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Marielena is a Spanish-language telenovela written by Delia Fiallo. It premiered on Telemundo in 1992, and starred Lucía Méndez and Eduardo Yáñez. The telenovela was aired in 9 countries around the world.
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The story begins with a woman named Carmela Muñoz giving birth to a girl named Marielena in the middle of the Florida Straits while escaping Cuba in a boat. Years later, Marielena is a beautiful young woman living in Miami with her mother and siblings, Enrique, Jr. a.k.a. "Kike", Mercedes a.k.a. "Meche" and Yolanda a.k.a. "Yoly". Marielena is engaged to a young man named Javier. Yoly is married to a man named Alfredo Minelli a.k.a. Fredy, whose father Rufino works at a restaurant serenading guests, and Meche is the girlfriend of Javier's brother, Leon. Leon and Javier live with their parents Fucha and Teo close to Carmela's home. One day while walking back home after buying flowers, Marielena is hit by a red convertible. A handsome young man named Luis Felipe Sandoval steps out of the car and offers her money for the flowers but speeds away angrily when she asks only for an apology.
Later at a bar with his brother-in-law, Andres Peñaranda, Luis Felipe bemoans the fact that he met a young beautiful woman but would never see her again. Luis Felipe is married to Claudia, an older woman whom he married years ago for her money. Shortly thereafter, Marielena and Enrique get jobs, she at an agency and he at a bank. On Mariaelena's first day at work, she is shocked to discover that her boss is the man who hit her with his car and Kike realizes the bank at which he is working is run by Luis' brother-in-law, Andres. Marielena and Luis become infatuated with one another and she loses her virginity to him. There are numerous subplots: Andres' friend Nicanor and his son Nikky are under threat from a drug dealer named Roberto, Andres' wife Leticia starts dating Kike, their son Andy becomes addicted to drugs and his sister Melissa belongs to a group of devil worshipers. Leon has a lover named Reina, Marielena's friend Chela is pregnant with Camacho's baby, her sister Teté is in love with Kike, Fredy leaves Yoly after finding out she is infertile and starts dating his secretary Cecilia. Luis' wife Claudia suspects that Luis Felipe has a lover and with the help of her sister Olga discovers that the lover is Marielena and plots to separate the lovers.
At the agency where Luis Felipe works, there are some people who dislike Marielena for who she is, including Urbano Gonzalez and his secretary, Purita, although soon they warm up to her. Luis Felipe's good friend Rene, who works in the agency, advises and supports them as best he can. Desperate to regain Luis Felipe, Claudia visits Carmela and reveals that her daughter's "extra hours" and "parties" are lies—she is Luis Felipe's lover. Marielena confesses to her mother what she has done, but insists to Carmela that she and she alone loves Luis Felipe. Carmela suffers an infarction after slapping Marielena. Marielena is absent from work for a few days but returns, determined to resume her relationship with Luis Felipe. Claudia vents her frustrations to Olga almost daily but Olga tells her she is only obsessed with Luis, not in love. Luis Felipe, Marielena, and Rene fly to Los Angeles for an anti-drug commercial; Claudia follows them to catch them in the act. Luis Felipe denies everything but as he is taking Claudia back to the airport, he asks for a divorce.
Melissa leaves the devil worshipers but the leader Carlos kidnaps her and takes her hostage to Andres' bank where he demands a large sum of money. Kike walks in and is shot, but is only grazed. A police squad is waiting outside the bank and Melissa escapes but is shot three times in the back, paralyzing her from the waist down. Seizing the moment, one of the sharpshooters shoots Carlos in the chest. Andres expresses his gratitude to Kike and even offers to pay for his college fund. Andy reveals his mother's extramarital affair with Kike and even goes to his house to "make him pay". He finds Meche and attempts to rape her until Leon rips him off her but calls off his wedding with Meche, misunderstanding the situation.
Claudia goes to New York to steal a baby in an attempt to regain Luis Felipe's love. While Claudia is away, Luís Felipe and Marielena spend a few days at a hotel, during which time Marielena tells Luís Felipe about Leticia and Kike and how he almost confessed to Carmela about it. Claudia returns without the baby because the mother had not left the hospital yet. Marielena goes to the hospital for tests to determine the cause of her stomach problems and Javier reveals that she is pregnant. She meets Luis Felipe at the apartment and tells him he must decide between his two women, although she doesn't reveal her pregnancy, then she returns home. Luís Felipe again tells Claudia he wants a divorce and she feigns sickness. Luis Felipe explains to Andres that if he doesn't resolve everything he'll lose Marielena and he'll go crazy.
Yoly lets slip to Claudia that Marielena is pregnant. Luís Felipe goes to Mariaelena's house, as he has decided to leave Claudia and all his possessions. Claudia insists Javier tell her the truth of Marielena's pregnancy and she storms out in a fury. Claudia pretends to give Luis Felipe and Marielena her blessing, but later feigns a medication overdose. Luis Felipe returns to Claudia's side when Andrés warns him that leaving her now would be akin to killing her in cold blood by his own hands. Marielena flies to Los Angeles so she can forget about Luís Felipe and advises Yoly, Meche, and Kike not to tell him where she is. Rene tells Luís Felipe that Marielena is waiting for him but he cannot bring himself to talk to her. Marielena tells Claudia to leave Luís Felipe alone but Claudia refuses to listen, going upstairs, and a catfight ensues in her bedroom. Mariaelena flies to Los Angeles. When Luís Felipe arrives home, he goes to the bedroom to find Claudia's lifeless body laying on the bed with Marielena's crucifix clutched in her hand. Marielena moves on, thinking Luís Felipe decided to stay with Claudia and Luís Felipe goes to jail thinking he saved Marielena from persecution.
After settling in an apartment in Los Angeles, Marielena goes for a job interview at Serrano Enterprises, and as she arrives a black car cuts in and parks in her space. Angry, she confronts the driver and the man, who appears somewhat middle-aged with a mustache, apologizes to her and lets her park in that space. The man, whose name is Esteban, has already fallen head over heels for her. Marielena explains to the secretary that she is a hard worker, but the secretary, hostile and defensive, merely has security escort her out of the building before she can speak with the boss. Down in the parking lot, Esteban is waiting for her and explains that Mr. Serrano is his boss. In jail, Luis Felipe tells Rene, Andres, Olga and a lawyer friend of his that he is willing to die if he is given the death penalty. Marielena gives birth to a healthy baby girl named Valentina (named after Luís Felipe's mother); Yoly stays with Marielena to take care of Valentina while Carmela returns to Miami. A few days later at a restaurant, Esteban reveals to Marielena that he is in love with her and proposes marriage to her but she rejects him. On the way home they get into an accident. Both survive but Esteban is left blind; he proposes marriage to Marielena once again thinking he is near death, and this time she accepts.
A year later, Marielena must take on Esteban's duties and hers at the agency and is not able to spend the entire lunch break with her daughter. Yoly cannot believe that after all this time, Marielena still loves Luís Felipe and says Esteban does not deserve this. Melissa becomes a lawyer and wants to appeal Luís Felipe's case but he tells her not to. Javier assigns Meche to take care of Andres at the hospital because of his drug habit, blood loss, and intoxication. Meche is shocked to see who it is but accepts the assignment. Javier calls Marielena to tell her of Carmela's failing health and Marielena flies back to Miami to convince Carmela to get an operation done on her to save her life, but Carmela refuses. Carmela, Yoly, and Esteban are worried that Marielena will find out about Luís Felipe's incarceration. Javier tells Marielena that Luís Felipe is in jail and Marielena and Melissa work together to find out who killed Claudia. Zuleima, the Peñaranda family's maid offers a lead by telling them she saw Andres putting his things in a backpack nervously and said that in one certain part of the bathroom there was a shirt stained with blood.
Javier tells Andy that he has contracted AIDS. Tato then finds Andrés working at a farm and tells him about Andy dying from AIDS and says that his family needs him but Andrés stands firm and says he won't return to that house again. After Tato tells everyone about Andy's deteriorating health, Andy tells Melissa that this is punishment for what he has done and although reluctant at first, he confesses how it happened: he broke into the house and took money from Claudia's purse and stole some of her jewellery, then hid in the closet as Marielena and Claudia fought in the bedroom. After Marielena left, Claudia saw Andy hiding in the closet and threatened to call the police on him so Andy stabbed her with the letter opener. Marielena tells Luís Felipe about Andy's confession and says he will be free soon but doesn't get a chance to explain she's now married to Esteban. Worried, Esteban tells Yoly and Victoria that they're moving to Miami so that Marielena can be close to her family and asks Victoria to find a house and a publicity agency (which turns out to be Claudia's).
With his dying words, Andy repents for having killed Claudia and for having attacked Meche and accepts God as his savior and peacefully dies with Meche, Leticia, and Olga by his side. At the publicity agency, Victoria discusses the house price with Urbano when Purita comes in to say he is needed outside and Purita tells Victoria of the time when Marielena used to work there. After Urbano returns, Victoria says she'll buy the agency on the condition that the ownership is transferred over to Marielena.
One year later, Luís Felipe is released from jail but does not listen when Marielena tries to explain about her new life. Once he sees Esteban and Valentina at Carmela's house, Luís Felipe is heartbroken. Saddened, Marielena leaves Luís Felipe in his apartment, vowing never to see him again. Once Luís Felipe returns to the agency and sees that Marielena is his boss, old feelings return. Marielena tells Esteban she wants a divorce but he refuses, as he waits only for her love. Graciela does not want Marielena and Esteban to divorce because she doesn't want to lose Luís Felipe, but Marielena says she will divorce from Esteban with or without opposition. A couple of days later, everyone is preparing for the arrival of Hurricane Andrew. Carmela, Kike, Fucha, and Teo take shelter in her apartment, Rene and Purita stay at Luís Felipe's apartment, and Marielena, Yoly, Valentina, Victoria, Graciela and Esteban stay in their big house. Everyone rides out the storm in their own way except Graciela who is afraid. Esteban reveals to Graciela that he can see again but it must remain secret.
No longer able to resist, Luís Felipe kisses Marielena just as Carmela walks into the agency. Nicanor starts to recuperate. Soon Rene and Carmela give the two advice: Rene tells Luís Felipe that he and Marielena should take a short vacation to sort things out while Carmela warns Marielena away from Luis Felipe. Esteban's old flame, Victoria, reappears in his life, but he orders her to fly back to Los Angeles. Graciela plans a banquet and Luis Felipe wonders if Esteban will accept that. Marielena accepts Esteban's decision to return to California, and determine to forget Luis Felipe. Marielena realizes that Esteban is no longer blind when she catches Esteban reading the story of the 3 Bears to Valentina; she threatens to divorce him, at which point he throws Victoria out of the house. After much convincing and confronting Leticia's infidelity, Andrés returns home so he and Leticia can help Melissa. Carmela suffers another heart attack and is taken to the hospital and barely clings to life. Luís Felipe tells Graciela that he refuses to marry her as he is still in love with Marielena. One day at the hospital, Graciela tells Marielena that she is expecting Luís Felipe's child and faced with this new heartbreak, Marielena tells Luís Felipe that he needs to be with Graciela because of her so-called pregnancy. Acting on impulse, Javier kisses Meche after defending her from his brother León and a relationship soon blossoms.
Esteban tells Marielena that she is now free as Luís Felipe tells Graciela that they'll get married not out of love, but of the child she's carrying. Luís Felipe visits Marielena to say goodbye. Chela is desperate to tell him the truth but Marielena and Esperanza warn her not do it. León tries to reconcile with Meche but she rejects him, as she prefers Javier. Carmela is getting ready to be discharged from the hospital. Marielena plans on finding another job after having learned from her experiences at the agency. Esteban tells Graciela that he won't forgive her for what he did to her and visits Marielena, only to find Yoly. Against her mother and Marielena's wishes, Chela visits Luís Felipe at the agency and reveals that Valentina is his real daughter. Esteban tells Yoly he took a wrong turn—what he had for Marielena was an obsession while Yoly will always be a good friend—and announces that he will return to Los Angeles leaving Yoly heartbroken. When he tells Graciela of his plans, she reveals she's faking the pregnancy. After Carmela comes back home and goes to bed, Chela reveals to Marielena what she did and tells her to think in herself and Valentina.
Arriving at his home, Nicanor talks with Lucrecia who says she never did love Nikky and that his real mother is Telma who left them to travel. Worried, Telma seeks out Teo to help take her to Nicanor's house. As per her request, Nicanor hands Telma the money she wants but she wants the house, and calls out Roberto to kill him. Nikky has heard everything. Roberto says the witnesses must be eliminated and shoots Lucrecia and Nikky and mortally shoots Nicanor twice. Both fight for the gun and in the end, Nikky fires a single gunshot which kills Roberto. With his last words, Nicanor repents everything he has done and hands Nikky over to Telma. Nikky swears to respect Telma now that he knows that she is his real mother. Nicanor passes away with a mourning Telma, Nikky, and Teo by his side. With the death of Nicanor, Telma swears she will do everything in her power to be a good mother for Nikky. Luís Felipe tells Graciela they can't get married because of Valentina; Graciela wonders if he plans to abandon her and her unborn child but Esteban steps in and pulls the wool from Luís Felipe's eyes—Graciela is not pregnant and his true daughter is Valentina. Worried about Valentina, Marielena finds her playing with Luís Felipe at the park and the three are finally reunited. After revealing their relationship to their respective parents, both Teo and Fucha and later Carmela approve and give Javier and Meche their blessings. Soon thereafter, Marielena tells Carmela she is marrying Luis Felipa, and Carmela accepts this but will not receive them into her house.
One day, Luis Felipe prays in chapel to God, thanking Him for giving him the daughter he always wanted and acknowledging he was wrong—he almost lost the woman he loves and his own daughter. Unbeknownst to him, Carmela overheard everything; she opened her heart and her eyes and finally accepts Luís Felipe.
In the end, Kike starts a relationship with Teté, Chela leaves Camacho after confirming his infidelity, Melissa hooks up with Tato, and León ends up with Andrés' secretary, Irma. Finally, after many obstacles and hardships Marielena and Luís Felipe are married by the church. The final scenes show everyone at the reception of the new Mr. and Mrs. Sandoval with Marielena and Luís Felipe singing "Si Nos Dejan" and dancing to salsa music. A mariachi band starts to play the theme song of the novela with the newlyweds wrapped in a kiss as the guests applaud.
- Lucía Méndez as Marielena Muñoz
- Eduardo Yáñez as Luís Felipe Sandoval
- Zully Montero as Claudia Sandoval
- Maria José Alfonso as Carmela Muñoz
- Salvador Pineda as Esteban Serrano
- Mara Croatto as Graciela Serrano
- Julio Alcázar as Andrés Peñaranda
- Griselda Nogueras as Fucha
- Manolo Villaverde as Teo
- Martha Picanes as Olga Brusual
- German Barrios as Nicanor Garcia Negrete [dead]*(shot by Roberto)
- Aurora Callazo as Leticia Peñaranda
- Marta Velasco as Telma Socaras
- Rosa Felipe as Rosalia Socaras
- Sandra Haydee as Esperanza
- Miguel J. Gutiérrez as Rufino Minelli [dead]*
- Luis Oquendo as Urbano Gonzalez
- Miguel Paneke as León
- Maribel Gonzalez as Reina
- Juan Carlos Antón as Javier
- Maria Canals as Nancy
- Xavier Coronel as Alfredo "Fredy" Minelli [dead]*
- Emiliano Díez as Rene
- Ivon D'Liz as Purita
- Frank Falcon as Enrique "Kike" Muñoz
- Cristina Karman as Yolanda "Yoly" Muñoz
- Alexa Kuve as Melissa Peñaranda
- Luz Marabel as Zuleima
- Abrahm Méndez as Tato
- Isaura Mendoza as Maria
- Caridad Ravelo as Chela
- Bertha Sandoval as Enriqueta Gonzalez
- Eva Tamargo as Cecilia
- Anardis Vega as Nicanor "Nikky" Garcia Negrete, Jr.
- Mayte Vilán as Mercedes "Meche" Muñoz
- Larry Villanueva as Andrés "Andy" Peñaranda, Jr. [dead]*
- Salvador Levy as Urbano (replaced Luis Oquendo after he died)