A Spanglish blog dedicated to the works, ruminations, and mongrel pyrotechnics of Yago S. Cura, an Argentine-American poet, translator, publisher & futbol cretin. Yago publishes Hinchas de Poesia, an online literary journal, & is the sole proprietor of Hinchas Press.

Friday, October 31, 2008


On a topical level, the theme of Nunca Mas (1986/1984), Nazi Literature in the Americas (2008), and Dictators of Latin America (1972) have to do with the legacy of Latin American Fascism, and its psychological toll on Latin Americans, particularly the Argentine people.
While, Dictators of Latin America (1972), is a young adult's non-fiction book, it does provide essential background knowledge into the historical, social, and political reasons dictators have found such success in terrorizing Latin America. However, the book was published 4 years before the National Process of Reorganization was put into place by the Argentine government so its value should be limited to reference material for the over-arching subject of Latin American Fascism. Nonetheless, Baum provides essential biographies of six of Latin America's best known dictators (including Peron and Eva) and her first chapter, "The Birth of the Strongman" is adept at explaining why Latin Americans have struggled so intensely with democracy. Nunca Mas (1986/1984) is also a work of non-fiction, but the sanguine content and graphic nature of the book preclude it from being appropriate for any audience except an adult audience. Countless readers have expressed the difficulty of reading a book that goes into such minute detail about torture, murder, and mayhem, etc.
These books attempt to make sense of the senseless, and bring the reader into a closer understanding of the historical and political conditions in Argentina that allowed these occurrences to transpire for years on end. Latin American Fascism took many forms and nested in many countries throughout Latin America in the 20th Century. Likewise, it has vacillated over the continent, unlocking the sadistic prowess of tyrants and despots


For this paper students must compare/contrast three different books written for three different audiences (or grade levels). I am not sure specifically what grade level or audience Baum's book is written for, although from my experience a high school student or astute middle grader (probably in a suburban school) could comprehend the vocabulary and ideas that Baum puts forth. The manner in which she puts forth ideas leads me to believe that Baum wrote this book for people with minimal insight or background knowledge into the political history of Latin America.

For example, in Chapter 1, "The Birth of the Strongman," Baum delineates the differences between democracy in North America and Latin America. The epigraph for the chapter is a quote from Simon Bolivar, one of the great liberators of Latin America in the 19th Century. In the quote Bolivar says, "There is no good faith in America. Treaties are scraps of paper, constitutions are printed matter, elections battles, freedom anarchy, and life a misery...American cannot be ruled". At first, I was deeply troubled by Baum's claim that "In reality, democratic government was to prove itself unworkable in Latin America" (1972, pg. 8) But, Baum does do a great job of explaining her reasons and to some degree they make sense.

The first obstacle to Latin American democracy mimicking North American democracy is the fact that the colonizers that came to North America came to "make a new life and find religious freedom. To Latin America flocked the conquistadors--penniless noblemen, soldiers of fortune, debtors, desperados, even thieves and murderers--all hoping to find wealth" (1972, pg. 9). In addition, the indians that North Americans encountered were nomads, whereas the indians that colonizers in Latin America encountered were "much larger and were sedentary. Some had built well organized empires and great cities" (1972, pg. 9) Thus, the Europeans "grafted themselves onto the existing Indian civilizations and began exploiting the Indians" (1972, pg. 9).

The second obstacle to Latin America democracy mimicking North American democracy is the fact that the colonizing land owners in Latin America exercised feudal control over the people that worked for them; these land owners created little fishbowls or petri dishes of existence that contained all the conditions necessary for society: "Each had its elegant manor surrounded by barns, stables, and shops, and often a church and a schoolhouse" (1972, pg. 10). This only made these landowners seem like demi-gods and the peasants that tilled the land for them expendable and discardable: "Between the rich elite and the poor masses there developed an insurmountable gap" (1972, pg. 10)

The third obstacle to rule was the fact that the North American colonists erected their legislative buildings as replicas of what was in existence in Europe. But in Latin America no such thing happened because "All the real governing power in these Latin colonies remained firmly in the hands of a few officials appointed by the mother country" (1972, pg. 11). Whether this was done intentionally or not is not as important as the lasting effects that it had on the populace. All aspects of civil life were in the hands of these land owners and they exerted so much power that they "precluded the development of significant local government" (1972, pg. 11). Likewise, many of the haciendas that were controlled by these land owners were cut off from other settlements and major cities by "impassible jungles, high mountains, and scorched deserts" (1972, pg. 11). Therefore, the people in these settlements usually placed all their trust in the hands of a few strongmen, or caudillos; they did this at the expense of placing their trust in a strong, central government which was the case in the U.S.

Thursday, October 30, 2008


I get many quixotic looks on the subway while I am reading this book, and I would like it no other way. While this work is a piece of fiction, it reads like a piece of non-fiction. Bolano is a tricky bastard and a master of the craft, only he could write a fictional compendium of fascist writers from Latin America that is based in reality but complete, utter fiction. I have been thinking for a bit why I am so attracted to this book and have come up with a couple of ideas.

First, Bolano's book is about Latin America, a continent that has had considerable history with fascists. It is no secret that many Nazis fled to Brazil and Argentina after WWII; likewise, it is no secret that the Brazilian and Argentine governments hid high-level Nazi officers. But, this is not all. During the 60's and 70's pretty much all of Latin America was under the rule of dictators and military governments. In Argentina you had Videla and Galtieri (generals) and from 1976 to 1982 the Navy, Air Force, and Army all had their turn to rule the country; they introduced a program called the Process of National Reorganization or simply, el Proceso. In Paraguay you had Stroessner; in Chile you had Pinochet; in Brazil you also had a military government although I forget his name.

Second, if I am not mistaken, Bolano, originally from Chile, had to flee to Spain and Mexico because of Pinochet. Actually, the majority of his writing takes place in Spain and Mexico(The Savage Detectives). Therefore, Bolano is a writer that has been affected deeply by Latin America's fascist history, but he has also made fascism, obsession, and depravity his main subjects. It would not be a stretch to say that Bolano writes about the subjects that have had the largest impact on his life, namely military governments and the depravity of seeminly upright people (military officers and such). Could it be that Bolano writes about these things as a way to ensure that they are never forgotten? Could it be that Bolano wrote a book about fictional titans of Nazi Literature as a way to ensure that Latin Americans don't forget their fascist past?

Third, however, one of the chapters includes North Americans and that only means that Bolano is making reference to Marti's "La Edad de Oro" in which he posits that all South and North Americans are Americans, not just the one living south of the Rio Grande. Or maybe he is saying that North America should be blamed as well for maybe not hiding Nazis but definitely feeding off the open veins of Latin America and exploiting the chaos and intervening with the C.I.A. to propel puppets and a fresh supply of dictators.


Luz Maria was named before the military government began to ransack Argentina in 1976. If she had been born after 1976, her parents surely would have had to name her from a pre-approved list of female names, which surely would not have contained Luz, or literally, Light. Luz was born in 1940 in San Miguel de Tucuman, the capital of Tucuman province.

Her father was a sepia indian who still spoke Quechua (Incan aristocratic language)and put on shoes for the first time in his life at the age of 13. There were wild rumors about him, like that he wrestled with a puma, once, because it had lunged at him in the jungle during dusk without his permission. Or, that he took the service revolver of an off-duty colonel who had overexceeded the boundaries of propriety with Luz's father. He had not only disarmed the colonel but used his service revolver to beat the colonel in places where his commanding officers would not necessarily notice like his ribs, chest, and legs. This only added insult to injury for it was the colonel who had to walk his battered skeleton up to Luz's house and ask for his service revolver back.

Luz's father was Pedro, or Don Pedro to everyone, including keepers of the faith, laws, and decimals. He was a surveyor with the municipality, which meant that he traveled widely through the city. And since Tucuman was still considered one of the most rugged provinces in Argentina, it meant that he sometimes had to survey lands which were splintered and gnarled, almost impassible. Pedro stood well over six feet tall and resembled the jamb of a well constructed, brick barn. He slept under the stars and would actually take off his shoes to sleep as if the scorpions that inhabit Tucuman knew that he was not to be pestered. And, one last thing: Don Pedro was a card shark.

Years later when the rector of the school that her son Rafaelo attended called Luz and told her that her son and three more boys had been caught playing truco in the back of class, Luz feared that Don Pedro's card shark genes had somehow been conditioned into Rafaelo's genetic loam. She sat the boy down after having had to pick him up for the day and she told him about his grandfather, Don Pedro, and the many instances where his love for cards had made him seem not the excellent father that he generally was. One night, Luz had to fetch him from inside the neighborhood bar because there several men were brandishing stilletos and wanted their money back. Luz walked into the bar, walked up to her father, and tugged on his hand for him to come home. All this while two men who had lost a considerable amount of money were fishing in their boots. One of the men had even screamed at Don Pedro that next time it would take more than a schoolgirl in her pajamas to save him.

Rafaelo showed the same spirit on the inside, after the provincial police had transferred him to the cell where he would spend the next six years of his life. But it didn't count for anything on the inside because they managed to break everyone, eventually. Sometimes, Rafaelo thought that it might just have been better to break during the first two months because then the torture would just become another part of their day, and not the culmination of little terrors throughout the day which it presently was. His captors would start in the morning by kicking them in the ribs and chest; for lunch there was the rack, a metal grille electrified, of course, that they would use to titillate the nerve endings in the softest parts of their anatomy, namely the breathing orifices, like the gums, testicles, and ears. For dinner, they switched to purely psychological torture: the guards would gather and taunt the inmates using the personal names and places that the prisoners thought were safe from seizure,exposure.

Monday, October 27, 2008


For my next paper in Literature, Literacy, and Libraries we are to take three books written for three different audiences and see if they have any similar threads. I have chosen a book of fiction by Roberto Bolano, "Nazi Literature in the Americas" and "Nunca Mas" a non-fiction book published by Argentine National Commission of the Disappeared and edited by Ernesto Sabato. "Nunca Mas" details the investigation that was conducted by the Committee of the Disappeared after the country elected it's first president since the military took over in 1976.

Ernesto Sabato headed this committee and he is an author in his own right; he wrote a slew of books that have defined modern Argentine literature, among them are "Sobre Heroes y Tombas" (Concerning Heroes and Tombs) and a book that I loved reading in 1999 called "El Tunnel" (The Tunnel). Sabato is a writer that has dealt with the topic of repression and obsession; in a way, his stewarding of this investigation was not only a great civic responsibility but also a subject right up his alley. In the Prologue he writes that, "During the 1970s, Argentina was torn by terror from both the extreme right and the far left. This phenomenon was not unique to our country"(1986, Dworkin, pg. 1). What was unique in Argentina was the extent to which the military government "responded to the terrorists' crimes with a terrorism far worse than the one they were combating, and after 24 March, 1976 they could count on the power and impunity of an absolute state, which they used to abduct, torture and kill thousands of human beings" (1986, Dworkin, pg. 1).

The obvious question that arises when speaking of los desaparecidos (the disappeared) in Argentina is how much? That is, how many people were actually disappeared by the military government between the years of 1976-1982, years generally bookmarked when speaking of the Argentine Dirty War. Or as Sabato says, "There are some 600 instances of abductions recorded in the Commission's files which are said to have taken place prior to the 24 March 1976 coup. After that date the number of people who were illegally deprived of their liberty throughout Argentina rises to the tens of thousands. Eight thousand, nine hundred and sixty of them have not appeared to this day" (1986, Dworkin, pg. 10).

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


I absolutely loved this book because Gates writers deftly, confidently and paints vivid pictures of what life was like in Piedmont, West Virginia from the 40's to about now. In the Preface to his book he writes a letter to his daughters, "Maggie and Liza," explaining the impetus behind his book. Gates writes, "I have written to you because a world into which I was born, a world that nurtured and sustained me, has mysteriously disappeared. My darkest fear is that Piedmont, West Virginia, will cease to exist...I am writing to you because of the day when we were driving home and you asked your mother and me just exactly what the civil rights movement had been all about..." More importantly, I loved this book because it straddles the fence between anthropology, sociology, history, and literature; there is a charm and an enjoyment that comes from reading the work of a voracious reader like Gates. And if you pay attention to his prose, you might actually learn something.

For my part, what I learned is that, desegregation, while a noble and righteous and necessary action in our society, was a hard pill to swallow not just for whites but for blacks as well. The common ideology is that desegregation was only difficult for racists/ethnocentric whites who had to now completely share their resources, institutions, and public meeting spaces with blacks; however, very little is ever written about how because of desegregation many black dominant traditions had to die out as well. Case in point: the colored Westvaco pic-a-nic in Piedmont, West Virgina. Gates writes that "The mill administration itself made the decision, it said, because the law forbade separate but equal everything, including picnics. So the last wave of the civil rights era finally came to the Potomac Valley, crashing down upon the colored world of Piedmont...Nobody wanted segregation, you understand; but nobody thought of this as segregation" (Gates, 213).

Another thing that Gates' book has taught me is that for every advancement that people of color have pushed for there has always been one person, the progenitor, the avante garde, the front line, that bear the most of the brunt. So, if your people have never had to suffer or advance a cause then it a person like Rosa Parks or Cesar Chavez will never matter to you, but the oppression they overcame and the hardships that they have had to deal with are no joke. In Gates' life the person who took most of the psychological brunt of desegregating is Gates' brother, Rocky. "One factor that eased my passage in school was the fact that Rocky was the pioneer, so he got the brunt of the problems that lay in wait." (Gates, 98).

Monday, October 20, 2008


Here are some of the few things that I know about Defoe's book, Robinson Crusoe. Supposedly, it is the first English novel to ever be written; Defoe's book was published in 1719 and became wildly popular.

As a read, Defoe's book is fluid and well-written, and may be the oldest muulti-genre book. In the middle, Crusoe begins to journal and the prose turns diaristic. And then, Crusoe runs out of ink so he returns to prose; but, he explains it throughout, giving readers a heads-up so that they do not get confused.

The reader learns much from the main character by the way he reacts to the many obstacles that come his way. Mostly, though, the novel serves as an instructional template for understanding and appreciating Providence. Now, to my pagan mind, Providence is just a small city in Rhode Island, but to the Caucasian peoples, Providence is not only a place but a state (not in the U.S. union but of emotive capacity) of mind and spirit.

I would like to talk mostly about Providence because in many ways, Crusoe defies what Providence has been telling him his whole life. That is, Providence has stepped in a couple of times in his life and Crusoe has always managed to silence the message it delivers. And only through his shipwrecking himself on the island that becomes his jail does he ever begin to appreciate what it is that Providence is telling him: namely that he is a fortunate son of a bitch that needs to not step foot on the Ocean ever again. But does he listen: of course not!

So far what has been most interesting to me as a reader is the level of detail that is displayed by Defoe. He meticulously itemizes all the supplies that he scavenges from the shipwreck and takes us through the steps he goes through so that we learn as he learns and see as he sees. Also, ultimately, I believe, what the reader actually wants to see is Crusoe actually learning from his mistakes and this he thoroughly does. For example, on page 112, Crusoe says, "I had terrible reflections upon my mind for many months, as I have already observed, on the account of my wicked and hardened life past; and when I looked about me, and considered what particular providences had attended me since my coming into this place, and how God had dealt bountifully with me--had not only punished me less than my iniquity had deserved, but had so plentifully provided for me; this gave me great hopes that my repentance was accepted, and that God had yet mercy in store for me."

Thursday, October 16, 2008


I want you to understand that what I am about to tell you I do so at great peril to me and my three sons. And that if you repeat any of this and como consequencia my family is put in danger, I will not think twice about telling very bad people who else knows about their secret. And they will come looking for you as well.

La familia de mi ex-wife Milaydis' es candela, that is, they sell drugs, all of them: la abuela, Lesbia, Milaydis, my ex-wife, and her sister, Rafelina. And they prostitute their bodies, sometimes in alleys, y when they pueden adentro del apartamento. And they have all been pinched at some point in time by la policia.

La abuela, Lesbia, was even deported back to D.R. in 2003 after a Distribution conviction, but she managed to slither back in to the country a year later by using a dead relative's birth certificate and her hypnotizante grey eyes.

They sell drogas with my children in the house and they tell the children that they are selling sugar but children are not stupid y ellos pueden intuir ciertas cosas like when adults are not being completely truthful.

And where there is drogas there are men with guns, sitting around, helping them cut it and usually they sleep with the women that are selling the merch; you can't lie to me because even though I managed to stay clear of perico, I grew up around it on the Bergenline and Union City: I know how they have to do to do what they do with what they have.

Kelvin is almost nine years old and his hermanito, Andrew, is three. Miguel is actually Milaydis' kid but I have been criando him ever since he was 18 months old and I consider him my son even though biological thass not the case. These are my three kids and if you are their lawyer then you have to do whateber possible to make sure that you get them out of that house because no hay nada bueno en esa casa except la mala influencia.

It wasn't like that in Providence a donde vivimos por casi cinco anos. All the time we were there we were a nice family. I supported us because I have always been an entrepreneur, so I opened a driving school and a cash checking place, and even though we weren't rich we lived well and were able to save enough money to live in D.R. for year and buy another little tereno close to Punta Cana where we could build some bungalows and open a little hotel.

But now, none of that. If Milaydis is going to keep this up and keep prostituting her body and being a fucking vacuum cleaner of cocaine, then I don't want none of that. Mira, you can investigate my family. I have a tia by Kingsbridge that has a child care license and one in Pelham that is a third grade teacher so you know that I will be able to take care of my sons and give them the supplies they need for school or baseball and provide the influence their life is currently missing.

Mira, I was born in this country and so was everyone in my family, but Miladys' family was not; they are all interlopers who were born in the Republica. And if the judge asked Miladys to produce one family member to speak on her behalf (just one) none of her relatives would come because they are all sought by the police. La policia is looking for all of them or has arrested and convicted every single one of them; they all have records for selling or possessing, and I recently heard that Miladys has to actually piss in a cup because someone called Adult and Child Services on the apartment del demonio.

It seems Miladys, Rafelina, and the mother, Lesbia, were going out on Friday and Saturday nights, staying out all night, and leaving Kelvin in charge. Except, Kelvin is just nine years old, and it is against the law to leave a nine year old in charge of the other children. And they know this and they do it anyways which is the definition of low-class people, and we are not low-class people.

All these years I succeeded in keeping Miladys away from her family y para que. The first opportunity she has to go back to that rogue's gallery and she trots right on over and forgets everything that we have built together in Providence. I should have known that you can not take a low-class peon from the sticks in D.R. and turn her into J-Lo. No, she may fool you for a while, become facsimile of a person that you thought you were with. But, the first chance she has of dragging her pussygato all over the barrio and doing Lord knows what is the first chance that she will take to prostitute her body and do those hoochie things that she has pent up in her, waiting to get out.

Yo pense that I could take the hoochie out of Miladys, but there is no helping that. Yo escuche somewheres that the Lord takes care of the fools and the babys. I guess because they are the most helpless they need the most help, but there is also great abuso or abuse that can come from the helpless. And that is when they revert to that hoochiness that they carry inside, that hoochiness they can't shake. And that is when it all goes to hell, when the helpless begin to pull the strings and mouth the words that shouldn't be formed. When the helpless pull the rest of us down into the trench that they can't seem but to occupy, look into the skies and wait for the pillars of fire and the doves of despair.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


So, I have lived in District 15 (in Harlem) for three years now and am represented (or misrepresented?) by Charles Rangel. For the most part, Rangel has run unopposed in Harlem and has been in office since 1970. Even though Rangel is the chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, he has been under scrutiny lately for several missteps in ethics, like not claiming that you get income from property that you own in the Dominican Republic or keeping three luxury apartments in Lenox Terrace (on 135 and Lenox) when more and more people (decent, hard-working people)are feeling the housing crunch. What this all adds up to is an increasing amount of citizens of the 15th feeling not only dissatisfied with their representation, but feeling that they are severely misrepresented by Rangel.
Enter Craig Schley. Craig Schley is a dude that I take boxing classes with at the Harlem YMCA. I am not too knowledgeable about his pedigree, although I do know that he is from Georgia (where he was a firefighter) and received a degree from NYU in Political Science; I also know that he has taken issue with the rezoning of Harlem and has fought to keep luxury high rises out of Harlem because Craig boosters for the little guy. In fact, the first time I even knew that he was running for office was when I saw an advertisement with his face on it that our boxing coach had left in our building lobby. Craig is humble and a hard worker and has a hell of a jab and quite a reach. But I don't want to say much more about Craig because his website will tell you more about the issues than I could.
The url for his website is http://www.craigschley.com/ and I suggest you check it out because I believe that things need to change in Harlem and Craig is the fresh blood that we could really use. I mean, much respect to Rangel, but I really feel that there is currently a schism between the new guard and the old guard (Obama vs. McCain, etc.) and I would definitely say that I am part of the new guard and that Craig is as well. Please visit his website and consider whether what he has to say is of value to you and your friends, especially if they live in the 15th District of Manhattan.

Friday, October 3, 2008


I, Solomon Jimenez, pompadour and blunt-headed booties, blue thermal with flammable polyester pants, 41 years old and separated from my wife, renounce the demons of alcohol and ask them to exit my body at once.

Yo, parasito de amor, heliotrope of plain wrong, escudo de equivocado, Corona enthusiast, Gritador del televisor, salesman paunch, and barbita de navaja. Yo,
hijo de la gran puta, auto-odiador, fanatico del yo no, escorpion contrario,
borracho de absolutos, peleador de palabras, dragon del desierto.

The demons of alcohol forced my hand the night that Luz Maria jumped in front of the punch meant for her mother, Maria Luz. What was I supposed to do once the punch connected except keep up the barrage. And before I knew it I was beating my wife of 23 years and my 20 year old daughter.

Furthermore, esa puta abogada was just looking for me to chuparle la pija because I saw it the minute I walked in. In her head she was thinking, I am going to get this little Mexican to confess that there are demons in his Coronas, and that only poor people drink 12 to 15 Coronas in one sitting. Moreover, I hate her making me abrogate the exegesis of my weekend, esa cabrona no entiende el puro sabor de una buena borrachera!

It is true that my pants are flammable; yo no niego que mis pantalones son inflamables, pero they accentuate my short little legs and make a clean line with my slip-on booties. Las booties tienen un diseno de un pedazo de humo en forma de cobra de vivora de cazador del desierto con los ojos endiamantenados. Yo no niego que me puse la termal neta azul, por supuesto, y tampoco que me puse tanto gel en el pelo.

Solomon, despierta mi hijo. Estas abogadas te estan tratando de cojer con sus palabras, las dos mas gueritas que fantasmas, crujiente con edad, parecen papas que el horno no se dignado a quemar. Locura, que no toman por que no les haria mal tomarse unas chellitas, las mera cabronas. I am awake now Father of fathers, and I commit my mind to the secret renouncing of cerveza.

To the world it will have looked like I have renounced cerveza but to my self of selves I will have remained a ladle of liquid contempt and nauseatic respite, a flask that chupas life from the labios of the host, just as that host is sucking from it's lip.