Charo: The Snitch / Luis Felipe Rojas

Through a method of stupidity and propaganda, Cuban television usually goes beyond us. What to do about it, though? We are not perfect. However, this past Saturday April 21st, during the morning cartoons, many of us were shocked at what we saw. It was a short cartoon for kids, with the same title as this post, and it’s origin was unknown (most likely Mexican or Spanish).

Since they did not put the initial nor the ending credits on the screen, it left it up to us to investigate where the cartoon was coming from and how it was made. The synopsis is as follows: a little girl, who speaks her mind without anyone asking her to, is the headache of the family. In fact, whenever she does something which she considers could cause problems, she blames it on others.

Anything that goes missing at home. What has been said or done in front of her, the mischievousness of her fellow students, and a rosary of denunciations which, if they do not imply any sort of penal punishment for its accusations, then they advance its precociousness as a gossip-monger snitch.

What is surprising is that the armies of former colonel Rolando Alfonso Borges, under the ideological executive of the Community Party of Cuba, missed the error. In Cuba, any citizen can suffer a beating, an arrest, a fine, or can even be penalized for the crime of “disobedience of authority” for using the word “snitch” when referring to an informer, in other words, a civilian whose purpose is to make the job of the police and other officials from the repressive Ministry of the Interior easy. In its different variations, snitches, informants, confidants and informers are scattered all over the place: in the factories, schools, neighborhoods, the market, the baseball stadium. What do they denounce? Anything. The information which they provide ranges from what is being sold to who is selling it in which neighborhood, with whom the young neighbors meet up, what is the subject spoken about during the line to buy bread, from where does the flour used to make clandestine pizza come from, which citizens do not live according to what their work should provide, and so on, and so on.

During the Republican era in Cuba, in the first half of the XX century, that is how one referred to people who denounced the actions against the two consecutive dictatorships: that of Machado and Batista. But what popular language institutes cannot be abolished by any decree. After the rise to power of FC (I swear that I do not even want to type his name), those who assumed the dishonorable work of informing about the steps of their compatriots were still referred to as Snitches. And even when police coercion has had countless victims, the term grew popular among people, and today it is one of the worst offenses that can ever be said to a Cuban. The behavioral neighborhood code (even when it is homophobic) dictates to men from the moment they are just children: “neither a snitch, nor a coward.”

The popular denomination has set various meanings: drunkard, rat, trumpet, ‘guari-guari’, goat, and much more. On the other hand, the graphic, radio, and television (in other words, institutionalized) media is not even brushed by the petal of a joke, due to severe censorship as well as through similar methods under self-censorship.

Ever since the 70′s of the past century, the cartoon image of an elderly lady — the president of the Committee for the Defense of the Revolution — sneaked into our homes. Her name is Chuncha and, in reality, just as much as because of her design than by her meaning for each Cuban who feels as if they are being watched, this character is one of the most repulsive ones ever seen on national television.

Even then, the popular orchestra — Dan Den — dedicated a song with which time has passed through without shame or glory (it’s already known: there is always a route for a stranger), while on the other hand the native troubadour Frank Delgado composed a ‘guaracha’ which served as the base for the short fiction video made by Eduardo del Llano — “Monte Rouge”. The chorus and one of the lines goes like this: “Turn off the microphone and quit being mysterious…despite how much you struggle, you are not the Ministry. You are an assemblage, an amateur, and mediocre snitch. Turn off the microphone and quit being mysterious”.

Translated by Raul G.

25 April 2012