Juan Juan Juan…


He sat at the table with Velasco Alvarado, Brezhnev gave him a bicycle, Fidel announced his birth during a speech at the Plaza of the Revolution and Pinochet himself gave him a lemonade. With these vibrant adventures it’s hard to end up being a common person. The person who all this happened to was, in turn, an amusing hedonist, born conversationalist, tolerant, pertinacious and the worst guerrilla one could imagine. Decanting Cuba Libres by the gallon for the skirmishes that happened in bed and for the battles he escaped from with a fork and spoon.

Juan Juan Almeida brushed up against power and got scratched, without it doing him much good to be the son of the Comandante down from the Sierra Maestra. His ancestry was more of an aggravation, since they made him pay for not rising to the epic height they expected from the offspring of the “heroes.” His military training, studies in the Soviet Union, and even classes to turn him into a Cuban intelligence agent, showed him what was hiding behind the mask of Utopia. So his book, “Memoirs of an Unknown Cuban Guerrilla,” is the story of a brazen witness, someone who hobnobbed with those who call us to sacrifice, while living a life of pleasure and excess. According to the author, they are those who “speak like those on the left, think like those in the center and live like those on the right.”

This chubby, forty-year-old limps with one leg but jumps with unvarnished humor from every page of his memoirs. He seems to want to tell us that from the yacht, the hunts in the keys and the perfectly chilled vodka, our daily difficulties seem tremendously blurry, far away and unimportant. From a travel-filled roguish life, Juan Juan fell, abruptly, into the position of a marked and persecuted man. A series of interrogations, searches and detentions let him experience the day-to-day reality of the most critical, the opposition and the dissidents on this Island. “Memoirs of a Guerrilla…” is the story of a fall, of a collapse that he tells without rancor, rather with nonchalance. It is narrated by someone who learned, quickly, the most widespread meaning of the word “guerrilla,” that which implies fighting for status, killing for certain possessions, lying to remain in power.

As a teaser for those interested in Juan Juan Almeida’s book, published by Espuela de Plata, here is an excerpt.

“I’m just a man who grew up and was trained among the corrupt, immodest, modern corsairs who played at being strict, simple guardians of honor but who forget to shut up in front of their children. Because this boy grew up admiring these destructive and heroic vicelords, an excuse for leaders, they made me see that an assault on a barracks, in a country with laws, could be a just thing. They made me see that to subvert countries with foreign ideas, using illegal methods, was a necessary thing. They made me see that the problems of the state can be solved most easily if we banish our own citizens. They made me see that to repudiate, discredit, stomp on, hit, spit on or imprison were good options for those who don’t think as the system requires. They made me see that the people are an amorphous and distant mass which is borne in mind from the dais to praise them a bit, incite them a little more, before returning to the air conditioning. They made me see so very many things that I ended up confused like millions of Cubans, so that we no longer know the exact difference between good and evil.”

Translator’s note:
Juan Juan Almeida is the son of Juan Almeida Bosque, age 82, third ranking member of Cuba’s Council of State, Hero of the Republic of Cuba, and one of the original Commanders of the Revolution who fought with Fidel in the Sierra Maestra.

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22 thoughts on “Juan Juan Juan…

  1. such a sad comedy
    we’re fighting similar battles against a machine that let’s us come up for air ever so often. maybe you heard of a place called Guyana. don’t believe most of what you read in the press, our backs are against the wall, but we’re beginning to fight back for our very survival. please read my blog for updates

  2. Do not despair. I don’t think this book will be anywhere near the NY Times best seller list. Books don’t make much money unless they sell by the millions.

    Its better use will be as a quotable source that can be used to inform the population in the island.

  3. Note:

    I wanted to say in my comment # 17 (below) paragraph 3, last row:

    “Our hope is lost….

    I’m sorry.

    Candido

  4. Once again!!!!,,,,Why do we have to compare Cuba with those poor nations?,,,Why?,,,As far as I know,,,the “Robolution” supposedly, was done to create a new Society, where everybody would be equal, with freedom of speech, and religion, and etc, etc, etc,,,,where the economy, in short time, would be able to offer “EVERYTHING”,,,,!!!! for all Cubans!!!!,,,everything !!!!,,,but, What has been the results?,,,,,Poverty in big quantities,,,,a few people very ,,,very rich, because they not only have money,,,the are the owners of the Island,,,the owners of the Cuban’s mind!!!!,,,and Who they are?,,,,Both Castros and their mafia gang!!!!.

    It is very sad , to know that there are a lot of poor countries in the world , but Why do we have to do comparisons, using as a reference the poor countries?,,,Why?,,,We should think about it,,, How was supposed to be, if that Robolution did not happen?,,,or, if that idea, was conducted using the right way?,,,then, we will be able to help those poor countries, but at the same time, we could compare our situation with the best countries of the world!!!!.

    Once again, the worse situation is that: First : We had enough time already -50 years- suffering that barbaric regime, and Second: Now,,,our had lost “Hope” , as far as that regime still will be in power.

    Concubi,,,my friend!!!, I answered your question, go to see the comments (I’m talking about the Catchers),,yes, we had a lot of them. Ricardo Lazo, Lazaro Pérez, Jesus Jufré, Ramón Echevarría, Evelio Hernández, Alberico Martinez, Pedro Medina, Orestes Kindelan, etc,,,jajajajaja.

    Candido

  5. Cold:From the moment on that this Juan Juan started denouncing the Castro Regime, he is not the enemy, that does not mean that I’m going to buy his book. The axiom of the enemy of my enemy is my friend does not apply to him. I totally get you idea, I just hope you have gotten mine.

    Iain:You are absolutely right about Botswana. I wish that Cuba were like the Republic of Botswana.

    Some facts about that African country

    Geographically the country is flat and up to 70% of Botswana is covered by the Kalahari Desert. Botswana was one of the most impoverished countries in Africa when it became independent in 1966. Today, it is home to a relatively stable political system and a rapidly developing market economy. Being closely tied with the economy of South Africa, the country’s economy is one of the most successful in Africa and is dominated by the fast-growing service sector, world-renowned diamond industry, tourism, and manufacturing.

  6. Concubino, regarding the enemy of my enemy is my friend, I think you get the idea somewhat. Except I don’t consider Almeida my enemy, personal or otherwise. He was born under Castro, couldn’t help his upbringing being the son to one of Castro’s high level thugs. And most importantly, as he is blood related to that thug, the psychological, and possibly physical damage he is doing to them at their age must be overwhelming. The fact is that the effect achieved by someone like him stepping away from tyranny is light years ahead, and greatly outweighs any other consideration with regards to achieving the ultimate goal.

    I can’t believe you guys won’t back me up on this. Just think, there could be tens of thousands of people like him working for the dynasty, who are afraid to step out. Are you suggesting they all be emasculated and ridiculed?

    I don’t ask this for the top criminals in the regime, but magnanimity is a great virtue, and in this case, the smart way to go. Take a hint from the way Capablanca played his chess matches, – i.e. cold, quick and accurate. Don’t let emotion spoil a good game of chess.

  7. I agree with the reasoned posts #6 and 8 by Cold in Chicago, and the need to enlist and accept help from whatever way it comes. I also appreciate the rightful anger of Candido and Concubino who know first hand theway these Fat swaggering MamaS Boys of Communist priviledge strutted around lording it over the citizens.AND still DO! And to have one come late to the fray all mea culpa is a bit sickening. I agree this is for those who need educating about the excesses of Communist Priviledge that is the norm in Cuba.I hope they translate it soon for a wide audience of future US tourists who may be going to Cuba by the Millions sooner than we all think.

  8. Candido: I’m with you on this one.Honestly, I wish him luck in his new endeavours,perhaps in Bostwana or Burundi like you said, maybe he’ll be a king in one of those countries, taking into an account that he is a “con artist” , who cares ,but I could care less about this M.F

    Hey if you get a chance to read the comments in previous posts I asked you a couple of questions..
    thanks

  9. Concubi:

    48 years old? to know what is good and what is bad?,,,C’moon brothers!!!!,,,this guy is a typical opportunist, a typical person acting with hypocrisy that’s it,,,nothing else.

    Somebody step on top of his callus and that’s it!!!! enough for this papa’s boy!!!,,,now, he has to fell what is to be a simple Cuban!!!!,,suffering about how you can get food for your children,,, or suffering about how you can wake up next morning to find the clothes for your kids, etc, etc,,,now is the moment where “supposedly” he is going to realize, what is to be a simple Cuban,,,,,if,,,if,,,,his father does not come to the rescue, and he will be landing in “Burundi”!!!!,,,with a lot of money and nobody will know anything else about him!!!!

    Candido

  10. I understand your point Cold. Basically “if my enemy is your enemy, then he is my friend. Fine.
    Again if he is in our side he is welcome. But to get free advertisement from “GY” in my oppinion is a mistake.Yoani owns this blog, and by all means, she post whatever she wants.The comment section is for us and I have the right to voice my oppinion. This Juan Juan is not going to capture mu imagination the same way he has done to Yoani and Reinaldo.
    “Penultimos Dias” has a couple of fragments of the book that is enough for me from this “Juan Juan trash talking”
    I knew of the decandencies of the Castro elite from the cronics of Rafael del Pino in Radio Marti in the late eighties. This Juan Juan has not added that I heaven’t known already.
    This book is more for the no cubans readers of this section.

    Candido:
    Juan Juan is fortyeight years old..

  11. I know some of us are hurting, such as Candido and I have my apprehensions about these personalities who turn on the dynasty at what appears to be the last minute. Nevertheless we need to remember that we’re not out of this yet. The lesser brother is still in full command. Chavez – that grotesque mutant from the amazon black lagoon – will give him everything he needs to keep him in power so as to legitimize himself and his crazy tirades. Also, don’t forget goons like Zapatero could try and keep the dynasty viable, having no shame in showing his attraction to communist or leftist totalitarian regimes, probably so that he can retire wealthy.

    The point is, the regime has some strong support, and we need all the help we can get to evict, not just the junior coma-andante, but the entire oligarchy.

    I don’t like certain aspects of these characters any more than some of you do. But they are a necessary evil, and if we keep a cool head, they could be the catalyst that sends the tyranny downhill.

    I agree that ideally, if they remain in Cuba they could be more effective in disseminating their view up close in front of the people. But this is a pipe dream. I suspect the dynasty would throw him in jail – or keep him in house arrest given his privileges – and he would not see the light of day for as long as they’re in power.

    In conclusion, keep a cool head, maintain your eyes on the price, and exorcise any demons that stand in the way of reaching the goal.

  12. Juan Juan is one more “opportunist”,,,one more in the long,,,long,,,long list of it , one more that wants to be in the train at the right moment to avoid any kind of punishment whenever that time comes!!!!

    How old he is? 40?,,45?,,,then, he needed all those years to understand that he was a privilege class?,,,that he never had to use the rationing food?,,,that he never had to use the bus, because he had a “good car”?.

    I don’t know if this comparison is to big, but is close enough: It will be accepted by the Jews? that Himmler said: I did not know,,,I was following orders,etc,etc,!!,,or, what about all those criminals that now are living in Miami, after the alleged escape from Castro’s hands after being with him for long,,,long time abusing, killing, spying, etc, etc,,,,and now they are simple people testifying, !!!!,,,no,,,no,,,is something like : Why do we have to do a trial when it is already dead?

    I’m agree with Concubino, that Juan Juan just wants to get some publicity to be able to receive some support and leave the country,,,,then, this my opinion,,if Juan Juan wants to show his patriotism, or how brave he is, then, he should be in Cuba, struggling inside of Cuba, denouncing inside of Cuba, and finally, he will be totally sure how is the Robolution, how it works, and how big is his father love!!!!

    Candido

  13. I disagree with Concubino. I haven’t read the book so I can’t comment accurately on the value of its content. But based on the information provided by Yoani, the book seems to provide insight into the psyche and personal behavior of the members of the oligarchy and their families. This information could be priceless if put to use and disseminated to the population in the island in the right context.

    Many people in Cuba could really appreciate and be better able to understand, what their leaders do, who they really are and what happens after the four hour speeches and the incessant calls to cut more cane for the revolution. Having one of their own, who lives on the island, speak the truth of what happens in the private life of these tyrants.

    It is good to know your oponents to the point of reading their own hand written books, notebooks, etc. if need be. There can never be enough information about what they are all about. I think it is very opportune to have people like the children of the tyrants turn against them.

    I couldn’t care less what the book says about left or right or how it makes me feel here in the U.S.A. where I am in relative comfort and free. What I do care about is how this can be used to defeat and ridicule the dynasty to the fullest extent possible.

    Matter of fact, I don’t like extremes, either right nor left. The way I see it, the left likes to put their hand in the cookie jar and take more than their fair share in the form of high taxation. There is a primitive tribe in Africa that believes that all the cows in the world belong to their group. So they take anyone else’s cattle at will who comes their way. This is extreme the left at work.

    The extreme right-wing scares me just as much, if not more, as they have a tendency to ignore facts of nature and science, as well as be self serving to the point of catastrophe, as in the case of unregulated stock trading. Another example of this is how car companies postponed the use of electric car technology, and pushed ever bigger gas thirsty vehicles, knowing full well that the country does not produce enough oil and that it makes us dependent on the wrong crowd, such as Chavez and certain Middle Eastern countries. If we make ourselves oil dependent, we could get entangled in wars and local bickering that we don’t want to be in. To me this is the extreme right wing at work. Talk about endangering national security!!! All done under a cloak of patriotism and hocus pocus.

    I myself feel comfortable in the center.

    Of course, none of this is here nor there, as it pertains to defeating the dynasty in the field of ideas, logic and good arguments. I think a “child of the revolution” writing about his personel experiences living in the midst of these criminal tyrants is a potential gold mine of information and ideological ammunition.

  14. So his book, “Memoirs of an Unknown Cuban Guerrilla,” is the story of a brazen witness, someone who hobnobbed with those who call us to sacrifice, while living a life of pleasure and excess. According to the author, they are those who “speak like those on the left, think like those in the center and live like those on the right.”

    In my oppinion this statement is very insulting. I have many friends who are on the right. I consider myself to be on the right. We live decently, but we are not rich, not even close to wealthy.

    This Juan Juan is one of the biggest manipulators I have ever seen. Needless to say I’m not going to buy his book.It’s a shame that he has cautivated Yoani so much that she is dedicating a post to this Juan Juan “trash talking”.

    If he had his way(living outside Cuba) he will be publishing a book to attack Yoani if he has to.The publicity will come from cultural section of Granma or Cubadebate, but now he has fallen from the communist sky.He has published a book dennouncing the decadencies of the Cuban elite. The advertisement is comming from “Generation Y”.

  15. If Juan Juan wants to be in our side. He is more than welcome.However this book is more for the people that is not familiar with the Cuba’s communist elite.His book is not adding anything that I haven’t known already .I don’t plan on buy it.
    My point is that Juan Juan is not allow to leave Cuba and this is his motivation to publish his memories.
    I’m pretty sure that if he lives in Europe like he wished, this book will never be having this publicity, perhaps it will never be published in the first place.

    I prefer if people could read the reality of these real “Cuban urban guerrillas”. They are from Centro Habana. Yoani’s birth place..

    http://www.neoliberalismo.com/turista-espanola.htm

  16. Today’s entry is a shining example of why Yoani’s blog is a must-read for people such as myself. Without Yoani’s blog, non-Cubans like myself would never heard of Juan Juan Almeida. I’ll have to study up on him. Sounds like an insightful chap who sacrificed everything by turning his back on the regime.

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