The Arturo Sandoval Story: A Lesson Plan on Artistic Freedom As a Human Right

SUBJECTS — Music/Jazz; World/Cuba and the Cold War Era; Biography;

SOCIAL-EMOTIONAL LEARNING — Human Rights; Courage; Romantic Relationships;

MORAL-ETHICAL EMPHASIS — Trustworthiness; Citizenship.

AGE: 12+; MPAA Rating — Rated PG-13 for brief strong language;

Drama; 2000; 120 minutes; Color.

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TWM offers the following movie worksheets to keep students’ minds on the film and to focus their attention on the lessons to be learned from the movie.


Film Study Worksheet for a Work of Historical Fiction

Worksheet for Cinematic and Theatrical Elements and Their Effects.


Teachers can modify the movie worksheets to fit the needs of each class. See also TWM’s Historical Fiction in Film Cross-Curricular Homework Project.


This movie tells three related stories in the life of famed Cuban trumpeter Arturo Sandoval: his flight from Communist Cuba in search of artistic freedom in the U.S.; his discovery by mentor Dizzy Gillespie; and his romance with his wife Marianela. The first two stories are accurate and the accuracy of the third is none of our business.


Selected Awards:

2001 Emmy Awards: Outstanding Music Composition for a Miniseries, Movie or a Special (Dramatic Underscore) (Arturo Sandoval); 2004 Emmy Awards Nominations: Outstanding Made for Television Movie; Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie (Andy Garcia); Outstanding Cinematography for a Miniseries or a Movie; 2001 Golden Globe Awards Nominations: Best Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for TV; Best Performance by an Actor in a Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for TV (Andy Garcia).


Featured Actors:

Andy Garcia as Arturo Sandoval, Mía Maestro as Marianela, Gloria Estefan as Emilia, David Paymer as the Embassy Interviewer and Charles S. Dutton as Dizzy Gillespie.



Joseph Sargent.


“For Love or Country” introduces the problems of artists in totalitarian countries, Fidel Castro’s betrayal of the promise of the Cuban revolution, and the jazz music of Dizzy Gillespie and Arturo Sandoval. Note that the story begins during the opening credits.

This film can be shown with only a short discussion period on the human rights of artists and correction for the problem discussed below, or it can serve as the basis for a week-long lesson plan demonstrating the importance of artistic freedom as a human right. This Learning Guide includes all that is necessary for the week-long unit. Teachers should pick and choose which elements of the Guide are appropriate for their particular classes.


MODERATE: People swear a few times when they are angry. Mr. Sandoval and his wife-to-be are portrayed as sleeping together on the first day that they meet. We have no idea if this actually happened but it is risky behavior, for both physical and emotional health. It is also considered to be unethical by most religions and ethical systems. Adults who view this film with children should comment on this and explain why movie makers are so partial to quick romances. See Social-Emotional Learning Discussion Questions with answers.


Before showing this film tell your child that, except for the love story, this movie accurately recounts what occurred. (We don’t know about the love story.) Ask and help your child to answer the Quick Discussion Question. Get a CD of Dizzy Gillespie or Arturo Sandoval and play it around the house. Tell your child what you are playing. Immediately after the movie, or at odd times over the next week (for example at the dinner table or in the car on the way to school) bring up one of the Discussion Questions.


From approximately 1946 to 1990 the Communist ideology and the Soviet Union were a major threat to the Western democracies. By the late 1980s and the 1990s, most “Communist countries” had abandoned Communism and adopted a form of modified capitalism. In 1991, the Soviet Union collapsed and was replaced by several separate countries, including Russia, the Ukraine, Latvia, Estonia, Bellorussia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, and Armenia.

Cuba is a large island in the Caribbean only 90 miles from the tip of Florida. From the time of its discovery by Columbus until the Spanish American War of 1898, Cuba was controlled by Spain. From 1898 to 1959 the dominant foreign power in Cuba was the U.S. In 1959, a Communist revolution, led by Fidel Castro, came to power. Castro has been the dictator of Cuba ever since. The island remains one of the few “Communist” countries in the world.


Capitalism, Socialism, and Communism Compared

The three major theories of economic organization are capitalism, socialism, and Communism. In a capitalist society, the factories, farms, and property are all privately owned and managed for profit. The exchange of goods and services takes place through a free market system governed by supply and demand. It was through capitalism that the industrial revolution and the economic expansion in Europe in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries occurred. The substitution of machine power for man and animal power and the inventions of this period created unprecedented wealth. However, that wealth was poorly distributed. The vast majority of people lived in abject poverty while there was a small middle class and an even smaller aristocracy. During this period the European governments provided few social services. For example, there was very little public education, public health care, garbage collection, sewage control, or occupational safety programs. There was no safety net for people who came upon hard times, such as welfare, workman’s compensation, or social security. Most people had little opportunity to better their condition and were consigned to lives of endless toil, while a few others hardly worked at all.

Socialism and Communism were reactions to the excesses of 19th-century capitalism. Socialism is an economic system in which the most important means of production of goods, as well as the means of distribution of goods and services, are owned by the state and managed for the welfare of society as a whole. In a socialist state, for example, the natural resources, factories, large farms, and the banking system are owned and operated by the state. Small businesses and land can be privately owned. Socialist countries have a strong social safety net providing income assistance to people who are not working, social security for the elderly, and free medical care. There have been many governments in Europe and the Third World with socialist goals which they were not able to fully attain.

Communism is an economic system in which all factories, farms, real estate, and other means of economic production are owned by the community. Theoretically, they will be operated for the benefit of all the people. Each person is supposed to work according to his or her ability and to receive benefits from society according to his or her needs. A quick way to put it is “from each according to their abilities — to each according to their needs”. In a Communist state, theoretically, there are no rich and no poor. All people have the same opportunity to develop their talents, become educated, see the doctor, etc. In the ultimate stages of the development of society, when all the attributes of capitalism have been abolished, the government would become unnecessary. As a practical matter, the economies of Communist countries were centrally controlled “command economies” in which the government decided each of the following questions: What goods and services shall be produced and in what quantities? How shall goods and services be produced? For whom shall goods and services be produced?

Communism was conceived by a man named Karl Marx who lived in Europe and who saw the excesses of capitalism during the 19th century.

The first country ruled by a Communist government was Russia in 1917 when the Soviet Union was created. Thereafter, with the aid of the Soviets, Communism spread to many countries.

Almost all Communist countries were police states in which the regime intimidated and terrorized large parts of its population. Cuba was an exception in the early years of the revolution. During that time the Castro government ruled by common consent. However, as time went on Cuba reverted to the usual model of a repressive Communist dictatorship.

Because the Communist command economies discouraged the profit motive, they were unable to release the energies of their people. By the late 1980s, it was clear even to the leaders of most Communist nations, including the Soviet Union, that Communist command economies are so inefficient that they cannot provide high standards of living.

Another reaction to the excesses of 19th-century capitalism was to retain private ownership and the profit motive but to establish laws, government agencies and other institutions of society to protect workers and consumers and to regulate business. The United States has adopted this strategy as have most other countries of the world. Examples of these regulations are the wage and hour laws, health and safety codes, antitrust laws, and product liability lawsuits. Central banks attempt to ameliorate the boom and bust cycles that plagued the unregulated capitalism of the 19th and early 20th centuries.

In addition, capitalism was reformed in the 20th century by incorporating some socialist elements to enhance public welfare. Examples in the U.S. are: welfare (income assistance for the poor), Social Security (a national retirement plan), medical care for the elderly (Medicare); medical care for the poor, unemployment insurance, libraries, the postal service, certain independent development agencies such as the Tennessee Valley Authority, municipal electric power companies, and in some states, government monopolies on the sale of liquor.

The consensus in the United States and most of the world is that the most efficient form of economic organization is modified capitalism in which most of the means of production and distribution are privately owned but are also subject to government regulation to keep markets free, prevent abuses, and ensure public safety. A safety net is provided to redistribute wealth to children, the poor, the handicapped, and the elderly. This system, which substantially modified the unrestrained capitalism of the 19th century, appears to be the best combination for securing economic opportunity and social justice within an economy that produces an abundance of goods and services. (This is not to say that the modified capitalist economic system is perfect and does not need improvement. There are still too many people in all countries, including the U.S., who live in poverty, who do not have equal opportunity, and who do not receive adequate public services. The social system of each country is a work in progress and in most countries reform is needed in many areas.)

The superiority of the modified capitalist system became increasingly apparent after 1950. Until the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, many citizens of Communist countries wanted to emigrate to the relative freedom and prosperity offered by the economically developed democratic countries with modified capitalist economies. Primarily, these conditions existed in Western Europe, Australia, the U.S., and Canada. The flight of people from Communist dictatorships was such a problem that in Europe Communist countries outlawed emigration, severely restricted travel, and fenced their borders to prevent citizens from leaving. When someone defected to a democratic country, the government of their home country often punished family members who had been left behind.


Cuba and Its Communist Revolution

Cuba’s economy was based on sugar for well over 200 years. It never had concentrated industrial development. The cultivation of sugar cane originally required intensive slave labor to tend the fields and cut the cane. Since the end of slavery, Cuba has employed most of its workers at extremely low wages. The other major industry in Cuba, before 1959, was tourism from the United States. This industry centered on Havana’s hotels, casinos, and brothels. The economic embargo placed on Cuba by the U.S. since 1959 has hurt economic development on the island. Recently, tourism catering to Europeans has eclipsed sugar cane as Cuba’s major industry.

While Cuba had developed one of the leading economies in Latin America by the end of the 1950s, the disparity between rich and poor was enormous. The vast majority of Cubans, especially those in the rural areas, knew only poverty. There was an appalling lack of public services and unemployment was rampant. In many ways, the social conditions in Cuba were like the social conditions in Europe in the 19th century: a vast majority living in abject poverty, a relatively small middle class and a few very wealthy people. In addition, foreign investors, led by business people from the U.S., owned approximately 75 percent of the arable land, 90 percent of the essential services, and 40 percent of the sugar production.

Cuban governments before 1959 were known for their corruption and their insensitivity to the needs of their people. For most of the 1950s, a dictator named Fulgencio Batista ruled the country through armed force. Batista and his friends made fortunes for themselves while the vast majority were mired in poverty.

By 1959 the Cuban people had had enough. The Batista government was demoralized by its own corruption and isolated by the U.S., which had belatedly come to recognize the need for change. On January 1, 1959, the dictatorship collapsed in the face of a small band of revolutionaries led by Fidel Castro. In the beginning, there was great promise in the Cuban Revolution. Schools were opened for all, medical care was provided for everyone, and the large foreign investment holdings were nationalized so that the profits that they made stayed in Cuba for the benefit of the Cuban people. Even today Cuba has one of the most educated populations in the world and its health care system (available to all) is respected worldwide.

Soon after 1959, Cuba had become a Communist police state in which political freedoms and artistic expression were restricted. The secret police were very powerful and encouraged Cubans to inform on their neighbors if they suspected any “counterrevolutionary” activity. For example, with a few exceptions, American jazz was not permitted. It was considered to be music of American imperialism. In addition, Castro’s restrictive Communist government found jazz to be incompatible with its world-view: jazz is based on free improvisation and its performance cannot be controlled in advance.

After Castro came to power, the Cuban economy was reorganized to follow Communist principles. Decisions about what to produce and how much to produce were made by government bureaucracies. Private business firms were nationalized and the large estates became collective farms. Cuba soon fell into the grip of the economic stagnation that plagued Communist countries. Economic opportunity evaporated for most Cubans.

The U.S. has always been hostile to the Castro regime. In fact, the U.S. helped Cuban exiles mount an unsuccessful invasion of Cuba at the Bay of Pigs in 1961. The next year, the U.S. Army and the Marines were mobilized for an invasion of Cuba during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. As part of the settlement of the Cuban Missile Crisis, the U.S. agreed not to invade Cuba.

In its foreign policy, Cuba aligned itself with the Soviet Union and generally opposed the foreign policy of the U.S. It sought to export its Communist revolution to other countries in South America. In 1962, Castro allowed the Soviets to station in Cuba intermediate-range ballistic missiles armed with nuclear warheads and aimed at the U.S. This precipitated the Cuban Missile Crisis and almost led to a thermonuclear holocaust.

From 1960 to 1990, the Soviet Union subsidized the Cuban economy and its military. In addition to direct subsidies, the Soviet Union bought most of Cuba’s sugar crop at prices higher than those offered on the world market. The subsidies amounted to $4 billion to $6 billion per year. Even with these subsidies, the Cuban economy provided only limited access to food, transportation, electrical power, and other necessities. Consumer goods were hard to come by and there was a two-currency system. In the stores in which most Cubans could shop consumer goods were in short supply and the food was rationed. In the “dollar stores” maintained by the state, commodities and consumer goods were plentiful but only U.S. dollars or other foreign currencies were accepted. The economic conditions in Cuba became much worse in 1990 when the Soviet Union, in the process of its own collapse, stopped subsidizing the Cuban economy.


Notes on Terms and Phrases Used in This Movie

Communist Party: In a Communist dictatorship such as Cuba, the Communist Party not only dominates the government, it controls all public activities such as the arts, business, the professions, and education. Members of the party are subject to discipline as if they were in the army. However, Communist Party members are not only told what to do, but what to think as well. Members of the Communist Party were preferred for government jobs and received benefits such as greater access to consumer goods, better apartments, etc.

In a country governed by a Communist Party, everything that happens in society must be approved by or acceptable to the Communist Party; if not, it is discouraged or banned. Behavior that is not sanctioned by the Communist Party is considered to be “counterrevolutionary”. A person who persists in such behavior runs a real risk of being sent to jail. This practice is a violation of several Articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, including Articles 12, 18, 19 and 20.

Universal Declaration of Human Rights: Adopted by the United Nations in 1948 with the strong support of the United States, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a consensus of the nations of the world about the rights of all people. Many provisions of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights have derived from the Bill of Rights to the U.S. Constitution and the Declaration of the Rights of Man adopted during the French Revolution.

One wonders how the totalitarian Communist countries, led by the Soviet Union, came to agree to the Universal Declaration. In a world just recovering from the abuses of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan, there was a clamor for safeguards for human rights. In addition, the U.S. delegation, one of the main proponents of the Declaration, was led by former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt who used her personal world-wide prestige and consistently out-worked and out-maneuvered experienced Soviet diplomats. For more on Eleanor Roosevelt, see Eleanor Roosevelt, the American Experience.

Counterrevolutionary: Someone or something which is against the revolution and the Communist Party. In other words, someone who does not follow the Communist Party line. In Communist countries, counterrevolutionary activity could be inferred from objecting to policies of the state, listening to the wrong music, listening to the wrong radio station (such as the Voice of America), or even entertaining people from non-Communist countries. Being branded a counterrevolutionary was very dangerous and would often lead to a jail sentence. For example, when Mr. Sandoval was young, he had been imprisoned for almost four months for listening to the Voice of America. This is a violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights Article 19 which states, in part, that all people have the right to “receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”

Works for the government: People who work for the Cuban government are usually required to be members of the Communist Party and to commit themselves to its goals. In the weak Cuban economy, government jobs are difficult to get and are much sought after.

She has a colonel: A woman who is dating or married to a colonel is considered part of the power structure and will receive benefits from the regime.

Camouflage: Generally, this word means something used to disguise or conceal. Camouflage is often used by the military to conceal armaments and troop concentrations. In order to play the American jazz that he wanted to play, Mr. Sandoval had to disguise his music with “camouflage”. (Be sure to pay attention to how he does it.)

To defect: Communist countries make it difficult for their citizens to emigrate to capitalist countries. Often it is prohibited entirely. The act of leaving is called “defecting” and considered to be a counterrevolutionary act. Defection drains manpower from the totalitarian state and defectors are often well trained, highly educated, and talented people that any economy would need. To discourage defection, the Communist regimes deny exit permits, build walls and fences along their borders, shoot people who try to cross the walls or fences, and punish people who try to leave but are unsuccessful. Sometimes they are even put in prison. If a person is able to make good his or her escape, Communist regimes often punish any family members left behind. Thus, whenever possible, Cubans take their family members with them when they try to reach the U.S. Freedom to travel and to emigrate is considered to be a basic civil right. The actions of the Communist countries in punishing people who try to emigrate are violations of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights Article 13.

Voice of America: This is a radio station that broadcasts news, informational, educational and cultural programs to foreign countries. It is the propaganda arm of the U.S. government. Many VOA programs are aimed at Cuba. The current estimated audience for the VOA worldwide is one hundred million people. See the Voice of America webpage.

The need to invoke the muse: The word “muse”, when used as a noun, refers to an artist’s source of inspiration; his or her guiding genius. In Greek mythology, the muses were nine sister goddesses who presided over song, poetry, the arts, and sciences. Artists refer to the need to “invoke the muse” as the need to find inspiration for their art.

Command economy: In practice, the economies of Communist countries are planned by the government bureaucracy. The market, which primarily controls capitalist economies, is not allowed to function. Decisions are made at the top and commands issued to the various factories and farms as to what to produce.

Chano Pozo’s crib: The term “crib” was Dizzy Gillespie’s slang for “the neighborhood where a person grows up.” More specifically, the term refers to the place where Chano Pozo grew up and learned his music. Chano Pozo (1915 – 1948) was a dancer, composer and performer in the Havana night club scene. Pozo was an initiate in the Afro-Cuban religions santerîa and abakuá. He absorbed the music of their chants and songs and used this music in his performances.

Pozo came to the U.S. in 1946, where he performed with great jazz musicians such as Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie. His association with Gillespie made a lasting imprint on American jazz, introducing Afro-Cuban polyrhythms into music sometimes criticized as being overly intellectual. The brief collaboration between Chano Pozo and Dizzy Gillespie is accepted as an event which changed the course of jazz music in the U.S.

Chano Pozo was not only an accomplished musician, but he was a savvy street and bar fighter. It was said that he never backed down from a fight and caused many of them. In 1948, just before his 34th birthday, Chano Pozo was killed in a bar fight in New York City. For more on Chano Pozo, see Chano Pozo Biography at All About Jazz and Article on Chano Pozo from the Music Web Encyclopedia of Popular Music.

Old American cars in Castro’s Cuba: You might notice some very old American cars in the movie. That’s intentional and true to life. Mr. Sandoval’s car, with a motor that should not have worked, put together with mismatched parts, and painted with a tar/gasoline mixture, represented these cars. In 1959, the cars in Cuba were almost all U.S. made. After the Revolution, the people didn’t have money for new cars and the U.S. economic embargo made parts for U.S. cars difficult to get. The Cubans kept their old U.S. models going through their ingenuity. The only new cars were those owned by the government.

Nationalize: The act of a government in taking over a private industry or private property. Sometimes compensation is paid to the owners but in the Cuban revolution, this was not usually the case. For example, the character of Mr. Sandoval’s father was not compensated for the nationalization of his automobile repair shop. It was considered to be his contribution to the Cuban revolution. In the U.S., governments have the right to take over private property but they must purchase it for fair market value. This is called the power of “eminent domain”.

Political asylum: People who have a justifiable fear of persecution because of their political beliefs can apply for political asylum in another country. The U.S. doesn’t let people immigrate freely from other countries. A quota of a certain number of immigrants can come from each country, each year. In addition to the quotas, family members of U.S. citizens can be admitted to keep families together. Workers with special skills needed by U.S. industries can immigrate if sponsored by a prospective employer and no U.S. worker wants the job. People applying for political asylum in the U.S. must prove that they have a well-founded fear of persecution based on their race, religion, nationality, political beliefs, or membership in a particular social group or organization. Desiring to come to the U.S. to make more money is not a sufficient reason to skip the quota system.

Military age: The age when young people, usually men, can be drafted into military service.

United front: People uniting and acting together.


Biographical Note on Dizzy Gillespie

Dizzy Gillespie (1917 – 1993) was one of the most influential musicians in the history of jazz. He was responsible for two major innovations in jazz. The first was the creation, along with Charlie Parker and others, of bebop during the late 1930s and early 1940s. The second was the introduction of Afro-Cuban polyrhythms in 1947, launched by concerts and recording sessions with the Cuban Chano Pozo. Gillespie was a prolific performer and an educator who helped many younger players, among them Arturo Sandoval and Paquito D’Rivera. Gillespie’s style of improvisational trumpet playing was imitated widely in the 1940s and 1950s.

Gillespie was born in rural South Carolina. His father was a bricklayer and weekend band leader. Dizzy was only nine when his father died. At the age of twelve, Dizzy began to teach himself to play trombone and trumpet. He was invited to attend Laurinburg Institute in North Carolina because the school needed a trumpet player for its band. During his three years at Laurinburg, Dizzy learned music theory and practiced the trumpet and piano intensively.

Beginning in the 1940s Mr. Gillespie was recognized as a pioneering jazz trumpet player. As his career developed, he was considered one of the giants of jazz. He toured the U.S. and the world with many bands and organized several bands of his own. One was an international jazz band sponsored by the United Nations.

In his biography of Dizzy Gillespie, Donald L. Maggin quotes the following passage in which Dizzy describes his music:

The basic thing about jazz music is putting the notes to rhythm, not the other way around. … I think up a rhythm first and then I put notes to it to correspond with the chord. You can play very, very beautiful notes and if it doesn’t have any rhythmic form, it doesn’t amount to anything. Don’t lose sight of the rhythm in the music, because that’s the most important part. Even more than the notes, because you can take just one note and put all kinds of different rhythms to the note and with just that one note everybody is clapping their hands and dancing and shouting. Dizzy: The life and Times of John Birks Gillespie, by Donald L. Maggin, quoting an interview by Ralph Gleason, San Francisco Chronicle, September 30, 1958.

Here is an anecdote that will explain the strange looking trumpet that Dizzy Gillespie played. Early in 1953, someone accidentally fell on Gillespie’s trumpet. The bell was bent up at a 45-degree angle. Gillespie played it, discovered that he liked the sound, and from that point on had trumpets built for him with the bent bell. The design became his visual trademark — for more than three decades he was virtually the only major trumpeter in jazz playing such an instrument. Maggin, pp. 253 & 254



African Americans brought to the U.S. as slaves were prevented from maintaining their native musical traditions. Jazz was one of the efforts by black Americans to develop a form of musical expression that combined what was left of their African traditions with music derived from Europe. The African American musical components of jazz came from spirituals, slave work songs (including field hollers), blues, ragtime, and funeral processions (especially in New Orleans). Each of these are a unique combination of African and European influences. A separate strain of European tradition entered jazz through New England religious hymns, hillbilly music, and European military band music.

Jazz originated in African American communities at the beginning of the 20th century. A strong center in the development of early jazz was New Orleans. Jazz gained international popularity in the 1920s and since that time has influenced musical styles worldwide. Since the 1940s, white musicians have played a significant role in the development of jazz. Jazz continues to evolve today.

The rhythmic and structural elements of jazz and the use it makes of the banjo, guitar, drums and other percussion instruments derive primarily from West African traditions. The European influences can be heard in the harmony but also in the use of trumpet, trombone, saxophone, string bass, and piano.

Jazz is also characterized by improvisation. When a jazz combo starts to play, the notes are not preset on any musical score, but come from the inspiration of the artists at the time.

Bebop (bop for short) is a jazz form developed in the early 1940s. Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker were early pioneers of the form. Typically a bebop combo consisted of bass, drums, piano, and two horns. Bebop is characterized by fast use of the twelve tone chromatic scale and improvisation based on chords and chord changes rather than melody. (A chord is three or more different notes or pitches sounding simultaneously or in quick succession.) Many bebop performances use chord progressions derived from popular songs.

Bebop differed drastically from the highly organized compositions of the swing era, and was instead characterized by fast tempos, complex harmonies, intricate melodies, and rhythm sections that laid down a steady beat only on the bass and the drummer’s ride cymbal. The music itself was jarringly different to the ears of the public, who were used to the bouncy, organized, danceable tunes like the swing music of Benny Goodman and Glenn Miller. Instead, bebop appeared to sound racing, nervous, and often fragmented. Everything was condensed, and no notes except the absolutely necessary were added. As one bop musician said, “everything that is obvious is excluded”. This often resulted in the music going above the heads of listeners. The style was also highly dependent on improvisations, which even included non-traditional solo instruments such as the drums. In the playing, a theme would be presented in unison at the beginning and the end of each piece, with improvisational solos making up the body of the work. This paragraph based on and largely quoted from Wikipedia article on Bebop.

While African traditions were ruthlessly suppressed in the American South during slavery and much was lost, in other locations in the Americas, traditions brought by the slaves endured. In addition, in the Caribbean and South America, slaves were emancipated long before the emancipation of the slaves in the U.S. after the Civil War. They were, therefore, free to actively participate in the cultural development of their countries. In Brazil, for example, blacks were geographically and socially isolated from the white establishment and were able to retain their own African musical traditions in a virtually pure form. In Cuba, African polyrhythms were retained in local music. It is ironic that jazz would probably never have evolved had it not been for the lengthy suppression of African traditions that occurred in the Southern United States.

One of the African traditions that were lost in the U.S. was the concept of polyrhythmic music in which as many as six or seven lines of rhythm exist together in one piece. (Mike Longo, a collaborator with Gillespie for more than 20 years, described it this way: “Polyrhythm is a combination of several independent rhythmic melodies that agree vertically as well as horizontally … Even though these are horizontally independent melodies, they also mesh with each other from a vertical point of view, in what would seem like a form of rhythmic harmony.”) European music and jazz before 1947 was monorhythmic. Afro-Cuban music retained the African polyrhythmic structure. Dizzy Gillespie, learning from and performing with Chano Pozo, introduced polyrhythmic music into mainstream jazz. Maggin, pp. 219 & 220.



Lecture Notes will help teachers present the information below in a lecture/class discussion format. In the alternative, these materials may be copied and pasted into a word processing file and given to the class to read. We have included more than many teachers will want to use and they should feel free to delete those sections which they feel are not necessary.




“For Love or Country” is extremely accurate and true to life in its portrayal of Mr. Sandoval’s artistic life, his friendship with Dizzy Gillespie, and his defection from Cuba. The screenwriter exhaustively interviewed Mr. Sandoval, his family, and his friends. Mr. Sandoval served as a consultant for the movie to ensure historical accuracy and he vouches for its accuracy. See Interview With Arturo Sandoval by Ken Paulson of the First Amendment Center. No dramatization is completely accurate in all its details. The order of events will be changed and certain events modified to fit into a tight storyline. A good dramatization, like this film, will preserve the sense of the times and the significance of the events it portrays.

When Dizzy Gillespie came to Cuba, Mr. Sandoval went to the pier to meet the boat. He drove Mr. Gillespie around Havana but didn’t introduce himself as a musician. Mr. Sandoval’s car was an old American car painted with tar and gasoline. When Gillespie saw Mr. Sandoval later at the performance/jam session, he asked what his driver was doing there with a trumpet. At one point, there was a competition among the musicians and Gillespie thought the Cuban jazz was so good that he waived a white towel in mock surrender. See, e.g, Maggin pp. 348 & 349. Gillespie and Sandoval became close friends with Gillespie referring to Sandoval as his Cuban son.

When he was young, Mr. Sandoval served almost four months in jail for listening to the Voice of America. He helped start “Iakere” and then his own band. He was internationally famous while he lived in Cuba and toured other countries. The description of repression in Cuba is accurate. Mr. Sandoval felt forced to make many statements attributing his success to the Cuban revolution.

The Embassy Interviewer did not exist in the flesh but he is an amalgam of several bureaucrats who evaluated Mr. Sandoval’s request for political asylum. Having the Sandoval character explain his reasons for leaving Cuba, together with flashbacks dramatizing what occurred, frames the description of Mr. Sandoval’s situation. The facts are, according to the interviews that Mr. Sandoval has given, that Mr. Gillespie helped him contact the U.S. embassy and recommended strongly that Mr. Sandoval be given political asylum. However, when Mr. Sandoval made his application there were some bureaucratic delays and he was told to continue his tour while they were cleared up. The Cubans got wind that Sandoval was planning to defect and began looking for his wife and son in London. Here is how Mr. Sandoval told the story to the First Amendment Center.

And then I went to Dizzy in the middle of the night and said, “Diz, I need your help. I cannot wait to finish the tour. This is the situation. This is what is going on.” Thank God, my wife was in a safe place [with] a friend of mine out of London nobody knew. But [the Cuban secret police were] really desperate looking for her and my son. And I explained to [Dizzy] and said — he said, “Let me call the White House.”I said, “What?” He said, “Yes, I’ve got to call the White House. Give me my wallet.” And then I saw him look for the card. The Vice President at that time was Dan Quayle. And he say, “He just give me this card.” Because he just come back from Namibia, actually. Dizzy was in the Air Force One on the way back and forth to Namibia for the liberation of the country or something. He was one of the guests of the White House. And he met a lot of people, you know, from the White House. And all of them give him, you know, business cards and say, “If you ever need anything, please call us.” And when he said that, “I’ve got the Vice President’s card over here. I’m going to call him.” I said, “Oh, my goodness.” You know, I was so, you know, nervous because there’s a lot of tension in that kind of situation. But he did. He called the White House. And somebody talked to me on the phone. He handed me the phone, and they asked me a few questions. And I talked to them and said, “My biggest concern is my wife and son in London.” “Don’t worry. We’re going to call London right away now. And they’re going to try to get them.” And that was, you know — and at the same time, he said, “Don’t move where you are. The ambassador there in Rome is going to call you.” I was in a little city in Italy. And a few minutes later, the ambassador, the American ambassador, called me. He said, “I got instructions from the White House to help you to go to America.” I said, “Wow,” and then I asked for my wife and son. He said, “Don’t worry. They are on their way to the American Embassy already, in London. They picked them up, and they’re on their way to the embassy. They’re safe.” Whew. And from there on, you know, we flew to New York. And we met in New York. She didn’t know where we were. And I didn’t know exactly. But finally, we get together in New York. And that was the happiest moment in my life, you know?

One “difference” between reality and the movie are in the scenes in which Mr. Sandoval played the piano. These are important to discuss with a class because the description can be used to teach important lessons. In his interview for the First Amendment Center, Mr. Sandoval states:

I wasn’t able to get a piano in Cuba, because the government provided instruments. [There is no] music store where you can go there and buy an instrument. And I was in the paper as a trumpet player when I went there and said, “I need a piano.” Because Dizzy Gillespie actually told me, “You should learn some piano. Piano is the best tool to learn music in general, to be an arranger, to be a composer, to even to understand the language of jazz, you know, to, to really be able to improvise. Piano can help you a lot.” And from that moment on, I was desperate trying to find a piano. And the government say, “No, you’re a trumpet player. You’re not allowed — ” I said, “Oh, my goodness.” And then, I bought my first piano when I was 40 years old when I get to Miami. That was my first, very first piano.

Gillespie’s statement about the piano is true and extremely important for young music students to know. The ability of a petty bureaucrat in Cuba to frustrate the needs of a world-class artist to obtain a piano to perfect his art underscores the privations suffered by artists in totalitarian dictatorships.




One good way to start class discussions that reveal the heart of the movie is to ask the meaning of the terms used in the film. TWM has set out some of these terms followed by the points that should be brought out in the discussion. A list of the terms suitable to be shown on a screen or handed out to the class in Microsoft® Word® format can be found at Some Phrases Used in “For Love or Country”. When an action violates the Universal Declaration of Human Rights asks the class to find the provision that has been violated.

“It would make things a lot easier if you would just join the party” and “You have to play the game”: These are references to the way in which a person can prosper in a country ruled by a repressive regime. For a person to succeed in Castro’s Cuba, one had to join the Communist Party and play the game according to the party’s playbook. This is a violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights Article 20(2).

Government sponsored: In Cuba and other totalitarian dictatorships if something isn’t government sponsored it is often considered a challenge to the regime. Thus, a musician can’t get playing dates for his band if the government doesn’t approve of his music. On the other hand, if something is government sponsored, it means that it has been approved and is safe.

Musica non grata: Music that is not approved by the regime and the Communist Party. Requiring official approval of artistic expression violates the Universal Declaration of Human Rights Articles 19 and 27(1).

“A sanctioned band playing sanctioned songs”: This is a reference to the fact that when Mr. Sandoval was in Cuba he could only play what the government and the Communist Party had approved in advance in a band that they wanted to exist. Again, the concept of official approval of artistic endeavors violates the Universal Declaration of Human Rights Articles 19 and 27(1).

“You never know where the line is”: This is a reference to the fact that people in Cuba who wanted to be artists were often not sure whether their work would be considered counterrevolutionary and get them into trouble. This is a frequent problem in repressive dictatorships which do not want to admit that artistic or political expression is subject to controls. In societies which function according to the rule of law, an important right is knowing in advance where the line is. Thus, in the United States, courts will not hesitate to strike down statutes making conduct criminal if the statute does not give the public a clear idea of what conduct is prohibited and what conduct is permitted. This concept is also embodied in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights Articles 9 and 12 which protect against “arbitrary” imprisonment or interference with privacy.

“Someone can hurt you because of a song”: In Cuba, and in most dictatorships, music that is not approved by the state is considered subversive and counterrevolutionary. Playing the wrong music can lead to arrest and imprisonment. In the United States and other democratic countries, freedom of artistic expression is a right which, according to the law, the government cannot limit. In the United States, freedom of artistic expression is guaranteed by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and by the constitutions of each state. The right to freedom of artistic expression is recognized by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights Article 27.

Camouflage: What an artist needs to do to hide the real import of his art from the authorities. In this case, Mr. Sandoval had to disguise the fact that he was playing American jazz. He added instruments such as bongos and introduced African-like calling back and forth among members of the band

“Fidel is afraid of an idea that is not his”: This is a reference to the paranoia of dictators. What threat would it have been to the regime if Sandoval had openly played American jazz? Well, actually, there was a threat. This is how Mr. Sandoval described it in an interview after he had come to the U.S. Note that Mr. Sandoval’s English is not the best, but he gets the point across.

You know, the principal thing of the basic sense of jazz music is freedom. And whatever smell freedom to them is dangerous, because that’s not a good example for the rest of the people. And the government there is very happy when they deal with people which don’t have an opinion or people who don’t have, you know, the courage to, to, to say something they no agree. And when you have, you know, some opinion or some ideas of what freedom is, that’s very problematic for them. Interview with Mr. Sandoval by Ken Paulson of the First Amendment Center.

Denied creative freedom: This was Mr. Sandoval’s basic complaint against the Cuban regime and the reason ultimately why he emigrated. Artists need to be able to experiment and try new things. If they are always afraid of government repression if they go too far, they will not have the creative freedom that they need. To put it another way: Artists must have freedom for their art to take them wherever it will go. If artists live in fear that they will go too far and will be imprisoned for their art, their art will be limited. Artists in fear do not have creative freedom.

“Take a spy and dress her up to be the woman of your dreams”: Police agencies in all countries use deception and subterfuge to trap criminals. The difference between police states and democracies is that in police states so much more is illegal than in democracies, including certain thoughts or expressing certain views.

“There are limits” The phrase meant that there are limits to artistic freedom. Sandoval objected to this because in the realm of the arts or political expression, he didn’t think there should be any limits. In the United States, the First Amendment to the Constitution guarantees freedom of speech. This has been interpreted broadly and includes freedom of artistic expression. In an abstract art like music there are no limits whatsoever on expression. The limits on visual arts or dance are minor. They include limits on pornography which is very narrowly defined as sexually explicit conduct with no redeeming artistic component which is shocking to community standards. If there is any artistic merit, the expression is usually protected. In speech, literature and drama there are more limits, but these are very slight compared to the restrictions on expression in Cuba or other totalitarian dictatorships. Each country has its own rules. In the U.S. people cannot do something that will hurt others such as cry “fire” in a crowded theater. It is illegal through speech to induce rioting, suggest disobedience by soldiers to military authority, or encourage other criminal behavior. There are also limits imposed by civil law. People who defame others can be held liable for damages but if the person defamed is a public official, in order to obtain damages the public official must demonstrate actual malice, i.e., that the person making the statement knew that it was not true or acted in reckless disregard of the truth. See New York Times v. Sullivan, 376 U.S. 254, 265-292 (1964). In addition, businesses cannot falsely advertise a product they are selling nor can they falsely disparage the goods or services of their competitors.

“We have the best-educated taxi drivers in the world”: In most command economies there are certain occupations in which the market economy is not suppressed. There are also thriving black markets. In addition, when the economy is weak, as it has become in Cuba since Castro took power, the salaries paid to workers, even professionals such as doctors, are often not enough to support their families. In Cuba, the market economy was not suppressed in the taxi business. Taxi drivers often drove foreign tourists and received tips in foreign currency. Foreign currency was especially valuable because it could be used in the “dollar stores” in which consumer goods not otherwise available or severely rationed could be purchased. Thus, having a car and being able to be a taxi driver was a preferred occupation. It attracted many people who were trained to work as professionals, such as doctors, lawyers, and scientists.

Double face: A person who has a double face appears to be one person to one set of people and another person to another set of people. Specifically, in the context of living in Castro’s Cuba, having a double face is appearing as one person to the public, the government, and the Communist Party, but being another person to family and close friends. People who live under repressive regimes who do not agree with the ideology of the regime must maintain a double face to survive. To themselves, or to their family and close friends they appear to be one person. To the public and the government they appear to be someone else. Mr. Sandoval had to do this when he lived in Cuba.

Political spectrum: This term refers to the different political beliefs put in order on a line like the spectrum of light. Generally, fascists were considered on the right of the spectrum. Conservatives are a little more to the left but still right of center. Then there is the center and to the left of that the liberals, then the socialists and furthest to the left, the Communists.



Biographical Note on Arturo Sandoval

Arturo Sandoval was born on November 6, 1949, near Havana, Cuba. Sandoval was eleven years old when Fidel Castro overthrew the Batista dictatorship. He began studying classical trumpet at the age of 12 and was soon attracted to jazz. However, for a person to be associated with anything from the U.S., even music that began with poor blacks, was not acceptable to the Communist dictatorship. Sandoval went to government music schools, where he learned approved music. The government controlled artistic life in Cuba and when he worked as a musician, Sandoval had to be careful not to play music that would be disapproved by the government. Except for isolated instances, this did not include jazz.

At certain times, Sandoval was allowed to play jazz. One occasion was a concert for famed American trumpet player Dizzy Gillespie, the first musician to bring Latin influences into American jazz. Taken with Sandoval’s talent, Gillespie became his mentor and life-long friend, calling him “my first son.”

Like many artists in totalitarian systems, Sandoval tried to get around the official oversight of his music camouflaging the music he wanted to play by adding approved elements. Thus, his band Iakere added African drums and calls back and forth among the musicians as a disguise.

Sandoval could not fully express himself as an artist in Communist Cuba and defected to the U.S. with his family in July of 1990. Sandoval became a US citizen in 1999. Sandoval and his family now live in Miami, Florida.

Sandoval has been awarded an Emmy Award (for the music in this film), four Grammy Awards, and six Billboard Awards. He is one of the most dynamic and vivacious live performers of our time. Sandoval is also an accomplished classical musician, performing regularly with leading symphony orchestras from around the world. His classical music can be heard on “Arturo Sandoval: The Classical Album.” A leader in music education, Sandoval serves as a tenured professor at Florida International University. He works nationally and abroad with innumerable institutions and their music departments. He offers several scholarships, clinics, and seminars, and has contributed a considerable amount of time to the educational program of the National Association of Recording Arts and Sciences.

Jazz is no longer limited to the U.S. Mr. Sandoval is an excellent example of the international scope of jazz.


Comprehension Test

See a printable version of this test suitable to distribute to a class (without suggested answers).


1. Mr. Sandoval helped organize a band called Iakere to allow him to play jazz without the authorities realizing what he was doing. What was the term that he used to describe what that band needed in order to hide from the authorities that they were playing jazz? Also, tell us what elements Mr. Sandoval added to the music of Iakere to do this.

Suggested Response:

Mr. Sandoval called it camouflage. He added instruments such as African drums and introduced African-like calling back and forth among members of the band.


2. Why did most of Marianela’s friends from work avoid coming to her wedding?

Suggested Response:

Mr. Sandoval was suspected of being a counterrevolutionary. Mere association with him was dangerous. The Communist party cell that had jurisdiction over the place where Marianela worked would not look kindly on her co-workers associating with her husband.


3. Before he defected from Cuba Mr. Sandoval said, “I have been in jail all my life.” What did he mean by that?

Suggested Response:

Mr. Sandoval meant that during the period that he lived in Cuba he could not play the music he wanted to play or hear the music he wanted to hear without fear of being put in jail as a counterrevolutionary. Since he was an artist and driven to play music that served his art, these restrictions were very difficult and ultimately impossible for him to accept.


4. The Dizzy Gillespie character tells Sandoval that: “You all kept it alive, man. When they dragged us over to America they took our drums, our religion, and our language. We had to learn theirs. But the true African heart beats here in Cuba. It is what it was.” What is the historical basis for this statement and what irony does it reveal in the development of jazz? The answer to this question counts for two points.

Suggested Response:

The historical basis for the comment is that the culture that the African slaves brought with them to the New World was ruthlessly suppressed in the American South while it was tolerated in other parts of the Americas. As the Gillespie character says, slaves in the U.S., denied most of their African traditions, had no choice but to take up the religion and music of the whites. In addition, slaves in other parts of the Americans were emancipated long before the slaves in the U.S. At that time they had a better memory of their African traditions. American slaves had to wait until 1865 for their freedom and the time in slavery further distanced them from their African roots. Jazz was an amalgam of influences from European musical traditions and what was left of the African tradition in the United States. By bringing in Afro-Cuban polyrhythms to jazz, Gillespie was introducing a new strain of African influences.

The irony is that the most popular and significant combination of African and European traditions, jazz, was developed in the country which most ruthlessly suppressed African traditions. However, it does make sense because, in the other parts of the Americas, the former slaves were able to pursue a purer form of their African traditions and didn’t need to mix them with so many European traditions.


5. Many people believe that Fidel Castro betrayed the promise of the Cuban revolution in a number of ways. Name one of the betrayals that is the basis for this movie.

Suggested Response:

There are several possible correct answers to this question. It can be said that he did not allow artistic freedom. The answer could refer to severe restrictions of freedom of expression or freedom to travel. The answer could refer to the failure of Castro’s government to set up conditions that would allow strong economic growth.


6. It is a running joke in Cuba that it has the most talented taxi drivers in the world. What is the economic problem in Cuba that this joke refers to?

Suggested Response:

There are a number of correct answers to this question. It can refer to the inefficiencies of the command economy which restricted the profit motive. It can refer to the fact that the economy is so weak that it could not provide employment for all of its talented and educated people. In addition, the salaries paid to these people for their work are not enough to support their families. For these reasons many people try to become taxi drivers, an occupation in which they can earn foreign currency.


7. Sandoval cautions his friend Paquito D’Rivera that “Everyone in Cuba has an ear, not only for music.” What does this refer to?

Suggested Response:

The secret police used informers and there were many of them. Informants would report anything suspicious that anyone else said. This would be followed up with an investigation and perhaps a prison sentence.


8. The Sandoval character tells the embassy interviewer that in Cuba, you have to have a double face to survive. What does this refer to?

Suggested Response:

In totalitarian dictatorships, people can’t tell others what they are really thinking if it is anything other than what the government wants them to think. A person must have one face for the public, the government and, in Cuba, the Communist party, and another for family and very close friends. Even then, one always must be careful of informers.


9. In Communist countries, what was the significance of membership in the Communist party?

Suggested Response:

It meant that the party member swore that he was committed to the goals of the party and accepted party discipline. Party members received benefits such as better jobs, access to consumer goods, better apartments, etc.


10. Remember the joke that the orthopedist/private detective told Sandoval in the graveyard? The one about the signs in the zoo? In 1960, the sign read, “Please don’t feed the animals.” In 1970 [after ten years of economic decline under the Communists], the sign read, “Please don’t eat the animals’ food.” After about another ten years of the Communist rule [and continued economic decline], the sign was changed to read “Please don’t eat the animals.” Why was this joke so funny to Sandoval and the orthopedist/private detective and what role did this joke and others like it play in helping Cubans cope with life in Communist Cuba?

Suggested Response:

This is only really funny if you don’t have enough food to eat or can’t get the consumer goods that you want. People are laughing at their own adversity. It helps relieve the tension of their disappointment at the lives they must lead.


11. Mr. Sandoval said that in 1959, during the Cuban Revolution, the idea that Cuba needed a change in government gave the few revolutionaries that backed Castro the strength of an army. How does that relate to the fear that jazz inspired in the Cuban government and the Communist party?

Suggested Response:

Mr. Sandoval said that jazz, which relies on improvisation during performances, is such a free art form that it frightens a government which cannot tolerate free thinking.


12. One phrase that upsets the Sandoval character in the movie is that “There are limits.” What did the phrase refer to and what did he object to about that thought?

Suggested Response:

The phrase meant that there are limits to artistic freedom. Sandoval objected to this because in the realm of the arts or political expression, he didn’t think there should be any limits. In the United States, the First Amendment to the Constitution guarantees freedom of speech. This has been interpreted broadly and includes freedom of artistic expression. In an abstract art like music, there are no limits whatsoever on expression.


13. Are there limits to the freedom of artistic expression in music in the democracies such as the United States?

Suggested Response:

In the United States, the First Amendment to the Constitution guarantees freedom of speech. This has been interpreted broadly and includes freedom of artistic expression. In an abstract art like music, there are no limits on expression.


14. Eventually, through the disguises, he was able to invent to keep the authorities from seeing the true nature of his music and when he went on international tours with Dizzy Gillespie and others, Mr. Sandoval was able to perform some American jazz and even the works of such famous American composers as George Gershwin and Duke Ellington. Read the following excerpt and put in your own words why Mr. Sandoval didn’t have creative freedom while he lived in Cuba.

Embassy Interviewer: So, you know you can make a lot more money if you weren’t in Cuba.

Mr. Sandoval: It’s not about the money. It’s about the music.

Embassy Interviewer: Well,they let you play the kind of music that you wanted: American Jazz, Gershwin and Ellington.

Mr. Sandoval: You’re always taking a risk because you don’t know where the line is. You can play Gershwin once too often.

Embassy Interviewer: Not being able to play Gershwin is not persecution.

Mr. Sandoval: It is if someone decides it’s counterrevolutionary and they come and they put you in jail. In Cuba you live with that fear every day. That someone might come to you, to your house, to your family, and hurt you because of a song, just a song. That is persecution.

Suggested Response:

Obviously, there is no one correct answer to this question, but a good answer will touch on the following points: Artists must have freedom for their art to take them where the art will go. If artists are always living in fear that they will go too far and will be imprisoned for their art, their artistic expression will be limited. An artist in fear is an artist who does not have creative freedom.


15. Should the Sandoval family have defected even though Lionel (Mrs. Sandoval’s son by her first marriage) was still in Cuba and would be subject to persecution by the authorities as a result of their defection?

Suggested Response:

There is no one correct answer to this question. A good answer will try to balance the obligation that every person has to him or herself to live a full and complete life and the obligations that they have to their family members. It is a very close question.


16. Jazz is an amalgam of many musical traditions, some African-American and some European. Set out four sources of jazz, at least two of which are purely European music or from European sources.

Suggested Response:

There are many. Seven are (1) spirituals; (2) blues; (3) ragtime; (4) Afro-Cuban polyrhythms; (5) New England religious hymns; (6) hillbilly music and (7) European band music.


17. Please write next to each of the following the provision of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which the Cuban government violated by taking the described actions against Mr. Sandoval. Each correct answer counts for half a point.

(A) Trying to prevent Mr. Sandoval and his family from emigrating to the U.S. (There are three provisions violated, find at least two.) _____

(B) Not allowing Mr. Sandoval to play the music that he wanted to play. ________

(C) Not allowing the Cuban people to listen to the Voice of America _____

(D) Imprisoning people (or threatening to do so) for their beliefs or opinions. (There are two; name them both.) _____

Suggested Response:

(A) Articles 13, 14(1) and 15(2); (B) Article 27(1); (C) Article 19; (D) Articles 18 and 19.


18. What is political asylum?

Suggested Response:

Permission to live in a country other than the person’s country of origin. Political asylum is granted when applicants can demonstrate that they have a well-founded fear of persecution based on their race, religion, nationality, political beliefs, or membership in a particular social group or organization.


19. What happened to the car repair shop that was owned by Mr. Sandoval’s father before the Cuban Revolution? What would have happened if he had lived in the U.S. and the government wanted to take over his shop?

Suggested Response:

It was nationalized, that is, it was taken over by the government without compensation being paid to Mr. Sandoval’s father. It was considered his contribution to the revolution. In the U.S., the government would have had to pay him the fair market value of the business in “eminent domain” proceedings.

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Many of the questions in the Comprehension Test are also excellent discussion questions or can serve as the basis for an essay. It is good preparation for the test to go over some of the more challenging questions in class.


1. See Standard Questions Suitable for Any Film.


2. What happens to people who must live with a “double face” every day?

Suggested Response:

Eventually, this takes a psychological toll on the individual. This is an especially bad problem for teenagers for whom acceptance by a group of friends is very important. For most people this lessens as they grow older.


3. Is it good for society for people to have to live with a “double face” every day.

Suggested Response:

No, because people need to know who they are dealing with for economic and personal relations to work.



1. Would you have the courage to risk imprisonment to lead the life that you wanted to lead?

Suggested Response:

There is no one correct answer to this question.


2. Have you seen people in your own life meet challenges similar to those met by Mr. Sandoval and his family? What happened?

Suggested Response:

There is no one correct answer to this question.




[The first two questions should be asked together.]


3. The Sandoval character and the Marianela character are portrayed in the movie as having sexual intercourse the first night that they met. Was this a good idea?

Suggested Response:

No. Obviously, there are ethical problems with this behavior and most major religions and ethical systems would counsel against it. But there are also important practical problems with this behavior rooted in human psychology. Despite the endorsement of “free love” and sex without love proclaimed by some people, sexual intercourse usually implies a major emotional commitment. People cannot get to know one another well enough to judge if they should make serious emotional commitments to one another on the first day that they meet. There is an example of this in the movie. In the morning, the Marianela character, who at that time was a good Communist functionary committed to Castro’s revolution, finds the Sandoval character listening to the Voice of America on the radio. In Cuba this is not only a crime which could cost her the nice job she had with the government, it was considered a betrayal of the revolution that she loved so much. To make matters worse, the Sandoval character admits to her that he has been jailed once already for this crime. In other words, he has some strong counterrevolutionary tendencies. Being a counterrevolutionary in Cuba is no joke nor is associating with one. In the few hours that they had known each other before they went to bed, this issue had not come up. Many good and patriotic Cubans and Communist party members would have gotten up and walked out right there, causing both the Marianela character and the Sandoval character substantial emotional pain. But, at that time, there were a host of things about the Sandoval character that the Marianela character didn’t know and vice versa, including basic issues about their outlook on life.

In addition, there are also substantial health risks involved in sexual intercourse. Having unprotected sexual relations with a person means exposing yourself to the sexually transmitted diseases of their prior sex partners. So, for mental and physical health reasons, as well as ethical reasons, the Sandoval character should have said goodnight to the Marianela character after their first date. He should have told her that he had too much respect for her and that she was already too important to him for just one night of bliss and that he would call or write her from his trip.


4. What is the advantage to movie makers for the hero and heroine to go to bed with each other right after they have met?

Suggested Response:

It advances the plot quickly. Movie makers only have a very limited amount of time to develop their plot lines. Especially when a movie has so much to say on social issues, such as this movie, getting the romance underway quickly allows time to develop other areas of the plot.


5. In this movie, the Marianela character is beautiful and the Sandoval character is handsome. Not everyone is like that. Certainly, the real Mr. Sandoval is not as attractive as the actor who portrayed him. Would it have been better to have a less beautiful woman or a less handsome man in these roles? What does it do to the self-image of most people to see so many beautiful actors portraying regular people on the screen?

Suggested Response:

There is no correct response to this question. Its purpose is to stimulate debate and get the class thinking about movies in a critical way.


6. The Sandoval and Marianela characters each took big risks in pursuing a relationship with someone with whom they had such strong political differences. Would you be willing to marry someone with whom you had major political disagreements?

Suggested Response:

The answer is that in selecting a life partner each person needs to evaluate what is important to them and what is important to their partner. They need to think about how they will achieve their goals in life and how their partner will achieve his or her goals in life. No match is perfect and the parties have to decide whether the tension from the disagreements will be overcome by the love they have for each other. This is a very personal decision. Some people like having a partner who will disagree with them in certain areas. Others won’t be able to tolerate these differences.




Most of the questions in the Comprehension Test will serve as discussion questions on human rights issues.


Discussion Questions Relating to Ethical Issues will facilitate the use of this film to teach ethical principles and critical viewing. Additional questions are set out below.



(Be honest; Don’t deceive, cheat or steal; Be reliable — do what you say you’ll do; Have the courage to do the right thing; Build a good reputation; Be loyal — stand by your family, friends, and country)


1. Patriotism is generally thought to be a virtue. Did Mr. Sandoval act wrongly when he gave up on Cuba and tried to leave it? If the U.S. began to impose severe restrictions on human rights, what would you do?

Suggested Response:

No. Cuba had no right to call upon Mr. Sandoval’s patriotism because it would not let him lead a free life and it did not provide him with any reasonable opportunity to change the system.

As for the second part of the question, the answer is that if the United States betrayed the liberties protected by the Bill of Rights and afforded no way for a person to change those policies, then many believe that the obligations of patriotism would disappear. However, as in the case of Mr. Sandoval, who suffered restrictions on his artistic rights for many decades in Cuba before he finally left, it isn’t just one, or even a series of infringements on personal rights that justifies abandoning one’s country. One has to lose hope that anything can be done.



(Do your share to make your school and community better; Cooperate; Stay informed; vote; Be a good neighbor; Obey laws and rules; Respect authority; Protect the environment)


See question on patriotism in the Trustworthiness section.


1. See Assignments, Projects, and Activities for Use With any Film that is a Work of Fiction.


2. Before distributing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to the class, make a list with the class of what they think the Universal Declaration of Human Rights should contain. This can also be done in small groups or individually as homework.


3. Have students describe which provisions of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights derive from the rights secured in the U.S. Constitution.


Multimedia: Anchor Standard #7 for Reading (for both ELA classes and for History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Classes). (The three Anchor Standards read: “Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse media, including visually and quantitatively as well as in words.”) CCSS pp. 35 & 60. See also Anchor Standard # 2 for ELA Speaking and Listening, CCSS pg. 48.

Reading: Anchor Standards #s 1, 2, 7 and 8 for Reading and related standards (for both ELA classes and for History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Classes). CCSS pp. 35 & 60.

Writing: Anchor Standards #s 1 – 5 and 7- 10 for Writing and related standards (for both ELA classes and for History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Classes). CCSS pp. 41 & 63.

Speaking and Listening: Anchor Standards #s 1 – 3 (for ELA classes). CCSS pg. 48.

Not all assignments reach all Anchor Standards. Teachers are encouraged to review the specific standards to make sure that over the term all standards are met.


Dizzy: The Life and Times of John Birks Gillespie by Donald L. Maggin, 2005, HarperEntertainment.



In addition to the websites and encyclopedias which may be linked in the Guide and selected film reviews listed on the Movie Review Query Engine, the following resources were consulted in the preparation of this Learning Guide:

  • Dizzy: The Life and Times of John Birks Gillespie by Donald L. Maggin, 2005, HarperEntertainment,

This Learning Guide was last updated on December 9, 2009.

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TWM offers the following movie worksheets to keep students’ minds on the film and to focus their attention on the lessons to be learned from the movie.


Film Study Worksheet for a Work of Historical Fiction

Worksheet for Cinematic and Theatrical Elements and Their Effects.


Teachers can modify the movie worksheets to fit the needs of each class. See also TWM’s Historical Fiction in Film Cross-Curricular Homework Project.


Arturo Sandoval was unhappy in Cuba because he couldn’t play the music he wanted to play without risking a jail sentence. Was this worth leaving his country?

Suggested Response:

For Mr. Sandoval, it was because music was his life.

Note to Teachers and Parents:

The script for this film is rich in allusions to the problems of artists living under repressive dictatorships. To allow students to fully appreciate the movie, TWM has provided an introduction to phrases and concepts used in the film and to Cuba’s situation during the period 1970 to 1990. It will serve to acquaint students with the problems of artists in totalitarian dictatorships.

TWM recommends that the Background be assigned as homework or that the teacher review the concepts with the class. TWM has prepared a copy of the Background in Microsoft® Word® format. The Background includes more materials than many teachers will want to use. Users should feel free to delete those sections which they feel are not necessary or add additional information that they wish their class to read. Attach a copy of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to the materials distributed to the class. Instruct students to bring their copy of the Declaration to all classes relating to this unit, including the class at which the test will be given.


defector, camouflage, counterrevolutionary, tendencies, orthopedist, physicist, vicissitudes, contingent, odyssey, “odyssey to the realm of metaphysics”, “musica non grata”, nationalize, double face, Communist, compelling, exposed, maestro, asylum, political asylum, political spectrum, crib (as in “Chano Pozo’s crib”); “military age”, “united front”, invoke, muse, “invoke the muse”,

A note about the story:

The story of this movie starts with a performance by Mr. Sandoval with the Cuban Modern Music Orchestra in Havana in 1971. It immediately fast forwards to Mr. Sandoval’s tour with the Dizzy Gillespie United Nations Band and his attempt to defect to the U.S. in 1990. However, most of the movie consists of flashbacks to Mr. Sandoval’s life in Cuba during the period from 1971 to 1990.

For other movies on the Hispanic experience in the U.S., see My Family, Stand and Deliver, Spare Parts, Underwater Dreams, McFarland, U.S.A., A Better Life, and West Side Story. Click here for “20 Latino PBS Movies You Can Stream for Free During Hispanic Heritage Month.

Here is an anecdote about Castro and the Cuban Missile Crisis that students might find interesting: In 1962, the U.S. government discovered that Soviet medium range intercontinental ballistic missiles were being installed in Cuba. The U.S. thought that the missile sites were still under construction and that it had a few weeks before they became operational. In fact, the missiles were operational and could have devastated much of the U.S. The Army and the Marines prepared to invade Cuba to remove the missiles before they were operational while President Kennedy sought to convince the Russians to withdraw the missiles voluntarily. Castro knew that if an invasion occurred it would trigger a nuclear war. He wrote a letter to Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev and urged the Soviets to stage a surprise nuclear pre-emptive strike on the U.S. Castro contended that since the U.S. was preparing for an invasion of Cuba, a nuclear war was inevitable. Even though Cuba would be targeted by the U.S. in any nuclear exchange, Castro argued that the Soviet Union (and the other Communist countries) would benefit from a surprise attack on the United States.




By the time he received Castro’s letter Nikita Khrushchev, the dictator of the Soviet Union, had already decided to withdraw the missiles in Cuba rather than risk a nuclear war with the U.S. However, he was attempting to extract concessions from the U.S. before agreeing to dismantle the missiles and he had kept his intentions secret. After reading Castro’s letter Khrushchev decided that the Cuban leader had completely lost his perspective and could not be trusted. Khrushchev immediately gave the order to disarm and dismantle the missiles. Castro was furious when he learned that the Soviets had backed down. The sources for this paragraph are Khrushchev’s Autobiography and statements made by Castro years after the fact to U.S. Secretary of Defense, Robert McNamara. For a more complete discussion of this incident, see’s Learning Guide to “Thirteen Days”. 


White NightsRabbit-Proof FenceThe Official StoryGoya: Awakened in a Dream and other films in the Social-Emotional Learning Index – Human Rights.

Arturo Sandoval in concert can be seen on Arturo Sandoval: Jazz Legends and Live at the Blue Note. For films of Dizzy Gillespie, see A Night in Havana – Dizzy Gillespie in Cuba and Dizzy Gillespie — Live at the Royal Concert Hall. There are also many CD recordings of Sandoval and Gillespie.


See the photo gallery at Arturo Sandoval webpage.

Sources include: Maggin, Encyclopedia Britannica, 2005 articles on Jazz, Bebop and Dizzy Gillespie and Wikipedia articles on Jazz, Bebop and Dizzy Gillespie




Bebop was never widely popular. It was controversial and split the jazz community into two separate camps. One followed the traditional jazz which based melodies and harmonies on Western major and minor 7-note scales comprising 5 whole and 2 half steps. The other was devoted to the new improvisations of bebop.

We know very little about the romance between Mr. Sandoval and his wife and so we cannot comment on the accuracy of that part of the film. The movie’s executive producer Jellybean Benitez said “I think it’s very interesting that two people who had very different political beliefs and were raised in different ways managed to fall in love so deeply. … Sandoval’s wife Marianela went from being pro-Castro to being more anti-Castro than Arturo, if that’s possible.” HBO’s FOR LOVE OR COUNTRY: THE ARTURO SANDOVAL STORY Debuts November 18 a news release from Time/Warner. This may be movie business hype, we don’t know.

Paquito D’Rivera, a character in the movie, is a real person, a fellow musician and a friend of Mr. Sandoval. He also became a friend and protege of Dizzy Gillespie. Like Mr. Sandoval, he defected to the U.S. It took him ten years to get his family permission to emigrate from Cuba. Mr. D’Rivera is a respected jazz musician. He and Mr. Sandoval have performed together on occasion after Mr. Sandoval came to the U.S. You can check him out on the Internet.

For some Cold War-era jokes that the Russians told about life in the Soviet Union, see Learning Guide to “Animal Farm”

For another but very similar version of these events, see Maggin, pp. 74 – 76.




In democracies in which freedom of artistic expression is guaranteed, there should be no need for artistic camouflage. However, during isolated and stressed periods in U.S. history freedom of artistic expression has been limited and artistic camouflage was necessary. Thus, during the Red Scares of the late 1940s and early 1950s, it would have been dangerous to criticize those claiming that Communists were infiltrating American society. Therefore, movies were made and plays were written in which the subtext was a criticism of the red-baiters or of the failure of society to stop them. See, e.g., The Crucible which is ostensibly about the Salem witchcraft trials but really critical of the red-baiting hysteria, and High Noon which is ostensibly about the frontier West in the late 19th century but was really about the failure of society, Hollywood in particular, to stand up to the red-baiters.

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