What would Val ever do without the workmen whom he employs on a regular basis in the expansion of Villa Valentina? Not since Sara Winchester, heiress to the riflemaker, was told by a spiritualist that she would die if construction ever ceased on her mansion, has anyone built so many staircases that lead nowhere, so many rooms without doors and doors without rooms. Those who know of the dead chickens and coconuts left on Val's front lawn might suspect that he's under the same compunction as the old dowager, but I know the real reason for Val's building boom. It is his fascination with newcomers from Cuba.
Val is their scourge and they are his muse. He has devoted several several posts to Cuban construction workers and their vicissitudes in this country. He detests them, of course, even more than he does Cubans on the island who have not escaped his pressure cooker, using them as props to illustrate what he considers the defective character of Cubans raised on the island after the Castro takeover.
In a previous vignette Val wrote about one recent refugee who was saving his money so that he could visit his parents in Cuba and "get laid right and left." Apparently, the moralistic society that the newcomer encountered in Miami did not provide a sexual outlet for him. Val, who believes that Cubans on the island should forgo sex and employ that energy in overthrowing Castro, blasted the newcomer for his presumption and ordered him from the extraterritorial bastion of cubanidad which is the Prieto house. The man, supposedly, called Val a "gusano" in retaliation. I hope Val got an "A" in his creative writing class for that story.
He is deserving of an "A+" for his latest composition. This time around Val created a seemingly sympathetic newcomer and then proceeded to demonize him till he had reduced him even beneath the level of the Cuban who wanted to exercise his culpable libido. This other Cuban wanted nothing more than to bring his wife and children here. He was working at two jobs 16 hours a day to make that happen. Still, it was not enough to raise the $5000 which the "coyote" who had brought him to this country demanded of him in addition to the $5000 which he had already paid him in Cuba. Now, it seems more than a little odd, to say the least, that this industrious young man was able to amass the first $5000 in Cuba but could not raise the second $5000 here. But don't let us interrupt Val's story with such unfictional objections.
The "coyote" had first demanded the additional $5000 when the Cuban was about to board the boat for his journey here, and reappeared, outside the Krome Detention Center, when he was released, threatening to kill him, his family in Miami and his family in Cuba unless he immediately produced the money. When the newcomer objected that he did not have the money on him, the "coyote," who had a heart of gold, gave him two months to raise the money. I guess it was two months because after 2 months the newcomer surely would have become wise to the fact that this is a nation of laws.
His uncle, who owned a construction company in Miami, provided him with one of his two jobs. One would have thought that "the kid," as Val calls him, would have confided his predicament to his uncle and tried to borrow the money from him. After all, his uncle and his uncle's family, here and in Cuba, had also been threatened with death by the "coyote" and the uncle might perhaps be interested in knowing it. But "the kid" said nothing. He proceeded to raise the sum on his own by stealing money from his uncle, tools from his other employer as well jewelry from one of the homes where he worked installing tiles.
Now "the kid" is in prison, the uncle about to lose his contracting license and his other employer without the means of production. And, yes, the lady whose "antique and inherited jewels" were stolen is none too happy either. All, presumably, have pressed charges against him because "the kid" is now in jail. When Val met "the kid" two months ago all was well with him. Now his life is in shambles. Another case of a lightening investigation and arrest by the Miami Dade Police Department. If the Prosecutors' Office and the judge work as deliberately Val should be announcing within the next week that he's been sent to prison for life.
What we find most amazing (or should that he fantastical?) about this story is that Val describes "the kid" as "honest, noble, erudite and smart." Granted, being called "erudite and smart" by Val Prieto is hardly the most trustworthy of recommendations. Still, one would have to be the dumbest and most irredeemable of idiots to have acted in the manner which Val attributes to "the kid."
In case you haven't noticed already this is a cautionary tale about the dangers inherent in the "Wet Foot/Dry Foot" policy, or, to put it more broadly, the unworthiness of arrivistes to enjoy freedom in the United States and the venality of those who make such freedom possible for them.
Babalú's editors and commenters replied to Val's "Coyote" post in the spirit of charity which we have come to expect from them when addressing the subject of Castro's victims. Ventanita, the cloistered contributing writer, broke her silence long enough to lament the fact that the "coyote" won't be punished also. Henry followed, reminding everybody that he has long been opposed to Cubans fleeing to this country, well, leastwise to "scumbags" bringing them here. The 19th century abolitionists were also called "scumbags" and worse by the Southern slaveholders. There is no record, however, that any freed slave ever referred to them in that way. Leave it to Henry to find a new way to bring dishonor to the Cuban exile community. George, for his part, lamented, not very convincingly, the prospect that Val's fictional character "risks deportation back to Cuba." Perhaps that will be a future chapter in Val's opus: "The Prodigal Returns and Regrets He Ever Left."
Other commenters were less empathic than Babalú great-hearted cadres. J2Tharome, making his debut at Babalú, got to the heart (or heartlessness) of the matter with little prodding from the oldhands: it's not the newcomers; it's not the smugglers; it's not the Miami relatives that are to blame for this "tragedy" but the "Wet Foot/Dry Foot" policy! Cut their sea legs and they won't be getting in trouble when they land here because they won't be here for long.
Then Cangrejero de Caibarien, Babalú's resident defender of gay rights, who last week took pototo to task for questioning the morality of gays, proceeded to impugn the morals of the whole Cuban nation:
"Sadly, this is also the result of nearly 50 years of castrocommunism in Cuba. The general morality of the population has sunk to depths few of you would recognize or accept if you had ventured back to the island recently. Trust me, it hurts me to say this, but the years of lying, stealing, and the "doble cara" turn you into a scumbag. The symptoms are evident in the way people carry themselves on the street, how they talk, and ultimately, how they act. I am telling you, I think we are better off getting rid of wet foot/dry foot altogether and going back to individual asylum hearings. Sadly, Cuba is producing mostly trash these days."
Finally, longtime contributor lori, to add credence to Val's fictional tale, volunteered that she knows of another case similar to this one where the newcomer committed suicide to save his family from being killed in Cuba. Now, how exactly would killing himself save his family? By killing himself wouln't he be passing his burden on to them? Wouldn't they be hounded for the money and threatened with death if they didn't produce it? Lori's story makes no more sense than Val's.
For any of this to be true, the prisons and morgues in Miami would have to be filled with the victims of these homicidal "coyotes." In Cuba, too, the stories would eventually emerge of entire families massacred by the "coyotes." What better propaganda could there be against the Cuban Adjustment Act? Yet, oddly, the Communists are apparently involved in a vast conspiracy of silence to cover up those deaths. But why?
Outside of Val's imagination there is no evidence for any of this. What evidence does abound is that the newcomers are just as hardworking, committed and honest as previous generations of Cuban exiles. It is well to remember that the same canards were once levelled at the marielitos. They silenced their critics by achieving the same success in this country as other Cubans. So, too, will this latest group of freedom-seekers unless Val and his ilk succeed in pushing them back into the ocean.
Also of interest
How to Stop the Wanton Killing of Cubans on the High Seas
Val the Abolitionist vs. Henry the Slaver
One Man's Obsession: The Smugglers Who Risk All to Free Castro's Slaves
Angels Who Smuggle Men to Freedom
Alfonso Chardy is the New Oscar Corral
You Cannot Love Cuba and Hate Cubans
The Truth In Season