The (Naked) King of Little Havana / Ernesto Morales

Source: The Independent (UK), Ernesto Morales, Miami, 16 June 2017 – When the lights and cameras went out, the choreographers of the event breathed a sigh of relief. Mario and Marco, both of Cuban descent, merged in a hug.

No child appeared to utter the alarm: “The king is naked!” This time the one humiliated would have been the President – who would like so much to be king.

But the stage, a Little Havana of arteries strangled by street closures, gates, cars with police lights, yellow tape, dust and vapors of dog shit, did not lend itself to bold and honest children.

The average age of the quorum of the President-King: 900 years.

The trait they all have in common: an anti-Obamaism comparable only in ferocity to their anti-Castroism, the overwhelming reason to welcome the President-King like a messiah from New York who comes, once and for fucking all, to sweep it all away. continue reading

Behind the pulpit of the President-King were the most Praetorian of the hosts, crowded together as best they could to catch the most advantageous camera angles. Man, nothing was missing: it was the day they’d dreamed of. The dismantling of a policy begun thirty months ago by Barack Obama, one that this Little Havana had identified as the alpha and omega of all possible evils: more repression in Cuba (without any evidence), more poverty for Cubans (despite Airbnb saying otherwise), more heat, more plagues of sparrows, more blisters on the feet of the peasants. Whatever.

And the President-King did not disappoint them. Far from it!

Although some of us, the self-marginalized among the troupe, still fail to completely understand why he did not disappoint them. Suspecting that we are passing through the gates of the inferno. That something is hidden from us. Something along the lines of, “And suddenly everyone will erupt in a collective anger and they will tell the President-King: This is a farce!”

The irreverent boy who will dare to shout to the President-King that his executive order, his policy review, his report on Cuba… that all this paperwork was naked.

The mockery is macabre. Not for me. I have cured myself in cynicism. But it is for the old man of genuine faith, who from a low-income apartment in Hialeah still dreams of doing justice to his executed father, his stoned mother.

The mockery is glaringly scathing: because it uses the weariness against a family dictatorship like gunpowder to gain subjects and followers. But this time without even pretending to fight against that same dictatorship!

“Effective immediately, I am canceling the last administration’s completely one-sided deal with Cuba,” came out of the president’s oracular mouth, and the room, criticized by the monarch himself for its narrow space and medieval heat, erupted in applause.

From some corner of the stage the strategists smiled. These are: Marco Rubio and Mario Díaz-Balart. The men who knew how to sell to the President-King the essence of what he had to do to win blind, deaf but very talkative faithful in this Miami devoid of common sense. He just had to fake a change.

It was not necessary for the President-King to dance. Just let him say, “Watch me dance this mambo,” motionless from his podium, and everyone would see him cut a rug.

I am still disoriented.

The cruise ships will continue to dock in Cuban ports. American Airlines, Jet Blue, Southwest Airlines, will continue to land from San Antonio to Maisí. Cuban Americans will have no restrictions on the number of visits per year or amount of remittances per year, as it was under – Yes! Really! – the iron fist of George W. Bush. The embassies will continue, both of them, on their sites. The diplomatic dialog will continue. The “wet foot/dry foot” policy will continue to be a thing of the past. Cuba will not once again be placed on the list of countries that sponsor terrorism.

One by one, without exception: all the elements of the Obama era regarding Cuba. Untouched. Intact. The icons of tropical Obamism, immovable.

“But to say that you dance the mambo, Mr. President, you have to play some music,” they told him. And then to the beat of the worst violinist who ever struck a chord in Little Havana, the President-King said that it will not be possible to trade with the military, and that the gringos must stay within the 12 categories already established to travel to the Island. (They didn’t even bother to remove one category or another, make it more difficult, less broad, the tickets more elusive!)

There was no need. The objective was already achieved: to enchant the plebs thirsting for magic, tricks, illusion.

Before ending the event, the President-King – for whom Cuba is only a reference to the site where, in 1995, he wanted to plant another of his pharaonic hotels – allowed himself a license: to praise the neighborhood. “I want to thank Little Havana.  Havana, we love.  Do we love it?  Would you move anywhere else?  You wouldn’t move to Palm Beach, would you?  No.  No way.  Little Havana,” he said.

And they all laughed, pleased.

All good, except for the detail that 99.99% of the amused crowd does not live in Little Havana, one of the most impoverished, violent, dirty, forgotten places in metropolitan Miami, and a place where now there are fewer and fewer Cubans – they’ve moved to Hialeah – and more and more Central Americans. Wow, a community of “bad hombres,” according to the peculiar reductionism of the President-King.

Miami attended the “Bufo” theater this Friday. To the barbarism of political laughter where the one who dazzles always wins and puts one over on the dumbest. The Miami exile community, to which I belong, is still the dunce of the class.

But a dunce who does not even dare to shout at the King that he forgot to put on his clothes.

Letter from Pablo Milanés to Edmundo García / Ernesto Morales Licea

For the first time in this blog I am publishing something that I did not write. It is my duty to do so. Pablo Milanés’ response to the article published by Edmundo García is so rich, so evolved, so brutally honest, that it forces even me to face up to my own visions of what Pablo was. And because I’m a human being who is not afraid to say,”I was wrong,” I am posting some historic words in my blog…and I am also being careful to use that qualifier. Bravo, Pablo. BRAVO!



For years you have attempted to interview me, without success, to the point of becoming so intolerably insistent and, the last straw, attaching your interviews, those interviews that I had no other choice but to label as “spam” to finally be free of them.

On the first occasion when we met, you were in bad company and I couldn’t but think to myself, “Birds of a feather…”

However, I will explain why I had never done an interview with you: I saw you with my natural intuition for these things, the nine signs of bastard, which are, if you don’t already know, classifications developed by Don Camilo José Cela, in his novel “Mazurka for the two dead” and he has become, in history, famous for his extraordinary vision of what an execrable being is at first sight. I will show you these new signs, which are:

1. Thinning hair

2. Short and sickly stature

3. Pale face

4. Scraggly beard

5. Soft, wet and cold hands

6. Shifty look

7. High-pitched voice

8. Flaccid dick

9. Avarice

With this as a starting point I will tell you why I never trusted you.

Edmundo, you have a way of doing journalism that is not journalism: you take your victims (your interviewees), and you don’t inquire of them, question them, you destroy them with an authority that I don’t know what powerful person granted you and you end up triumphant before a person appalled by the terror of your words which recall an old authoritarian style, ridiculous and obsolete. That, in my view, is the essence of your program.

When I read your pamphlet my first reaction was like seeing a girl at puberty, stunned and flushed at her first menstruation, fearful of committing a sin against a natural manifestation of her unknown organism. That was the first impression, but the second was more solemn and dangerous: I realized that not only were you everything I had thought, but even more, you are among that select group of ultraright Miamians who do not admit of reconciliations, critics whose only Neolithic gesture is to crush CDs with bulldozers. You, like them, do not want love, you love to hate, you, like them, do not want reconciliation, you want resentment and disunity, in short, you do not love the Cuban people, neither there nor here. Edmund, you do not love anyone and I would not have have been surprised to see you in that “huge” crowd shouting “Down, Down,” which undoubtedly would have been well received.

You have insinuated that the press in Miami and Spain is taking advantage of and using my words instead of my benefiting from this space to attack imperialism. Edmundo, this is wrong, I am the one who is using these newspapers to disseminate the interviews that they deny me in Cuba and that I dream will appear in the newspaper Granma and be read by everyone, and that one journalist, one among the many thousands on the island, will have what it takes to make known what I have been expressing for so many years; what’s more, as a starting point I suggest that your pamphlet and this letter be published in Granma and that people read them, know how to discern for themselves, once and for all, what the truth is, and that we take the path of individual freedoms that we must recover and that you, with your attitude, are denying.

On my return to Havana, and consistent with the above paragraph, I will, in this way, tell Cuban intelliectuals, artists, musicians, those in senior government positions, don’t whisper in my ear any more, don’t say, “I agree with you but… well you know!” I am not repentant of incinerating myself only in my attitude, but it’s sad and shameful that there is a complicit silence as terrible as your demonstration, Edmundo. These two behaviors, one in Miami and the other in Havana, in the end, incredibly, converge in their own contradiction.

With regards to the Miami intelligentsia whose comments have supported me in their articles, I will say that I have absolutely no fear nor prejudice on receiving a friendly and receptive word. I am not your traveling companion, but, Edmundo, I want to add that you, you enjoy dividing because you live for this, this is why you are in this city.

Also you have dared to say that I have been a bad influence on talented and prestigious artists such as Serrat, Sabina, Victor Manuel and Ana Belén. There is no doubt that here too you are ignorant, you should know that Juan Manuel Serrat is one of the men most admired for his courage, chivalry and fairness his whole life, and his position vis-a-vis Franco, risking his career and his life, was the height of dignity. Joaquin Sabina, who was exiled to England at 23, with his opposition to Franco and to his own father, is one of the most sincere and honest artists I know (Fidel is well aware of this), independent of his talent. Victor Manuel and Ana, before you were born, and walking those uncertain paths, as everyone knows, to become the extremist you are today, belonged to the Communist Party of Spain during the time of Franco, and this, Edmundo, could have cost them their lives. These people whom you don’t respect have their own talent, their own opinions and do not let themselves be influenced by anyone, and their principles have influenced half the world.

Edmund, my 53 years of revolutionary militancy give me the right, that very few exercise in Cuba, to declare myself with the freedom that my principles require and this freedom implies that I have no commitment to the death with the Cuban leaders, whom I have admired and respected, but they are not Gods, nor am I a fanatic, and when I feel I have to express a reproach, I say it, without fear or reservations. When I see some women dressed in white protesting in the street and being mistreated by men and women, I cannot but be ashamed and indignant and, in some way, although I am not in complete agreement with them, I support them in their pain; because the most vile and cowardly are the horde of supposed revolutionaries who viciously attack these ladies.

There is no code in the world to defend it, what’s more, ordinary violence falls short on seeing these savage demonstrations. I have expressed these two concepts to you, but you don’t understand — there is no doubt that you are in your era of revolutionary infancy — implying neither a disagreement with Fidel nor an agreement with the Ladies in White. But you see things in black and white (more black than white) and there are no shades of gray and the years are going to make you understand what a real revolutionary is or, inexorably, you are going to join that world in which we see so many people like yourself, wandering, lost in nothingness.

Edmundo, yesterday I believe you suffered a setback, not precisely because of me but because of the several thousand people who attended a concert, expensive for their pocketbooks in crisis, demonstrating that love is possible, that if the day before yesterday they said “No” and yesterday they said “Maybe,” today they said “Yes,” a resounding yes, stronger than your filthy and offensive words.

Edmundo, I invite you to pack your bags and return to your country and there to have the courage to denounce everything bad that you see, because, Edmundo, I warn you, this life is hard, don’t keep your mouth shut like those thousands of journalists there, sadly complicit in the silence.

On many occasions I have said that I will sit in the doorway of my house to watch the “cadavers” of my enemies pass by, I will wait for you there.

I only demand one thing from you: permanently remove my name from your disrespectful and lying mouth, I have earned too much credit from the people for a soulless person like you to sully it with your filthy words.

Pablo Milanés
Miami, 29 August 2011
(Text taken from Café Fuerte on the web)
August 29 2011