HAVANA TIMES — I could be wrong, but I’m pretty sure the reality show most watched and enjoyed in Cuba is Caso Cerrado (“Case Closed”), a Miami domestic court program hosted by Judge Ana Maria Polo.
Many watch the show at home, thanks to illegal satellite dishes. Others, like me, buy or rent weekly packages on discs that include the week’s cases.
I’ve become an ardent admirer of the host, whom I consider to be a woman of great character. Though she left Cuba when she was still a little girl (I believe she was only two), she acts as though she left only yesterday: she has the lightheartedness characteristic of Cubans, that way of speaking, that way of sympathizing with people, of not looking down on them ever, that Cubans have.
She is a woman who openly declares herself against racism and homophobia, someone who makes us realize, show after show, that reality is much, much stranger than fiction.
I’ve seen some pretty incredible cases on the show.
I know, there’s a disclaimer at the end of every program that tells us some situations are dramatizations. I’ve come to suspect that some cases are totally made up, and that they are designed to make us laugh or to distort Cuban reality some.
I am thinking, specifically, of one of the cases aired in August this year, in which an Argentinean man sues his wife for a fraudulent divorce.
The couple had decided to spend their vacation in Cuba. The husband was anxious to finally get to know Cuba up close. A declared admirer of Fidel Castro and Che Guevera, he was interested in mingling with the people and learning more about the country’s history.
Although later, during the trial, he says he is against Cuba and publicly says the country’s leaders can go f*** themselves. This prompted much laughter and applause from the audience, who probably hate Cuba’s political system, as does Ana Maria Polo, who has publicly declared she will not set foot on the island while the dictatorship is still in power.
The supposed wife had agreed to the trip only to please him. She wasn’t interested in Cuba in the least. She said it was too hot and that, when she strolled down Havana’s ocean drive, so-called jineteros (hustlers) wouldn’t leave her alone.
When she showed the judge a picture of her husband in Havana, standing next to two little girls, she made a racist comment, calling them: “two little black girls.” Judge Polo retorted they were simply girls, that their skin color was irrelevant.
The most incredible part of the trial, the part that struck me as a big farce, was when the Argentinean man told the judge his wife had left him stranded and penniless in Cuba, that she had left and taken his Visa card with her.
According to the Argentinean, when he arrived at Havana’s international airport to leave the country, he found out his wife had cancelled his return ticket. From that point on, he had to find a way to get by in Cuba, where, to make some money, he saw himself forced to drive a bicycle taxi and even sell chickens (bought in Pinar del Rio, according to his account).
He spent a total of five months in Cuba, experiencing all of the vicissitudes common Cubans go through on a day to day basis.
The case is one falsity after the other. True, anyone who watches it enjoys it and has a good laugh. But anyone who actually believes it is true isn’t too bright. Everyone knows that foreigners in Cuba enjoy more rights than I, a Cuban through and through, have.
Another made-up thing is the whole story about the bicycle taxi. To drive one, you need to complete a course and get a license. Without such documents, it would be impossible to operate one of those taxis around Havana, which is full of cops.
Why didn’t the Argentinean go to the pertinent authorities to rectify the situation somehow? Why didn’t he go to his embassy in Havana? Why didn’t he go directly to airport authorities and explain to them the problem?
I am convinced something like that could never have happened in real life.
True, I laughed my head off. Beyond that, I think it’s nothing other than a script written for two mediocre actors who wanted to make a few bucks, trying to get by in the current economic crisis, a crisis which, by the looks of it, can make people make up crazy stories.