Thursday, February 5, 2009
The Demise of Papito the Blue Meanie
During the height of the Beatles’ career their music was banned from Cuban airwaves. Now, the man responsible, Jorge "Papito" Serguera, the former president of the Cuban Institute of Radio and Television during the 1970s, has turned blue and died.
I found out that in private, Mr. Serguera was a closet Beatles listener. Among his favorite tunes that he bought on the black market were “Que noche la de aquel dia, (I Want to Hold Your Hand)” and “Ella le adora (She Loves You).”
He told friends that he “was only following orders” from high-ranking government officials when he banned Beatles music for being a threat to the revolution.
At the time, Papito didn’t like the song, “Yellow Submarine.” When the film came out, which was filled with double entendres, he swore that the Cuban government was being referred to as the "Blue Meanies." Someone played it backwards once, and a bolt of lightning hit the Plaza de la Revolución; further convincing him that the Beatles were a threat.
Papito fought in the 1959 revolution that overthrew the previous dictator, Fulgencio Batista. As a prosecutor, he worked with Ernesto "Che" Guevara and sentenced to death many thousands of Batista supporters.
It is rumored that sometime during the 1980s, Julia Child, who often moonlighted for the U.S. Office of Strategic Services (OSS), went to Cuba, cooked up a mess of pastelitos, and made Castro an offer he couldn’t refuse. As a result, today, all Beatles music can be heard and enjoyed on Cuban airwaves. There is even a statue of John Lennon by José Villa in Lennon Park, Havana, sitting on a park bench eating a pastelito.