Actor Andy Garcia has a message for Americans who agree with the recent decision to send Elian Gonzalez back to his native Cuba with his father: Before you judge, know your facts.
"The propaganda arm of the Cuban government has made a great impact on what they would like people to perceive as going on in Cuba," the actor told attendees of the Television Critics Association press tour in Pasadena, CA. "For me, it's important to shed a more accurate light on what's going on down there because there is a portion of American society that's not quite aware, [that's] been spoonfed through the propaganda machinery the wrong situation and images."
Garcia's best illustration is jazz musician Arturo Sandoval, whom Garcia portrays in HBO's For Love or Country (due in November). For Sandoval, who made a daring escape from the country himself, the Gonzalez case is simply a tragedy. And anyone that doesn't think so should try living there.
"Nobody wants that for your own son," said Sandoval. "If somebody came to me and said, 'I'm gonna bring your son back to Cuba,' I say, 'Yeah, yeah, yeah ? you get ready to kill me first, and then you bring my son back to Cuba. Some people go to Cuba for a weekend and they have a great time and they believe that's a beautiful country: 'Oh, so pretty! Everything [is] so nice. Wonderful hotel.' You eat a beautiful lobster and the people are starving and homeless in the street. The people are desperate to jump in anything that floats and escape from the island. You don't want anything like this for your own son. Why do you want [it] for Elian?"
On a lighter note, Sandoval stressed that while the young Garcia presents a prettier picture now, he himself was easy on the eyes in his day. "You know, some people question all the time: Andy is a kind of good-looking guy and I am an old, fat man," he said. "I wasn't like this all the time. I got my days, too. I remember when I used to be good-looking and I showed a picture to the people. From now on, I am going to carry the picture with me. I say, 'Hey, I was like this.' "