Exchanging an Argentine Fiat for a Cuban Roof

He was awarded it as a perk based on merit, paying a subsidized price in 1975, the same year as the first Communist Party Congress. He won the chance to buy that brand new Fiat 125, made in Argentina, because he was a vanguard doctor and an unimpeachable Revolutionary. The first time he parked on his provincial street, the neighbors looked on with envy and respect. Behind the wheel he felt like someone just beginning to take the first steps along the promised path to prosperity. But time passed, over his own body and also over the blue bodywork that had begun to get chipped and dented. Now the car is about to be the same age as his oldest daughter, some 37 Decembers of benefits and setbacks.

For decades he held back on making any comprehensive repairs because his pediatrician’s salary wasn’t even enough to replace the windshield. In the mid-nineties he broke down and rented the Fiat to a neighbor who bought and sold merchandise on the black market. Between leaving it to rust in the garage or renting it to someone with resources, he preferred the latter. Thus, the car awarded as a prize for ideological fidelity, went to someone who had never been chosen by institutions to receive such a privilege. The currency of political loyalty that ended up conquered at the feet of another, more real, convertible hard cash.

When the purchase and sale of cars was authorized, he decided to  legalize the transfer. The solvent neighbor who had already invested in new tires, air-conditioning, and even leather-covered seats, delivered some one thousand CUC ($900 USD) to close the deal. He didn’t want to pay one cent more, because he’d been paying a monthly rent for several years. Finally, before a notary, the Fiat swelled the list of 8,390 autos sold in the first trimester of 2012. With the money he made the doctor managed to buy the materials to restore the roof of his house and to get rid of the damaged nearly-100-year-old tiles. So he put out of his mind the object that had once been a major source of pride, for the concrete roof he never could have afforded on his salary.

May 22 2012

76 thoughts on “Exchanging an Argentine Fiat for a Cuban Roof

  1. Cuban opposition leader Jorge Luis García Pérez, known as Antúnez, was released by police on Wednesday after being detained last Saturday in a violent incident at his city of birth, Placetas, in Villa Clara province.
    “My first words are to express my thanks to all those persons of good will who, somehow or other, decidedly contributed to my release,” said Antúnez in a statement made available by the Miami-based Directorio Democrático Cubano (Cuban Democratic Board).
    On Saturday, Antúnez was arrested, beaten and sprayed with pepper gas in a police jail cell.
    The domestic opposition movement and human rights activists had consistently denounced his detention.
    Last Thursday, Antúnez participated in a teleconference before a subcommittee of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee dealing with the domestic situation in Cuba and the recent acts of harassment against the peaceful opposition.
    The U.S. government had demanded Antúnez’s immediate and unconditional release. At a recent press conference in Washington, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland deplored the oppositionist’s arrest.
    Criticism has become strongest because Raúl Castro’s government seems to have activated a campaign to block the opposition’s plans to honor political prisoners on the occasion of Fathers’ Day, next Sunday.
    In the past 48 hours, the cell phones of several dissidents in Villa Clara and Santiago appeared to have been blocked by the authorities so they could not speak with supporters or journalists.
    “These actions highlight once again the repressive nature of the Cuban government, particularly with regard to citizens who peacefully express opposite points of view,” Nuland said. “We shall continue to support the Cuban people in its desire to determine their own future.”
    Joining the chorus of figures and personalities in U.S. politics who demanded Antúnez’s release was Senator Bill Nelson. In a letter to the chief of the Cuban Mission in Washington, Jorge Bolaños, the senator asked for an explanation.
    “I beg you to determine at once all the facts surrounding this affair and notify my office about Antúnez’s whereabouts and well-being,” Nelson said in his letter.
    Antúnez, 46, was released from prison in April 2007 after serving a 17-year sentence for allegedly engaging in enemy propaganda, attempts at sabotage and other crimes punishable by the Cuban penal code.
    Two weeks ago in Miami, groups of Cuban exiles showed a documentary that contains testimony from former political prisoners about the coercive methods used by the island’s prisons, and the consistent violation of the immates’ basic rights.
    The documentary, titled “Cuba’s Prisons: A Sequence of Terror,” was filmed and edited surreptitiously by members of the Oriental Democratic Alliance (ADO), a coalition of opposition groups in Cuba’s eastern provinces. The documentary included a testimony by Antúnez.

  2. VIDEO: A Conversation With Mariela Castro Part 3 – THE MAFIA RANT STARTS @ 6:25 THE TOP PRIORITY OF THE CUBAN 5 SPIES @ 8:15 WITH SOME MORE MAFIA TIDBITS AFTER! JE JE JE! I THOUGHT SHE WAS HERE TO WORK AND FOCUS ON THE GLBT ISSUES! HOW TRANSPARENT IS SHE!! JE JE JE!

  3. Help! YOU BEAT ME TO IT! ITS PRETTY EVIDENT WHAT SHE IS AFTER ON THIS TOUR! GIVE ME THE CUBAN 5 AND LETS DEFAME YOANI SANCHEZ! TWO TOP PRIORITIES!

    THE YOANI SANCHEZ DEFAMATION RANT OF PRINCESS MARIELA CASTRO STARTS AT THE BEGINING OF THIS VIDEO! NOW SHE IS ACCUSING YOANI AS AN “ANNEXATIONIST”! AT THE END SHE TALKS ABOUT NOT LETTING YOURSELVES BE “MANIPULATED” BY THE THE MEDIAS “ATTACK” ON CUBA (really the Castro Clan)! YOU CAN TELL HOW UNCOMFORTABLE SHE REALLY IS WITH HER OWN LIES!
    A Conversation With Mariela Castro Part 5 – A Conversation with Mariela Castro at the San Francisco LGBT Center May 23, 2012.

  4. Humberto, Mariela couldn’t even answer the easy questions.

    Nobody asked her the tough ones, like “why did your father send gays to concentration camps?” or “why did Cuba vote with Iran against gay rights in the UN?” or “have you ever criticized Iran for torturing and executing gays?”

    Instead of answering one easy question honestly, all she did was repeat the party line about things she knows absolutely nothing about.

  5. Humberto, go to the last segment, number 5, it’s just 5 minutes. That’s where she goes off on Yoani.

    I know the whole 5 segments are hard to watch, she is very full of herself and tells boring Fidel and Raul stories.

    But I was looking for some hope that she isn’t as mentally unbalanced as them, some sign of flexibility or openness in her thinking.

    Unfortunately, she’s self-centered, close-minded and delusional and just repeats party propaganda like a parrot, although obviously without a parrot’s intelligence.

  6. Help! ON WHICH OF THE SEGMENTS DID SHE GO OFF ON YOANI? THERE ARE 5 PARTS! AND FYI! I PUT SEVERAL ARTICLES ON THE COMMENT SECTION AND NOW THEY HAVE CLOSED THE ABILITY TO COMMENT! JE JE JE! VERY DEMOCRATIC WHO WAS IN CHARGE OF THE FILMING AND POSTING ON YOUTUBE!

    YOUTUBE: A Conversation With Mariela Castro Part 1 – A Conversation with Mariela Castro at the San Francisco LGBT Center May 23, 2012.

  7. Communism was merely a “spontaneous” uprising of working people.
    World Socialism will be organised uprising of not working people…and mariela,yoani and generation y should be with the not working people…who are socialists…which means unemployed with ration food…or hungry as cubans scialists

  8. Good news is that pope as obama,mariela,yoani etc…he and they are all socialists now and so is all UN,EU,NAU,SAU,AU,etc…and all world has God as father….as pope said that(so dont call pope holy father because only God is father of all,creator of all).Now the world elites,corporations,banks,rockefellers,rothchils or what ever are all socialist now…get rations,be happy and all as one,so no more many colors,no more rainbow but be with God,one bright light so united world socialist pink should change to white…as ladies in white

  9. Mariela’s mission is to make or turn the todays world…all gay…but the world is already so and the only thing that mariela should do now is to make all socialist which means that the new generations that are now inclueding generation y should stop being dumb,human animals as the previous generations who are like the dead old car…but are worth not 900 but 0 dollars.Yoani,Humberto should help mariela now and be socialist now…like usa,canada,france,italy,mexixo,venesuela…or the whole socialist world run by the pink UN

  10. Major LOL, Cuba Libre. Perhaps the doctor does indeed get up every morning and work his ass off. That will get you nowhere if you are a doctor in Cuba. Maybe the equivalent of 20 US dollars per month. PATHETIC. The dictatorship runs the island, and not very well, on slave labor. Would you work 40 hours per week for 20 dollars? You don’t even have to answer that. So, you are saying that one must hustle extra hard in Cuba, say, working 60 or 80 hours per week, in order to take a beach vacation on their own island??? That’s moronic. So is your comparison of Cubans who work 40 plus hours per week for so little with those who live off of welfare in the U.S. and Canada. Not a fair comparison. Shame on you for being such a Castro apologist, making excuses for a dictator.

  11. Cube Libra is right: “the truth hurts”

    Here is the truth: He swore he was moving to Cuba a few years ago, but still hasn’t looked into it, even though he can move any time. He’s still in his capitalist home cursing capitalism, and can’t even stand more than a week in Cuba, even living in 5 star accommodation.

    According to the truth of Libra’s actions, life sucks in Cuba, even for rich Marxist tourists.

    Maybe an abnormal psychologist can come on here and explain why these greedy capitalist Marxists keep praising a socialism they would never live under?

  12. Well I can see that the saying “the truth hurts” has proved itself to be true once again. When all the anti-castrists in here heard Mariela Castro speak the truth on Team Yoani, they all felt the pain when reality struck.
    Isn`t it ironic my friend Humberto when you quote Mariela Castro about her views on gay and lesbian rights, but when she speaks the truth about the slandering and lies of Yoani Sanchez you are quick to condemn her views.
    As for the doctor who sold his Fiat to buy a roof for his house, don`t you find it strange that he has it so hard, but his next door neighbour is making money big time. The truth is the doctor who sold his car likes to sit on his ass living off of the government, while his neighbour hustles in every way he can to better his situation. It can be compared to the US or Canada. Some people decide to live off of wellfare services or unemployment insurance, and then their are others who get their rears up each morning to go to work to be able to better their lives and maybe pay themselves a 2 week vacation on the paradisiac beaches in Cuba.

  13. Sorry, I meant “She also SAID that Yoani has the most advanced computer technology ever seen in Cuba” (that must be her USB stick) LOL

    I still can’t believe what I saw. Is there anyone in the Cuban Royal family who can possibly move Cuba forward?

    There are actually honest and sane Castros out there, I heard Fidel’s daughter in Miami and she has intelligent things to say. I hope she’s not the only one.

  14. Has anyone else seen the performance of Mariela in San Francisco?

    Did she inherit the insanity of her father and uncle, the delusions, the ignorance?

    She didn’t answer one question about gay rights in Cuba honestly, waffling and skirting each question with absurd answers like “Cubans don’t like getting married” or “there are no children to adopt in Cuba”, at the same time criticizing the state of gay rights in the USA.

    Anyways, she gave a hate-filled performance, punctuating sweet calls to “end all forms of social exclusion” and “prejudice” with very exclusionary insults of “Cuban mafia” etc anytime she talked about people who disagree with her.

    She ends with a 5 minute tirade against Yoani Sanchez calling her a stand-in for the Cuban mafia, a mercenary, an annexationist, and quoting one of Castro’s nutcases who made up an interview with Yoani, she “proves” that it is “mathematically impossible” for Yoani to write her own blog. She also writes that Yoani has the most advanced computer technology ever seen in Cuba LOL

    This lady is as much an improvement over Daddy as Baby Doc Duvalier was an improvement over Papa Doc. God help Cuba if Princess Mariela takes over.

    For letting me clearly see the full dishonesty, hypocrisy, and ignorance of the loony left, I want to thank whoever invited her to the USA.

  15. mariela as obama…. both are socialist and for the progresive changes for cuba,usa joemygod.blogspot.com/2012/05/mariela-castro-endorses-obama.html

    and yoani,humberto etc should be with them now to bring big changes in cuba this summer before romney comes and close the doors again and starve more the thin cubans

  16. I think is time for mariela as progresive leader to replace the old castros who are now like the old car in the photo…and should retire or be fired for not letting cuba progress enough or faster,but mariela looks more advanced as yoani…so they must kick castros out and take over and maybe run cuba’s society,intelectuals,media

    cuba should not be running like the old car anymore so be pro mariela and help her both yoani and humberto..etc lazy or not lazy cubans,americans,canadians,mexicans etc

  17. humberto you should stop hunting mariela and you better try to connect her with yoani so the forces of the socialist camp,all its divisions;feminists,gays,intelectuals,artists,religious etc are as one big army marching toward the world socialism….because we are all socialist npw or gays or feminist…and this means that thr rainbow colors will be mixed to create one color

  18. “This is what we want — the power of emancipation through socialism,” Mariela Castro says.
    Maybe mariela is right…cuba should open doors and windows for all americans to come to cuba…not just gays and the doors should stay open so cubans can return freerly the visit to american gays and straight..so cuba can be part of the north america union…so all their socialists,feminists,gays etc should unite cuba,mexico,usa and canada as a big community…same the european union,sau,nwo etc

  19. so people that belong to generation y should stop being lazy but act and try to make the world better and cuba is part of the world…so is time for yoani,mariela,humberto,cuba libre or not libre or what ever…as members of generation y or x or z…should wake up and start working and stop being lazy now…because this is the time for change…as obama says often; change,new down etc…so wake up all the generation y who maybe is sleeping to late because the ndew day started,sun rised,night is over and bad dreams too…let stop being lazy now

  20. yoani should also have for her new socialist party a media like tv and invite cubans,world socialist,mariela,castros and even world leaders,religious,politics etc to be discussing the world socialism that is now build and not be so passive.

    marirla should meet yoani in her home maybe and together they should work and contribute not just for gays and blog readers socialists but for all cuba and the world socialists…invite them to cuba or everywhere in the world. they both originate from spain and maybe they may be cousins,originate from same town or farm in spain before their ancesters moved to cuba…so humberto should help too…what is the mariela’s email contact website etc…or she is stopped being on line too?

  21. why dont the ladies on white chose their own cardinal…and fire the othet one ?
    religiom is not a company ot corporation….so they can have their own religion…

    the same from yoani…why doesnt she create her own party…like a new socialist party…and even call mariela castro to be in it as socialist…a party branch of world socialism which is majority feminist…gays,religious,community workers and voluntaries,guerrilias etc? There is nothing wrong for them to connect with the world socialist camp and UN…because they may run UN in the future and if mariela will win because she will have more the world gay fans pro her is okey…not to worry.So yoani should do something more important than writting blogs about junk cars,junk streets,building and walls or about rice,beans and bananas

  22. Humberto, I know Posada Carriles is an extremist, I was not equating him with anyone except Mariela Castro.

    The whole point is that POSADA CARRILES invited to lecture in a Cuban university would be the only thing quite like MARIELA CASTRO lecturing in the USA.

    But Cuba won’t let ANYONE, of the left, center or right, to make the tiniest criticism of any of the Castros. Not even Marxist dissidents are allowed on TV in Cuba.

  23. SO LET ME GET THIS! EVEN IF YOU ARE A POLITICAL GROUP YOU CANNOT TRAVEL OUTSIDE OF THE CASTROFASCIST PRISON? DUH! FORGET! ITS A PRISON!

    MIAMI HERALD: Cuba’s Ladies in White have ‘tough’ meeting with Church official – The Ladies in White meeting with the archbishop of Santiago went much more smoothly than their encounter with the archbishop of Havana. – By Juan O. Tamayo
    A Cuban Catholic Church official told the Ladies in White on Friday they are no longer a humanitarian group and that the government is unlikely to let them go to the Vatican even if Pope Benedict XVI grants them an audience, spokeswoman Berta Soler said.

    The lay spokesman for Cardinal Jaime Ortega, meanwhile, told a conference in California that the government must guarantee the rights of the island’s “political, cultural or religious” minorities and dissidents must abandon “verbal violence.”

    Soler said Msgr. Ramón Suárez Polcari, chancellor of the Havana archdiocese, “has always been very receptive with us, but not today.” During the meeting between four Ladies in White and Polcari, she added, “there were tough moments.”

    When the women asked for an audience with the pope, Soler said, the monsignor replied that if the government did not allow them to attend Benedict’s masses during his visit in March, it was unlikely to allow them to fly to Italy.

    Polcari also challenged the purpose of the Ladies in White, founded by women relatives of 75 dissidents arrested in a 2003 crackdown to demand their release. All were freed by last summer, after Ortega interceded on their behalf.

    The monsignor “told us that we are a political movement, that we have changed. We told him we are a humanitarian group, a human rights group,” Soler told El Nuevo Herald by telephone from Havana. Polcari was not immediately available for comment.

    The women “reminded him why we’re continuing,” gave him a list of about 60 Cubans imprisoned for political motives and the names of the 60 Ladies in White arrested in March for brief periods to keep them from attending the papal masses.

    Participating in the 80-minute meeting were Soler, Magalys Norvis, Odalis Sanabria and Laura María Labrada Pollán. Polcari’s title makes him a top administrator for the archdiocese of Havana.

    Soler’s version of the meeting underlined the worsening relations between dissidents and members of the church hierarchy, especially Ortega, accused of forging a virtual partnership with Castro’s communist government.

    The Ladies in White, who last met with Ortega in August of 2011, have been asking for a new meeting since March 7 but received no answer, Soler said. Last week, they again asked for a meeting with the cardinal, and Polcari agreed to see them Friday.

    In comparison, Soler noted, the women asked Monday for a meeting with Msgr. Dionisio García Ibáñez, archbishop of eastern Santiago de Cuba, the island’s second largest city. Less than two hours later, he agreed to see them Wednesday.

    “He was very receptive with us,” Soler said of the 35-minute meeting, during which they also gave him the lists of political prisoners and women arrested during the pope’s visit. “We left very happy.”

    García “was interested in what happened to the women when they were detained. He asked us, he said, ‘I want to know’” Soler noted. He added that at times he has admonished women for taking photos in church with their cellular phones.

    The Santiago region has been a hotspot for dissident actions in the past year, with police detaining scores of women as they try to stage public protests after Sunday masses at the Santiago cathedral and nearby shrine to Our Lady of Charity, Cuba’s patron saint.

    García, who is also president of the Cuban Catholic Bishops Conference, was in Havana for a meeting of the conference.

    Ortega spokesman Orlando Marquez, meanwhile, told a meeting of the Latin American Studies Association in San Francisco that Cuba’s government should “pay more attention to minorities, be they political, cultural or religious … and guarantee their rights.”

    The government also should speed up its economic reforms “and make citizens into participants,” Marquez noted in a lengthy presentation for the gathering of academics that specialize in hemispheric affairs.

    His presentation also urged dissidents to abandon “verbal violence, disqualifications and scorn,” and noted that “not a small number of Cubans continue, and will continue, supporting the current government, even though they demand socio-economic changes to improve the quality of their lives.”

    The government has never agreed to negotiate with dissidents, dismissing them as “mercenaries” paid by the U.S. government to try to topple the communist system.

    http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/05/25/2817706/cubas-ladies-in-white-have-tough.html

  24. Help! POSADA CARRILES DOES NOT REPRESENT THE CUBANS IN THE DIASPORA, CERTAINLY NOT ME! HE IS AN ALBATROSS AND SHOULD BE TRIED IN AN INTERNATIONAL COURT AND LETS GET RID OF THAT EXCUSE SO OFTEN USED BY THE CASTRO CLAN, INCLUDING MARIELA ON HER SPEECH IN SF!

    The Rime of the Ancient Mariner (originally The Rime of the Ancyent Marinere) is the longest major poem by the English poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge, written in 1797–98 and published in 1798 in the first edition of Lyrical Ballads. Modern editions use a later revised version printed in 1817 that featured a gloss. Along with other poems in Lyrical Ballads, it was a signal shift to modern poetry and the beginning of British Romantic literature.

    Here, however, the sailors change their minds again and blame the Mariner for the torment of their thirst. In anger, the crew forces the Mariner to wear the dead albatross about his neck, perhaps to illustrate the burden he must suffer from killing it, or perhaps as a sign of regret (“Ah! Well a-day! What evil looks / Had I from old and young! / Instead of the cross, the albatross / About my neck was hung”). Eventually, the ship encounters a ghostly vessel. On board are Death (a skeleton) and the “Night-mare Life-in-Death” (a deathly-pale woman), who are playing dice for the souls of the crew. With a roll of the dice, Death wins the lives of the crew members and Life-in-Death the life of the Mariner, a prize she considers more valuable. Her name is a clue as to the Mariner’s fate; he will endure a fate worse than death as punishment for his killing of the albatross.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Rime_of_the_Ancient_Mariner

  25. THE CASTROFASCIST PRINCES HAS NO CLOTHES!! JE JE JE! AND SKULLY! DID YOU SEE HOW I BEAT YOU TO THE COMMENT SECTION? JE JE JE! SORRY, IM ON A ROLL!

    MIAMI HERALD: Mariela Castro’s real agenda: Keep family in power- By Fabiola Santiago
    Mariela Castro wasn’t able to leave the safe cocoon of the USA this week without revealing her true agenda.

    Feeling comfortable and invincible in the company of adulatory California poolside liberals with a dated playbook, the daughter of Raúl and niece of Fidel dropped the humanitarian mask and got down to the dirty business of pushing the Castro brothers’ single-issue agenda: staying in power.

    “A group from the Cuban mafia in the United States, why are they taking the rights of the American people to travel to Cuba? That is not fair,” she said at a conference on the medical issues of gay and transgender people. “You are millions of people against a small mafia of unscrupulous people…. We are fighting for the rights of Cubans and for the rights of the American people.”

    On and on the vociferous First Daughter digressed, lucky to be in a democratic country that issues visas even to self-proclaimed enemies who easily find a friendly forum of fools to deliver propaganda cloaked as humanitarian endeavor.

    Did anyone think Mariela Castro traveled to San Francisco to contribute to the worthy cause of equal rights for the gay community?

    Please. The Cuban government and its emissaries are always predictable. They use gay rights now the way they used the race-equality card in the 1960s — to bestow respectability on a repressive regime.

    But Mariela Castro is the emissary of a regime that sent gays to concentration camps, calling their sexual orientation “ideological diversion.”

    She comes from a regime that locked up people with AIDS in a sanitarium far from their loved ones.

    She comes from a 53-year-old regime that denies people the most basic of human rights and jails them for asking for what only the privileged like her have in Cuba — to travel abroad, speak freely and enjoy life’s perks.

    She’s here for no reason other than to extend the life of the regime, to ensure a post-Fidel and post-Raúl future for the children of the dictatorship.

    But, as one can see in her talks and her Twitter attacks against other Cubans on the island — like the internationally recognized journalist-blogger Yoani Sánchez — this is a woman who doesn’t know how to engage in open debate without resorting to insults.

    She may wrap herself in the rainbow colors of the gay-rights movement, but her tired rhetoric about Miami exiles as “the Cuban mafia” is the same as her father’s and her uncle’s.

    But what Cuban mafia does she find unscrupulous? The one that sends to Cuba hundreds of millions of dollars a year in medicine, clothes, appliances and cash?

    What embargo? The one the Castro brothers keep alive as an excuse to enslave people to an ideology aimed at keeping the island-farm in their hands? (If they wanted the embargo lifted they wouldn’t shoot down U.S. planes in international waters when an administration is ready to end it; they wouldn’t arrest independent journalists and librarians when another administration is making friendly gestures).

    “This is what we want — the power of emancipation through socialism,” Mariela Castro says.

    That’s what the Castros want. What about the Cuban people, gay and straight?

    http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/05/25/2817693/mariela-castros-real-agenda-keep.html

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