety were Albert Einstein, Lillian Hellman and the New York Times’ Walter Duranty. We can only suspect that Anthony Boadle would have followed suit.

The very trademark of a totalitarian regime is that its mass-murders, mass-jailings and mass- larcenies are all perfectly "judicial," because every judge is a regime apparatchik. Any judge who temporizes over the rubber-stamping of a Communist regime decree disappears, not just from his bench, but from the face of the earth. His former colleagues, or perhaps his successor, then sign the proper documentation making his disappearance properly "judicial."

Executive producer of the movie Robert Redford (who always kicks off the Sundance Film Festival with a long dirge about the importance of artistic freedom) was forced to screen The Motorcycle Diaries for Che's widow (who heads Cuba's Che Guevara Studies Center) and Fidel Castro for their approval before release. We can only imagine the shrieks of outrage from Hollywood about "censorship!" and "selling out!" had, say, Robert Ackerman required (and acquiesced in) Nancy Reagan's approval to release HBO's The Reagans that same year.


Humberto Fontova

Humberto Fontova holds an M.A. in Latin American Studies from Tulane University and is the author of four books including his latest, The Longest Romance; The Mainstream Media and Fidel Castro. For more information and for video clips of his Television and college speaking appearances please visit www.hfontova.com.