Last week was a very interesting week for Maria Elvira Salazar. Weekdays at 8pm, Salazar hosts a local political talk show called Polos Opuestos (Polar Opposites) on local TV station MegaTV. Its quite a hit down here in South Florida where before Spanish primetime was usually dominated by telenovelas (soap operas). But, by 2003, Salazar had shattered the telenovela supremacy and paved the way for Spanish TV political talk. Now, shows like Polos Opuestos and A Mano Limpia ("Straight Talk"/"Face to Face") are beginning to dominate Spanish primetime. A Mano Limpia is aired on channel 51 America TeVe, and has been beating the Spanish network Telemundo since late last year. Local Spanish TV station GenTV has recently jumped on this trend and introduced Ultima Palabra, a political talk show co-hosted by Ninoska Perez-Castellon from Radio Mambi.
All of these programs give considerable coverage to issues about Cuba, giving far more coverage to support for US policy towards Cuba.
Maria Elvira Salazar is already known to be an adamant supporter of US policy towards Cuba, and normally describes Fidel Castro as a tyrant. She usually offers an entire show to reveal "La Realidad Cubana" (Cuban Reality) as she puts it. But this past Friday, Maria Elvira Salazar may have breached the most basic of journalistic ethics.
Beginining on Wednesday, Salazar hosted a very heated debate on her show between Joe Garcia, Chairman of Miami-Dade Democrats, and Frank Calzon, executive director of the Center for a Free Cuba. [Watch video here.] The show was finally living up to its name (which it often doesn't do). Both participants talked over each other and disputed even the most minute of details. Growing frustrations and a vocal tussle over US funds, which both recieve for their respective organizations, ended with Calzon walking out of the show within the final 10 minutes of the program. He eventually came back to give a final statement, but it was clear that he would never debate Garcia again.
Thurday's show gave the audience another impassioned debate between Juan Amador, famous father who led the Vamos a Cuba ban (and newest member of Unidad Cubana) and Pedro Rodriguez Medina, director of Combate News who opposes US policy towards Cuba. The stark differences of opinion were displayed, with both talking over each other, but with more restraint that the Calzon-Garcia debate. The following day on Radio Mambi, several regular listeners called in to congratulate Amador for his comments.
Looking back, it seems that Friday's show was a response to the debates, to even out Garcia and Medina. The topic this day was all about a documentary called Cuba 111, and Salazar had invited two men to analyze the film: Mario Fernandez Mora and Camilo Loret de Mola (so much for diversity of views on Cuba). I enjoy documentaries from Cuba and always pay close attention to them. Salazar enjoys showing documentaries on her program to present "La Realidad Cubana," but on closer inspection, Salazar has a strange way of presenting these fine films, which happen to look dated.