Scientology has hijacked Cri-Cri the singing cricket, a character known and loved by generations of Mexican children.
Among the nonentities wheeled out by Scientology for this year's Christmas parade down Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles was at least one true star – or rather the character that made him immortal.
Somebody dressed up as Mexico’s Cri-Cri, the singing cricket, made an appearance at the event promoting The Way to Happiness Foundation. And according to this press release, Cri-Cri also appears on copies of The Way to Happiness booklet distributed in Southern California.1
The Way to Happiness is a rather creepy collection of platitudes written by Scientology's founder, L. Ron Hubbard. It is used both as a public relations exercise and a recruitment tool.2
And now they've got Cri-Cri.
Cri-Cri, el grillito cantor, is the creation of Mexican musical genius Francisco Gabilondo Soler. He developed the character for a now-legendary radio series for children first broadcast in 1934, which he presented for 27 years.
Even after he gave his final broadcast in 1961, new generations of children woke up to repeats of the programme and his songs for years after.
Today, any Mexican will recognise the theme music from his show, having grown up listening to his charming songs. His music is known and loved in much of the Spanish-speaking world.
Such is Gabilondo Soler's stature that in 1963 they made a film of his life starring Ignacio López Tarso, another household name in Mexico.
In this extract, you get an idea of what the programmes were like and hear one of his best known songs La Patita: the Duckling. In the final minute of the clip, actor López Tarso introduces the real Cri-Cri at an event in his honour.
Gabilondo Soler died in 1990 but as the press release cited above makes clear, Scientology got its hooks into the Cri-Cri legacy via the composer's grandson, Francisco S. Gabilondo.
Documents scattered around the Web suggest that Scientology's appropriation of Cri-Cri dates back to at January 2011 – and that the connection with the movement is very much a family affair, dating much further back.
According to this press release, Gabilondo Soler's "first grandson", Francisco Sanz Polo, is heavily into Scientology.3
Sanz Polo's Linkedin entry, in which he describes himself as President of the Friends of L. Ron Hubbard Foundation and a supporter of the Way to Happiness Foundation.4
One account suggests he was a Sea Org recruiter in the 1980s; another locates him on the movement's punishment programme, the Rehabilitation Project Force, back in 2004.
As far back as 1982, Francisco Sanz Polo is listed as Clear #29969 in Kristi Wachter's Scientology Completions database, which is drawn from Scientology's in-house publications.5 And a Florencia Sanz Polo pops up in a 2004 ex-member's newsletter listing those sent to the RPF.
Finally, Wachter's database throws up a Jack Sanz Polo as having attended a State of Man Congress.6 Freewinds is the cruise ship Scientology uses to give its most expensive, top-level training.
A shame to see such a wonderful character, who means so much to so many Mexicans, requisitioned in this way.
Happy New Year.
2 If anyone has any doubt about the links between Scientology and the Way to Happiness Foundation, have a look at this diagram (published in the context of Narconon, a couple of posts ago), from a 2004 edition of International Scientology News. Among the other supposedly independent satellite groups feeding into the central Scientology organisation, the symbol of the Way to Happiness Foundation features twice.
3 Thanks to "mnql1" for drawing this to my attention.
5 This information came from Scientology's Auditor magazine N°182.
6 This is from the Freewinds 56 magazine, early 2005.