Soap Portrays the Cuba of Its Time

Rosa Martinez

From the Cuban soap opera "Bajo el mismo sol".

HAVANA TIMES, Oct. 6 — “Bajo el mismo sol” (Under the Same Sun) is probably not the best soap opera that’s ever come on Cuban TV, but it is one of the best in terms of reflecting the Cuba of its time.

Though I missed some of the early episodes, I really enjoy the script and the performances by Mariela Bejerano and Tamara Castellanos.

The characters are so true to life, it’s like they’re right here, closer than we can imagine: in the neighborhood, next door, on the next block, at work and even in our own houses.

Several of the actors remind me of people I know all too well.  I could point to a dozen Odalis, each with husbands who are equally violent or much worse, with these real-life women having been hit, pushed and shoved – some having suffered broken bones and a few having died.

I also know several Ariels, those who prefer to drop out of school rather than endure the embarrassment of being the most cheo (corniest) in the classroom, among kids morally lost to the desire to be in fashion and up to date.

Of all the characters in “Under the Same Sun,” it’s Rudy who makes us suffer the most.  This little black child has drawn more tears from me than any true story possibly could.

His mother — poorly educated and in equally poor economic conditions — forced me to think about the times when I must have been just like her.  During those periods I was overwhelmed by stress, and the host of economic problems facing our household pressured me to lash out at my girls.

This mother has taught me more than some visit to any therapist.

And Rudy’s suffering is not just his, it’s my own.  I suffer when I see the conditions in which he lives, his mother’s violence, the lack of care and affection, the absence of his father.

I suffer even more for knowing there are so many kids just like him, ones hoping to find someone who loves them, who understands, who cares for them, who can rescue them from their loneliness.