By Lynn Cruz
HAVANA TIMES – Last Sunday, the photo on writer and dissident Orlando Luis Pardo’s ID card was used on the Cuban police series, Tras la huella. Pardo left Cuba in March 2013 and headed for the United States.
He is currently living in St. Louis, Missouri. Before leaving Cuba, he was subjected to interrogations, arbitrary arrests, as well as the typical harassment the regime gives any public display it believes is against the Communist Party’s interests.
I wonder, how many more images might have been shared on this show, without authorization? Does being a prisoner in the present or past give a MININT official the right to go above citizens and expose them by showing a document which is not only a legal document, but also a personal one?
I don’t know why I thought back to 1989 when the trial of General Arnaldo Ochoa and others was broadcast on TV. It was a kind of political purge at a time Cuba was facing pressure from international public opinion about the regime’s connections with drug trafficking.
In 2003, another exemplary episode ended with the life of three young men who hijacked the “Baragua” ferry: Lorenzo Enrique Copello, Barbaro Leodan Sevila Garcia and Jorge Luis Martinez Isaac, while attempting to leave the country illegally. That same year, Maykel Delgado Aramburo, Harold Alcala Aramburo, Thomas Gonzalez and Ramon Henry Grillo were sentenced to life imprisonment, although this dark moment wasn’t televised.
Maybe I’m connecting all these events because they are all cases of setting an example. Right now, national TV is broadcasting the arrests of Cuban retailers and small business owners. They have been accused of diverting resources and stealing from the State, most probably. These scenes are grotesque as they haven’t even been given a fair trial, yet they have already been exposed on TV like animals in a zoo, and it’s not only them, but their families too.
Reality then blurs with the fiction of the police series Tras la huella, where they not only distorted Pardo’s photo, but also his voice, not mentioning that he was a writer, much less a dissident.
I have worked as an actress in these dramatic reenactments before I was censored. In fact, my last TV appearance was on this show, and even though I know I that it is produced by the Ministry of Interior (MININT), I also know that the producer doesn’t write the scripts, or decides on the mise-en-scene. There are scriptwriters and directors to do this.
No Cuban can sue Cuban TV and MININT is well aware of this. That said, I don’t expect ethical behavior from MININT, who serve a blind and sick power, a power with a cancer that is spreading in every breath of air we take.
It exists in every Cuban that has been corrupted by the poverty the population has been subjected to. In every hospital without water. In every falling building. In the cries of 3 young girls aged 10 and 11 who were crushed by a balcony on January 28th, the result of State negligence and apathy. Or in every political prisoner. Or in the executions Zoonosis carries out, an institution which is meant to care for stray animals and has become the executioner that tosses these to the lions without any mercy.
I ask for ethical conduct from my colleagues, Say No! There are many ways to solve a production problem like this one. This isn’t the first time that crew members, the ones behind the cameras, are used to fill these shows and have given their image.
This action against the public figure of a writer like Orlando Luis Pardo, who is also silenced by the regime (his name doesn’t appear in Cuban cultural organizations or institutions), only goes to prove that this could be or become a new practice. The Cuban people need to learn to say: Basta! Enough!