Desde Dentro de Cuba.

Distribuido por Cuba Free Press, Inc. -

26 de Abril del 2000

CUBAN TV SIGNALS THE JOKE OF THE CENTURY. By Orestes Martin Perez, Cuba Free Press.

Pinar del Rio.- Humor among cubans is part of their idiosyncrasy. They are apt to joke even at the most dramatic time of their lives. A good example by its persistence is the way Leopoldo Fernandez through his characters Pototo/Tres Patines can make people laugh more than 50 years after his original programs were taped. Decades later, Enrique Arredondo left his masterful anthological humor in the characters of the braggard Cheo Malanga or Doctor Chapotin.

But neither of those masters came close to the refined humor displayed the other day by the Cuban TV broadcast in the early hours of April 22. It started in serious enough fashion, with a showing of the military-style raid to take the child Elian Gonzalez out of the house of his great uncle in Little Havana.

This was followed by an official communique, sweetening the facts. Then came the bombshell: a request to the Cuban people "not to break out in any manifestations of joy at those facts."

Incredible. This was akin to asking a cat not to jump into a river to bathe or for a turtle not to go flying with the butterflies. Perhaps a tourist from Afghanistan or from Morocco might not see the humor in the request...but to a Cuban it was capable of causing explosive laughter, even in the most seriously ill. The reason is quite simple: there is never any spontaneity to the manifestations orchestrated by the Cuban authorities almost every other day.

Truly spontaneous manifestations have not taken place in this country since the first years after the Revolution triumphed, when there were still a number of innocent believers in the promises never kept.

Those who followed became a part of the "pyramid of command" at the bottom and were caught in the coercive machinations of the authorities. Most truly spontaneous manifestations have been against the government: The Mariel escape or the Havana riots of August '94 are a couple of examples. A few minor street protests followed, when a new abuse would spill over the strained level of tolerance of the common people.

That is why, for the millions forced by the political "shepherds" to congregate into the different "spontaneous" manifestations we saw, the comment made that day by the TV commentator was a signal that...the "joke of the century" was about to end.

Orestes Martin Perez, Cuba Free Press.

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