Far west

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The concept of freedom in the United States has a religious basis and is something that each individual must earn.

No motorcyclist in Miami uses a helmet. At first, the reporter thinks it is reckless. It is. But guys go by on big machines, with their faces to the wind, and he begins to feel envy. It seems to him that these motorcyclists must experience an almost intoxicating sense of freedom. A young, bald, bearded, rather chunky man is on the sidewalk climbing onto his Harley and the reporter comes over to roll the thread. Before crossing a word, the man on the motorcycle shows a finger (“that” finger), starts the engine and drives away, thundering through the exhaust. Good. Freedom also consists of making a preventive comb to the heavy.

(In Florida you can ride without a helmet when you are over 21 years old and you have medical insurance. It is assumed that if you pay in advance for the recomposition of bones, you can break them as you want. And if you smash your skull, it is your skull , after all. An unthinkable logic in Europe).

The helmet and motorcycle question made me think of a book entitled Far west. I met its author years ago, Juan Carlos Castillón, precisely in Miami. Castillón was a fascist in Spain in the hard years of the transition (they expelled him from Fuerza Nueva as an extremist), he fled to El Salvador, he joined the death squads of far-right Roberto d’Aubuisson (alleged mastermind of the assassination of Archbishop Óscar Romero in 1980) and later ran a bookstore in Miami’s Little Havana. Do not get the wrong idea: Castillón is, in addition to the above, an extremely cultured guy, a scholar who finally returned to Barcelona and who, according to what he told me the other day, has nothing in abundance. Who needs a sarcastic and heterodox sage these days?

For Europeans, the American Far West is as incomprehensible as the Chinese Far East. That is the thesis of Castillón’s book. The concept of freedom of a European consists of something abstract, born of the Enlightenment and based on a public power that guarantees and regulates. In the United States, freedom has a religious basis (the “great awakening” of the 19th century) and is something that each individual must earn; public power is not seen as a guarantor, but as a potential oppressor, hence the fondness for having an arsenal at home.

Hours before the “comb”, early in the morning, Juan has indirectly confirmed Castillón’s thesis. The reporter tries unsuccessfully to use the change machine in the laundry room. Juan, wearing a tank top and shorts, lends him a hand and while the washing machine turns, he talks to the reporter. He came to Miami six years ago (he is 36) and is one of the few poor Cubans who live in South Beach. He works in the maintenance of an apartment building and has a small house. Unlike other Cubans, he will vote (for the first time in his life) for Joe Biden. “My brother, I laugh a lot when they say that Joe is a socialist or a communist. I do know what communism is, brother.

Juan does not sympathize with the state. “I don’t want to be controlled, I don’t want to be watched, I want to be left alone to live my life, brother,” he says. Politics does not interest him. “Everybody honey eater”. Things have not gone badly for him during the term of Donald Trump, in whom he sees certain virtues. He didn’t do badly with Barack Obama either.

What drives him to vote for Biden is his rejection of the blockades and punishments imposed on Cuba. “Those in Washington believe that those things hurt those in charge, but only hurt the people.” He does not understand the Cuban emigrants who, once outside, seem to wish those who remain in the country to suffer even more. He hopes that Biden will make visas easier to return to the island from time to time, where his family and friends remain, and that he will help improve the Cuban economy as much as possible. Use very expressive language. Your favorite words are omitted here, unsuitable for sensitive readers.

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