Thursday, September 25, 2008

Born on the 14th of June

This is a rough translation of a message sent to my mother by Gisela, Tony's wife.

"Tony is doing well as pertains his mood. He is like another person and the happiness shows on his face, but at the same time, he is sad to know that he finds himself less than 300 km from his home. Last night, we were so excited that the we could barely contain our emotion. It's hard to explain. As far as Tony is concerned, I can tell you that he is being treated quite well and the authorities in the hospital seem to be very interested in performing all the necessary tests and having him examined by medical specialists. Yesterday, they performed an EKG (which came back with positive results) and took blood samples. He is going to need a colon examination that is so painful that general anesthesia is required (I am guessing she means a colonoscopy). I am very happy that he feels better. He is a bit thin, but I am hopeful that he will begin to put on weight in the next few days. I went to see him with Vilma (Tony's sister-in-law), my mom, my sister, and the girls for about two hours. They are letting him have a TV set and a fan. It's almost as if I'd had him at home."

On a side note, I was chatting with my mom about Tony and his courageous stand against the Castro regime--courage that is so sorely lacking both here and in Cuba. On a whim, I thought it appropriate (because of his name) to compare him to Antonio Maceo Grajales, that giant of a general from the Cuban wars (yes, there were several) of independence. Unbeknownst to me, Tony shares his birthday with General Maceo (and was probably named after him). After all, the family legend is that my great-grandmother became an impromptu standard bearer of the Army of Liberation when it made its westernmost stop in the little town of Mantua (my grandmother's hometown).

It seems that June 14th is also the birthday of Ernesto Guevara de la Serna.  My views on Ernesto "Ché" Guevara have matured as I have come to learn that this iconic figure of the Cuban Revolution is better known in exile circles as el carnicero (butcher) de La Cabaña, nearly put my grandfather in front of a firing squad, and (it's my belief) traumatized my father at the tender age of 10 for the rest of his life. I can barely contain myself when I see spoiled (yet quite ignorant or at least grossly uninformed) kids in industrialized democracies proudly displaying his image on T-shirts, caps, and other types of merchandise. It's ironic, really, because Ché probably would have lashed out against the unfettered consumerism the marketing of his image represents. Then again, he was a spoiled middle-class kid too (as were his buddies Fidel and Raúl). But I really digress, don't I?

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