Film Review of “The Wasp Network”

After watching the film “Wasp Network” that Netflix released on June 19, 2020, I have to say that I was not impressed. 

First, the film has nothing to do with White North American Protestants – as its name might imply.  Instead, the film tells the story of Cuban spies infiltrating Cuban-American organizations in American territory during the 1990s.  It is based on a true story that Brazilian author Fernando Morais wrote about in his book “The Last Soldiers of the Cold War.”

But one of the opening lines of the film revealed its Director’s bias: the mention that Communist Cuba has suffered much under a burdensome U.S. embargo.  Left out is the fact that the U.S. Government imposed the U.S. embargo in the 1960’s after Cuban officials confiscated the private properties of U.S. businessmen and U.S. citizens without providing them with any compensation to the present day. 

The film’s premise is definitely anti-American and anti-Cuban-American, and pro-Communist Cuba.

Portrayals of terrorist activities by Cuban American organizations are highlighted in the film.  However, crimes committed against the Cuban population by the Cuban Communist regime for over sixty-one years are left out. 

Cuban actress Ana de Armas played the role of Cuban-American Ana Margarita Martinez, whose life was severely altered after Cuban spy Juan Pablo Roque lied about his identity to marry her.  Roque flew back to Cuba, and Ana Margarita found out about his whereabouts through the news.  His marriage turned out to be just a cover for his spy mission.  But Cuban-Americans are not passive, complacent individuals who quietly fade away.  She sued the Cuban Government in U.S. courts and was awarded $27 million in punitive damages, of which she has collected only $200,000.  Of course, the film is silent about this injustice perpetrated by the Cuban Government.

The highlight of the film is the shooting down by Cuban MiGs of two unarmed civilian aircrafts with American flags on a humanitarian mission over international waters. The two unarmed planes were owned by a Cuban-American organization named Brothers to the Rescue, whose mission was to alert the U.S. Coast Guard of Cuban rafters fleeing Communist Cuba.  Three U.S. citizens and one U.S. resident died in this incident.   

While the film idolized the sacrifices that the Cuban spies underwent by leaving their families behind to undertake covert spy missions in Miami, it did not address the extreme suffering that the families of the dead Cuban-American pilots had to live through. 

As a result of the shooting incident of the Cuban-American pilots in 1996, President Clinton agreed to the codification of the U.S. embargo into the law known as the Helms-Burton Act – which U.S. Senator Jesse Helms (R-NC) sponsored.  Thus, the U.S. embargo can no longer be overturned by a different administration via an executive order.  It is the law of the land.

Finally, the Cuban Five were charged in federal courts for sending to Cuba over 2,000 pages of information from U.S. military bases, for false identification, for conspiring to commit espionage, and for murder in connection with the shooting incident of the Cuban-American pilots.  They were not ideal citizens as the movie portrayed them to be. 

Feel free to watch the film on Netflix.  But realize that there is a rest of the story that the film leaves out, and that you need to be informed of.

4 thoughts on “Film Review of “The Wasp Network”

  1. I was very disappointed by the film. I was hoping for a film that explained the hell that the Cuban exiles went through. For me, the film felt anti-US and pro-Castro. Not at all balanced. If it had been more entertaining, I could have overlooked the political slant. But, unfortunately, the entertainment value was low. Agree with the review above.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. quick note: WASP(the insect) was for the Abispa network, which was supposed to attack like a wasp. But, that aside, I, for once, agree with your tenets in this film review. I was interested in seeing life in Cuba in the 1990s but while there was talk of the hardships suffered there, the scenes did not provide the information in a visual manner. This was definitely skewed to the point of view of the Cuban spies as heroes and to the idea that America is a drug dealer, when, in fact, drug dealing has been happening in Cuba for years. It was still worth watching as a refresher of what happened at that time.

    Liked by 1 person

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