My Life is a Lifetime Movie makes its series debut this week with the real life story of Ana Margarita Martinez who discovered that her husband was a spy for the Cuban government.
With a fresh and irreverent documentary style tone, My Life is a Lifetime Movie combines cinematic recreations and first person interviews with women in peril who recount their jaw-dropping experiences that are so astonishing and so unbelievable, it’s hard to believe they’re true. But the stories are all too real and vivid for those who lived them.
One amazing story on My Life is a Lifetime Movie is that of Ana Margarita Martinez, a twice divorced mother who thought she found her prince charming but turned out to be a Cuban spy. That’s right, a spy!
When Ana Margarita met Cuban defector Juan Pablo at her local church back in the early ’90s, he was the perfect man in every way. The two quickly married and things seemed too good to be true until his frequent disappearances and trips away from home raised suspicion. When a plane rescuing Cuban refugees was shot down near Miami, Ana came to the stark realization that her storybook wedding may have been to a dark prince with even darker secrets.
“I’ve always said that my life is a soap opera,” Ana Margarita told The Deadbolt ahead of the Lifetime premiere on Wednesday, “so this is very appropriate.”
What happened to Ana Margarita, however, is a painful story of secrets, betrayal, denial, and a long road to recovery after being duped by someone who was supposed to be her partner for life.
In 1996, Ana’s life changed forever. One night her husband was there when they went to bed, the next minute he was gone.
“I don’t remember the moment precisely,” Ana continued, “because it was a process when it first happened. He disappeared, telling me that he was going on a business trip for the weekend and that he’d be back on Sunday. He disappeared on Friday morning, 3 a.m. in the morning, and he was scheduled to return on Sunday.”
Although we all encounter the unexpected in life, Ana Margarita could never have prepared for what was about to come next.
Working for Brothers to the Rescue, a Cuban-American activist organization that helped rescue refugees lost at sea, Juan Pablo had taken off for Cuba. The following day, two planes from the organization were shot down by the Cuban government, four pilots were killed, and Juan Pablo was allegedly in custody. Or was he?
As the real life drama played out, it was all a ruse. Juan Pablo was a spy.
“A lot was going on all at once,” said Ana Margarita about the chaos following her husband’s disappearing act, “and he was nowhere to be found. The rumors began on Monday morning. The press showed up at my house, the FBI showed up at my house, and then I saw him [on television] disembarking a plane in Havana. That’s how I found out he was in Havana.”
So, how did Ana feel at that unbelievably shocking moment?
“I saw him in that moment and I was in denial,” Ana added. “I felt that my husband had been forced to return to Cuba. He could not have gone under his own free will. He was a defector. It took therapy to come to the realization that I had been duped and accept the fact that he was actually a Cuban spy, that he was a mole in the United States and had been called back.”
After having her marriage to the spy annulled in civil court, Ana Margarita won two judgments against the Cuban government for their role in the fraud. Despite the victory, however, the debt remains unpaid to this day.
Sixteen years later, ahead of My Life is a Lifetime Movie, Ana Margarita is now able to talk about her ordeal with reflective clarity. Although she’s moved on with her life and is now a stronger, much wiser woman, the wounds of betrayal still run deep.
“It’s tough to accept that someone that you spent four years of your life with, who was your partner, your best friend, and you trusted with your life and the life of your children, had a whole different life you weren’t aware of. That’s difficult to fathom. How could he have kept this deep, dark secret from me? I think the hardest thing, the most painful thing, is the sense of betrayal.”
For more on the real story of Ana Margarita Martinez, visit her official website.
My Life is a Lifetime Movie premieres Wednesday, October 17 at 10pm ET on Lifetime.