I have long suspected that Alfonso Chardy was being groomed as Oscar Corral's heir to the unofficial position of resident Cuban reporter at The Miami Herald, known in earlier times as the "house Cuban." Chardy apprenticed under Corral himself and contributed to the infamous "Martí Moonlighter" story. He has for some time been growing into the position and now has formally assumed its duties.
What are those duties, you ask? Well, obviously, to write the bulk of the stories relating to Cuban-Americans with the authority of a Cuban-American's byline. This gives him both a greater authority and a greater latitude for criticism of the community, and, in the beginning, at least, greater access to it as well. The "criticism," of course, if directed at any other community, would be called bashing. I do not know if his editors directly communicate to him that this is what he should do or if this is an unspoken charge which is part of the bylaws of the brotherhood of sell-outs. Eventually, of course, the cumulative effect of so much bashing will dry up his sources and make him anathema in his own community, or, to put it as simply as possible, nobody will want to talk to him because everybody will know he will be the worse for it. That is exactly what happened to Corral prior to the incident with the prostitute. Corral actually had to be removed from the Cuban-American beat (how appropriate that word!) because his community turned against him; but that, for Oscar, at least, was a good thing; it meant that he could leave the Cuban-American ghetto (which was his objective) and be assigned to national stories having nothing to do with Cuba or Cuban-Americans. The house Cuban had moved on to be the company lackey at large. With his newly-minted credentials, Oscar was ready to move on to new and redder pastures. And then, as fate would have it, Yamilet entered his life and the ace reporter was demoted to cub reporter and assigned to the boondocks of Broward — a cautionary tale if there ever was one for his successor. The lesson, of course, is not about avoiding teenage prostitutes (though that would be smart too); but rather about not betraying your own people, because, in the end, they are all that you have (or don't have).
Chardy's debut as Corral's replacement is entitled "The Thieves Struck in the Middle of the Night," a vacuous headline that hardly describes the peculiar thrust that he gives the story. A better if longer headline would have been: "Cuban Smugglers Responsible for Spike in Boat Thefts (Though There Is No Evidence for This Conclusion)."
The story recounts the attempted theft of "Plan B," a 36-foot fishing boat worth $200,000, which ran aground not far from its mooring in Key Largo. The boat belongs to Rodney Barreto, chairman of the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Committee. This connection seems to impress Chardy, though it is doubtful that it impressed the would-be thief, who certainly did not know the identity of the boat's owner or else he might have thought twice about stealing that particular boat.
Although the person(s) responsible for, in effect, taking Barreto's boat on a joyride of less than 5 miles have not been apprehended that doesn't stop Barreto from conjecturing that it was Cuban smugglers who stole his boat and are behind the recent spike in boat thefts in Miami-Dade.
The evidence for reporting that smugglers (and, more specifically, Cuban smugglers) were involved in the theft of Barreto's boat? "[T]wo drums with fuel, a tarp and a duffel bag with water and potato chips" were found aboard the abandoned boat. Well, that clinches it for sure. It is notoriously well known that smugglers (and especially Cuban smugglers) love potato chips and will often cleanse the salty taste from their mouths with water. As for the oil, the tarp and the duffel bag, these items also identify the culprits as smugglers (and particularly Cuban smugglers) since surely they are never found on any other vessels except those employed in "smuggling" Cubans into the U.S. (Incidentally, a perfectly legal activity under the Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966. Back then it was known as rescuing fugitives from injustice and entailed no punitive measures either for the rescuer or the rescued).
Besides the water and the potato chips, etc., what other evidence is there that Cuban smugglers are to blame for the 20 percent spike in the number of boat thefts over the last year?
Now is the time for Chardy to prove himself Oscar Corral's organic successor and continuator, and he does not fail to rise to the occasion.
In the same period, Chardy reports, there has been a rise in the number of Cuban "migrants" intercepted by the Coast Guard in the Florida Straits as well as in the number of "migrants" who evaded its cordon sanitaire and landed in U.S. territory, or who entered the U.S. legally through the Mexican border after making land in that country.
The rise in the number of refugees (the word "migrant" is nowhere in the Cuban Adjustment Act, which defines their status) does not proof prima facie that so-called Cuban smugglers are responsible for the spike in boat thefts any more than an increase in the number of men with beards in this country would prove that there is a corresponding increase in support for Islamic terrorists among Americans.
Of course, there is absolutely no real evidence to back the contention that smugglers are to blame for the recent rash in boat thefts. No so-called smuggler of Cuban refugees has ever been interdicted with a stolen boat, though many have had their own boats stolen by the government for engaging in that activity. But don't let the facts get in the way of a good story. If Chardy learned nothing else from Oscar Corral, he learned that.
He learned something else as well from his mentor: always sound at least one alarmist note in every article about Cubans; leave them (the Anglo xenophobes and their self-hating "American-Cuban" counterparts) with the awful specter of a new "invasion" of Cuban "migrants." This simple expedient will add interest to even the dullest story.
So Chardy tells us that Cuban "migrants" are arriving on U.S. shores at the highest rate since the 1994 balsero crisis. Of course, this is always the case; there is always a small increment every year, yet the total number does not rise about 3,000, which is nowhere near the figure of 37,191 that arrived in the 1994 balsero exodus.
Well, Chardy is on his way. No doubt he has dreams of outstripping Corral as a maligner of his people and may well succeed if anyone of his ilk can truly be said to have been a success. If his predecessor's cautionary tale is not enough to dissuade him from taking this course, let him reflect if life does not hold something better for him than to be a 21st century descendent of Lord Haw-Haw and Tokyo Rose.