Illegally, Many Cubans are Informed

Everything is there. The good and the bad. The family of Oscar Molina, age 49, learns what’s going on in the world thanks to an illegal connection to a cable antenna.

On channel 3 of his outdated 21-inch Chinese TV, Molina is given a bath of capitalism. CNN says that Greece is an erupting volcano. And Spain now has 20% unemployment.

On Univision news they hear of violence and corruption in the United States and other countries. ESPN brings what his sons like. Football in all colors – Mexican League, Italian, English, German and Spanish.

They see good baseball from the Major Leagues. They applaud the home runs of Cuban Kendry Morales, and suffer the losses of pitcher Liván Hernández. They follow the Lakers of Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol.

The Molina family dislikes the constant program interruptions for the insertion of ads. They are bored with the soporific Mexican soap operas and canned low-class stuff. Neither likes sharing programs like Sabado Gigante. They prefer Discovery Channel. And laugh at how nice the Iberian comedy serial Aida is.

The “antenna” as they say in the island has set foot on earth to many in Cuba. The brutal negative media official propaganda about capitalist societies, led people to draw a simple conclusion: if the government criticizes life elsewhere, is because it is superior.

Whether the Castro brothers like it or not, their credibility for a substantial proportion of ordinary Cubans, is in tatters. And the disclosure of the evils of capitalism has been boomeranged.

Spain is wrong. The United States is hell. But a little over 30 percent of the population would go to those countries, according to unofficial estimates. The illegal cable antennas, so persecuted by the Cuban authorities, do not show perfect societies on their programs.

And people are not stupid. They are seeing with their own eyes that the news openly criticizes their president, naked, morbid violence, unemployment, corruption, and police brutality.

They see how they talk about the discontent of immigrants under the new law in the state of Arizona. They compare. And they realize that their reality is often not reflected in state television news. At least as they want it to be.

In Cuba, “everything is going well.” And to find a variety of views, they pay 10 convertible pesos per month (about $8). No small thing. It is equivalent to the minimum wage that is paid to discover other scenarios.

Miami channels provide information on Cuba that the national media do not provide, though sometimes it is distorted. And in some locations in the western provinces, you can see TV Marti, with poor image quality, but free.

And that is precisely what the regime does not like. Cubans know that there is dissent and women who take to the streets dressed in white to demand the release of their imprisoned husbands and sons. And that the result of a hunger strike killed a man named Orlando Zapata.

People like the Molina family are informed about what’s happening in Cuba and the Western world by the foreign channels. They know that life and the cultural uprooting are very hard for those who decide to leave their homeland.

But they feel they have already hit bottom. And they want a change of scenery. Meanwhile, they continue to observe life in capitalism with a remote control.

Iván Garcia

Note: All the time there are operations taking place against the “antennae”, as performed in the month of May in the Havana neighborhood of Parraga, as reported by Eriberto Liranzo Llorente of the Cuban Network of Community Communicators.