Looking for the Antenna

Migdalia Estévez and her husband, Ramon Suarez, were waiting for “Cuba’s Reasons,” the TV series aired on Mondays on the island. They understood what subversion is, the media war, and the imperialist maneuvers. But they still don’t understand the government’s bitter struggle against cable TV or satellite dishes.

“The Cuban television programming is boring, at least with the cable I’m entertained and I spend less time missing my loved ones,” said the lady of 64 years. Thanks to the efforts of her two children living in the United States, the couple spends their leisure time watching foreign programs.

In February, inspectors from the Ministry of Information and Communications, raided Párraga where Migdalia lives, looking for antennas. She was taking a nap when she heard a noise in the ceiling. She got up, startled. When she opened the door, a man asked: “Where is it?” and without waiting for an answer, entered the house.

He searched the room. In one of the rooms he got down on the floor and looked under the bed until, under the TV covered with a cloth they found the equipment. The old woman was on the verge of a nervous breakdown, unable to speak. When she came to herself again they had imposed a fine of 10,000 pesos

Hours later, her husband came home and found her crying, “They took me by surprise, I thought they were robbers and almost died of fright,” and she handed him the paper with the fine.

Ramon Suarez, Migdalia’s husband, went all around the city in search of the officials who almost gave his wife a heart attack. He found the place in Zanja Street. They told him he should submit a letter in writing, but they wouldn’t give him the names of the people who had violated his home.

On the “Cuba’s Reasons” series, Suarez recognized the employee who talked to him after he requested an interview to complain about the boldness of his subordinates. In the report, the man had talked about satellite connection equipment from the United States coming into the country.

“I remember his name, Carlos Martinez, he is the director of National Radio Company,” he said as he read the resolutions 98 and 99 of that ministry, issued in 1995.

A friend had given him the legal rules on antennas. “He said that such bans were in effect from the mid 90’s, but the fines for citizens are 1,000 pesos. On me they imposed a ten-thousand peso fine,” said the man.

They go after the antennas but they don’t explain the reasons for raiding a dwelling and much less why people cheat,” says Migdalia. If the law says the fine is one amount, why do they impose another? How do they think we’re going to pay 10,000 pesos with the 460 pesos we receive as retirees?” she asked.

The program “Cuba’s Reasons” let Migdalia and Ramon know why the government fears the antennas that capture satellite signals. However, they do not understand the reasons for Carlos Martinez, a state official concealing his subordinates, tolerating those who violate the rights of Cubans, and also defrauding them.

March 23 2011

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