Prison Diary LX: Mr. Miguel Ginarte: the Guiding Light of Cuban TV

Miguel Ginarte (photo courtesy of the blog by Yusnaby)

My mother always warned me that the Cuban government proceeds through their actions: “When they no longer need you, the squash you like a cockroach”.

In the cultural media, it is well known that there are very few shows on Cuban TV that do not use Miguel Ginarte to produce their programmes; in fact, very few are those who in the end who are not grateful for his disinterested help, his constant effort, because he takes the care with each show as if it were the final project that he would ever collaborate on. A man who people rarely hear say no, and when he has had to say no it is because it really was beyond his reach to help.

But that ranch not only provides work for the The Cuban Institute of Radio and Television (ICRT), but also for the Ministry of Culture, who closed events at that location, like a peasant with a pig being roasted under the stars. I was able to participate in some of these closures before opening my blog, of course, and there we could also see the make up of the diet of then Minister of Culture Abel Prieto, now adviser to President Raul Castro: Fish and wine.

At that time, Ginarte wasn’t selling or diverting resources, as he is now being accused of. The television directors, when they wanted their guests to be treated decently, approached Papa Ginarte: who never turned his back, and after giving the respective indications, persevered to make sure that the requests were met.

As the actor Alberto Pujol said in his letter, there was no luxury to be found there; on the contrary, everything was very modest, to the point that it looked like somewhere one would film a mambises* cabin in the foothills of a mountain. Ostentation never interested Ginarte, only the quality of his work, because as every good Cuban peasant knows “A bull is tied by his horns, and a man by his words”.

As always on the island, behind this web of lies against Ginarte, there must be an official in love with the place, to at a whim do away with the work accomplished by the sweat of another; perhaps someone who resents Ginarte because at some time he should have said no, as only he knows how to do with bureaucrats. But it should come as no surprise to anyone: everyone’s time will come, regardless if they are excellent professionals, altruists, creators, honest, revolutionary people; they need only to be inadequate for the plans of those in power to be literally swept under the carpet.

I remember him with his jovial smile of a macho peasant who enjoyed very few days before entering prison. I would like to be able to say to him “the master should be ashamed, Papa Ginarte”, and remember him on his horse, back in the seventies, going to see Luyanó with his daughter Dinae and, patiently, lifting us up one by one to give us each our turn on his beautiful auburn steed.

At any rate, despite the pain that the injustice committed against Ginarte has caused us, there is something that makes it worth it, and that is his friends and admirers who have joined him by tooth and nail. I am sure that, as always, those who are ashamed will sign the petition, as they have done for decades. Others will want to do it but their lack of courage, or their commitments or perks, won’t let them; they think that it is not their problem, for now. But when someone does it from their heart, then that is already more than sufficient.

 Ángel Santestiban-Prats

Lawton prison settlement. Ocotber 2013

*Translator’s notes: Mambises is a term used to refer to independent guerillas who, during the 19th Century in Cuba and the Philippines, fought in the wars of independence. 

Translated by Shane J. Cassidy

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