Cuba: The Forgotten Revolution
About This Episode
Cuba: The Forgotten Revolution tells the virtually unknown story of Cuban revolutionaries Frank Pais and Juan Antonio Echeverria whose names seldom appear alongside their more famous contemporaries, Fidel Castro and Che Guevara. Through archival footage and exclusive interviews with revolution participants and observers, family members, Americans who fought alongside Castro and Guevara, and a former CIA agent, we learn how these young men played critical roles in the eventual overthrow of dictator Fulgencio Batista y Zaldíva.
New scholarship and recently accessed footage challenge the prevailing view that Castro's army of 200 guerillas single-handedly defeated tens of thousands of Batista's soldiers and liberated the people of Cuba. In actuality, Pais and Echeverria's city-based insurgencies in Santiago and Havana held the key to generating popular support for resistance and undermining the authority of Batista and his secret police. Both Pais and Echeverria rivaled Castro in popularity and power during the height of the Revolution yet neither man lived to see the movement succeed. A close associate reportedly gunned down Pais in the street; Echeverria died in a daring raid on the palace.
The film highlights the complexities inherent in revolutions and examines the shaping (and reshaping) of the final historical record. After Castro assumed power in 1959, he harnessed the power of the emerging medium of television to advance a narrative that effectively expunged Pais and Echeverria — and others responsible for the outcome — from Cuban history.