There are a lot of references to Cuba in your novel Pandemic of Lies: the Exile. What’s the motivation for this?
Well, I was born in Cuba and lived there until the age of ten.
When exactly did you leave the island?
On December 12th, 1961—an unforgettable day for me. I was ten years old. The event marked a “before and after” in my life.
If I had stayed in Cuba, my life thereafter would have been radically different. By leaving, I eventually became a “citizen of the world”—what I essentially consider myself today. At any rate, I think that’s better than seeing oneself as “an eternal exile”. Perhaps that’s why I created in Pandemic of Lies: the Exile a country by the name of Banador, which doesn’t exist anywhere on a real map.
How do you see Cuba now almost fifty years after you left it?
As an earthly hell, the product of a totalitarian communist/fascist system which now seems to be on its last legs. Many Cubans, living inside and outside the island, are eagerly waiting for the expected crash to happen. I just hope it’s not accompanied by bloodshed.
Is life that bad in Cuba?
Actually, I think it’s much worse than most people imagine. That’s why so many Cubans from the island have risked and continue to risk their lives crossing a shark-infested sea to reach Floridian shores. In Miami I once met a Cuban young man who had had lost both legs on account of the severe dehydration he had suffered on his sea journey to freedom on a makeshift raft. During the horrific trip, he had drunk salt water excessively and that had made things worse for him. Despite the loss of his limbs, he wouldn’t hesitate to do it all over again, he had assured me, if he were ever again in the same situation of living in a freedom-starved country, and he would repeat his feat even with the foreknowledge of the terrible physical consequences he’d have to pay.
Yet people like Michael Moore praise the Cuban government, in particular, the healthcare system?
Well, if the Cuban healthcare system were that good, why was Fidel Castro secretly smuggled out of Cuba and flown to a ritzy Madrid clinic on the same plane on which a Spanish surgeon jetted to Cuba to treat him? Of course, this event was never reported in Cuba or on the front pages of any of the major newspapers around the world. But it’s a fact. Otherwise, Fidel Castro would be long gone and dead today.
In essence, Cuba’s medical advances have been greatly overrated. Nonetheless, the Cuban government has never lost a minute to use medicine as a propaganda tool in favor of its communist/fascist system. It’s true the government doesn’t charge tuition for medical school, but potential medical students must show a passionate adherence to Fidel Castro’s irrational ideology; otherwise, they are denied entrance. After graduation, many of the medical doctors are sent abroad in a sort of twentieth-first-century slave trade pact under which the foreign country pays the Cuban government directly for the services of these Cuban doctors while the doctors receive a mere pittance from the revenues the Castro brothers rake in from the work these modern slaves perform away from home. To make sure these doctors don’t defect, the Cuban government retains key members of their family as “hostages” back on the island.
Are you saying that the Cuban government is a master of deceit?
That’s exactly what it excels at: deceiving people, especially gullible people or individuals who have a hidden agenda, like Michael Moore or Maradona, and simply pretend to be deceived. The well-intentioned foreign visitors are bamboozled by the Cuban government because they are never taken, for example, to the shabby authentic hospitals where the common people of Cuba are forced to go for treatment. That’s why it’s vital to unmask the Castro brothers as often as possible through books such as Pandemic of Lies: the Exile. This pair of fraternal hoodlums continues to be a serious danger to humanity. Remember that during the October Missile Crisis Fidel Castro urged the Soviet Union to launch a nuclear missile attack on the U.S. That would have been the beginning of a Nuclear Holocaust and the end of mankind as we know it. The unfortunate thing is that most people have a reduced memory span. Now Fidel is encouraging Hugo Chávez to arm Venezuela to its teeth by means of the country’s vast amount of petrodollars. Again the peace of the American continent is being threatened by the old bearded tyrant, this time by means of a Venezuelan puppet of his.
So you see Fidel Castro as a puppet master?
During practically all of his life, he’s had as his main marionette his brother Raúl, who venerates him as if he were some sort of God. He had difficulties with Ernesto “Che” Guevara, who had the same problem with Fidel as Karl Marx with Simón Bolívar. Both Guevara and Marx disliked leaders who were distinctly authoritarian and despotic and promoted a personality cult for the benefit of the caudillo. So Fidel pushed Guevara out and sent him on a suicidal mission that proved to have more propagandistic potential than his having remained on the island. His “Christ-like” death helped to inject the Cuban “Socialist” Revolution with a strong mystical, religious element. Thus, the independent-minded Che Guevara ended up being used unwittingly as a puppet by his boss Fidel. Particularly after his death, Guevara was squeezed for his advertisement value and utilized as a global marketing tool for the “cult” of socialism. Fidel lived on and endured as well as his communist/fascist government, but Guevara died and went on to become a revolutionary saint, continuously going through frequent hagiographic metamorphoses according to the needs of Castro’s Revolution.
On the other hand, Hugo Chávez adores Fidel like Raúl; only Hugo goes even further than Fidel’s brother and considers the Cuban dictator his “spiritual father”, his ecstatic reverence for the bearded caudillo verging on territory laden with homoerotic implications. What makes very special and at the same very dangerous this relationship between the younger man and the older one is the fact Hugo has a tight grip on oil—and lots of it. In fact, without the handsome oil subsidies that rain on Cuba like manna from a miraculous Venezuelan cloud, Cuba would have gone bankrupt several years back. Venezuelan oil is the only thing that keeps Cuba afloat nowadays, because, as Fidel himself has admitted, the present economic system in Cuba simply doesn’t work. I would go even further and add that it’s a disaster and nears a cataclysmic collapse. And just today, coincidentally, appeared the news of Raúl Castro’s apocalyptic speech before the Cuban “parliament”, where he said: “Either we rectify our errors, or time will run out on us at the edge of the precipice.” Can the message be any clearer?
Whose model does President Alejandro Salvador follow in your novel Pandemic of Lies: the Exile? Hugo’s or Fidel’s?
He follows both, but the orders come mostly from Chávez, because, you see, there’s a pecking order in this Dictatorship, Inc. While Fidel is Hugo’s boss, Hugo is Salvador’s. Furthermore, Chávez has got the oil and with it he can bribe and buy consciences, including North American ones. Here I’m referring to all those U.S. Hollywood celebrities who go to Venezuela to pay homage to Emperor Hugo. Chávez is also involved in drug trafficking, and that means a quick buck and abundant cash to blow away in promoting his brand of Bolivarian Revolution, which, as one of the characters points out in my novel, is clearly of the fascist type.