A Conservative Utopia for Cubans: ‘Paradise City’

Dmitri Prieto

From the series "Ciudad Paraiso"

Most evenings during the week, Cuban television is now showing a Brazilian telenovela: “Ciudad Paraiso” (Paradise City).

What fascinates me about this work in comparison to its analogues is the social environment in which the plot is unfolding.

“Paradise City” is supposedly a small city somewhere in Brazil, far from what one would call civilization.

It’s a town where only recently a radio station was created.  Women there still remain virgins until they’re married, and men generally respect the feelings of women and of other men.  It’s a place where landowners work together with their farmhands; where there are no beggars, favelas or ecological problems; and the youth here are educated in weighty notions of decency.  Obviously, there are no homosexuals.

Today some Cuban politicians and educators would say that they respect the values presented in the series.  But does there exist such a city or anything like it in Brazil?

I sometimes think that — for its make-believe character — such a conservative place must make Brazilians themselves laugh.  But they must know, obviously better than me, whether such notions are based on reality or not.

I believe I’ve found the reason for the telenovela’s concept: today’s disintegration of traditional social molds has made it attractive for suddenly — though merely on TV — a conservative town to appear.

It’s not that the conservatism in question is too aggressive, but indeed that it’s apparent.  And the fact that they don’t present the thorniest problems that such conservatism entails makes it extraordinarily attractive to many people.

In times in which it’s almost impossible to base oneself on any value (love, fidelity, diligence, honesty…), it is not illogical that people would spontaneously drift to conservative platforms.

The deconstruction of the framework of chivalry didn’t bring about alternatives, beyond guaperia (the tough guy image) or the law of the survival of the fittest.  I’m speaking of the “university of the street,” precisely how life exists in the majority of Havana’s poor neighborhoods.  Under such conditions, “Paradise City” serves very well as a utopia.


Dimitri Prieto-Samsonov

Dmitri Prieto-Samsonov: I define myself as being either Cuban-Russian or Russian-Cuban, indiscriminately. I was born in Moscow in 1972 of a Russian mother and a Cuban father. I lived in the USSR until I was 13, although I was already familiar with Cuba-- where we would take our vacation almost every year. I currently live on the fifth floor of an apartment building in Santa Cruz del Norte, near the sea. I’ve studied biochemistry and law in Havana and anthropology in London. I’ve written about molecular biology, philosophy and anarchism, although I enjoy reading more than writing. I am currently teaching in the Agrarian University of Havana. I believe in God and in the possibility of a free society. Together with other people, that’s what we’re into: breaking down walls and routines.

2 thoughts on “A Conservative Utopia for Cubans: ‘Paradise City’

  • June 25, 2011 at 6:41 am
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    If a person is over 50 they don’t belong in politics, bravo Cuban Youth. As an elderly American I support you. Please keep up the fight for freedom and liberty and stop watching television. You are the program everyone is watching YOU TH.

  • June 24, 2011 at 3:11 pm
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    I’m from Brazil and the only thing I’ve got to say is: don’t import the lowest common-denominator of our TV – our telenovelas.

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