The following txt is from the opening frames of Scarface: In May 1980, Fidel Castro opened the harbor of Mariel, Cuba, with apparent intention of letting some of his people join their relatives in the United States. Within seventy-two hours 3,000 US boats were headed for Cuba. It soon became evident that Castro was forcing the boat owners to carry back with them not only their relatives, but the dregs of his jails. Of the 125,000 refugees that landed in Florida an estimated 25,000 had criminal records. Scarface is fiction, but knits in some historical moments. The movie bosses claim the famous chainsaw scene is partly true in Miami during the period, and ¿Partly? unfortunately the chainsaw part is non-fiction. Cuba has been distantly interesting to me as the playground of the rich including Frank Sinatra sex with Ava Gardner reported in the now-public FBI surveillance of Frank. In 2003 I met gay Paulino who married a female nurse in Cuba, and escaped with her in 1961 during the early time of the Revolution. I rented a room from Paulino in a house he inherited from his long-time lover, Mauricio. Though Paulino never married Mauricio, because death preceded marriage equality, it would have been his third marriage with the second marriage to another woman after the nurse. I married Hana urgently in 2006 after meeting online on, and for some time I wore a Paulino wedding ring from one of his first marriages. Paulino was born in 1937, and his homosexuality was instantly obvious leading me to ask him in our first meeting: ¿Are you gay? We became friends, but Hana will tell Paulino thought I was a sexual prospect, and he was sorry to see me court and marry Hana while living under his roof. Paulino told me about Castro putting gay men on an island, and about the many gay priests who hung out at Fort Lee New Jersey bars over the years. My dentist, Dr. Dominguez, left Cuba on a boat at night with her boyfriend who later became a husband before becoming her first ex-husband. She is the opposite of a Fidelista, and talks about the regime in distant ways, and casually distances herself from other refugees who talk endlessly about Cuba. My dentist also got with capitalism rapido, and she has joined her secchionaism and capitalism to build a dentistry empire she later sold. A barrio drunk and handyman opportunist sold art from the trash to another barrio member, but even with the story fresh that he told with pride he did not know where he spent the money. This man is a Marielito, and Cuba-convicted bicycle thief. Marielito describes a person from Mariel and the burned-in nickname of the US refugees who left Cuba from Mariel harbor under circumstances described in Scarface. Jose is a cafe, La Gran Via, amigo who lost a mango farm to the regime and will probably always use the phrase son of a bitch joined with Castro. Jose, like Paulino, left during two decades of trickle refugees prior to the Scarface 1980 Mariel Boatlift. Frank, a barrio H2O merchant, formerly jeweler, left early like Jose and Paulino, but as a kid with his parents to Spain, and then here. I trust like all refugee stories there was bad times, but for my ears Franks story is a little more gentle. His dad is elderly, and his mother dead. Their versions probably had more rough times. The la jefa of La Gran Via tells me the Cuban protests are all over the island from cities to farm towns including the revolution-most-alive Santiago de Cuba. Anthony Bourdain visited Santiago de Cuba, and he tells a story very different from Havana. No superhighways the far side of the island make Santiago a world apart, but today their anger is palpable like Havana.

About Tom Doody

middle-age American living in New Jersey near the Lincoln Tunnel
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3 Responses to Cuba

  1. Fidel says:

    Urgently? Interesting use of the word when discussing marriage.


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