viernes, 16 de junio de 2017


                                                    portada diez cuentos cubanos, más o menos.

It was ironic that his dedication to the revolution notwithstanding Albertico was never allowed to join the party; in Cuba since the early sixties the party was only one; the Communist Party headed by the Castros; there were no other parties nor were Cubans permitted to profess an ideology different from the official narrative. Albertico lost almost all his friends, most of them had left the island and embraced the capitalist way they had so vehemently reneged only a decade ago, while others thought the revolution was not red enough and craved the achievements of the glorious Soviet Union; curious, Albertico thought, in the end the ultra communists left too. Hay cosas que no se entienden. Whenever Esperanza claimed the revolution had been unfair with him he answered he was one the many communists without membership card. I don't need a card to be a communist. Yes, I confess I had hated communism for a long time but that was before the revolution gave me the opportunity to study and see the world as it was; well not really see the world, Esperanza reminded him that his coworkers had all traveled abroad and he hadn't.

The seventies brought one failure after another; El Comandante had these great ideas that were successful only in his mind. Albertico always blamed it on his lazy fellow Cubans; thus, from one position to the next he always got in trouble; he was always the target of the bureaucracy and he saw his children become adults hating the very experiment he had so hard fought for. Then, all of a sudden, something odd happened. Fidel gave a speech announcing that those traitors he had been forced to turn away from would now be allowed to come visit the island. Ay mi madre how are we going to look Susana and Antonio in the eye?. Albertico felt somewhat betrayed, for the first time he doubted el comandante's wisdom.

In less than a year it all turned back to the early days; people started leaving the island in any possible way; breaking into embassies, jumping into rafts. His estranged friends had all come and hugged him as if time had not passed; they were not starving as "Granma" used to depict exile in Miami; he was dumbfounded to realize that a welder in America lived much better than a neurosurgeon in Cuba. The party propaganda had been deceitful. Fidel had to do something, he was being betrayed again. His children wanted to leave and he had to use all his convincing power to talk them out of such decision; then Cubans started to bully Cubans all over the place. El comandante had clearly said that all those who wanted to leave could do so: we don't want them; we don't need them; he had said; so then why the violence? Why beating them, insulting them?; how could he beat his neighbor of twenty years? Fidel had to be informed; some opportunists were not following his directives. He wrote a lengthy letter to El Comandante; full of passion, exhaustive in the details and with a chronological recap of the Revolution. He never got a reply; Fidel was probably too busy; but he had been hurriedly transferred to a lower position and was never asked to attend "important meetings" again. Some bourgeois opportunist was between him and his beloved Comandante; the enemy is everywhere

Esperanza brings him a glass with lemonade; it's so hot in Cuba in the summer!!!; and they go back to their memories. Their children enrolled in the university of Havana; well Albertin there but the girl went to ISPJAE; she wanted to be an engineer. Albertin had a friend who was very well connected; he chauffeured a compañero coronel; the boy was only two years older than their son but he dressed well, for Cuban standards, and he carried US dollars all the time. Esperanza was scared her son would be detained for possession of hard currency, a serious crime then, but no; his friend was a powerful man. Albertico was not too happy, his son had started to drink a little too much and had somehow neglected his duties at school; he still got 4s and 3s but had stopped getting 5s and it bothered him.

A chilling effect travels down his back as Albertico remembers the guards coming for his son and taking him to Villa Marista; he was there for a whole day and had been sent back home with a warning not to see his friend again. The news, the videotapes of a trial. My God Arnaldo Ochoa, the most popular and decorated general in the Cuban Armed Forces has been arrested and is about to be sentenced; his son's friend had been in jail for a week and his boss was among the ones put on trial with General Ochoa. It didn't add up; Ochoa had been in Angola while the other traitors were engaged in drug trafficking towards the US; secret meetings with Escobar; he ran to his room and looked for the old American magazine Antonio had left in his last trip to Cuba; the objective had been the sports section; but Albertico had caught a glimpse of Admiral Santamaria; whom he knew well; what was the Admiral doing in an American magazine; with Antonio's help he had grasped the essence; the Admiral had been indicted with the charge of drug trafficking; Raul's name was also mentioned. Hay cosas que no se entienden. Albertico felt sick; he felt a sharp pain in his stomach, then his left arm went numb and he fainted. That was his first stroke and as he returned home from the hospital three days later the world had fallen on his shoulders. He kept glued to the TV set for the entire duration of the trial. He was absent from work for two months; he had never missed a day in his life; but Esperanza had been adamant: you will do as the doctor ordered. He obeyed and watched the first and the second trial. This time he had no doubts; nobody was lying to Fidel; the Comandante himself was asking for blood!!! The American magazine, Antonio's assurances that Castro was behind the whole scandal. Hay cosas que no se entienden.

Albertico returned to work but nothing was the same. He could not feel the old enthusiasm. Fidel had banned the Soviet magazines. Hay cosas que no se entienden. The news from the Soviet Union were confusing and it was becoming harder and harder to get food. One day he heard Fidel say something he never thought he would say: we have been abandoned by the Soviet Union and the socialist bloc does not exist anymore; right before his incredulous eyes, Cuba collapsed into an economic depression; they could only eat when a friend from the Miami flew to the island. What had happened?; Esperanza finally broke the news to him while the family sat at the table for a frugal meal: "Esto es una mierda papi" and she started crying so helplessly Albertico feared his wife might suffer a heart attack.

After that it all blurred; black outs and an economic crisis only similar to the stories he had heard about las vacas flacas. Parents pimping their daughters and even their sons to sexual predators disguised as tourists. He had seen Americans, not as many as the official propaganda later had it, come to Cuba for sex; funny thing now they came from all over the world but America; entire aircrafts filled with single men to enjoy the sexual prowess of teenagers male and female; one mass exodus after the other. Esto es una mierda; his wife words rang incessantly in his mind. So many years of sacrifice, so many things they had done without only to find himself incapable of feeding his family; what they ate was procured by the lousy tips the tourists gave Albertin whose degree ended up being a waste of time as he had been forced to earn his keep as a bellhop in Havana Libre. Mariana was even worse; it had broken his heart when he found out his almost forty year old daughter was dating a wealthy Italian that came regularly to Cuba on business; or so he said. Mariana's husband was well aware of the whole thing and had been introduced to the rich man as her cousin. That was his second stroke. He refused to accept any gifts from his daughter TO BE CONTINUED...

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