Thu Feb 24, 2005

We're Here to Bug You: Video Mocks Cuban Police

HAVANA (Reuters) - "Good Morning, we've come to install your microphones," an agent says at the door in the opening line of an underground video making the rounds in Cuba. "In what part of the house do you usually talk bad about the government?" he asks the nervous resident, a driver who pilfers gasoline and coffee from the state.

The spoof of Cuba's feared security police is in hot demand among Cubans, for whom black jokes and complaints about communist bureaucracy is a major pastime.

Made privately by well-known figures of Cuba's film industry, the 15-minute video is being passed around as a DVD. While many Cubans are talking about the video, not all have seen it because few Cubans have computers and even fewer DVD players.

Films satirizing the state's inefficiency have been tolerated in Cuba since the early days of President Fidel Castro's government, in power since a 1959 revolution.

But the bold video called "Monte Rouge" breaks Cuban taboos by poking fun at the Big Brother aspect of Cuban society, where Cubans feel they are constantly being spied on.

The secret police has received so many complaints, the two agents explain in the video, that it has changed methods to frank and open surveillance with target participation.

"Why me?" asks the perplexed driver.

"Most people just criticize the power blackouts and Granma (Communist Party daily) and ask how long this system will go on for. But you have made very wise comments about our emigration policy that have really been helpful," the agent answers.

"We are not interested in the good things you have to say about the system," he instructs the driver.

Told to say "something subversive" to test the mikes -- placed in his toilet where the agents also offered to install a mini-bar -- the man blurts out that he wants a satellite dish, an illegal possession prized by Cubans eager to watch foreign television.

One of the agents offers to sell him a dish, but not to say anything to his colleague, in a final jab at state corruption.

The video was director by Eduardo del Llano, who plays the part of one of the agents, with cinema and television soap opera actor Luis Alberto Garcia as the victim.