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by beny
Rated: E · Essay · Other · #2293832
The enthusiastic Cubans yelled and repeated Our Country or Death slogan at my door.


"The enthusiastic Cubans yelled and repeated Our
Country or Death (Patria o Muerte) slogan at my door.
Well, they finally did not achieve "The Country", so
the Cubans have now no other choice but to assimilate
"Death" It was their shouting, their choice"

The Port of Mariel, on the island of Cuba, marked a time when the enthusiastic majority of communist Cubans turned against the others who wanted to emigrate. The government on the island termed these events as "repudiation acts". They were seen mainly in 1980 during the Mariel crisis, by then the ones who simply wanted to legally leave the country, did it -or try- through the Port of Mariel. Those Cubans were even brutally assaulted. The government staged those street rallies, but the majority of Cubans participated and enjoyed harassing and tormenting the minority who wanted to leave the country, including shattering their home windows with rocks and eggs, breaking doors, cutting their home water and electricity supply, shouting each and every known offense at them, etc. All of these counted with the Cuban government's blessing.

Catalina was a young lady with two little brothers; they all lived with their parents in a house in Havana. They were never communists, so they were called "worms" in a very pejorative way, but their relatives were all Castro's fans. Especially Aunt Clara because she was an active pro-Castro follower. Clara did not even talk to her brother Ramon, Catalina's father. The neighbors organized a repudiation act –after Catalina presented the required documents to immigrate to the US- while she was waiting for the police car to transport them to the Port of Mariel, and from there to Miami in a boat sent by relatives living in the US.

The victims were often pelted with rocks and eggs. Even some people died as a result of those confrontations: the majority of neighbors against the minority, intolerance, and hate in every part of the country on an everyday basis. Some people were trapped inside, being inside their homes they could take a peek at their tormentors' faces and hear whatever they yelled, they recognized their voices as well.

"Catalina, you are a traitor". Anyone was welcome to become a repudiation act participant, as long as those persons join it ready to yell offenses and shout obscene sentences at Catalina and her family who were inside the house, including her parents and her two younger brothers, all of them together scared to the very limit. They have neither water nor electricity. It was cut off. They could not step out to buy the small ration of beans and bread either. Very simple, their house was permanently surrounded by a majority of threatening angry neighbors, including Aunt Clara. It was like facing an assault had they opened the main house door.

Catalina, who luckily for her friends and neighbors hardly ever shook his head from side to side to any person, was a nurse in Havana. An educated nice young woman who always offered a smile to practically anyone, but she did experience the shouting of offenses and the throwing of rocks and eggs at his powerless and waterless house. She easily identified them, the same neighbors whom she gladly helped as a nurse before.

Those pro-government mobs did not stop, always yelling familiar communist slogans like "The Revolution gave you free education," "You all received free health care", "You should thank Fidel for it", and "Catalina, you changed your own people for the US dollars", "You're a vulgar traitor worm", "We will not let you leave our land that easy", "You must pay back your education", "You're going to the drug paradise", "Down with the US", "We want no worms in our neighborhood", "Without you we will be cleaner", "You are a whore "… The people's angry faces and fists showed it all.

Her own former friends' offenses, together with the noise of the broken windows and rocks hitting the house walls plus the many eggs hitting too are all well tattooed on Catalina's brain. Also, her mother and the brothers continuously cry, having no water, no electricity, and barely enough food to survive.

Finally, the police car parked in front of the house, they just came to pick up the family and transport them to the Mariel Port. From there to Miami in an overcrowded fishing boat where they prayed all the time to survive the trip . . . until they arrived. Amnesty International has long been critical of these "Repudiation Acts". Human rights groups suspected that these acts were often carried out in collusion with the security forces and involved the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution, a pro-Cuban Government organization. Her neighbors, Aunt Clara plus some of her relatives were just active participants in the three days long repudiation act against Catalina and her family.

Years passed… There is a saying meaning that when you are at the very bottom you have no other choice but to go up. This applied to Catalina. Years passed and she learned English and got an American degree in nursing. She married a dentist and was doing pretty well. Her two brothers are currently working in the field of computer networking. Very simple, they became a typical successful American family. Their parents both retired and died.

The years-long deteriorated US-Cuba relation continues but to a less degree. The Cuban Government opened private enterprise for Cubans who wanted to have their own business, something that was outlawed for years. At this moment I remember the excellent black guy who used to sell tamales in my very poor neighborhood when I was a kid, they were delicious, tasty, and affordable. He used an old big empty cracker can to put the tamales in and deliver them, and a very small can below with kerosene to keep them warm. The Cuban Government in its dream of a pure communist confiscated that old cracker can and prohibited him to sell more tamales… my Goodness, confiscate a cracker can! The Government by then promised tamales to the people, but I never saw them again.

I also remember the old guy who prepared crunchy guava pastries in his home's backyard homemade oven. He used guavas from the trees in the area, flour, and vegetable cooking oil, with no chemicals at all. Those guava pastries were tasty and affordable. The Cuban Government confiscated that oven too and prohibited him to sell more guava pastries… my Goodness, confiscate a backyard oven! The Government by then promised guava pastries to the people, but I never saw them again either.

All of this was carried out under the direction of the Cuban Emperor Castro the First who is now inside a rock in a cemetery, and of his brother Raul who is still alive but has a rock as a brain. Sad to say, these socially drastic stupid measurements were all welcome by the majority of Cuban people, and for years.

No more repudiation acts, Cuban athletes are now allowed to play competing for worldwide teams, because the Government receives a big chunk of their hard currency income. The former vulgar worm traitors are now officially treated on the island as "Cubans living abroad" and they can visit their relatives. There are winds of change including the opening of private businesses, even pro-Castro government functionaries who systematically participated in repudiation acts are currently visiting the US, always repeating that "they are not politicians" and that "we are all Cubans, only one people", etc. Those functionaries rapidly forgot, or simulated to have forgotten, the many years when they discriminated against the minority of ʺwormsʺ. But the suffering of the ones who experienced those acts is not that easy to forget. It hurts, still hurts and it will for years. Their pain does not fade away but firmly stays in their memories.

All of the above profound changes are because the formerly communist European countries -including the USSR - just disappeared, so the giant income to Cuba is gone too. Petroleum, industries, merchandise, raw materials, food cans, etc. are gone forever. So the Cuban Government has no choice but to change and trash some of the important criteria that they hold for years. Well, while still keeping solidly the one-party communist Cuba system.

The island entered into economic chaos, there are not even aspirins. They're experiencing a very serious economic crisis… My own family cannot buy a thermometer to check if they have a fever or an antibiotic to combat infections if they have. There is huge price inflation that the Government cannot control. Some of my relatives had a small pastry business, the same government that before prohibited business now allows them to survive, or try to, the current economic crisis. My relatives made the pastry and sold it on bikes, hawking around. There was a weekend when they made a profit of $1, 300 Cuban pesos. But they could only buy a bottle of cooking oil for their home use. They made enough money to buy only just a bottle of cooking oil. Finally, they closed the small business due to the lack of flour, electricity, sugar, oil, etc.

The Cubans on the island came back to different herbal treatments, just like our Indian ancestors did centuries ago, to cure their diseases due to the lack of medications. A doctor's prescription is just a paper, a meaningless one.

So the families on the island turned to their relatives living in the US for support, especially the ones in Miami. They contacted them asking for help which means US dollars, they need or simply want anything, such as food, clothing, medications, cellular phones plus its monthly recharge fee to keep them running, school supplies, color TV, refrigerators, rice makers, and very especially dollars, the former hatred enemy currency. All of these items are to be paid from the US directly or indirectly to the Cuban Government.

Catalina was one of the relatives receiving help requests from her relatives. They still remember that she is an educated nice woman who always offered a smile to practically anyone.

Catalina was surprised when she picked up the phone, quietly and silent like a rock she listened to what her Aunt Clara told her. "Sorry Catalina, I did not know what I was doing, all was organized by the Cuban Government which made us set the repudiation act against you and your family". Terrible scenes came spontaneously back alive to Catalina, The people's angry faces and fists also appeared in her memories, and those moments came afloat again, she even felt the rocks and eggs hitting home and the crashing of the glass, the crying of his family, his mother panicking, etc. Emotions flew like a mighty river in her mind, memories and memories flowing. She was petrified.

"What do you want Clara?" She asked.

"It's impossible to live here. We have nothing. Please help us, do not do it
for me, I'm a very old lady, do it for my sons, my grandchildren, and even for my
great-grandchildren. They deserve to live".

Catalina continued to be quiet and silent.

"Please you are my niece. I need some dollars to buy at least eggs. Eggs and a piece of bread are way better than nothing" Clara continued talking.

After some minutes Catalina noticed the beautiful scenery of the Sun rising in Miami… "No Clara. I do not have those US dollars. You finally did not achieve "The Country", so you have now no choice but to assimilate "Death", it was your shouting, your choice" Catalina stopped for a while… "And I strongly recommend you to save your eggs in a basket instead of throwing them to innocent people while yelling offenses".

This time it was her aunt Clara who was petrified.


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