By David Villano
By Jose D. Duran
By Michael E. Miller
By Allie Conti
By Kyle Swenson
By Luther Campbell
By Frank Owen
By Allie Conti
Fidel! Quick turn on the TV news!"
"What is it? Can't you see I'm watching the autographed copy of Titanic that Leo gave me last year."
"Please, Fidel, it's important."
"Okay, okay. What station?"
"Try Channel 10 out of Miami."
"Okay, then try Channel 6. You like Tony Segreto."
"Only if it's a sports story. Tony's good with sports but he's just not convincing doing hard news. Is it a sports story?"
"Bryan Norcross! You've got to be kidding."
"No, Fidel, he's only doing the weather now."
"When did that happen? Why wasn't I informed? For cryin' out loud, we've only got about a gazillion spies in Miami. You'd think one of them would let me know that Norcross was off the anchor desk."
"How about I turn on Channel 7?"
"Is Rick Sanchez going to be squatting over a floor map? Every time I see him do that I have these terrible nightmares. I dream I'm walking down the street on a beautiful summer day and all of a sudden it starts to get dark, and when I look up, the entire sky is filled with Rick Sanchez's ass."
"It's huge. And it's moving toward me."
"Is it wearing pants?"
"Is what wearing pants?"
"Rick Sanchez's ass."
"Of course it's wearing pants. Do you think I dream about Rick Sanchez's naked ass? You're missing the point. It's huge. It's a big ass! And just when I'm about to be crushed ..."
"Crushed by Rick Sanchez's huge, pants-wearing ass."
"Right, I wake up screaming. It really freaks out the bodyguards."
"Is that why that guard, what's his name?"
"That's right. Is that why he defected last month?"
"I think so."
"I have an idea, Fidel. Cover your eyes for a moment while I make sure Rick Sanchez isn't squatting over anything."
"You can look now."
"Are you sure?"
"You're not playing a trick on me?"
"Because if I see Rick Sanchez squatting over a map, hell, if I even see him doing a deep-knee bend, I'm going to be really, really mad and I'll have you killed."
"I'm serious. I'll have you shot."
"Okay, then. Just as long as we're clear, I'm going to look now. Oh, and don't forget to log this into my Nielsen ratings book. What's this? Why didn't someone tell me we were sinking rafters today? Hey, that one guy with the fire hose is pretty good. We should give him a medal. Make a note of that."
"But Fidel, those aren't our people."
"What do you mean those aren't our people? They're scared, emaciated, desperately fighting for freedom -- of course those are our people in the raft."
"No, no, no, Fidel. I wasn't talking about the rafters, I was talking about the guys with the hoses. Those aren't our soldiers. They're part of the United States Coast Guard."
"Why is the American Coast Guard sinking Cuban rafters?"
"I don't know?"
"Where is this taking place?"
"About 150 yards offshore."
"ACono! Scramble the fighters! Where's my brother! How in the hell did we let the Americans get so close to our shores?"
"No, Fidel. It's 150 yards off the American coast. Near a town called Surfside, over by Miami Beach."
"Let me see if I got this straight: The American Coast Guard is trying to capsize a raft filled with Cubans 150 yards off the coast of Surfside?"
"And they are doing this on live TV, with everyone in Miami watching?"
"You got it."
"Screwy Americans. Holy cow, I think that Coast Guard guy just maced that poor fellow in the water."
"And they call me a despot."
"I can't believe this."
"They shouldn't be treating Cubans like that! Only we can treat Cubans like that. We should send a letter of protest to that annoying Madeleine Albright. She's always carping about human rights. Let's see what she has to say about this. Maybe we should get the United Nations involved."
"Look they're trying to swim for shore."
"Go, baby, go!"
"This is great TV."
"Now, if they had something like this on TV Marti I might not block the signal. It's just all capitalistic propaganda. But this, this is dramatic stuff. It's really cinema verite. Sort of like Cops."
"Bad boys, bad boys ..."
"... what you gonna do."
"Look, Fidel, one of them made it to the beach."
"Okay, now this is the thing that I don't get. What's so special about reaching the beach?"
"Well, it's all part of that immigration agreement you have with the United States."
"Explain it to me again."
"To stop the flow of rafters leaving Cuba, the United States agreed in 1994 to return any Cubans caught at sea. In return you allow 20,000 people a year to lawfully immigrate to the United States through a visa lottery program. The whole idea was to promote orderly, legal immigration from Cuba to the United States so people would stop risking their lives making the dangerous trip across the straits. But here's the tricky part. If someone makes the trip anyway, and lands on U.S. soil, then they won't be returned to Cuba."