Thursday, February 17, 2005

Satire in Cuba

I've just been sent a report published in Spanish on BBC Mundo about an (illegal) DVD making the rounds in Cuba; it parodies the Cuban situation and gives its oppressed inhabitants something to laugh about. Freedom to express one's opinion is a great thing, and I hope the Cubans get more of it in the future. Satire as used in the clip is a highly effective tool to highlight the absurdity of a situation, though it is inevitably tinged with bitterness.

Secret video causes stir in Cuba
by Fernando Ravsberg -- BBC Mundo, Havana

A video clip, "Monte Rouge", is secretly making the rounds on the island, with the satirical script by Eduardo del Llano and the acting by Luis Alberto García, Néstor Jiménez and del Llano himself provoking laughter in Cubans.

"Good day, my name is Rodríguez, this is my colleague Segura, we've come to install the microphones." This is the sentence two officials of State Security use to introduce themselves after knocking on the door of citizen Nicanor O'Donell.

For 15 minutes, Nicanor tries to understand the new policy, in terms of which he is asked to continue criticising the government, but, from now on, preferably within the room in which the microphones are being installed.

All of this is seasoned with many elements of everyday Cuban life, from the gasoline that Nicanor steals at work to the offer by one of the Security agents to sell him illegal equipment.

"Our mission is to install some microphones in your house in order to overhear your anti-government comments directly", explains one of the two agents to the astonished citizen, Nicanor O'Donell.

Nicanor progresses from surprise to indignation, stating that now "they no longer even try to hide it", to which one of the agent responds that "customers are impossible to understand, before this they complained because we didn't show our faces".

Finally, Nicanor gives in to the menacing stares and lets them enter, offering them a typical Cuban coffee and working together with the two agents to identify the best location for the microphones in his house.

One of the officials asks him directly: "Where do you usually criticise the government, in which part of the house?" To which Nicanor responds that "in every part, here, in the room, in the kitchen, in the kitchen!"

The agents tell Nicanor that he was chosen to have microphones installed because his criticism is "really insightful", and furthermore because his house is nearby and they had no car available.

They explain to him that he should be happy: "You live alone and the State has assigned two microphones for your needs", says Rodríguez and adds that there are families with ten people where not even a single microphone has been installed so far.

When they ask him to do a soundcheck, the State Security official suggests that he say "something subversive to warm up with", and citizen O'Donell shouts: "I'd really love to have a satellite dish".

At the end of the clip, one of the agents offers to sell him one of the satellite dishes, which are prohibited in Cuba, "but this has to remain between you and me because this guy is a bit square", he says, referring to the other policeman.

The video clip is being passed around Cuba on DVD and is viewed on personal computers, most of which are also illegal as their sale to Cubans is prohibited.

Naturally, nobody who has seen the clip or passed it on to others wants their name to be mentioned, but in general all of the opinions gathered by the BBC were positive, regarding both the script and the realisation.

"I don't know how they dared to do something like this, but it's great, it's an excellent satire", said a manager and added that "I've seen it lots of times and every time I have to laugh more and see new details".

"No doubt about it, it recreates our reality with a fantastic ironic humour", a university student told the BBC.

"Now we'll have to see what happens to the people who made it and who acted in the clip", she added.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here is a link to the Monte Rouge video:

9:46 am  
Blogger icarus said...

Mira, IFILM is streaming it as well:

8:56 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Links to the Montre Rouge video at

12:52 pm  
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