Pirated Cuban TV Series Highly Popular

Vicente Morin Aguado

HAVANA TIMES — “ZOOlogico”, a TV series which has 45 episodes and was made in Cuba, is one of the five most asked for digital products in the “Weekly Package”, which offers what is mainly broadcast on foreign channels which Cubans don’t have direct access to in their homes, demanded by customers.

Heiking Hernandez, the co-director of this new series, told us about the suprising data, which has been verified by dozens of customers who come to the many – legal – sales points in the country on a daily basis to obtain TV shows or films which are copied without copyright: “These are pirate copies, the origin of which is unknown among us.”

The irony here is that the show made in Cuba has become popular via USB drive copies which have been going around before it was supposed to be aired on national TV. When asked about this issue, buyers and sellers agree on the “bola” (piece of gossip) that goes from mouth to mouth, saying: “The director left the country, that’s why it ends so abruptly, in episode 45. The series has been censored.”

This ban gives it that extra bit of spice for the series to be commercialized in this unconventional way, which is now competing against rival series from Miami, Mexico, Colombia and Brazil. However, Heiking denies this comment: “It hasn’t been censored; it’s been delayed but should be aired on Cuban TV in February.”

Scene of the dog fight.

Looking into possible reasons and problems, the director clarified: “Controversy has come from the dog fights in the series, which appear in some scenes in the first eisode, but before that, last year, many people had complained about the same issue, which appeared in another Cuban soap opera.”

She’s referring to “Bajo el Mismo Sol”, which was criticized not only for its bloody dogfights but because of its poor direction as well.

Obviously, it isn’t for the interviewee to give an artistic critique of another work made by TV colleagues, but she can give her opinion about what is happening now: “The best thing would be for Cuban TV to air it first and not the Package, but it still helps it to spread and for people to like it. It seems impossible to stop pirating in today’s age.”

Heiking warns us that the version going around on USBs isn’t the final version: “It has technical errors, details which have been fine-tuned afterwards, but we haven’t left out any scene in the final version, not even the scene with the controversial dogfight.”

In order to pacify people’s justified outrage at animal abuse, at the end of every episode there is a credit warning: No animal was harmed in the making of this series.

ZOOlogico, as it is written, is an excellent breath of fresh air which deals with everyday life from a privileged spot, the national park of animals, where the title’s double meaning extends throughout the series, with high-flying nature nuances, both in the plot and the images.

It relates to an interview that the director will give later, at a set time, to deal with the background of a series which is completely justified by what TV offers.

People agree on the severity of what’s shown, but there are more than enough scenes to laugh and cry too. Viewers are hooked from the beginning due to its sincerity which might be the greatest problem when weighing up the illogical, redundant, delayed TV transmission which lost its exclusiveness to an audience who are used to surviving on pirate copies of everything.