“What did we ever do to deserve the embargo?”
Our tour guide asked us this question in a small group on the bus one day. Since I was the resident capitalist, everyone was waiting to hear what I had to say. Sitting and squirming, my response was less than stellar. It was some sad-sack tome on the value of individual achievement and the market system and how the embargo is the most un-capitalist of measures that hurt everyone. Everyone nodded in acknowledgement of my answer.
This was not what I wanted to say.
I think he deserves a better answer. That answer can also say a lot about post-Castro Cuba—and what can, or will, happen when there is no Castro in power (Fidel, Raul or otherwise).
First of all, the question he asked is the wrong question. No one in their right mind would ever say that anyone, let alone the Cuban people, DESERVE to have their market freedom, their economy, their resources strangled by an embargo. It’s a straw-man argument that forces cheap sympathy yet does little to resolve the conflict.
This should be the better question to ask: “To whose benefit is it to keep the embargo going?”
In both Cuba and here in the States, this is a far more troublesome question, as it often brings the conflicting needs and ideologies of disparate groups into greater focus. A whole list of culprits comes to mind: US business, US military, the Cuban exiles, the Cuban government, the Cuban Communist Party, the Castros, the European corporations in cahoots with the Cuban government.
None of them are completely blameless.
The US and the Exiles
Let’s start with our homegrown suspects—and none have beaten a dead horse for as long as the US military.
For half a century, the US has enforced an economic embargo on the island in a futile attempt to “starve” Cuba into regime change. Even after an ever-flexible authoritarian apparatus and a flood of European companies filling the void, the powers-that-be still insist that this is the best way.
Contrary to what the left thinks, the great American capitalists are NOT pleased with this arrangement. Cuba is the largest market in the Caribbean, and the great US companies are shut out of that action. Granted, their Cuban infrastructure was confiscated during the Revolution, which leaves a bad taste. Yet 50 years later, after European companies managed a foothold in Cuba, shouldn’t some Yankee firms go in and play ball with the Commies if that gives them the future “advanced market entry”?
We’ve been in the embargo business since 1807, and almost all have been unmitigated disasters. Our CIA’s attempts to assassinate Castro—all 638 of them—prove that a Skulls and Bones secret handshake and a Brooks Brothers bow tie make shitty hired killers. So why has the US government not taken the hint? Why have not changed course and forged a new direction in foreign policy?
According to many, especially on the left, much of the reason lies with the powerful, and often troublesome, bloc of Cuban exiles that have come to the United States since the 1960s.
Now, I’m not going to knock the exiles. I have friends who are either exiles themselves or the children of exiles. Most of these people came here for legitimate reasons: escaping political repression, economic opportunity (largely based on the lack of economic opportunity in post-revolutionary Cuba), etc. It would be hypocritical of me to smack down another group of immigrants when I (like most Americans) come from foreign stock as well.
Yet as I look at the organizations and politicians that represent the Cuban community, something troubles me. One is the lack of realistic expectations—and often for nefarious reasons. Though not true of most groups, it’s safe to say that an “embargo industry” has arisen among the myriad groups that represent Cuban exiles. From the benign to the militant, they see the embargo not only as necessary for regime change in their homeland, but also a raison d’etre for their own existence.
Complicating this is the expectations of a post-Castro Cuba: a Cuba where the clock is turned back. This has taken form in two ways: calls for repatriation of confiscated property and nostalgia for the Batista years before 1959.
Here, I’ll be blunt. Cuba will never, and I mean never, return to the days before 1959. Too much has happened, and besides, that era had enough ill will and official malfeasance to negate any misty-eyed feelings in Miami. Whatever happens after the Castros will have to deal with the institutional remains of the Cuban Revolution, not sweep them clean.
That said, reclaiming property and businesses lost in the confiscations of 1959-1962 is a pipe dream. The return of state-run enterprises to private entities will be a slow and painful process in it of itself. 50 years later, I have serious doubts that the absentee former landlords of these properties will be welcomed back to Cuba with open arms.
Below is a Dutch documentary about how Cuban groups are preparing for a post-Castro Cuba.
There are extensive plans over what the government and society of Cuba will look like in the next phase. Yet many exiles see themselves as coming back to “govern” Cuba when the change occurs. While some Cubans may welcome them (Cubans in the US provide millions in aid to their compatriots on the island, after all), there will undoubtedly be resentment among native Cubans towards exiles who invariably had resources to leave the island, instead of suffering the consequences of the revolution as they did.
After half a century, these exiles could be seen as merely another foreign interloper. It isn’t certain, but the exiles may be more of a hindrance than a help to post-Castro Cuba.
The Cuban community, before it sets foot on its homeland again, needs to really consider what it can, and what it cannot bring to the table. This involves the inevitable conclusion that not every exile may want to go back.
The biggest assumption about the exile community, and one that has changed over time, is its homogeneity. We are now at least two generations removed from the first generation of exiles in the 1960s, and at least one generation removed from the Marielitos of the 1980s. Younger Cuban-Americans, with little, if any, firsthand knowledge of the island, must have developed attitudes and opinions that have altered the proscribed course of the “exile” mentality.
The embargo, US-Cuban relations, and other issues have divided, rather than united, Cubans of all ages to the point that they will probably no longer be the solid Republican voting bloc that politicians hoped—turning Cubans into (‘gasp!’) just another Hispanic group pandered to by Democrats ad nauseum. In fact, Cuban-Americans, over time, may possibly cease to even call themselves “exiles,” reflecting the reality of living in another country for half a century.
If less and less people want to go back, what incentive is there to open an embargo that gives your group identity, legitimacy and government funding?
The Castros, the PCC and the Euros that Love Them
So as much as there are people that want the embargo to go away (capitalists, leftists, some politicians and some Cuban exiles), there are others that benefit from the blockage (other conservatives, military establishment, most of the Cuban-American contingent in Congress and other Cuban exiles).
Yet before the Venceremos brigade and the editorial board of Mother Jones starts cheering that I’ve joined the barricades, there’s plenty of blame to spread on the other side. In fact, a lions’ share of the blame goes to the dynamic duo that started this whole mess—the Castro brothers.
It is now common knowledge that the US embargo is a huge reason—perhaps the only reason—that the Castros have remained in power for half a century. With an economic embargo, Fidel and company can blame any and all shortcomings of the regime on American aggression. Regardless of the ineptitude of the government, the embargo stands as the great Yankee bogeyman that keeps Cubans, on the surface, loyal to the Communists in general and Fidel in particular.
Don’t just take my word for it. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recently stated that the Castros “do not want to see an end to the embargo and do not want to see normalization with the United States, because they would then lose all their excuses for what hasn’t happened in Cuba in the last 50 years.” Former Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar, wrote in his 2005 book Portraits and Profiles that Castro would be out of power within three months if the embargo was lifted. Aznar’s words carry an interesting weight, considering that Spanish companies have worked extensively with the Cuban government, particularly in tourism.
Along with the Castros, the Communist Party of Cuba (PCC) and its apparatus of terror also benefit from economic closure. With an economic embargo comes an embargo of information, the perfect mix for paramilitary thugs to exact fear into the populace. The Committees for the Defense of the Revolution (CDRs) and the Rapid Response Brigades function because the Cuban people have no independent access to information about any alternative to the status quo.
End the embargo, and the whole house of cards will come tumbling down. Woe to the government spies, snitches and CDR block captains that day. Old scores will be settled, neighbors may turn on each other, and the bloodshed may be too much to comprehend.
However, another wrinkle was added to this tale recently. In order to collect hard currency to maintain their power, Fidel and Raul threw the Communist Manifesto out the window and opened limited investment in Cuba to foreign, non-US companies agreeing to joint ventures with the Cuban government. Companies such as Spanish resort conglomerate Melia and Italian telecommunications giant Telecom Italia snaked into the Cuban economy, creating businesses and infrastructure to pump tourist cash into government coffers. How happy would they be to have an embargo lifted, and Hilton Hotels, Coca-Cola and Verizon nipping at their heels?
The Post-Castro Cuba, more questions than answers
Needless to say, lifting the embargo will be but one element in a process leading to what is widely considered a post-revolutionary Cuba.
The next step involves supplanting the Castro regime. All outside efforts to do so have failed, and the internal opposition is relatively rudderless, divided into factions that seldom work together. An interesting article in the Journal of Democracy highlights the difficulties in creating regime change, even with the lifting of an embargo.
Even with a regime change, however, the massive volume of questions that need to be answered—in a relatively short time—would confound even our founding fathers. Here is but a sampling:
- Would the government maintain its current structure or change to something more in line with new ideologies?
- How would elections and political campaigns work?
- How would political parties organize?
- What would happen to the old PCC? Would it be outlawed, like the Nazi party in Germany, or will it be reorganized as one political party among many?
- Would the PCC have to dismantle its apparatus of intimidation, the CDRs, Rapid Response Brigades, etc., in order to participate in democratic politics?
- What is to become of former officers of the old regime, particularly ones considered “criminals”?
- Would institutions of civil order and public maintenance be maintained?
- What would be the military’s role in this new system?
- How would Cuba re-define its relationship to the United States?
- How would Cuba re-define its relationship to allies of the former government, such as Venezuela, Bolivia and Brazil?
- How can the Cuban economy be changed to a capitalist model? Should it be changed at all, or should there be a hybrid of capitalist and socialist elements?
- If government businesses are to revert to private ownership, how will that process work? Will former party leaders suddenly become billionaires as in Russia? Will workers get first crack at shares in new corporations, with full voting rights to boards of directors as well as executive management?
- What is to become of the business relationships made before the regime change?
- How will services like education and health care—cornerstones of the propaganda of the previous regime—continue in the new system?
- How will taxation work?
- Will “full employment” continue to be the goal, or will the process of job creation and unemployment change?
- How open is “open”? Will information be open and accessible, or will some form of censorship exist?
- What protections for basic rights will exist?
- How will crime, law enforcement and incarceration be affected?
- What is to be done about the “legacy” of the Cuban Revolution? Should it be written out like a Stalinist purge, denounced loudly and openly, or integrated into the narrative of Cuban history, focusing both on accomplishments and failures?
This is but a fraction of the problems that will exist in the post-Castro island. Few of them will be resolved right away, and with all regime changes comes some measure of bloodshed—some more than others. My hope is that the process of transition will be as painless as possible.
However, do not expect a Singapore or a Taiwan overnight: the socialist system will probably be weaned slowly from Cuban society, rather than risking a massive revolution with potentially catastrophic side effects.
Finally, I wanted to get back to the original question about the embargo. The tensions between Cuba and the United States, apart from strict ideology, also amount to a crisis of irrationality. Embargos have a tendency to entrench longstanding hatreds and prejudices, and Cuba is no exception.
The voices of reason and pragmatism, however, have been drowned out in the din of obstructionist rhetoric and ideological saber-rattling.
The need for regime change is evident, at least in my eyes. But I’m not naïve enough to say that a quick insurrection will make things great again. The first step is normalization between the two countries. Let reason and rationality prevail, utilizing points of political and economic convergence, and we the openings can happen sooner rather than later.
For the sake of Cuba and the United States, let’s hope and pray that reason can prevail.
And for all the Cubans in Miami and Union City, time to end with a little nostalgia. Here’s a 1932 travel film about Havana. Note the “newly” constructed Capitol building, as well as the snappy straw hats on the Prado. Enjoy.
You say you want a revolution…the Cuba Chronicles, Part VI
"Fidel; tell us what else we should do!" Literacy Brigade on parade, 1962.
All political revolutions focus on the young, and Cuba was no exception.
A group of young students are plucked from their normal middle-class lives and sent to teach illiterate masses in the most remote, poorest areas of the country, often with few resources and little support.
Obviously it’s Teach for America (kidding).
It is, in fact, the Literacy Campaign of 1961. Cuba’s young people embarked on a yearlong literacy campaign to correct a longstanding issue amongst their country’s rural poor, the results of which are still acclaimed throughout the world.
Cuba has the only museum that I know of that’s devoted to literacy. The Literacy Museum celebrates the 1961 campaign as well as Cuba’s efforts to spread its brand of “literacy” to other areas—although the content of the texts make me ever so skeptical about the true intentions of these campaigns.
"Cuba will be the first country in America that after some months can say they do not have a single illiterate person." - Fidel Castro
Say what you will about the propaganda parade of days past, this had to be the most honest official experience I’ve had in Cuba (emphasis on “official.”) The director of the museum minced no words in describing the mission of the campaign: to educate the poor and indoctrinate them in the ideals of the revolution. She was sincere, devoted and thoroughly convinced of the righteousness of the cause, hence her matter-of-fact delivery and earnest display of the artifacts.
Nothing says literacy education like drawings of semi-automatic rifles.
The 1962 campaign was probably done, at least by its participants, with the best of intentions. Thousands of young people, aged 8-19, left their houses (with the parents’ permission—though permission could’ve come from the business end of a rifle) received a hurry-up training in teaching, textbooks and revolutionary theory, and were sent to the farthest reaches of Cuba to teach the peasants how to read and write.
"C is for Che; F is for Fidel; R is for Raul...now repeat after me..."
The young volunteers lived with their students, working the cane fields by day (“So this is what a machete’s for.”) and teaching literacy by night (“Finish that essay! Don’t make me get the machete!”). As the director pointed out, many lessons focused on revolutionary theory, and the first lessons involved spelling such useful words as “Fidel”, “Che”, and “Revolucion.” The final project was to write a letter to Fidel, thanking him for allowing them to learn to read and write. The letters were sincere enough, given that they were of a 1st grade reading level. It says a lot about who’s considered “literate” around here.
Hey Russia, wasn't it a wonderful idea to entrust medium-range nuclear weapons to a people that consider 1st grade writing to be "literate"? I didn't think so.
Since there were still anti-revolutionary “gangs” about, the volunteers were often in great danger. Still, the greatest danger may have been the peasants themselves. Rural folk tend to be the most conservative…believe me, it’s still true today. Many of them refused to be taught by a kid—thus, the kid would bring his “big brother” with some “encouragement” of the smokeless powder and full metal jacket variety. Still others were confused about those things that still confuse students today: mechanics, phonics, sentence structure, why it’s not okay to end sentences with prepositions. All of these were recounted gleefully by the museum director.
What I didn’t hear about, obviously, was of the one wise-ass cane-cutter (and there must’ve been a few out there) who had the nerve to say, “Hey kid, what’s the point in teaching us how to read and write if we can’t read what we want and write what we want?”
I wonder what happened to that guy? Was he “educated”? “Re-educated”? “Corrected”?
Something to think about, but not necessarily the place to ask. The area where the museum stands used to be Camp Columbia, the US base of operations from 1898-1902 when Cuba was a US “protectorate”. Furthermore, one of Batista’s villas is on the grounds. I’d be getting an earful if I opened my mouth around here.
Yet I had no trouble opening my mouth at the next stop, which was Jose Fuster’s house in Jaimanitas, on the outskirts of Havana. A warm, open artist, his whimsical work, and rum cocktails that could kill a horse certainly helped.
Fuster's Cuban 5 monument. See my point about the gynecologist?
Fuster is an artist whose work is a cross between Picasso and Gaudi. I’m thinking it’s an amusement park designed by Timothy Leary. In fact, a whole town designed by him. Fuster has taken numerous areas of his town and created works of art out of them, thus creating a metropolis of psychedelic fun. Most of it is inspired by his own experiences, as well as Cuban culture and politics. A huge monument in his yard commemorates the “Cuban 5” a group of Cubans arrested for infiltrating Cuban-American networks with supposed terrorist aims.
I didn’t find it that incendiary. It looks like the up stretched hand of an overzealous gynecologist.
The man himself is more fascinating than his work. A veteran of the Literacy Campaign, Fuster is a steadfast supporter of the revolution. His glasses tell the story: the frames are red and black after the July 26th Movement. Given his swell digs and his ability to inflict his art on his neighbors, the revolution has been very, very good to Fuster.
I guess he gravitated toward me as we both had a lot in common: an abundance of flesh, a lack of hair, bad eyes, crushing intellects, and above all big mouths. We first spoke about Ecuadorian president Correa, since I told him my heritage. I was candid and frank in my reservations about the man, which he understood and gave his arguments. I then asked about the use of Che’s image: is it a “cartoon”, as I thought, or are these slogans really his? He explained that Che’s ideas were the foundation of the revolution to begin with, and his slogans are what adorn the walls and billboards.
(A Cuban revolution based on the ideas of a second-rate Argentine doctor?)
Our conversation evolved into whether or not Che today would’ve approved of the CUC system. Would Che have given his assent to a system that, while giving tourists access to Cuba and hard cash to the government, keeps the regular Cuban as a subordinate? Fuster explained, as best he could, that he probably would’ve seen it as Fidel sees it: a necessary measure in response to an economic crisis.
I didn’t exactly see it that way. Part of the reason that Che left in 1965 was probably that government was much messier than an ideological handbook. He got himself into many difficult situations, but the political swamp was too much for him.
Group portrait with Fuster. He's the bald gray dude sitting center. I'm at the left with my ubiquitous planter hat.
My host was impressed, and greeted me as a “true intellectual.” Not sure about that, but my bullshit artistry is top-notch, as is Fusters’. I guess that’s why I liked him so much.
Yet the true rhetoric was left for later. We returned to the ICAP Friendship House for a meeting with Mariela Castro, director of the Cuban Center for Sex Education (CENESEX). If the name sounds familiar, it’s because she’s Raul Castro’s daughter, making her Fidel Castro’s niece. It’s about as close as I was going to get to a dictator, and after this encounter, I’m not sure if I want to get any closer.
Mariela seemed like a nice enough lady; her face resembles uncle Fidel’s in an entirely too-creepy way. There was a brief video about her work with Cuba’s gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. It juxtaposed the more conservative attitudes of older Cubans with shots of rather flamboyant drag queens on stage—something that probably doesn’t bode well for gays and lesbians who want to present themselves as ordinary citizens.
She then gave a talk about the development of feminist organizations in Cuba, and their dovetailing into LGBT rights in Cuba. Again, nothing too inflammatory—I wish I were a fly on a wall when Mariela’s mom asked Fidel to approve of a womens’ organization during the revolution: “Dios mio, Vilma, what next?! Have our women wear fatigues, grow beards, and suck on Cohibas…oh, fine. You ladies have fun.”
Maybe it was cracks like that last one that caused Mariela Castro to go apeshit.
Channeling her loquacious uncle, Mariela goes on a two-three minute long rant about the embargo, the United States, the Cuban 5, terrorism theories, health care and Michael Moore. It’s right out of Fidel’s playbook, but with less bluster and more “why me?” shrugs as if Cuba were run by Ellen DeGeneres. It also had nothing to do with the stated topics of sex education and homosexual rights.
We were all taken aback, leftist and rightist alike. Everyone seemed nervous about asking questions.
I’ve had four straight days of propaganda, official meandering and obligatory bowing and scraping. My mother told me to be nice and not make trouble on this trip. By Thursday, I just had it. I raised my hand, and in English (I wish I said it in Spanish,) asked the following:
“Ms. Castro, I understand and agree that revolution is dissent (something she mentioned before), even as a conservative. I also understand that certain security measures were necessary to control dissent in order for the state to survive (alluding to measures against human rights—I’m still being nice.). If the embargo were lifted tomorrow, and Cuba had normal diplomatic relations with the United States, would the security measures against dissent be lifted.”
The crowd gasped. Then it murmered. One colleague quietly congratulated me on the question.
The translator, our tour guide, was taking his sweet time translating to Mariela Castro. When he did, it was in a low, barely audible voice that’s usually used when fixing horse races or boxing matches.
Sure enough, the question was mangled, and the answer was even more circular. But the cat was out of the bag.
Another colleague chimed in about the continued arrests and torture of homosexuals in Havana, based on firsthand accounts. Mariela countered by saying that the process was slow and ongoing, that there was no torture (surprise, surprise) and that any rights for homosexuals had to coincide with respect for traditional Cuban family values (which negates any of the work she’s doing).
Oh, and she stated that certain Cubans, including homosexuals, were being sent to labor camps to “appreciate the agrarian nature of the Cuban economy.” Just like Jews lined up to go to Auschwitz for the clean woodsy air and luxurious accommodations.
If you didn’t see the iron fist before, you saw it at that moment. And she said it with a smile, the kind of “oh well” smile you saw in such fabulous folks like Reinhard Heydrich, Lavrentii Beria or Augusto Pinochet.
It was the naked smile of totalitarianism…and it scared the living shit out of me.
My friend had a solution. One day, he was wondering the Vedado, the neighborhood near our hotel, when he came across a bookstore that had boxes of contraband books. I asked him that evening to take me there.
When we got to the store, it was a storefront like all the others, books by Fidel, Marx, Lenin, Marti, Che, the usual suspects. Yet when we peered in, a thin, gangly man with worn clothes and a baseball cap greeted us.
This man, who I’ll call Juan, was a homosexual, and started to show me books of banned art, much of it homoerotica, in the assumption that my orientation was likewise. This was a natural assumption as Vedado was known as a gay neighborhood and my friend who found the place was also gay.
I thanked him for showing the art, but I explained that I was more interested in banned writers, press censorship, official repression and whatnot. Juan was happy to oblige. It seems he was waiting, hoping, praying that someone, ANYONE would listen to his experiences. His shabby house, with only one bad TV and a rotten mattress, had thousands, literally, of books cataloged in boxes that filled the space.
Juan took me to box after box, book after book of writers on the official writers’ guild, UNEAC, who still manage to arouse government suspicion, if not outright repression. Official publications, such as the journals of the Young Communist League, are also used in a quiet rebellion against the regime. He was very careful in watching the front: the showpiece of the Marxist books had to be manned at all times, and there were occasional police cars that often stopped.
I shared with Juan and his friends our encounter with Mariela Castro. They were beside themselves in glee, even pointing out that I was wearing the same color green as Fidel’s uniform (a double insult, apparently). Word on the gay street is that Mariela uses the gay movement as her personal steppingstone to power. If she was serious about giving gays equal rights, Juan noted, why doesn’t she push for an LGBT league within the Cuban Communist Party, the way the women and young people have it? No such organization is in the works.
I asked about the police, and Juan smirked: “We don’t worry about the cops in uniform. They just want to bust balls, since half of them are gay anyway.” The ones in plainclothes, from MININT’s State Security Division or from the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution (CDRs), are the most dangerous because they are the real strong arm of the regime.
CDRs are local civilian committees that were created to protect the regime against enemies. Neighborhood committees have mandatory meetings, and are expected to report on any counterrevolutionary activity. Many of these snitches use the opportunity to settle old scores with neighbors, bringing up trumped-up or bogus charges to have their problems dealt with. It is the CDR that holds the population in fear, says Juan.
In a country of 12 million people, 5 million are police. The rest are waiting to inform on their neighbors to the police.
I asked if he was ever harassed by security forces. Juan was kind enough to share two examples. The first was when he was picked up and harassed by the police about his whereabouts. The police alleged he was in Santiago at a certain date, and Juan denied it. He explained that now, because of this accusation, he can never go to Santiago because the police would then change their story to utilize the inconvenient facts.
The second was almost too much to bear. Either a Security Division agent or a CDR captain, I can’t remember which, picked up Juan and harassed him about his acquaintances and his whereabouts. He answered each question rather smugly, which wouldn’t be bright in most circumstances, but Juan’s friends in UNEAC have kept him out of serious time. The agent then scolded Juan in saying his attitude, “was not very revolutionary.”
At this Juan exploded, “Look, I don’t have a penny to my name. I live in a shitty abandoned house with one TV and a rotten mattress. All I own are old books and the clothes on my back. I can barely survive since I subsist almost solely on rations. How in God’s name can I NOT be revolutionary! I AM THE REVOLUTION!”
It was a lot to take in today. I gladly bought a stack of Juan’s contraband suggestions and returned to the hotel to freshen up for the night. As I entered my shower and turned on the faucet, something in me broke. It all hit me at once.
I began crying and sobbing uncontrollably.
Did no one fucking see what I saw? It’s like if don’t realize how wrong this regime is, than you’re either too stupid or you’re in on the repression in some way. By now, in my mind, everyone was suspect: the bus driver, the tour guides, the presenters and curators, Fuster, half the delegation itself.
For a brief moment, I even suspected Mariana. Her glowing admiration for Mariela Castro had me so worked up that I daydreamed of putting everyone on a wall—her included—and having a firing squad unload on them.
This was too much. I needed some sanity.
Havana Club. This bottle was surgically attached to my hand most of the trip.
In short, I needed a drink.
In hindsight, this was not the wisest decision on my trip. Not only does booze make me honest; it also makes me generous.
We went over to the Casa de Musica in Havana Centro for salsa dancing and carousing. I was not only half drunk already, but in a generous mood to any ordinary Cuban. 20 CUC bills were flying out of me like an ATM, with grateful Cuban waiters as the recipients. Bottles of rum, colas, ice and even French fries rounded out our table. That waiter took care of us as if I was Batista himself—I doubt Fidel appreciates a decent bottle service.
By the time I got into the cab to go home, I was ready to kill. So with my friend Britton taping on his camera—as he was want to do—I unloaded the mother of all drunken rants, in Spanish. I cursed out Fidel, Che, Camilo Cienfuegos (I apologize for Camilo, since I kinda like the guy), Mariela Castro, the police, the CDRs, the whole damn revolution (though I think I didn’t use the word “damn.”). The driver quietly drove on. Britton was beside himself, either with laughter or fear.
By the time I got to my room, still piss drunk, I was ready.
I was ready for Fidel to die so I could grab a rifle and start the counter-revolution.
Part VII explains the hangover from Part VI, including Che and Fidel merchandise, a huge outdoor concert, and visits to local houses.
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