HAVANA TIMES — De tarde en casa (“Afternoon at Home”) is the name of a Cuban television program aired every Sunday at 5 in the afternoon and hosted by Rakel Mayedo.
I’ve seen the program a couple of times and found it interesting every so often because of the guests invited on the show. This past Sunday, Leonardo Padura, a magnificent Cuban writer that I admire, was on the show.
The conversation with Padura was simple and pleasant. Everything was fine up until the end of the interview. Then, they cut to something else (I thought they were going to a different section of the show).
Suddenly, young Cuban actor Enrique Bueno appeared on screen. When I saw him address the camera smilingly, in the middle of a place that looked like a jungle, I thought he would speak about a new soap opera he was acting in.
But no, nothing of the sort. To my surprise, and, I imagine, the surprise of most viewers, Enrique Bueno did nothing other than advertise his own, private photo studio.
It suddenly felt as though I was watching one of those shows aired on Spanish-language channels abroad, where you see jewelers and lawyers advertising their businesses.
At several different points during the show, they ran ads for wedding dresses, jewelry and shoes. In another ad, we saw what looking like a jungle setting and a fifteen-year-old having her picture taken – not by actor Enrique Bueno but a studio photographer.
According to the actor, he and some of his friends now had a photo business. In a brief span of time, he had mentioned all of the services he offered, showed different garments and even mentioned different packages aimed at young and elderly women. On the screen, they showed the front of his house, fitted with a gigantic photo of the actor’s face. In big letters, it read: “La Casa Bueno.”
A TV host (who wasn’t Rakel Mayedo) read out the address and promoted the place, inviting all those interested in (allegedly) artistic photos. I don’t know if they meant free photos, because no mention of money was made.
I said to myself: “Well, this is the last straw!” It’s all fine and good that Enrique Bueno decided to set up his own, little private business. He has every right to do so (we know that what an actor makes in Cuba is peanuts and that there isn’t much work out there right now).
What I think is that such ads are out of place, that they would be fine if the show had a section devoted to things of the sort. I don’t think that’s the case, though, and, what’s more, why promote an actor’s private business?
Many questions are going around my head now. Did he have to pay to run the ad? We all know that, anywhere else in the world, you have to pay to run a commercial, and a lot of money, incidentally.
I had never seen anything like that on Cuban television. If anything similar has been shown elsewhere, well, I missed it. What I’m sure of is that our media have never offered spots for these sorts of things (imagine how many people would kill to run a spot on their business on TV right now). Television is a good means of promoting things, of making a business profitable.
How many businesses, cafeterias, bars or individuals wouldn’t want to go on television to advertise the services they offer?
We all know, however, that that’s impossible in Cuba.
So, how was this actor allowed to advertise his business so brazenly? I believe that, if Enrique Bueno is entitled and empowered to do this, then everyone with a business in Cuba should have the possibility of going on Cuban television to advertise their business. After all, it’s the people’s television. That way, their businesses could become more prosperous and last longer.
Or does one need a certain amount of clout to be allowed to do things others aren’t?