Danny Glover’s annual Castro fix

danny-glover-cubaLast August, we profiled action-movie star Danny Glover, with a focus on his chummy relationship with the late Hugo Chávez and his even chummier camaraderie with the not quite late Fidel Castro. Unlike some other celebrities who’ve befriended the Cuban autocrat, Glover doesn’t skirt around the unpleasant little fact that his bosom Caribbean buddy is a totalitarian dictator. On the contrary, Glover has said explicitly that the reason he likes Castro so much is that he “admires Havana’s Communist regime.”

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With Castro on an earlier visit

And the affection, we noted in August, is mutual: Glover has been a frequent guest on Castro’s prison island, where he’s been presented with awards and feted at film festivals. In 2012, he told a “reporter” for the Cuban government’s propaganda apparatus that the Castro Revolution is characterized by “an extraordinary will to find truth and to reveal the new human being, the new man and a new woman.” This chillingly deluded utopian rhetoric about “new” this and “new” that is, of course, part of the stale old rhetoric of Marxism, a mark of the True Believer who’s neither able nor willing to let go of the Big Lie. Glover’s devotion to the Castro regime is warmly reciprocated: he’s been an honored guest at several film Cuban festivals and has been presented with a number of Cuban awards.

Glover’s latest visit to Castro’s prison island, which took place in November, was breathlessly recorded by “reporters” for the official Cuban “news media,” one of whom praised Glover’s “commitment to truth and justice” and noted that the actor had been making the pilgrimage to Cuba for some twenty years, each time returning “with an open heart,” prepared “to listen, to learn, and to grow.”

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With Gerardo Hernández

During his visit, Glover was reunited with one of the Cuban Five, the “hero” Gerardo Hernández. Who? Quick flashback: the Cuban Five were a quintet of Cuban spies who, sent to Florida to infiltrate Cuban-American groups, were arrested in 1998, found guilty in 2001 of conspiracy to commit espionage and murder, in addition to a couple of dozen other charges, and put behind bars. The Castro government originally denied vociferously that they were spies; two years later it admitted that they were. One of the five was released in 2011, another in 2013; the remaining three, including Hernández, were finally shipped back to Cuba in 2014 as part of President Obama’s efforts to improve relation with Cuba. By that time the five spies had become another terrific anti-American propaganda tool for the Castro government, whose official line on them was – and is – that they “served long and unjust sentences…for warning their country” against anti-Cuban terrorist acts that were purportedly being planned in the U.S.

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Glover at a 2014 event to free the Cuban Five

Glover, who’d visited Hernández several times in his California prison cell, noted on his arrival at Havana’s José Martí Airport that he’d also had the honor of belonging to the National Committee to Free the Cuban Five (which is linked in the U.S. to the far-left group ANSWER). He spoke with admiration of the five admitted spies’ awareness of “their responsibility to humanity.” He’d seen in them, Glover declared, “the bridge to the world of justice and equality that we want to build.”

That wasn’t all. According to one of the Cuban “reporters” who met him at the airport, Glover enthused over “the work of the internationalists of this island that brings the light of solidarity to remote places” and praised “the helpfulness of the services provided by Cubans to the Latin American nations.” Either the official Cuba press was putting words in the Hollywood star’s mouth, or else Danny Glover has done a first-rate job, over these last two decades, of learning to speak the Orwellian language of Communist totalitarianism.

Brainless actor fond of penniless country

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Glover and Harry Belafonte at a 2009 cultural event in Havana

As we saw the other day, movie star Danny Glover had a soft spot for late Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chávez. If anything, however, Glover loves the Castros even more than he ever loved el caudillo. While routinely savaging Israel as an apartheid state and supporting the BDS (boycott, divestment, and sanctions) movement against the Jewish state, Glover fiercely opposed the U.S. embargo of Cuba. As the editors of the New York Post noted last December, there was, at least, no ideological contradiction here: Glover supports BDS because he hates the only democracy in the Middle East; he opposed the Cuba embargo, quite simply, “because he admires Havana’s Communist regime.”

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Glover accepting a prize in Havana

By all accounts, Glover has spent a remarkable amount of time in Cuba. According to the Washington Post, he “goes there all the time with little fuss.” He’s attended an annual Havana film festival several times.   In 2011 he accepted a “cinema award” in Havana;  in the same year he took part in a Havana event entitled “Cuba and the Afro-Descendant Peoples of the Americas.”

lethal[1]He’s made it clear that he sees Cuba as some kind of utopian society that’s free of, among other things, racism. In a 2012 interview with the Cuban state media, he gushed that the Cuban Revolution is infused with “an extraordinary will to find truth and to reveal the new human being, the new man and a new woman.” The official Cuban daily Granma has called the relationship between Glover and Havana “intense….It was love at first sight, and not only has it stood the test of his frequent visits, but it is growing deeper and deeper, through discoveries and affinities.”

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Paquito D’Rivera

Quoting this statement in his memoirs, the distinguished jazz musician Paquito D’Rivera – who fled Cuba after his musical style was condemned by the Castro regime as “imperialist” – wryly observes that “Castro’s black victims from Havana…haven’t been among [Glover’s] discoveries and affinities.” Listing the names of several black Cuban human-rights activists who’ve been imprisoned by the Castro regime, D’Rivera asks: “Has Danny Glover denounced the sentences perpetrated against these heroic black Cubans?…On the contrary, Glover’s solidarity is for the man who subjugates black Cubans.” Indeed, we’ve searched the Internet unsuccessfully for any indication that Glover has ever spoken up for any of the Cuban natives who’ve been incarcerated for criticizing their own government.

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Glover visiting Gerardo Hernández in prison

Glover was especially active in seeking the release of the so-called “Cuban Five” – a group of Cuban spies who were imprisoned in the U.S. for many years. (They’re now free.) The Cuban government itself admitted that they were spies, but this didn’t keep Glover from calling them “heroic men.” He became especially close to one of them, Gerardo Hernández, who’d also been convicted of conspiracy to commit murder (this for his involvement in the “shoot-down of unarmed civilian planes piloted by members of the Cuban exile group Brothers to the Rescue”). Glover visited Hernández frequently in prison, and described him as his “spiritual brother” and “one of the greatest people I ever met.”

This, then, is the real Danny Glover. And however many times you may see his name online preceded by the word “humanitarian,” just remember: it’s not exactly the mot juste.  

Danny Glover: lethally stupid

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Danny Glover, Hugo Chávez

We’ve devoted a certain amount of attention on this site to top-drawer Hollywood stooges like Sean PennRobert Redford, and Steven Seagal, but so far we’ve neglected to cover one of the most assiduous ones: Danny Glover, star of such films as The Color Purple and Lethal Weapon, and, um, Lethal Weapon 2, and – let’s see, what else? – oh, yes, Lethal Weapon 3 and Lethal Weapon 4. To read the most prominent sources, you’d think Glover is a prince of a guy. “He is an active supporter of various humanitarian and political causes,” reads his Wikipedia page. On IMDB, he’s identified as an “[a]ctor, producer and humanitarian.” On his own Facebook page he calls himself an “actor, producer, activist, and humanitarian”; the h-word is also front and center on his official website

Yet look beyond the PR and you’ll find that Glover’s outsized enthusiasm for despots makes some of his fellow Tinseltown tyrant-fans look almost irresolute by comparison.

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Danny Glover, Hugo Chávez

Let’s start with Venezuela. Glover was chummy with the late strongman Hugo Chávez for years: along with Harry Belafonte, Cornel West, and others, he met with the caudillo back in 2006. So close was he to Chávez that El Presidente actually set up financing for a couple of movies Glover planned to produce – one of them about Simón Bolívar, the other about Haitian rebel leader Toussaint L’Ouverture. (Neither of these films has yet materialized, although the latter is listed as forthcoming on Glover’s IMBD page.)

Glover’s love for the Caracas regime didn’t end with Chávez’s death. Last year, when a gang of the usual suspects, among them Oliver Stone and Tom Hayden, wrote a letter to the U.S. Congress expressing support for Chávez’s successor, Nicolás Maduro, Glover’s name led the list of signatories.

But Chávez isn’t the only dictator, alive or dead, with whom Glover’s been chummy. Guess who his other fave is? We’ll take a look at that friendship on Monday.