This story discusses plot points and major spoilers from Wasp Network, now available for streaming on Netflix.
New Netflix film Wasp Network follows a group of Cuban defectors who find themselves at the very center of a twisted government conspiracy that threatens everything and everyone that they love. The Olivier Assayas project is an adaptation of the The Last Soldiers on the Cold War (a book written by Brazilian biographer and journalist Francisco Morais), and it explores the terse relationship between the Cuban escapees and their homeland. But the intriguing political thriller is more fact than fiction — it's based on the true story of the Cuban Five.
The meteoric rise of Cuban Prime Minister and then President Fidel Castro brought about a significant amount of sociopolitical change to the small Caribbean island, much of which is widely considered controversial. As life in Cuba transformed, many citizens fled the country for the United States and found refuge in the bustling city of Miami. There grew a community of Cuban expatriates, fueled by anti-Castro sentiment.
In Miami, a number of paramilitary organizations such as Cuban American Coordination of United Revolutionary Organizations (CORU), Alpha 66, and Omega 7 rose up, all dedicated to reversing the damage of Castro's rule. But their planning didn't go unnoticed by the Cuban government miles away, who had reason to believe that the groups were plotting terrorist attacks against their home country. In Havana, the government recruited five men from its intelligence team — La Red Avispa, which translates to the "Wasp Network" — and tasked with the confidential mission of infiltrate these organizations.
As double agents, the members of the Wasp Network (Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino, Antonio Guerrero, Fernando González and René González) left Cuba, arriving in Miami to great fanfare as they denounced the actions of the Cuban government. Back home, the family and friends of the Cuban Five were put in a difficult position, made outcasts because of their connection to the would-be traitors.
While the Wasp Network worked undercover, the American government continued its own investigation into Cuban presence stateside. The findings, which had been gathered from a probe that spanned over 30 yers, showed that the men had gained access to unclassified information obtained from an American military base. When a plane chartered by exile group Brothers to the Rescue carrying American citizens was shot down, the investigation turned into a full on crackdown. Under the direction of President Bill Clinton and the FBI, the Cuban Five were arrested and charged with false identification and conspiracy to commit espionage in 1998.
The trial that followed led to the captured members of the Wasp Network being found guilty and sentenced to varying prison sentences; some were to serve less than 20 years behind bars with the chance of deportation upon their release, and others faced life in prison. Thanks to a series of appeals made by the defendants and various human rights organizations, all five men had been freed by 2014.
With Wasp Network, Assayas does skillfully depicts the high stakes sting operation based on the equally dramatic source material. Find out how the filmmaker weaves the true story of the Cuban Five by streaming the political thriller on Netflix today.