support babalú

Your donations help fund
our continued operation

do you babalú?

what they’re saying






recommended reading

babalú features

recent comments

  • antonio2009: Here is the news coverage of when Elian was seized at gunpoint by 151 federal agents, including a dozen members of the...

  • asombra: It may be that practically anyone subjected to the intense, sustained, professional indoctrination Elian has been under since...

  • asombra: “No fresh ideas.” The point is not how fresh, but how sound and sensible. Fatuous cretin.

  • asombra: Former FBI Director Louis Freeh, who’s from NJ, has said he tried trading the “Cuban 5″ for Chesimard and...

  • asombra: Omar, he looks like what he was turned into: a Stepford Castroite.

search babalu

babalú archives

frequent topics

elsewhere on the net


Dispatch from the Balcony of Customer Satisfaction

Day three in Puerto Rico.

Got rid of the balcony of disillusionment in an old-fashioned American way.  I complained to the management.

New room, new balcony, new view.  Satisfaction.


Beautiful.  Much better.  God bless America, capitalism, free markets, and the hard-working fairies of customer satisfaction.

The rage I felt on the first day waxes and wanes at breakneck speed, like some moon gone berserk.  I'm reminded of Cuba at every turn, by random sights:  what used to be, what never was, what never will be, what could have been, what might have been, what was stifled, ruined, destroyed, what lurks behind the giant black tornado-sprouting wall cloud of the future.

Spent time with my cousins today, who kidnapped me, freed me temporarily from my conference.  Lots of Cuban-style conversation, so familiar and unfamiliar, so fast, faster than any conversation ever carried out by anyone, anywhere in New England.  Elation and rage spin in the core of the soul, changing places at a faster clip than the talking, faster even than the speed of light.

I meet relatives I've never met before: children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren of my cousin Rafael.  Three generations, all born in exile.  To them it's not exile.  They have no images of Cuba tattooed on their neurons.

Cousin Fernando drives me back to the hotel.  He endured twenty years as a prisoner in Castro's gulag.  At one point in the conversation, earlier, he had described how the sound of the firing squads reverberated throughout La Cabaña prison,  and then quickly moved on to joke after joke, some so funny they made me cry.  He really and genuinely could have been a great comedian.

As he is dropping me off, he tells me what happened when he was freed, something I did not know.  The King of Spain intervened, got the Castro dynasty to free him before he served all of his 30-year sentence, and he was flown to Spain.  But in Madrid he discovered that the U.S. State Department, then under the leadership of President Jimmy Carter, had branded him a "terrorist" and barred him from entering the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave.

All he had done to merit this designation was to ferry weapons to a safe house in anticipation of the Bay of Pigs invasion, all this under the direction of the CIA.

"That's how I was rewarded," he said.  Then he told another joke. We hugged and said good-bye.

The rage flared up, but could not eclipse the exquisite beauty of the moment.


Cousin Fernando (left), cousin Rafael (right).





5 comments to Dispatch from the Balcony of Customer Satisfaction

  • antonio2009

    When I moved to Puerto Rico in 1982, I was surprised to see there are no bohios in the countryside, like those that still exist in Cuba. Enjoy "La Isla del Encanto."

  • Honey

    They have no images of Cuba tattooed on their neurons.
    Amazing writer.

    And that "irony" of how America treats someone doing the bidding of the CIA. But it wasn't America, was it? It was Jimmy Carter. If you read that article by Caroline Glick that I mentioned in a comment to your previous post about this visit, you can see the difference between Bush and Obama in dealing with what should have been done. Elections have consequences. Too bad Americans do not care.

    I so look forward to your posts here, sir.

  • asombra

    Jimmy Carter is lower than pig shit. Is that Southern enough? Talk about faux piety. Classic whitewashed sepulcher, in the Biblical sense.

  • Does your cousin's "terrorist" designation still stand?

  • asombra

    Of course it still stands, with Jimmy. Just like he still thinks it really was malaise.