The Downfall of Facundo

By Giordan Rodríguez Milanés

The character Claro, from the ‘Dale Taller’ segment in the show Deja que yo te cuente, had disappeared even before it was created.

The trial began when that controversy between Alfredo Guevara and Blas Roca was left unfinished in the pages of Hoy newspaper. The argumentation for the sentence is surgically picked out from Fidel Castro’s ‘Words to the Intellectuals’, turned into anathema by the usual extremists and reductionists: ‘Within the Revolution, everything; against the Revolution, no rights’.

Was Andy Vázquez setting Facundo against the Revolution when he made the video about the events at Cuatro Caminos? Or were those who poorly organized that whole business of the inauguration of the famous market the ones who put the Revolution at risk, or those whose purpose was it to keep the enemy –they mentioned the enemy– from ruining the much anticipated inauguration?

Those are the questions we Cubans of 2020 have to ask ourselves in order to understand not only what happened to Andy Vázquez, but also to Yasel Porto a few months ago, and to the character Claro a few years ago, and to Enrique Arredondo with that ad lib in Alegrías de Sobremesa that punished a child to watching only Russian cartoons for a week.

Georgina Mendoza Cedeño was a radio broadcaster from Manzanillo with more than forty years of experience. In that time she had trained generations of producers with her radio host workshop for children; she received multiple awards in national radio festivals; she was a founder of the Hermanos Saíz Brigade and of the Cuban National Union of Writers and Artists (UNEAC); she directed and hosted first-rate radio programs; she had been head of programming and director of Radio Granma, with excellent results. Right when her program Para ti, mujer had the highest radio ratings in the province of Granma, Georgina received in her home the visit of her daughter’s husband, who lived in Chicago, and another Cuban residing in the US, who she fell in love with. It was more than the municipal Party office could take, and they pressured Pedro Espronceda Figueredo –Georgina’s lifelong comrade and colleague– so he would not only take away from her the direction of that popular program, but also ‘force’ her to retire. Georgina spent several months at home with no salary; they wouldn’t even let her set foot in the studios of the station to which she had practically dedicated her life, until she got her pension checkbook. The Cuban Institute of Radio and Television (ICRT) never gave UNEAC an answer. All they did was honor her, two years later, at the gala for the 80th anniversary of the radio in Manzanillo, which yours truly had the privilege of writing and directing.

What legal basis was there for Georgina Mendoza’s forced retirement?

None.

What legal basis is there for the ‘break’ given to the character of Facundo Correcto, in the very own words of the director of Cubavisión?

None.

However, for the guys at the Ideological Department of Central Committee of the PCC, who are the ones running the radio and television in Cuba after all, both cases, and all the other ones before, have a political and ideological basis they cannot allow themselves to question beyond certain limits: i. e., the myth of the infallible cadre educated by the Revolution. With time and the determinant weight of the course of history, they’ve had to accept that a cadre or leader can be wrong, be corrupted even, or be treasonous, but only as an individual.

Facundo’s problem is that, more than a generalizing relation with reality, he made it specific about the events in Cuatro Caminos. Andy Vázquez’s problem is the same as Georgina Mendoza’s: understanding that we’re all Cuban no matter where we live, and that he can perform for –or, like Georgina, fall in love with– the ‘Cubans in Miami (…) and also go to old people’s homes in Cuba (…) to Canada, and also to elementary schools in Cuba where children go wild with joy. (…) To Punta Cana, and to hospitals on Doctors’ Day’, as Luis Silva has said on Facebook, which is extensive to Andy Vázquez and Facundo. That inherent free will of the human condition and the arts is something the guys at the Ideological Department and the administrators of ICRT cannot understand and much less accept. That’s why Enrique Ubieta, for example, replied to Luis Toledo Sande in a Facebook comment, according to Arturo Chang: ‘actually, his contract was rescinded, he wasn’t given a sanction (it’s not the same), nor was he expelled from TV and not for his most recent Miami video, which for some time he has produced using a character and even the show name of Vivir del Cuento, all of it without the authorization of the Cuban TV’.

Beyond the fact that Ubieta’s comment contradicts that of the director of Cubavisión, who says the character of Facundo ‘has only been given a break’, that is, he doesn’t mention the contract being rescinded, it is a fact that Cuban Television has no exclusive rights on Vivir del Cuento, and there doesn’t seem to be an exclusive rights clause for any of its characters in favor of the Cuban Television. Therefore, there’s no legal basis for rescinding or ‘giving a break’. It’s not the case either that, as we’ve seen, legal basis is something of any interest for those who punished Enrique Arredondo, disappeared Claro or forced Georgina Mendoza to retire. You know who said it: ‘Within the Revolution, everything; against the Revolution, no rights’. And for the censors, an artist’s will is obviously against the Revolution.

(Translated from the original)