El Chavo del 8: Cuba and Freedom of Information

Alfredo Fernandez

The El Chavo cast.

HAVANA TIMES — “How could anyone in Latin America not know El Chavo del Ocho (often shortened to El Chavo)”, an Ecuadorian friend asked me after talking to me about this Mexican sitcom a few days ago.

I had never heard about this super-famous comedy program. I looked for it on YouTube and saw it for the first time. It was a bit too silly for my taste.

I turned to Wikipedia to learn more about its singular success. There, it says that the show used everyday situations that could be easily grasped by any Spanish-speaking television audience. The series, on the air from 1973 to 1980, has been re-run repeatedly by many Latin American broadcasters.

It is said that, at the peak of its popularity, the TV show had as many as 350 million viewers. None of them, incidentally, lived in Cuba.

It actually pains me to have reached adulthood without ever having seen El Chavo del 8. Not because people look at you as though you were from Mars when you say you’ve never heard of the show, no. What pains me the most is the fact I was denied free access to information.

To be clear, El Chavo del 8 is as important to me as the current constituency representative in the neighborhood in Cuba where my parents live. What prompted today’s reflection is the extreme censorship I was subjected to by my country’s government.

How many discussions and debates involving contradictory opinions have I been denied access to? Would it not have been better to have been taught to respect opinions different from theirs?

I am speaking of journalistic investigations and many informative materials [I read here living in Ecuador] whose views I often do not share but which appear to respect my intelligence.

I read the newspapers and watch television shows of all political tendencies. My opinion is ultimately enriched by dichotomies and debates.

I can only hope a future Cuba will know free access to information – and if such freedom entails being exposed to such bad programming as El Chavo del 8, then, so be it.

One thought on “El Chavo del 8: Cuba and Freedom of Information

  • Curious that El Chavo del Ocho never made it to your bario in Habana. During several recent visits there were always copies of Caso Cerado, Sabado Gigante, etc. readily available, on flash drives, of course, in San Agustin/Arroyo Arena. Also, aren’t Mexican, Venezuelan and Brazilian telenovelas readily available even on the Havana channels? If that is the case, why is El Chavo del Ocho not broacast? As much as I detest some of the low-brow stuff, especially with canned laugh-tracks, still, at least some of the channels should dish out this swill to folks who want it. To forbid it is merely to make it more desirable.

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