By Danielle C. Malka

Arizona Summer Wildcat

Five UA students will travel to Cuba this week to film a documentary they hope will put a human face on a political problem many Americans know very little about.

The video, to be produced by Pan Left Productions, will advocate full lifting of the 30-year-old U.S. embargo on Cuba, said Lisa Wise, a media arts and political science senior and director of Pan Left Productions.

The group urges people to get involved and to educate themselves on the issues.

"We've been socialized to think that communism is bad and that Castro was wrong," Wise said. "This documentary is just another avenue to topple the blockade and the ignorance that keeps it in place."

On Friday, Wise, along with Jeff Imig, Debra Dozier, Cassandra Nelson and Tina Wells, will travel first to Miami, where the group will set up interviews with members of the Cuban American National Foundation, a group of right-wing, pro-embargo Cuban exiles.

In Cuba, Wise said they hope to speak with Cuban government officials and expose the CANF as degrading for Cuban people and a violation of human rights.

"We think that the CANF violates free speech, promotes violence, hinders the right of artists to express themselves, and manipulates U.S. policy toward Cuba," she said. "We're not going in support of Castro, but as advocates of a full lifting of the ban on Cuba. We want to inform the community and express ourselves socially and politically."

Wise said she first became interested in Cuban politics while doing research for classes but says that, for her, it has gone way beyond academia. "My opinion changed quite a bit over the course of my research," she said. "I've realized that the heart of the issue is human rights.

"I've always had an interest in Latin American politics, socialism and communism."

Dozier, an art history graduate student, said, "I got lucky because I lived with Lisa, just happened to have the right politics, and know Spanish. We all disagree on certain things, but we have a lot of the same beliefs."

Upon returning, the group will show a screening of the footage.

"We want a lot of people to see this," said Wise. "The future of the Cuban people is resting on a ledge. If something doesn't happen soon, they'll tip."

After setting up a promotional tape, the group will seek grant money to finish the project, Wise said. They will then submit the documentary to PBS and different festivals around the U.S. and the world, she said.

"I don't know if PBS will accept it," said Wise. "It will be that kind of quality, but I don't think they'll like the content."

Any help or donations would be greatly appreciated, Wise said. In particular, the group is asking for donations of condoms, which are lightweight and relatively easy to transport.

"Most of the money for this project has come from our own pockets," said Nelson. "We started talking about it and I didn't think we'd go through with it, but apparently we are." Read Next Article