Sunday, February 11, 2007

Amado, the Gofer

Amado, the Gofer

There was somebody in my life, a little bit unconventional. He had a very picturesque personality and was always happy, which made him very attractive to have around as he performed those undesirable jobs the ladies in the family didn’t want to do. If anybody needed the house cleaned or painted, needed a babysitter or a mechanic, or just someone to run errands, we would call Amado. He cleaned my grandmother’s house, would run to the store for my aunt, make a soup for the sick, iron some shirts for my uncle, he was the Jack of all Trades and for a very minimal fee would do all the jobs to perfection.

One of his talents was to be a great nanny; yes he was my nanny sometimes. Amado was a good-looking young man, his eyes were big with huge eyelashes. He wore his hair short and was very well groomed all of the time. And he was very eloquent, polite and effeminate. I knew he was different than the rest of the men. He was sweet. He was friendly and happy all of the time but I didn’t know what was different about him until I was older. I remember he would make up these amusing stories of people that he had worked for. His stories kept everybody listening because he had a flamboyant way of talking. Of course, when he was coming over everybody wanted to be around him since he had this peculiar way of making us feel special. It was easy to love him; we all appreciated his gestures of kindness towards the family.

In Cuba everything was scarce and therefore rationed. A lot of the people had to buy products on the Black Market, which was illegal and a punishable act. Castro turned my mother into a criminal because she used to buy a lot of products through this Black Market and Amado was the person that used to go make the pick ups for her. He didn’t mind, yet he knew he would be in trouble if caught. But with his busy eccentric way of walking with his tote bag, thanks to Amado, we had a few better meals at the table.

I never told him how special he was. People come in and go out of our lives and we don’t seem to stop and thank them for their services before it is too late. Years later after we came to the states, my mother took a trip back to Cuba and found out that Amado had been sent to a concentration camp for homosexuals called the UMAP where he was taunted and beaten everyday until he finally lost the will to live and committed suicide. He never did any harm to anybody and he certainly didn’t have to be driven to kill himself.

There are many things I will never forgive Castro for. They are all the victims under his regime. I can't forgive him for my father’s suffering and for Amado’s death. In the 70’s, Castro’s government arrested innocent young men just because they were homosexuals, or Jehovah Witnesses, hippies, gusanos or for refusing to participate in the military. These concentration camps were called “UMAP”- Unidades Militares de Ayuda a la Producción. In short, Castro needed slaves to help with the production of sugar and at the same time continue with his terror regime. At the UMAP the prisoners were taunted, beaten, and forced to work long hours in the sugarcane fields. These young men had to endure mental and physical torture and forced to comply with the regime’s demands. They either left the camp dead or brainwashed.

Today Castro will swear that not one has ever been tortured in Cuba, or arrested, or treated unfairly. No One? Yeah right! He’s nothing but a pathological liar and a terrorist! I testify to that. Amado, my dear are free now. It was an honor to have you in my life.


Note: Maria cannot give her last name or Castro will hurt or kill more of her friends and family in retaliation.


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