Cuba 111, is a documentary shot in Cuba in 1995 by Dirk Vandersypen. This documentary revealing the lives of several Cuban families in a crumbling building in Havana won a lot of attention and several TV awards for Vandersypen's work. When he died in 2000, Vandersypen left a long list of television documentaries that focused on Latin America, and of whose people he admired greatly. Currently, the Vandersypen Award is given annually to those who share the same passion for Latin America and film-making. Vandersypen is quoted as saying:
"Ultimately my concern has always been for the fate of the people themselves. It is not for me to embellish that or play the hero at their expense. I present the stories as they are: drawn from real life."
On Friday, May 25, Maria Elvira Salazar not only broke basic principles of ethics, she denied her audience the underlying message of Vandersypen's history of work.
As I watched that entire show carefully, I noticed my suspicions were being confirmed: Maria Elvira Salazar and her guests were never going to reveal the date in which the documentary was shot. The entire program went by without one mention that Cuba 111 was shot in 1995, the year in which Cuba was still recovering from a 34.8% contraction of its GDP, and 36.7% decline in GDP per capita (Perez-Lopez 2002). The only mention was that Cuba 111 was shot "some years" back. They never came close to saying that it was a decade old.
Several moments throughout the program, Salazar cut into segments of the documentary to analyze "La Realidad Cubana." The only information she gave about the video was its title and director (which she repeated more than once), but no year. But, then Salazar topped it all off when she began comparing the video with "current" pictures of the Club Havana resort, which used to be known as the Havana Biltmore Yacht and Country Club, and is now considered part of "Havana's Fifth Avenue." I say "current" because Salazar said that some anonymous person e-mailed the pictures to her, and she didn't mention a date attached to them.
Well, upon some internet surfing, I actually came upon some of the actual pictures she showed. These two pictures that were shown on Polos Opuestos last Friday are from 1955! Salazar never mentions the date, and these pictures were mixed in with more "current" pictures that show water racers on the beach.
Near the end of the show, having compared these two historically inaccurate accounts, Maria Elvira Salazar says: "Este es el gran contraste de la Cuba de hoy." (This is the great contrast of today's Cuba).
The ethical violations are clear. By denying the audience of Polos Opuestos the exact dates Cuba 111 and photos of the Club Havana resort were shot, Maria Elvira Salazar has not only debilitated judgment, she has allowed her work to progress with erroneous beliefs and false perceptions about Cuba, and has so far denied anyone to challenge or expose her errors.
Unfortunately, this is just one example of the state of affairs in Miami about issues on Cuba. Cuba, in Miami, is a horribly altered reality, mostly due to the fact that the debate relies on an incompetent dichotomous divide. By concealing the date of Cuba 111, Maria Elvira Salazar is supporting one side of an ongoing conflict over the various realities of Cuba.