MEXICO CITY – Televisa has stirred up a political storm by including a Mexican congressman in “Big Brother VIP 3.”
Jorge Kahwagi, the Green Party’s leader in the House of Representatives, made his “Big Bro” debut on May 16 when Mexico’s largest net unveiled the 17 contestants who will compete to win 1.5 million pesos ($130,000), immediately after the end of “VIP 2.”
The new edition got a 28 share, top in the nation, but behind previous first nights for “Big Brother,” which has rated as high as 30.
Kahwagi says he’s joined the reality show “because it’s an experience that will teach me to be more tolerant.”
However, the executive commission of the Green Party had formally asked him “not to enter or form a part of” “Big Bro.”
Now the congressman’s request for a temporary leave of absence from his party is being considered — even though Kahwagi is already locked in the “Big Bro” house for what could be eight weeks.
In 2002 the Green Party sent Televisa a letter complaining about the first “Big Brother,” calling it “a violation of human rights.”
When asked what he would do if he were not given leave, Kahwagi said he would donate his weekly 25,200 pesos ($2,200) salary to charity.
“It’s lamentable that someone elected to represent the population lends himself to the marketing schemes of a private corporation,” says Eduardo Espinosa, congressman for the Revolutionary Democratic Party, echoing dozens of others, including members of Kahwagi’s own party.
“He obviously doesn’t have the slightest interest in the problems of the nation,” says Jose Luis Amador, a Green Party congressman.
The show’s producer Pedro Torres says that Kahwagi is “a contestant like any other and he’ll stay in the house just as long as the public wants him to.” However, like all contestants, he has the right to leave the house at any time.
Asked about the political spat, Torres says: “It’s great that ‘Big Brother’ can also offer a place for political issues to be discussed.”
This is not Kahwagi’s first TV stunt. The former pro boxer, who was elected in July, took time off to take part in a televised boxing match, which he won.