My ‘Passionate’ Conversation with Manolo Travieso & His ‘La Comay’ Documentary

I will be very honest: there are very few topics in this world that piss me off to no end. At the top of my list? “SuperXClusivo” and La Comay, a flipping puppet who dominated Puerto Rican television before it crossed the line and got cancelled in early 2013. I will repeat it again: what the creators behind La Comay did was despicable yellow journalism and yes, my family was personally affected. So when the show become the target of one very effective boycott in late 2012, I knew that those who desperately defended the show were part of the problem.

Last week, Latino Rebels got a tweet from Manolo Travieso, son of “SuperXClusivo” co-host Héctor Travieso and the creative force behind a documentary based on the rise and fall of La Comay. After letting Manolo know that if ha wanted to come on the show he would have to talk with me, he agreed.

So we had a rather heated conversation (not a surprise: Puerto Rico!) about the documentary, a film I refuse to see although my co-host @laxaris saw. (By the why, she thought it was a snoozefest.) Nonetheless, I asked Manolo about things in the documentary and after a few answers, it was clear to me that this wasn’t about telling an unbiased story through a film that at one point was going to be released in Puerto Rico but never was—it was an attempt to downplay the damage Santarrosa and his dad caused on the island’s psyche and its people. Simple as that. For over 14 years, La Comay played us all, and when Puerto Ricans finally woke up and called the show’s people out and said, “¡Basta ya!” we still hear cries of censorship and victimization. You play with fire for that long, and eventually you will get burned.

Nonetheless, I applaud Manolo for talking to us and if people want to catch his film, they can pay three bucks to do it. I won’t for the simple reason that La Comay tormented my family (Manolo, am sorry, but your belief that the show did not ruin the lives of people is insulting), and if my reporting was able to expose the real truth how this group of people mistreated people, good. In a digital world where everything is flat, the playing field got equalized. And La Comay lost. But I wish you the best of luck in trying to sell a narrative no one cares for any more. Let the marketplace decide for itself, or if the filmmakers really do want to have a real discussion about this, make the film free for a few days. In the meantime, good luck with it.

Here’s the full interview. (FYI, the boycott happened in late 2012 and the show got canned in 2013. I said it was 2013 and 2014, but I made a mistake. As for Lilian’s comment at the end, it was a fair comment. But I still don’t want to see the film, and to be honest with you, Manolo doesn’t tell the whole story and in the program, he even admits it.) One last thing: I do think it was cool of Manolo to be on the show and I respect him for holding his ground, but spare us the lectures about censorship. WAPA is a private company and cancelled the show, since last time I checked, the network financed it. Hate speech also has consequences and La Comay failed in the end. Like I said, the film is out and the public can decide whether it wants to watch it or not. Truth is, I just think people want to ignore it.

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EDITOR’S NOTE: Julio (Julito) Ricardo Varela (@julito77) founded LatinoRebels.com in May, 2011 and proceeded to open it up to about 20 like-minded Rebeldes. A 1990 Harvard graduate in the History and Literature of Latin America, his personal blog, juliorvarela.com, has been active since 2008 and is widely read in Puerto Rico and beyond. He pens columns on LR regularly. In the last two years, Julito represented the Rebeldes on several outlets, including MSNBCCBSNPR,  Univision and The New York Times. Recently, he was a digital producer for Al Jazeera America’s The Stream.

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