There’s a popular program on Cuban TV called “Pasaje a los desconocido” (Passage to the Unknown). Its host, Reinaldo Taladrid, presents scientists or other specialists who discuss the topic of some documentary (almost always a US production: by Discovery, the History Channel, National Geographic…), which is shown immediately following.
Before showing the documentary, Taladrid will ask the television viewers to “draw your conclusions” based on the film and the preceding discussion.
In the last few weeks we’ve come to face with the threat of the crashing of our galaxy into the Andromeda nebula. Taladrid showed a documentary in which computerized simulations of the destiny of the Milky Way showed its stars colliding into the neighboring galaxy. This demonstrated stars being shot into open space and others whose paths were radically changed.
We will be witness of this full blown spectacle in a few billion years, though I’m sure some television viewers who didn’t catch the chronological framework and were left petrified by the horrific prospects. Notwithstanding, the fact is that nothing will likely happen to the planetary systems as a result of collisions, according to the Cuban specialist invited on the program. The ultimate cause of the sad and possible end of life on our planet will probably not be the impact inter-galactic bodies but the expansion of the sun when its thermonuclear fuel becomes exhausted.
Following this notion of cosmological “terrorism”, the theme of the TV program turned to coffee over the past two weeks. An interesting documentary — divided in two parts — explained the history of coffee consumption around the world, basically in the United States and Europe, with an emphasis on the dynamics of its quality and the market.
We could note that sometimes in markets the consumers’ interest doesn’t prevail, and the quality of the products falls. A host of other facts were pointed out, such as — for example — that coffee is a soft drug (since it doesn’t essentially “modify human behavior”). The guest scientist was in fact a doctor who specializes in drugs.
What stands out as curious in all this is that amidst the economic and social changes occurring in Cuba, suddenly the threat of our collision with Andromeda and the adventures of coffee have become issues of public debate in our media.
“Passage to the Unknown” is among the most popular programs on TV and it has now been on the air for almost 15 years.
However, there are hardly any Cuban issues addressed, despite the stated desire by Taladrid to tackle these. I for one am unable to remember any program directly relating to the island (and I watch the program almost every Sunday), though I imagine that two or three must have been shown at some time.
But why this scarcity? Censorship? A lack of the relevant documentaries? You got me.
What I do know is that the specialist on drugs and coffee said that it was quite acceptable to mix java with chicharo (crushed dried peas) – but only up to 15 percent. Peas blended with coffee, which is now being sold in Cuban neighborhood bodega stores (where people buy their rationed basic products), is an issue that concerns many families.
Some coffeepots explode when they’re filled with blended grounds. The fear of such occurrences therefore does in fact “modify people’s behavior,” at least around coffeepots. So does this mean that blended coffee should now be considered a hard drug?
So what threat is the most worrisome? The Andromeda nebula? Coffeepots? Unemployment?
It’s a shame that discussions and examinations of such risks to the ordinary Cuban family are not the topics dealt with by Taladrid.