“El Caballo” shows the reality of Cuba: “In order to survive, people must become criminals”


“Horse” this is one of the nicknames Fidel Castro received in life. He was the leader of the revolution, Comandante, and therefore he was considered number one mode. The position that symbolizes this animal in Cuban charade, a popular gambling game very similar to the Chinese lottery. Consequently Lilo Vilaplana decided that it should be title of his latest film. The allusion to the communist leader was more than appropriate for the film, as it is an x-ray of the country he left behind after his death, which has changed so little in 63 years of dictatorship.

Like the previous movie planted, the Cuban director denounces the tyranny of this totalitarian system that oppresses, imprisons and tortures its people. And all from the story that begins with the death of the horse. The protagonist kills him “to feed himself, sell meat to survive … Something that constantly happens in Cuba,” explains the director in LD.

Not even possible punishment up to 20 years in prison This prevents Cubans from risking getting it to feed their families. This is the situation. It is suggested that “even one who raises cattle who has them in the house cannot kill them.” Sounds like science fiction, but the reality is that “Cuba belongs to a totalitarian state, nothing belongs to anyone. And now with the new family code, even the children don’t belong to you.“.

death of a cat

The background of the film is death of a cat, also Lilo Vilaplana. It won the Best Latin American Short Film award for FIBABC and tells the story of three friends who plan to kill the neighbor’s cat in order to be able to eat in full “Special Period” Cuba is what the regime calls the worst economic crisis in its history.

“One day, Marcos Milan, a Cuban director and writer, said to me: “I have a story similar to death of a cat what happened to me in Cuba 30 years ago,” says Vilaplana. That’s where the first scenario came from, to which various cross-stories were later added. Lilo wanted to go further, also to reflect how little has changed in 63 years of dictatorship. “People are suffering” and nothing remains but to live “outside the law.”

Background Horse lies in this suffering. The regime subjugates its people, “using them as slaves and playing Cubans against Cubans, dividing families.” Vilaplana experienced it firsthand: “to survive, people must become criminals. The people are stealing from the state, which is the only one that can pay in Cuba.” Castroism knows this and “uses it.”


Information, if you know when to use it, can be very valuable. Therefore, the Cuban regime collects them and stores them until it finds a use for them. Lilo Vilaplana explains this by referring to a scene from the movie. Horse in which the protagonist, played by Ariel Texido, says to Alina Robert: “They save what you do for the day you become a political prisoner.show you that you were a common criminal.”

The scene in which they agree on the price of the horsemeat hidden under the cloth.

This is exactly what they are doing now with the detainees behind their backs. peaceful protests on September 11the director explains. Most of them are young people, even minors, who took to the streets to ask for freedom and end – for the trials are not over yet – convicted of seditionwith completely disproportionate penalties. “To impose a lesson”Vilaplan’s ruling.

reveal the truth

The film tells about the story of a dissident pursued by the police. Together with his wife, he sells food and other products that are stolen or obtained somewhere else. In his search, he stumbles upon the aforementioned horse. “They are taking him to Havana to try and do business with him and feed the woman they love so much. She is sick and needs to get her hemoglobin up,” Lilo explains.

Many secondary plots come from the main plot, which, through humor, “denounce what is happening in Cuba, that the world knows the reality, not the propaganda that Castroism sellsVilaplana says. This is the ultimate goal he pursues: to bring the truth to light.

For Lilo, making denunciation films is essential to bring out “things the world doesn’t know about.” “At the beginning of the revolution shot with impunity without trial, They took blood from prisoners before killing them to sell it… They make a business out of all that is terrible, as they do with Cuban doctors. They are taken away as modern-day slaves to different parts of the world. They take away all their money, give them pennies, and they earn millions.” Horse.

unknown chapters

As Lilo explains, “There is complete ignorance about what the Castro dictatorship is and how it was imposed.” About things like Fidel Castro “shot and planted” many of those who fought on his side ostensibly “to restore democracy to Cuba, the constitutional thread broken by Batista”. But when the Commander reaches power, “he betrays them.”

What he did “with the generation that comes after” is also little known. Something is known about the UMAP concentration camps, but it also created “field schools” that had as their goal “remove children from the regime of family life, educate boys to break the morale of those young people who, seeing themselves alone, do anything. This made them vulnerable, malleable and manipulated.

The history of the communist dictatorship has left so many passages of horror that it is impossible to tell them all in one film. On the planted Vilaplana told us horror of Cuban prisonsin which dissidents were tortured and shot. He gave us the “harsh” truth, raw. And despite everything, says the director, “many political prisoners tell me that I didn’t make it, which was even worse.”

Horse it’s something else. He defines it as “more refreshing”. But always without leaving aside the complaints that have become his hallmark. In fact, he is already with his next project and it will follow the same line: planted. “We have half the money, the script is written, all the research is done, they interviewed. many former political prisoners…”, claims Lilo. The mechanism is moving, and the Cuban director is not going to stop until the film is made. It is clear that he is not one to give up.

He planted a drone in Cuba

He can’t say how he did it, but he did it: he managed to record a drone in Cuba again. Because it’s not the first time. He even filmed a short film in Havana without entering the country. But in this case, post-production was also very important. In addition to taking aerial photographs of Cuba, reproduced some iconic places capitals shoot Horse.

So we see “Civica Square, an iconic place they call Plaza la Revolución, but it actually dates back to the Batista era.” “We should put some water containers and destroy…because to make it look like today’s Cuba, you always have to destroy places. Cuba is destroyed,” he says.

Aerial view of Havana taken from a drone for El Caballo.

The Cuban director is very proud of the result of the film, especially considering that “he had to be shot in five days because the budget was very small and I wanted to do it.” In Cuba, the tape is already circulating. It is distributed free of charge to reach as many people as possible.

“I think the film planted and song home and life Big influence open the eyes of the Cuban people and in the impulse of those young people who knew nothing and understood what happened,” says Vilaplana. The dictatorship went “to absolute repression and to these years of imprisonment, to torture.” slow down the process of change.

I believe that very soon there will be another social explosion. Castro’s dictatorship should end this year. The country should not continue to live in this slavery,” he argues. In the meantime, he will continue to show us in his films the reality that the communist regime wants to hide.


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