Desde Dentro de Cuba.

Distribuido por Cuba Free Press, Inc. -

05 de Abril del 2000

THE REVENGE. By Rafael Contreras Bueno, Cuba Free Press.

Pinar del Río.- As the year 1980 was running its course, the group was posted in front of Humberto's house. The neighbors looked on in fright from the windows of their homes. Those at the front of the mob carried posters, cans, rocks and eggs in their hands.

A new confrontation between Cuba and the United States had occurred. The outcome was another Camarioca, a massive exodus with the consent of the Cuban state. Many people tried to get to the savior north.

That's why the mob was there in front of Humberto's house. Lt. Rogelio had summoned them. Rogelio was an officer of the Cuban Armed Forces and also the president of the Committee for the Defense of the Revolution on the block. Many of those summoned refused to heed the call. The plan was to have a “meeting” in front of Humbertico's house.

Throughout Cuba protest “meetings” were being held against those who were going to the north. Many of their neighbors already were calling them the "scum of Mariel." The derogatory nickname not deemed sufficient, the government authorities gave the authorization for the physical offensive. The houses of those who had decided to leave were attacked like a storm.

Windows were broken, walls colored with political and personal insults, hard-boiled eggs thrown at people, without any regard for the victims’ sex or age.

A mob that called itself “committed” attacked those who had decided to break the chains and leave. At an order from Lt. Rogelio each one of those gathered threw their objects against the house. It was a deafening outburst of rage, with shouting voices mixed with the noise of objects as they crashed against walls and window panes.

Years later the wife of Humberto would recount how she remembered that afternoon as one of the most horrible of her life. She had the experience of seeing death with her eyes that day in '80 in Cuba. The threat also fell on the neighbors who had not supported the attack.

Humberto had the courage to stick his head out the door of his house and shout, "I hope that someday you don't miss these eggs that you're throwing at me."

Lt. Rogelio made a bitter grimace and answered: "We don't want to see you here ever again, scum. This is no longer your country."

Humberto then made a promise that accentuated his prophecy: "I'm going to return, Lieutenant, and the people are going to eat what they threw at me."

>From among the rabble, some looked scared. Prophecies have the power to fill one with fright. Perhaps the prediction helps its realization.

Humberto and his family left Cuba. The house of his childhood was left behind, along with the memories of the neighborhood, the walls stained by the ‘paintings’ of the extremists and their stinking shrapnel. The promise of the return also stayed behind.

The year 1993 arrived suddenly. Lt. Rogelio, demobilized from the army, had barely enough to eat. In the full-scale "special period," the island was being thrashed abd trasged. The recently fallen Socialist camp had left both saints and sinners in poverty. Next to his dwelling, Lt. Rogelio had an improvised wood stove. Food was scare. There was no clothing to wear. Some people had even eaten cats.

But that afternoon someone passed by lieutenant’s house and gave him the news.

"Do you know already, Rogelio, that Humbertico arrived on a visit from the United States? He's come to his parents’ home right here in the neighborhood."

"That's life,” the lieutenant said. “Yesterday we threw him out of here as scum and today he is better off than us. They come when they feel like it and we're dying of hunger. That scum are less deserving than us and now you see them!"

The neighbor realized that jealousy was speaking, loaded with impotence, and went away, leaving the lieutenant to chew his hate. That night, it was all a hullabaloo. All the neighbors were invited to the celebation. Humbertico paid the expenses. Good food for everyone in abundance without resentment. The people were there who refused to follow the lieutenant in the aggression of that afternoon in 1980. Everyone laughed and soothed the miseries of the recently dawned '90s. The decade of hunger.

Then Humbertico gave a package to the boy, who left without being seen. It was a beautiful package wrapped in gift paper. The boy arrived at the lieutenant's house. The same Rogelio received him.

"What’s this?" asked the lieutenant. "Humberto sends it to you; it's two boxes of eggs for you to eat. He told me to tell you. He also told me that he's giving them to you because he knows that you need them." And then the boy returned so he wouldn't miss the rest of the party.

Rogelio felt his heart skip a beat in his chest. He could not hold the package between his hands and minutes later his wife found him lying face down on the ground of the doorway. He was in the middle of a pool of egg whites and yolks.

Later, the doctor certified that his heart had jumped like a hand grenade. In private conversation with his wife, a recovered Rogelio even later confessed to her that on the threshold of death he had heard the prophetic words of Humbertico as he was about to leave Cuba in exile. The prophecy had come true.

Many people needed the food that they had thrown with hate and resentment. Now, several years after the heart attack, Lt.(ret.) Rogelio goes for a walk fearful of another shock in his chest and probably sorry as well that between Cubans a time of revenge had once been created.

Rafael Contreras Bueno, Cuba Free Press.

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