A libel lawsuit against Netflix from the head of a Cuban exile organization accuses the streamer of spreading propaganda for Cuba by portraying him as a terrorist and drug trafficker in Olivier’s political spy thriller Assayas network of wasps. In a lawsuit filed Monday in federal court in Florida, Brothers to the Rescue frontman Jose Basulto alleges that Netflix and Ossayas falsely portrayed him as a puppet of the United States and a traitor to Cuba while romanticizing criminal activity carried out by Fidel Castro’s regime.
“This portrayal of Mr. Basulto, the Brothers to the Rescue, and the Cuban community in exile was deliberately calculated to create two clear and unmistakable villains for the film,” reads the complaint.
The libel action is the second by a Cuban exile arguing that the film falsely exposes Cuban exiles as terrorists and otherwise unsavory figures. Ana Martinez filed a lawsuit in 2020 over her character, portrayed as a promiscuous “party girl” by Ana de Armas, in the film.
network of waspswritten and directed by Assayas, is adapted from the book The Last Soldiers of the Cold War by Fernando Morais. In addition to his personal portrayal in the film, Basulto takes issue with how the film would distort the criminal activities of the Cuban Five, a group of spies sent by Cuba in the early 1990s to infiltrate Miami-based exile groups.
“The film is a clear attempt to rewrite and whitewash history in favor of Cuba’s communist regime and is factually inaccurate,” the complaint states. “The film portrays the Cuban Five as brave heroes who simply defended their homeland. In reality, the Cuban Five was a spy ring that produced actionable intelligence that enabled the Cuban government to carry out extrajudicial executions.
The murders, according to the lawsuit, include Cuba in 1996 shooting down two Brothers to the Rescue planes engaged in a humanitarian mission to save Cuban refugees heading to the United States on rafts in the Florida Straits. Basulto says the film falsely portrays his nonprofit as a terrorist organization to justify espionage by the Cuban Five.
The members of the group were eventually convicted in 2001 of conspiracy to commit espionage, conspiracy to commit murder, acting as unregistered agents of a foreign government, among other charges. charges. The case’s findings and other legal proceedings regarding the incident are widely cited in the complaint as evidence that the film deliberately ignored facts about the episode. The Cuban Resistance Assembly, which works closely with Cuban communities in exile, denounced the film as a lie.
According to the complaint, Cuba interfered with the filming of the film to ensure a favorable storytelling. Basulto underlines the requirements of the country’s film office stating that it will not authorize the filming of scenarios “damaging to the image of the country and the Cuban people”.
“These requirements are particularly important when dealing with a defamation suit, as Cuba’s Content Censorship Communist Party requires that a ‘project script, screenplay, or synopsis’ be submitted and expressly states that any project that portrays Cuba in a negative light will be denied a permit,” the complaint reads. “So filming the true and accurate story was never even a possibility.”
As evidence of defamation, the lawsuit cites the character of Basulto in network of wasps, also named Jose Basulto, claiming he was “trained by the United States as a terrorist” and calling Brothers of the Arm a “militant organization”. Basulto disputes a particular scene in which Brothers to the Rescue planes are shot down because they were shown to be violating Cuban airspace when in reality he says they were shot down in space international airline, which led to worldwide condemnation of the Cuban aircraft. regime.
The film’s description reads “Based on a gripping true story: Cuban spies infiltrate groups of exiles in the 1990s to stop terrorism against the island, but at great personal cost.” In response to a letter from Basulto demanding defamation, Netflix responded that “modern docudrama audiences understand that they watch dramatizations, not exacting recreations of events,” according to the complaint.
Basulto alleges defamation, defamation per se, and intentional infliction of emotional distress, among other allegations. He is asking for an injunction prohibiting Netflix from continuing to air the film or an order requiring the streamer to edit certain scenes and remove any references to the film based on real events.
Netflix did not respond to requests for comment.