It’s Forbidden to Say the Word "Crocodile" on Cuban Television

The actor Luis Silva, who incarnates the character of “Pánfilo,” denounces censorship in a program where bread in the form of a crocodile was shown. (Luis Silva/Facebook)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 2 May 2019 — The popular actor, Luis Silva, known for his comedic character, Pánfilo, reported this Wednesday that one of the episodes he had recorded in January for the program Vivir del Cuento (Living by One’s Wits) wasn’t put on the air because of a joke about bread in the form of a crocodile.

“Because of bread in the form of a crocodile, this episode wasn’t released on Monday. You can’t mention a crocodile, a hutia, or an ostrich. Worst of all, this episode had been recorded in January,” the actor wrote on social media.

The censorship is related to a declaration made by a  comandante of the Revolution, Guillermo García Frías, on the program Mesa Redonda (Round Table). The military nonagenarian, in charge of the National Enterprise for the Protection of Flora and Fauna, said that the meat of the hutia, a type of large rat found in the fields of Cuba, has more protein than “all the meats” and a “high quality” skin.

García also praised the ostrich and said it produced more meat than a cow. After his declarations, the words “crocodile”, “hutia” and “ostrich” trended on social media, where a multitude of memes and jokes about these animals circulated.

However, Luis Silva didn’t mean it as a joke and said the bread that appeared on Vivir del Cuento was a gift from the people of Triunvirato, a small town in Matanzas Province. “I decided to show it on the program as an expression of gratitude to the town. Draw your own conclusions. Friends of Triunvirato; I tried.” added the comic.

After publishing his first post, the actor qualified the situation and added that “the episode will be shown, surely. But with that scene cut.”

Comments weren’t long in coming. “What a shame that a comedian can’t mention it, and a high official of the country robs a comedian’s work and makes himself a national laughingstock,” said one user identified as Claudio Cabrera. For Idalia Quintana, “We Cubans are the only ones on planet earth who laugh at our misfortunes.”

Another “internaut” thought it ironic that the icon of Matanzas’ baseball team is a crocodile and suggested that they “change the name to a lizard.”

In comedy programs on Cuban television, jokes about the bureaucracy, the absurdities of the socialist state enterprise and intolerant ideologues are frequently included, but jokes against the Communist Party or the revolutionary leaders are still taboo.

Vivir del Cuento is one of the few programs that has survived on Cuban television with a critical script that focuses on everyday difficulties, the hardships experienced by retired people and the problems in buying food.

Translated by Regina Anavy


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