“Un élu, c’est un homme que le doigt de Dieu coince contre un mur.” Jean-Paul Sartre
-“Doctor…This woman with the asthmatic child… Is she on food stamps?”
The seemingly innocent question made by the assistant in Rick Scott’s office exuded deep disdain and discrimination against, let’s talk clear, the poor in the modern USA.
There is a silent, yet relentless war to displace the poor to the outer fringes of urban areas like Miami-Dade in order to make way for an out-of-bounds gentrification.
That question awakened the wild tiger that I have been carrying inside me since birth.
-“WHAT?!!! What are you saying? This is an American, A-M-E-R-I-C-A-N child that is being badly abused by a greedy landlord and might die as a result…You can’t be this insensitive…Besides, I don’t think that Governor Scott would approve of this language…What’s the matter with you?”
After the Socialist Revolution started in Cuba in 1960, scores of its middle and upper classes citizens fled to the safety and comfort of the USA, initially settling heavily in what then was another undeveloped resort town: Miami. Toiling hard, they set up new businesses and raised beautiful families. Sadly this success story has a dark undertone as a stowaway hid in their luggage. As in all Latin American countries, they had inherited the authoritarian streak and lack of civic virtues that the Spanish Empire imposed on them. Eventually most of them evolved to appreciate and accept the precious defense of basic individual rights that an Anglo-Saxon society grants. But a few of them remained reactionary holdouts that did not accept individual, let alone women’ rights; they do not understand that in our complex society single working women are the norm, and not the exception, as I have already explained in my blog “The single Mom.” Sadly many of these recalcitrant individuals have bought residential complexes along the Calle 8 axis.
Mariela X. is a single working mother of four beautiful children that I met a few months ago as I regularly ordered take-out food from the resto in Calle 8 where she works. She goes to work at 6 PM and slogs relentlessly in the kitchen and counter until the wee hours, always treating her customers well. Occasionally we informally discuss the care of her 8 years old daughter that has severe Bronchial Asthma and is being regularly treated by a pediatrician. Last week she told me that a tree had fallen on top of her roof and was slowly eroding the foundation with the real possibility of bringing it down.Her daughter recently had a worsening of her symptoms due to the lack of proper air conditioning. When I asked her why she hadn’t contacted her landlord to fix the problem, she replied:
-“I did many times…He told me that he wished the roof would collapse so he could make a bigger claim to FEMA and then rent it for a higher amount…He didn’t care if my children were hurt…He told me to go away.”
When we were hunkered down in a small closet with my son during the height of the Hurricane Irma’s strike on Miami a few days ago—amidst the clatter provoked by the maddeningly swirling winds outside the windows with frighteningly sudden lulls that heralded an even bigger onslaught by those demons to bring down the top floor apartment—we decided to pray to our Creator asking for forgiveness for our sins and acceptance into Heaven. When we finally made it out, both Gian Luca and I were different persons. My son decided to finish his first feature film and make it an artistic work to remember. Myself, I decided to fight for the poor and deprived of this city.
My street sources tell me that Mariela’s plight is common in that neighborhood as the unscrupulous landlords are taking advantage of the post-hurricane chaos and, abetted by the corrupt politicians and their lackeys in the City of Miami, are harassing the poor. Before Mariela had the chance to finish her story, I could already feel the finger of God Almighty pushing me against the wall to command me: you have to help her.NOW.
With all the details of her dire situation, I first contacted the 311 number staffed by members of the local office of the “Florida Division of Emergency Management”; befitting the long tradition of civic indifference and laziness of the bureaucrats from this “Banana Republic of South Florida” they said it was not their business (sic) and only provided me with a state help line. After doing the tiring phone rounds of public offices that were only jerking me around, I was almost ready to give up. Suddenly the memory of the departed Charlton Heston valiantly riding a horse in “El Cid” sprung to my mind.
Governor Rick Scott of Florida showed remarkable stewardship during the worst moments before, during and after Hurricane Irma that was a monster storm ready to level out all traces of civilization in the Florida peninsula. My son and I listened watched his conferences in CNN, which gave us hope. Exhausted and disillusioned I called his office a few days ago. After the horrible first impression that you saw in the beginning of this posting, his aide understood the severity of the situation and gave me the right contact. Danilo Flores, a good-natured employee of the “Division of Agriculture and Consumer services” helped me file the necessary complaint. Thank you very much.
When I called Mariela to relay the good news that help is coming, she said:
-“Doctor…Do you know what that crooked landlord told me today? That he couldn’t discuss with me cause I’m a woman…That I should get a man!” Oh really, dude?
Cid Campeador-Rick Scott, come down with your gallant army to the rescue of these poor, defenceless women and children in the BRSF. God will be riding on your side.
What do you think? Please tell us.
Don’t leave me alone.