The United States is in the midst of racial uprisings, unprecedented economic crises and political tension. As young people begin to recognize the limits of their own opportunities, there’s also a re-awakening towards the world outside of the U.S. and the past few months have re-grounded the importance of international solidarity.
Yet, media outlets that tell the stories of people outside the U.S. for young U.S. Americans are scarce. This is why Belly of the Beast was created. It’s a Havana-based media organization that tells Cuba’s untold stories through hard-hitting journalism and stunning cinematography. With a team of Cuban and U.S.-based journalists, Belly of the Beast pioneered a new model of documentary filmmaking and reporting from the Global South that breaks with the practice of parachute journalism.
Since launching the platform in March, Belly of the Beast has created a wide variety of digital content on Cuba’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, including written articles, daily news summaries, an event series and short videos. And the short documentary series, The War on Cuba, is the latest endeavor. It zooms in on the U.S.-imposed sanctions that impact daily life on the island and have intensified under the Trump Administration. As COVID-19 exposes harsh global inequality and our interconnectedness, The War on Cuba is more relevant than ever.
Premiering on October 9, and releasing throughout the month of October, the miniseries shows how U.S. policy —and elections— affect people’s lives in Cuba through the eyes of a young Cuban journalist. The series also investigates the powerful interests behind these policies. Episode 1 shows how the Trump administration launched an unprecedented barrage of sanctions against Cuba that devastated the country’s precarious economy and shattered the détente brokered by former President Barack Obama. But it also shows how U.S. policy towards Cuba does not just impact people in Cuba—it could play a crucial role in deciding the next U.S. president.
The Cuban people have lived for almost 60 years with restrictions imposed by the United States government. In the last three years, Cubans have gone through some of the worst crises in the island’s history, affecting all sectors. For example, in September of last year, the United States prevented the country from receiving fuel, and the Cuban economy had to run with only 30 percent of the oil it needed. This can seem like just a figure, but real people feel the effects, waiting for hours for public transportation, cooking with charcoal, and shuttering private businesses, which were just beginning to flourish.
The War on Cuba urges young people in the U.S. who are seeking global solidarity to reflect on their role in the fate of this country, that is just 90 miles away.