Soap operas or realities

For Mariana and Paulo

Some day the history of our last decades will have to be told through the Brazilian soap operas that have played across the small screen. We will hear specialists establishing parallels between the quantity of tears spilled in front of the TV and the degree of resignation or rebelliousness embraced in real life. Another area for study will be the hope created in us by some character—from the television soap operas—who managed to leave misery behind and realize their dreams.

This likely analysis will have to include, without a doubt, the stormy drama of The Slave Isaura. This mixed-race woman who escaped from a cruel master paralyzed our country to the point that on one occasion the passengers of a train refused to board, staying in the station while the final episode aired. It even served us as a source of analogies between the slave’s mistress who refused to give her servant freedom and those who acted like our masters, controlling everything. In these same years my mother’s friends divorced en masse, guided by the independent character of Malú, who raised a daughter alone and didn’t wear a bra.

Then came 1994 and the “maleconazo“* forced the government to accept certain economic openings, which materialized as rooms for rent, private taxis, and private restaurants. At that time we had the plot of a production from Rio de Janeiro that directly influenced the naming of these new circumstances. Cubans baptized restaurants run by common people “paladars,” or palates, after the food company created by the protagonist of the show Vale todo. The story of the poor mother who sold food on the beach and ended up founding a large consortium seemed to us like that of the newly emerging “self-employed,” who fixed up the living room of their house to offer dishes that had been extinct for decades.

Then things started to get complicated and we saw serials where farmers were reclaiming their land, fifty-year-old women made plans for the future, and reporters from an independent newspaper managed to attract more readers. The scripts of these dramas have ended up being—on this Island—the keys to interpreting our reality, comparing it with others, and critiquing it. Thus, three days a week, I sit in front of the television to read between the lines of the conflicts that surround each actor, because from them arise much of the attitudes that my countrymen will adopt the following morning. They will have more hopes or more patience, in part “thanks to” or “as the fault of” these soap operas that come to us from the south.

Translator’s note:

Maleconazo: A spontaneous riot  on August 5, 1994, along Havana’s waterfront boulevard and seawall.


18 thoughts on “Soap operas or realities

  1. Forget the novelas, go get yourself the Hollywood movie “TORA TORA TORA” and the move “saving Private Ryan”. Freedom and Liberty don’t come easy. God Bless America and all the soldiers who defend the Great Nation.
    Me ia a loco Nica.

  2. Count von Voldemort:

    Yes you are right,,,, I’m hurt,,,,very hurt,,,,like millions of my Cuban brothers, that have treated as slaves for more than 50 years, under the cruelty imposed by Fidel Castro, his brother and their mafia gang, for which, according with your expression, they are titans!!!!,jaaaaaaaa,,,what a funny expression!!!!,,,,Titans were Maceo, Martí, Gómez, Pedro Luis Boitel, who prefered to die in Castro’s jail before giving up his ideas , the people murdered when the ship “13 de Marzo” was sunk, the “Brothers to the Rescue, that were shot down by war airplanes,,,,,demostration of clear cowardice, the thousand of rafter that have been dying trying to reach their freedom!!!!,,,all those are the real Titans!!!!!.

    By the way,,,,remove the “von” from your name, just in case that one of those “titans” ,,,,may be ,,,may ,,,just would try to slap your face to know if the sound is similar!!!!!


  3. There was a time when we had good soap opera’s ourselves;& though the picture was’nt good,nor the sound,if that certain soap opera was on,then be sure the street’s would be empty,for the entire family would probably be watching.Now,no matter how hard they try,it seem’s that there is no drama or comedy show for the public.But,we do have one show here,that was made strictly for the middle class,after they come home from work:Loose talk.Written by the genius Anwer Maqsood,with him as a host,with the acting genius Moin Akthar,as a certain guest, & who make’s us laugh before he’s even spoken, it put’s together the hardship’s & doubt’s we see & feel as a middle class.It’s a show that has to be loved,for it gives us what no other writer or actor can:laughter.

  4. The increased hardship of the Cuban people lead to a more bold expression of dissent in Cuba where popular discontent with the “special economic period” lead to violent expressions of dissent like the “maleconazo” of August 1994. An event that has marked the view of the Castro regime forever. From those days onwards the dissident movement in Cuba has been recognized by more and more people as a legitimate struggle for freedom.

    The Cuban regime is paranoid about any group of people getting together. They think that the situation can get out of hand, like it occurred a few years ago in the “Maleconazo.”

  5. concubino de la banmbina

    As you suspected I do disagree with getting at the same level of exchange as them but naturally I think everyone if free to pursue the method they seem is appropriate.

    I disagree because if the both sides started chanting slogans and repeating this and that then this will be totally not meaningful and it would not help other people from many other countries that read this blog about our way of reasoning compare to theirs.

    It’s a pity we do not have at least one of them with some brain that can dialog with us and listen to reasons and give us good reasons from their point of view. If something like that was to happen it will be a very interesting exchange to read.

    We need to show them where reason is and reason is with us. We can provide arguments we can fight the fair fight..

    can they do that?

    You see they go attacking Yoani with epithets because they can’t attack her prose!
    They know too well she is telling the truth.

    Maybe they do it on purpose because they know that their system have no defense! and by doing what they do they are actually helping us prove our point!
    and in that case they are already with us!
    or in the way to be with us!

    A revolutionary that is not able to defend the revolution with good arguments is not a revolutionary.

    For example Alarcon is one example of them, one of the ones faking to be a revolutionary but did you see the answers he gave to such simple questions as been allow to travel without permit outside of Cuba?
    Those lame answers show you that this people are not as smart as some would have us believe and they are as fallible as any other human being.

    They are there because they are just inconditionals to the head of state (Castro) and let the status quo be.
    This is sad for all of us the people of Cuba because these few bad men are controlling the destinies of all our brothers and sisters.

    It is simply beyond words that we have people like Yoani, Reinaldo, Claudia and many others that have more valor than all of these anonymous Castro groupies and the work they do is for the betterment of Cuba.

    Why can’t the Castro regime tolerate criticism?
    Why? Why can we question decisions? Why must everyone that criticizes must be an enemy?
    Enemy of who?
    Is she an enemy of the people of Cuba?


    Yoani is making those critical statement because she wants a better country for herself and her child and for every other child in Cuba!
    They should admire a woman with so much courage! They should respect her!
    She is smart! She is brilliant. She have a very strong light that if we let her shine over Cuba. Our country will be a wonderful place where solutions to problems will be found!
    But instead you get this morons that are not trying to fix any problems they are just trying to shoot the messenger!
    When in reality we should protect her!
    Do we former citizens of Cuba and citizens of Cuba have the right to be critical of the current government?
    Yes we do!
    We need to hold them accountable for their actions or should I say inactions!
    Go thru each of Yoani’s post and you will find a problem they have they can’t solve.
    Why can’t they solve it is a mystery to me. Some of them should not be difficult to solve but they themselves do not have this problems only normal people do.

    So there is no interest on their part to fix it. People in Cuba have gotten used to that too. The government is not held accountable.
    If you promise you will give milk I want a dead line of when will that be deliver
    not in 50 years but one or two years.
    If you promise water I want running water in every home in Cuba not in another 50 years
    etc etc..

    If you read the speeches from Fidel Castro you do realize all of this problems they face now they created them. Thru missmanagement and bad decisions one after another.

    So why can’t we have the right to unseat a government that is so inefficient and so corrupt?
    We should have that right anyone should have that right.
    Is called freedom! We need to get our freedoms back
    Yoani’s efforts are a step in the right direction
    One small step for a Cuban but a big step for the Cuban Nation if we can gain our freedom to speak without been call a gusano or a traitor !

    Sorry for the long rant!

  6. Mr de la Incera:
    As cuban,and growing there, let me remind you that this people like Count Voldemor, Julio aka anonimo, and Van-Van , they just know the language of the “chusma”.I know them from spanish versons of these blogs. So unfortunaly,we have to use their own words so they can get it.
    So Voldemort which is the devil caracter in the Harry Potter series,and Van-Van which I know from his coments in “Octavo Cerco” we should refer to them as “[OBSCENITY REMOVED] voldi”, “julita the {PERSONAL INSULT REMOVED]”,and so on.
    You can argue that I go as low as they as they go, but believe me it works..

    Yoani, Reynaldo , Claudia, Pablo Pacheco and so on are our voices inside Cuba They are the true RESISTENCE, their writting are darts aimed againts the Castros hearts and company. We are their “cibernetics Bodygards”.

  7. Is the best defense for their way of government these “revolutionary slaves” have is to chant slogans calling Yoani epithets?

    They have already shown with it that they have lost the battle of ideas! :-)

    Count von Voldemort why don’t you show your real face with valor? as Yoani and the others do?

    I will tell you why I think that is…

    is not only because you are a coward but also because you guys know that eventually the Cuban experiment will collapse and because you and many others have no principles.

    As for been called gusano(worm) by these group of Castro sycophant it could be the highest honor we could be called!

    For us it means we are opposed to a government that have failed in every promise
    a government that have murder many of our compatriots a government that has transform Cuba into one of the poorest countries in America and the world and so on ..

    If you really want to fight Yoani’s words
    then solve the problems she mentions on each post and if your government is totally incapable of solving them as we already know then let others with better and newer ideas solve them.

    I am sure the water problem the milk problem and the food shortage problem will be fix in less than a year when someone else is democratically elected to power in Cuba. Someone that will live like and ordinary Cuban and that will care about Cubans unlike the others you mentioned that seem to care for themselves only.

    As for Fidel, Raul y Che we shall see how history will treat them unfortunately for them they will have no control over that.

    Notice I did not included Camilo on purpose there he should not be blame for the disaster they created.

  8. Bambina :If you are julio or the anonimo who is insulting yoani, claudia, Reynaldo, Ciro. [PERSONAL THREAT REMOVED].

  9. NOW THIS IS A REAL SOAP OPERA!! “As My Stomach Turns” (Carol Burnett Show)
    THE BEST LINE!” there have been no cases of torture in Cuba since rebel forces led by his older brother Fidel Castro drove Fulgencio Batista from power in 1959″

    CNN: Raul Castro: Ready to Speak with Washington

    He specified that discussion meant talking about issues in the United States as well as in Cuba. After affirming that there have been no cases of torture in Cuba since rebel forces led by his older brother Fidel Castro drove Fulgencio Batista from power in 1959, he corrected himself to note that there had been torture in the US Guantanamo Naval base—still considered an integral part of Cuba by the Castro government—and that he was willing to discuss that with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. He said the international demand for the closing of the prison in Guantanamo should be heeded but that Washington should not stop there. Guantanamo, Raul Castro stressed, should be returned “unconditionally” to Cuba.

  10. On August 5, 1994, an event that would be known as the “Maleconazo” took place in Havana. One of the most serious episodes of political instability since 1959, the “Maleconazo” was a spontaneous outburst of thousands of people in anger protesting and chanting “libertad” at the centric Avenida del Malecón.

  11. To Julio:

    You are so insignificant, so coward that had to use that nick name to hide behind it, all your real and diabolics intentions!!!!.

    Any ways, even the nick name -used by yourself- reprent the name of one of the most horrible months that Cuba’s Goverment had used to abuse and kill the freedom for more than 50 years, because, on July 26, 1953 started the cruel process that brought Castro to the power,,,,,in other words, your name , Julio, means trash, garbage, worm, etc, etc,,,,!!!!!!


  12. ***
    Yoani Sanchez and the brave Cuban bloggers are providing a DAILY MALECONAZO for the communist Cuban government. And the Cuban people will win their liberty in the future. Long live FREE CUBA!
    Yoani Sanchez y los valientes bloggers Cubanos estan proveniendo una MALECONAZO CADA DIA por el gobierno Cubano communista. Y la gente Cubano van a ganar su libertad en el futuro. VIVA CUBA LIBRE!
    John Bibb

  13. talking about The Slave Isaura
    they used to talk there about Isaura getting her freedom letter and that’s the same name Cubans put to the paper they give you authorizing you to get out of Cuba.

  14. Yes I do remember the Slave Isaura from Brasil!
    Every one was hook on that!
    There was another about a prostitute Bella I think was the name
    there was some jokes going comparing Leoncio with Fidel Castro
    don’t remember them is too long ago.

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