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.
If Fidel falls, will you return to Cuba immediately?
If I can, before he falls.
Would you continue doing the same thing there, running a newspaper and radio show?
I am a person who returns to the same thing. There I would do it with some plan to help in the reconstruction of Cuba, to defend the people from some here who also want to go there. If we free ourselves from Fidel and not [Cuban American National Foundation chairman Jorge] Mas Canosa, we haven't advanced one bit. I think Fidel and Mas Canosa are the same thing.
What is your greatest problem with Mas Canosa?
When I see Mas Canosa, I think I'm seeing Fidel in a necktie. The only difference is he doesn't use green fatigues. It's the same person, the same personality - arrogant, dominating, cruel, brutal, a liar, a liar. He was going to get together with Gorbachev. And the Herald is so miserable, so without shame, they put that on the front page, "The two leaders will meet." The Herald calls itself a serious newspaper? How can a serious paper put on the front page that Gorbachev is going to meet with a man like Mas Canosa?
These gentlemen from the [Cuban American National] Foundation - well, nobody believes a millionaire. Nobody believes anything about a millionaire. Nobody. Look in the Bible, look everywhere. What rich person has been good enough to lift a community? If Mas Canosa had been Napoleon, they never would have defeated him at Waterloo. Because if Napoleon's problem was money, money, and more money, Mas Canosa has solved that.
Is there a good politican or businessman?
I hope to meet one some day. Up to now I haven't met even one.
Who are your ten biggest enemies?
My ten biggest enemies. In general all my enemies are little, because [Victor] De Yurre is little, but on the other hand he's a big enemy. Luis Sabines doesn't have much height.
You make lots of jokes about Sabines's hair. What's that about?
He was having Mirta de Perales make him some wigs. A general came here [after defecting from Cuba], General del Pino, who used wigs to go out, to hide from television. So Sabines got really enthusiastic, but his head doesn't permit much. It's a deformed head. No wig artist could design it correctly. He has only one hair, but oh well. He's bald naturally. That's the only thing he naturally is - bald.
Anyway, your top ten enemies? Mas Canosa, Carlos Arboleya?
Arboleya has dedicated himself lately to crowning queens. He's forgotten about me a bit. He puts the crowns on the social queens. Every day he's in the newspaper putting on the crowns. I don't know how a banker puts on crowns, but he's happy with it. He even went to the Soviet Union to teach the government about beauty contests. He gave classes on how to elect a beauty queen.
So you consider those people among your worst enemies? Arboleya, Sabines, Mas Canosa?
Miami Commissioner Miriam Alonso?
No. Miriam and I are not enemies. She just called me combative, someone who creates problems.
Of course, Fidel is your number-one enemy.
Fidel is number one. Raul [Castro] is number two.
[Tomas Garcia] Fuste [of radio station WQBA] and [Armando] Perez Roura [of Radio Mambi] because they kiss Mas Canosa's ass.
Who are your friends?
The people. Thousands of people.
What does it mean to be a "true blue" Cuban?
History. If you left your country because you didn't want to have a government that takes away your freedom, an abusive, totalitarian government, and you went to another country, being a good Cuban is being faithful to the duty of fighting to return to your country. Not to lose your roots in that other country, to make yourself rich, to ignore. The Americans should have contempt for Cubans who want to be more American than they are, because no Cuban who stops being Cuban can be a good American. If he doesn't keep his promise to his country, how can he keep his promise to this country?
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Miami New Times' biggest stories.