Oct 2, 2007

Más caña pa'l central de CBS

Still wondering what's exactly missing in "Cane", trying to realized what's "that thing" you are unable to link with a Cuban family?

No lo digo yo, it has been wonderfully written by Alberto de la Cruz.

Take a look at the video from the Peña family, in Hialeah, and you'll see the real essence of a typical Cuban family.

The candyman brought me memories...

No so good, I would said, but my memories anyway.

Doing my daily round of reading about Cuba, that has become almost an addiction every morning, I found this story of an old Cuban man and his struggles to support his family as a "self-employee" --like if we could even use than term in Cuba.

(If you'd rather read the original story in Spanish from Cubanet, go here).

Then, I remembered our very own struggle during the so called Special Period (Período Especial), while I started my battle to study in la Universidad de la Habana, despite the huge cuts the government did to the enrollment.

I had the required grades and passed the admission tests to study journalism or laws, but ended up going into a distance education program to become a lawyer. (Suddenly, the government decided they didn't need so much university graduates).

No Internet in those years; just old and out-of-date books and friend's notes passed along thousands of hands... Oh, those old days I spent in La Colina. And the hunger? Ay Dios mío, qué hambre yo pasé cuando estaba estudiando en esa universidad!

Anyway, with my Dad almost dying in a hospital after three life-threatening surgeries (by the way, caused by a medical malpractice), Mami in an absence of leave from her sucking-secretarial-job, I decided I would start working as manicure to earn some money for the house.

It was a good try.
I did it at home, in my break hours from studying my self-taught program to graduate from law school.My half-siblings and their mother sent me all the stuff I needed for the business; from Germany --remember, período especial en Cuba and having dollars in your pocket was penalized with four years in jail.

Weekdays I used to work in my house and during the weekends, I would go to my aunt's house, not that far from ours, and get my clientele from her block.

My clients were, mostly, my lifetime neighbors and their friends. But then, as Mami says, la felicidad en casa del pobre dura poco.

Someone from the CDR denounced us with the local municipality authorities and guess what? we had to pay a fine of one thousand pesos. If you converted it to dollars it may seemed it's not a lot, but for us was an enormous amount of money at that time.

For Christ's sake, I didn't even had make that amount with my manicure job!

Then my brother stepped in and lend us the money to pay the fine. He said the most important thing would be to get us out of any trouble with the government. And right there, my entrepreneur's soul was crushed by a system that rather have people dying of hunger and necessities than allowing them to survive with their own work.

Life contradictions?
Not at all.
There is a huge responsibility behind this memory of mine and the candy man story from Cubanet. It does not matter how many years have passed between one experience and the other. The bottom line is that the Cuban government have kept the same priorities all along: crushing people's liberties at any cost.