For Rent: A Little Emotion

The man entered the small El Condor bookstore whose shop window faces the wall that borders the University of Zurich. “I am looking for books by Corín Tellado,” he whispered softly, and I jumped in front of the computer where you typed in the latest titles coming from Buenos Aires, Madrid or Mexico City. I detected a Havana accent in his voice, perhaps because he had spent little time in contact with the Swiss-German dialect which would eventually give another cadence to his words. He said he was from the La Vibora neighborhood and that he needed – desperately – some Spanish magazines similar to Hello.

María Mariotti, the local owner, approached him to explain that she didn’t have anything, but it could be ordered from the distributor. “What titles do you want,” asked the small half-Peruvian half-Japanese woman. “Anything you can get. They’re for my mother who lives for them,” he said, trying to justify his persistent interest in romantic novels. He said that not having remittances to send to Cuba, every month he tried to send his family some publications that they could rent to others. Their start-up business consisted of renting magazines like Vanities, or People, for five Cuban pesos, to a large community of readers who were eager to have the latest issues. The clients could keep the magazines for a week, and then they passed from hand to hand until they fell apart and had to be taken out of circulation.

A few days after that particular order, my friend left for the 2003 Barcelona Bookfair, where she offered a tribute to María del Socorro Tellado López. She managed to approach her and tell her of the family on the other side of the Atlantic who survived each month thanks to her pen. The author of Painful Deception (1990) was impressed with the story and donated a selection of fifty of her titles, accompanied by a handwritten letter for the lady in La Vibora. That gift caused a burst of thanks in the Swiss bookstore, especially from the son of the alternative librarian. Well he knew what it meant to be able to add these new volumes to the maternal collection. Their pages would provide a deteriorating Havana house with more soap, some oil, a bit of bread, shoes for the children, along with dreams for dozens of neighbors.

Imagen tomada de:


120 thoughts on “For Rent: A Little Emotion

  1. Barbara, post 119,


    How is that NOT entertaining!!!??? Yet, those three geriatrics are up in arms and spitting insults like there’s no tomorrow when one, politely even, points these facts out!!!!

    Like one of the CEO’s in my company who was telling me how to write the programs. A burocrat telling to a professional how to do his job!

    Just for the fun of it, once I did what he told me quite publicly I should do. And I did what really was needed to be done.

    And then I made him publicly look like an idiot by simply demonstrating his version and mine.

    Facts ALWAYS speak louder than hysterical ideologies,no matter how spinmasters twist them around. And it is quite hard to keep one’s posture once everyone sees how incompetent (or a plain liar) one is.

    Just like that CEO. And our dried out friends here!!!

    : )

  2. #118 – DAMIR

    One thing you have already figured out about right-wing Miami Cuban American extremists: they know more than the CIA, for instance, who states on The World Fact Book website, that China is a Communist state.
    On Miami’s right-wing radio you will hear them daily, telling the President of the United States how to run the world’s greatest super power of all times, ect., yet they are in a foreign land after choosing to leave their country because:
    1. they didn’t know how to run their own country,
    2. they miscalculated the popularity of the system that stopped their lawlessness, and
    3. because unlike that old “Lucky Strike” commercial, they would rather switch than fight, and hope that someone else will do their fighting for them…one of these days.
    One thing we can give them credit for, they are persistent with their whining and their refusal to face reality within an accurate historical context.

  3. 114, another completely ignorant and idiotic statement from a well-known resident ignorant.

    Another hollow attempt to make a point that doesn’t exist.

    Self-serving self-righteousness. Problem here is the absence of facts.

    And of the 114 poster’s brain, but that one is incurable… There’s no protection from more garbage there…

  4. Sorry, I am trying to post comments as soon as possible. That’s why I make mistakes, like to post incompleted comment or comment with no signature…… the cause of these mistakes is that: at difference of agents culeros I get not paid for commenting here…… I have to work very hard to get the good life this country’s system provides me ……. curelos agents get some miserable payment for the amaizing amount of hours they work in the cyber space……… poor peole!!!

    About you “comment” ….

    Why you “qualify” as Batistiano the Diaz-Balart brothers????….. can you prove this persons links to Batista?????……. in the improbable case you can prove a link of this persons with Batista, it is Batista differen than castro?????….. you self have recognized batista is a product of Cuba’s Communist Party, in same way that castro is a product of Cuba’s Communist Party……. so…… why lying?????…… do you believe that such infantile lies can hide the fact that castrofascims (I am glad you accepted the term) has spent billions of dollars trying to subvert the free people of Miami will?????…… you are realy silly and ultimatelly you are very similar to dummy damir!!!!!!….. lack of veridic arguments are making you so easy to beat, so ridiculous, so infantile!!!!

  5. 115Barbara Curbelo

    Julio 2nd, 2010 at 11:13

    Since I can’t post it on the other page:

    For you to say that castrofacism has spent “billions” trying to get rid of Diaz-Balrt is as ludicrous as Batistianos still defending that aberrant episode in Cuba’s history.

  6. FREUD

    Since I can’t post it on the other page:

    For you to say that castrofacism has spent “billions” trying to get rid of Diaz-Balrt is as ludicrous as Batistianos still defending that aberrant episode in Cuba’s history.

    Diaz-Balart and Mel Martinez quietly exited the political scene at the height of their careers after a millionaire in Puerto Rico who had been giving them money illegally was arrested, and started singing like a canary.
    THEIR FRAUD did them in! Their lack of respect for the American people and the office they swore to uphold with dignity did them in!

  7. 113Barbara Curbelo

    Junio 30th, 2010 at 22:01

    In which planet you found a “communist” China??????
    Certaintly not in Earth!!!!!
    Today’s China is a wild capitalist country where former communist nomenclature became multimillionar elite that exploit the mass of billions human beens and uses extreme force to get obedience……. all this thank to US!!!!!!!…….. moneys that USA borrowed of China could be borrowed from any other hole in the world….. but the technology and market that made China the grotesque economic been it is today can be only found in its best partner….. USA!!!!
    The central idea (this idea you tries desperately to avoid) is that, in spite of China’s pseudo richness provided by the ancient economic system this country implemented (Wild Capitalism XIX century style), China’s system like Cuba’s or North Korea’s lead to abuse, killing, repression of the elite that takes desitions without account the people. It is a extremelly imperfect way of gov. that only produce extremely disparities in social development and economical destruction. China exemple can be better, a country where a reduced elite gets all bussines that moves, an multimillion elite that fights killing for keeping their privileges and a gigantic mass of people in extremely poverty, repressed and killed by thousands. The coastal line of the country transformed in western like light and skyscrapers emporious and the rest of the country living in medieval conditions. A bluff that only can show numbers sky high just because the huge amount of people than live in the country. The only hope for this giant is the development of a economical history similar to what happened in western countries where after a wild period like China lives today the society developed to a milded system that eventualy ended in what most of western countries lives today, it mind, real socialism and democracy. Until that, countries with such wild systems like China, Vietnam and Cuba can only show us them are the best place in the world to study the theories of Marx and Enegels about primitive capitalism.

  8. FREUD
    #112 –

    Yeap! We’re still standing, thanks to communist China’s bailouts???

  9. 105Barbara Curbelo

    Junio 28th, 2010 at 20:06
    Freud – #103 – Sorry, I didn’t post the friend’s observations:

    American people has chosen to exercise its democracy with only 2 parties or 3 some times, for them it has worked amazing well……. this system drove the country to the higest position in world’s economical development and political influence…. this system can be changed by US people as they please but americans prefered to make changes in another directions….. they has transformed the 2 existing parties through the history in accordance with times needs and political-ideological fashion. in a time Republicans were the liberals (left) party, fighting for slavery end and industrial development while Democrats were right leaned party, the KKK party. Nowadays trends in each party is completely oposed.
    To solve a problem there are rarely more than 2 ways…… that’s why 2 parties system is a pragmatic way to enclose diferents opinions and ways to find solutions to country problems. In other countries you can find several parties (3, 5, 10, 28!!!), that’s ok too but I doubt all parties in those countries can find diferents ways to solve same problem….. that’s why they end making coalitions…..
    What you can be sure is that the 1 party system you defend is the worst thing can happen to a country….. this leads to abuse, desinformation, repression, destruction, inmorality and dependence…… all those things can be easely founds in countries like Cuba, North Korea, China, etc. So, your friend can learn a lot of ani democratic system ……. even those with just 2 parties that watch each other carefuly and are ready to denounce the other party if this does not work with exellence for lands prosperity and happyness………

  10. 110Barbara Curbelo

    Junio 30th, 2010 at 11:34

    Can be but there are millions more that are sure a tiranny, a murderous tiranny is not the way…… only accomplices and people that profit with tirannies can pretend it is a better way to represent peoples will.

  11. #108 – RICK

    “fools is a good description for those who would believe that the spin…”

    That is exactly how millions elsewhere feel about your spin on “free and fair elections” in a plutocracy.

  12. Amnesty report slams Cuba
    3:06 PM Wednesday Jun 30, 2010

    Amnesty International has released a damning report on Cuba’s repressive regime.
    Cuba uses repressive laws, a well-oiled state security apparatus and complicit courts to stifle political dissent as it harasses, spies on and imprisons those who openly oppose its communist system, Amnesty International said in a report released today.

    The 35-page analysis said restrictions on expressing views deviating from the official line are “systematic and entrenched,” despite the government’s taking “some limited steps to address long-standing suppression of freedom of expression.”

    Cuba’s government did not respond to a request for comment. It routinely dismisses international human rights groups as tools of the United States.

    Amnesty found that things have not improved since February 2008, when Cuba signed the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and it blasted official prohibitions on individual liberties in the name of national security and in response to Washington’s 48-year trade sanctions.

    “No matter how detrimental its impact, the US embargo is a lame excuse for violating the rights of citizens, as it can in no way diminish the obligation on the Cuban government to protect, respect and fulfill the human rights of all Cubans,” the report said.

    It was compiled using sources on and off the island but contained no firsthand research since Amnesty has been banned from visiting Cuba since 1990.

    Cuba’s human rights situation has been tense since the February 23 death of dissident Orlando Zapata Tamayo, considered by Amnesty International a prisoner of conscience, after a long hunger strike behind bars. Another opposition activist, Guillermo Farinas, has refused to eat or drink since then, though he has received fluids and nutrients intravenously at a hospital near his home in central Cuba.

    Both cases drew international condemnation which has softened some since the government reached an agreement with the Roman Catholic Church to transfer political prisoners held far from their families to facilities closer to home, and to give better access to medical care for inmates who need it.

    That led to the transfer of seven prisoners and the release for health reasons of Ariel Sigler, who became a paraplegic while imprisoned. All were among 75 activists, community organizers and journalists who defy island controls on media arrested in a crackdown on organized dissent in March 2003.

    The Amnesty report noted that through the decades, “hundreds of prisoners of conscience have been imprisoned in Cuba for the peaceful expression of their views.”

    “The legal, bureaucratic and administrative infrastructure built up over the years to silence government opponents and maintain the one party system remains largely intact,” it said, adding that those opponents “continue to be intimidated and harassed, arbitrarily detained or imprisoned after unfair, often summary, trials.”

    Cuba says it holds no political prisoners and safeguards human rights by providing citizens with free education and health care, as well as heavily subsidized housing, utilities, transportation and food.

    Still, Wednesday’s report states that even dissidents outside prison face temporary detentions, interrogations and warnings at police stations, concluding that such intimidation has served to “create a climate of fear in Cuban society.”

    Cuba’s criminal code offers an array of charges to limit dissent, according to the report, including pre-criminal dangerousness, enemy propaganda, contempt of authority, rebellion, acts against state security, distribution of false news and, simply, resistance.

    “The lack of independence and impartiality of the judiciary means that these vaguely worded offenses have been used to punish the legitimate exercise of freedom of expression,” it said.

    Cuba can arrest citizens accused of having a “dangerous disposition,” the report said. Those convicted of potentially committing a crime can be sentenced to therapy, police surveillance or reeducation.

    Authorities also ensure citizens remain cut off from opposition views, Amnesty found, by maintaining a virtual monopoly on media. It noted that the “Law of Security of Information” prohibits internet access from home for most Cubans, but praised island bloggers who provide uncensored information in defiance of state website filters.

    – AP

  13. #107 curbelo

    No rant, no fume and fools is a good description for those who would believe that the spin put on the ‘parliamentary” tale you tell is anywhere near reality for the authoritarian dictatorship that rules Cuba, the worse of it is that you would believe it yourself but self delusion is mandatory for those that suffer from ideophobia.

  14. #106 – RICK –

    “The farcical mode of your reply does nothing to respond to my comments other than to exhibit the rancor that you support. “

    You can rant and fume all you want, but my friend brilliantly placed all the cards on the table. This is what you can expect from millions like my friend in Cuba; who are nobody’s fools…

  15. Curbelo #105

    The farcical mode of your reply does nothing to respond to my comments other than to exhibit the rancor that you support. While the two large established parties produce a majority of all candidates there is a burgeoning number of independent candidates and you also ignore the fact that grass-roots groups in the USA have considerable influence and do sway the policies and goals of elected officials in the US as well as bringing forward individuals who affect change in those parties whereas in Cuba and other regimes with authoritarian leaders all decisions are made by the closed leadership in this case the Castro brothers.

    In spite of your glibness and attempts to divert my words into a condemnation of the democratic system of countries other than Cuba’s it is in fact Cuba which is struggling under a supposed “parliamentarian” mode of rule which is actually one constrained by the iron fist of its Castro dictatorship.

  16. Freud – #103 – Sorry, I didn’t post the friend’s observations:


    1) Citizen A wants to exercise his right “to take part in the government of his country directly” by having “an equal opportunity to become a candidate for election….individually or in association with others”.

    a) He has to make sure of associating with others from:

    -The only TWO (2) parties with not only “unhindered”, but with any access at all to “reaching the public, and to share equally in the benefits given by the state to parties and other candidates”.

    – The only TWO (2) parties with the money for their candidates to “move freely within the country in order to campaign for election”.

    – The only TWO (2) parties -yes, the ones sharing the exercise of government through its three branches- that are allowed to “campaign on an equal basis with other -that is to say, ‘the only other’- political parties -which really means ‘party’, in singular”.

    – The only TWO (2) parties that have “an equal opportunity of access to the media, particularly the mass communications media”.

    b) Citizen A has to make sure that the “others” from one of the only TWO (2) parties sharing government, which he wants to associate with:

    -Find it in their own best interest to invest their money on promoting the candidacy of citizen A.

    – Convince the moneyed interests that invest in the only TWO (2) parties -with equality, we have to admit- that candidate A is worth paying for the exercise of all the “rights” and “freedoms” so beautifully listed in the declaration.

    – Spend the money on the publicity agencies that have sold hamburgers, cars, Viagra, weight loss pills and the whole panoply of stuff the guys between elections who pay have been pushing through the public noses; so this time around the product sold would be candidate citizen A.

    c) Once all candidates, citizens A’s have been filtered, sifted through, screened, selected, appointed, designated, propelled, blessed and baptized by money; they are ready to “access the media” and “put forward their political views” that always turns to be (what a coincidence!!!) in the best interests of the guys who grease the political machinery of the same TWO (2) parties with their money.

    2) Now citizen B has the opportunity to exercise his “rights”:
    He registers, gains access to the ballot (if he can escape the occasional purges of the voters registration), to vote by secret ballot and to believe that he is voting for (paraphrasing again the declaration) – “a freely chosen representative”.

    3) Once the “free and fair election” is over, citizen B has four years to exercise the right to complain because his “freely chosen representative” happens to represent the interest of the plutocracy that put the money to buy and corrupt all the freedoms and rights of the Declaration on Criteria for Free and Fair Elections.

  17. #103 – FREUD

    I asked a friend in Cuba to comment on “Free and Fair Elections as per Rick’s suggested criteria from “Inter-Parliamentary Union, Geneva, Switzerland”
    His response is briliant:
    Free and open elections allow for political parties to form and present candidates and platforms that would be then voted upon by all citizens of adult age in a democratic way. This would include the following among other rights and responsibilities of the citizens and the governing party at the time of regularly scheduled electoral terms for all political offices in the nation.
    Since I am not a scholar but simply a man who has spent most of his life working on the sea I have paraphrased and am quoting from sources that describe what I believe to be a fair and equitable way to conduct elections.

    Freedom to express political views through the electoral process.

    This right includes the freedom to register and vote, to form political parties, to run for political office at all levels, to have unhindered access to the ballot and to the means of reaching the public, and to share equally in the benefits given by the state to parties and their candidates.

    The right of everyone to take part in the government of his or her country directly or indirectly through freely chosen representatives, to vote in such elections by secret ballot, to have an equal opportunity to become a candidate for election, and to put forward his or her political views, individually or in association with others.

    My primary source is the Inter-Parliamentary Union, Geneva, Switzerland.

    Inter-Parliamentary Council at its 154th session (Paris, 26 March 1994)

    Free and Fair Elections

    In any State the authority of the government can only derive from the will of the people as expressed in genuine, free and fair elections held at regular intervals on the basis of universal, equal and secret suffrage.

    Everyone has the right to join, or together with others to establish, a political party or organization for the purpose of competing in an election.

    Everyone individually and together with others has the right:
    • To express political opinions without interference;
    • To seek, receive and impart information and to make an informed choice;
    • To move freely within the country in order to campaign for election;
    • To campaign on an equal basis with other political parties, including the party forming the existing government.

    Every candidate for election and every political party shall have an equal opportunity of access to the media, particularly the mass communications media, in order to put forward their political views.

    The right of candidates to security with respect to their lives and property shall be recognized and protected.

    Every individual and every political party has the right to the protection of the law and to a remedy for violation of political and electoral rights.

    Candidature, party and campaign rights carry responsibilities to the community. In particular, no candidate or political party shall engage in violence.

    Every candidate and political party competing in an election shall respect the rights and freedoms of others.

    Every candidate and political party competing in an election shall accept the outcome of a free and fair election.

    Provide for the formation and free functioning of political parties, possibly regulate the funding of political parties and electoral campaigns, ensure the separation of party and State, and establish the conditions for competition in legislative elections on an equitable basis;

    States shall respect and ensure the human rights of all individuals within their territory and subject to their jurisdiction. In time of elections, the State and its organs should therefore ensure:
    • That freedom of movement, assembly, association and expression are respected, particularly in the context of political rallies and meetings;
    • That parties and candidates are free to communicate their views to the electorate, and that they enjoy equality of access to State and public-service media;
    • That the necessary steps are taken to guarantee non-partisan coverage in State and public-service media.

    In order that elections shall be fair, States should take the necessary measures to ensure that parties and candidates enjoy reasonable opportunities to present their electoral platform.

    States should take all necessary and appropriate measures to ensure that the principle of the secret ballot is respected, and that voters are able to cast their ballots freely, without fear or intimidation.

    Furthermore, State authorities should ensure that the ballot is conducted so as to avoid fraud or other illegality, that the security and the integrity of the process is maintained, and that ballot counting is undertaken by trained personnel, subject to monitoring and/or impartial verification.

    States should take all necessary and appropriate measures to ensure the transparency of the entire electoral process including, for example, through the presence of party agents and duly accredited observers.

    States should take the necessary measures to ensure that parties, candidates and supporters enjoy equal security, and that State authorities take the necessary steps to prevent electoral violence.

    States should ensure that violations of human rights and complaints relating to the electoral process are determined promptly within the time frame of the electoral process and effectively by an independent and impartial authority, such as an electoral commission or the courts.

  18. 101Barbara Curbelo

    Junio 27th, 2010 at 00:35
    #99 – You just can’t handle the facts.
    Again, encourage Yoani to run for public office.

    It has been proven through all years this bold imitation of parliament has existed that no others than resvile supporters of castrofascism and assasins accomplices of castrofascism crimes can be voted for this ridiculous show…… all others are blocked and hidered to be voted out…….. furthermore…….. suposeding any other person get to be voted and “elected” for this farse the result will be irrelevant because this fake parliament does not take any political, economical or rganisative desition that can be implemented simply because it is not addressed with real powers but nominal and non working atributions that make it inoperant…… this is a complete scam that just serves castrofascim to lure the international public opinion to think there is a parlamentary gov in Cuba when all we know it is the tyranny, the corrupt elite that controls the country the only real and executive power in the country….. laws, decretes, administrative rules and economical dispositions are taken by this elite without account with no other real or fake “institution” in Cuba……. this is very easy to demonstrate….. so, who do you pretend to lure silly agent????

  19. #99 – You just can’t handle the facts.
    Again, encourage Yoani to run for public office.

Comments are closed.