The leader of a Miami-based activist group of Cuban exiles is suing Netflix for defamation.
José Basulto, who heads the organization Brothers to the Rescue, claims that French filmmaker Olivier Assayas (Clouds of Sils Maria) misrepresented him as one of the characters in the spy film Wasp Network, which was released by Netflix in June 2020. The drama was adapted from the book The Last Soldiers of the Cold War by Brazilian journalist Fernando Morais.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Basulto argues that Wasp Network is the equivalent to Cuban propaganda. In the film, he is portrayed as a terrorist and drug trafficker. From the lawsuit: “This portrayal of Mr. Basulto, Brothers to the Rescue and the Cuban exile community was deliberately calculated to create two clear and unmistakable villains for the film.”
Founded in 1991, Brothers to the Rescue describes itself as a humanitarian organization that helps rescue Cuban refugees immigrating to the United States by raft and to support Cuban people in their non-violent pursuit to liberate themselves from Cuba’s dictatorship.
Along with his depiction in the film, Basulto said Wasp Network is also “factually inaccurate” in the way it portrays a group of intelligence officers known as the Cuban Five that were sent by the Cuban government to infiltrate the exile community in Miami during the 1990s.
“The film is an obvious attempt to rewrite and whitewash history in favor of the communist Cuban regime and is factually inaccurate,” the lawsuit reads. “The film portrays the Cuban Five as courageous heroes who were simply defending their homeland. In reality, the Cuban Five were a spy network that produced actionable intelligence enabling the Cuban government to commit extrajudicial killings.”
This is the second defamation lawsuit filed against Netflix for Wasp Network. In 2020, Ana Martinez, the wife of a pilot who defected from Cuba, sued the streamer for her portrayal in the film. Martinez was played by actress Ana de Armas (Deep Water).