The Man and the Mouth

As any political satirist knows, an impressive array of enemies is at least as important for success as legions of supporters. Alberto Gonzalez revels in his enemies' list. Not everyone in his hall of shame is a politician, even though Gonzalez asserts, "With very few exceptions, all the politicians I know are thieves." Among his favored targets: Miami Mayor Xavier Suarez, Miami Commissioner Victor De Yurre, Cuban American National Foundation chairman Jorge Mas Canosa, Latin Chamber of Commerce president Luis Sabines, Barnett Bank executive Carlos Arboleya, and of course the Castro brothers, Fidel and Raul.

What's the source of your creative impulse?
I think that the painter, the writer, the sculptor has inside himself a call, a gift God gave him, and it is something natural and normal. One feels it, one knows it, one does it. A lot of times I finish a script and I don't remember what I wrote. It's a function.

I have had two great tragedies. One is not being able to write in English. I would have had access to an immense market in which I would have become a multimillionaire, because American programs have six and seven writers and I assure you that I would have been able to do any American program alone. Not knowing North America, not being able to write for the United States, closed a market to me. And the Hispanic market is very limited. That's one tragedy.

The other is my position as a writer confronting social injustice, confronting political corruption, confronting the treasons against an exile community that has been deceived for 32 years. I consider it a tragedy being so strong in my opinions. However, I am happy to have suffered both tragedies because I feel very proud of being Cuban and I feel very proud of being how I am, regardless of what my final destiny might be.

Where does the name La Mogolla come from? It means "mess" or "muddle."
It's a tangle, a tangle. For example, when the lady is knitting with a ball of yarn and the ball falls and forms a tangle. It's a Caribbean Spanish term. The word really is Puerto Rican. The rice when it's cooked and it comes out bad, it's amogollado. But the name has had surprising success.

When you take something from the newspaper, for example a news item you want to start with, what happens?

I never start from the newspaper. The public reaction isn't that same day; the reaction is 24 hours later. My experience is that the public takes 24 hours and sometimes 72 hours to really understand an issue in-depth, because people are very busy. They hear something, they have to codify it, put it in their personal computer, and that's when they really understand it. People think authors move the public, but it's very different. It's the public that moves authors.

So in the morning when I receive the Herald and I see that something happened, I don't like to comment immediately because I know I'm getting ahead of the public. And an event is humorous when the serious part is understood. Humor, satire is the humorous commentary about something serious, turning around something serious.

But a lot of times what's really going on isn't what's printed in the Herald. To really understand what's going on in the Hispanic community in Miami, you have to listen to the open microphones [on Spanish-language radio]. That's where you'll find out everything.

What do you consider your political affiliation?
I am a populist. Sometimes you have to be on the right and sometimes you have to be on the left, depending on how good or bad the center is.

What in particular about Miami politics interests you?
That the Cuban community be respected. That a "Latin Quarter" not be imposed [on Little Havana]. That's a lack of respect for what is Cuban and what is Little Havana.

You've been called a racist for things you've said about blacks and the tourism boycott in your scripts. Are you a racist?

No. I have never attacked blacks. What I have satirized is the tendency by Xavier Suarez to be a hypocrite in looking for the black vote. So I have amused myself entertaining the public, having Suarez taking the white stripes off the tires on city employees' cars so they'll be all black, and all those things, because of city hall's urgency and devotion to serve the blacks.

What do you think about the black tourism boycott?
That is an exercise meant to provoke. In reality we are separated on that point by some pro-communist declarations by Nelson Mandela. We didn't criticize Mandela because he's black. We criticized him for the things he said about Castro. Jonas Savimbi [head of UNITA, the Angolan rebel group], who is as black as Mandela, has come here, but he's anti-communist. We praised him. We don't object to Mandela for being black, but for being red.

Miami Cubans have prospered over the years, but the black community lags far behind. Don't you think their rise would help the entire community?

I'm interested only in the Cubans. I'm not interested in anything else in Miami except the Cubans.

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