April 2015 - McCormick Place

by Bernard McCormick Apr 2015 Also on Digital Edition

April 2015 - McCormick Place

The thaw in relations between the United States and Cuba should have at least one predictable result: an increase in American tourists. Many Americans want to visit Cuba, just for fun, but it is not so easy to get in. This is because the first 10,000 American applicants will be CIA agents. Now the Cubans may be many things, but they are not stupid. We can be assured they will be anxious to welcome our spies with good expense accounts.

We can soon expect this scene at Cuban ports of entry.

Cuban official: “Buenas. Welcome to Cuba. Here for a holiday?”

Visitor: “Nada, CIA.”

Official: “Wonderful. Welcome Comrade Spook. Please register at the line over there – the one marked CIA.”

The visitor proceeds to the appropriate line, which moves along smartly until he is greeted by Cuba’s CIA host official.

Official: “Welcome to Cuba. I am your CIA host receptionist. My name is Jose. That is pronounced Ho-say, as in ‘Say can you see by the dawn’s early light.’ Now what are you interested in seeing – historic missile sites, the KBG Bath and Tennis Club, political prisoner detention facilities, the Fidel classic car museum?”

Visitor: A little bit of everything, thank you. This is my first visit.”

Official: “Si. And what is your name?”

Visitor: “Maurice Bishop.”

Official: “The Maurice Bishop? – The guy who covered up the Kennedy Assassination?”

Visitor: “No, he’s dead. We all use the name Maurice Bishop. It goes back to the game of chess, you know. Just a little play on words to break up the monotony. Chess is our favorite diversion. We like to move people around like pawns before we knock them off.”

Official: “Si. But I see no Maurice Bishop name on our stolen confidential list of CIA operatives. That’s okay. This list comes from 1963. Our recent ones are still classified.”

Visitor: “You never will find any of our real names. You won’t find Lee Harvey Oswald on any records, either.”

Official: “Si. See, the past is behind us. Let us concentrate on improving relations between our two great countries. To further that end, we have a special CIA visitor goody bag. It contains a signed photograph of Meyer Lansky ­– a reminder of the good old days – a medallion of appreciation from the Cuban Siete Commandment Society for letting our thieves rip off Medicare and anything else they can in your country, and a few tokens to use in your travels.

Visitor: “Gracias. What are these tokens for?”

Official: “This one is for Happy Hour at the Castro Brothers Brothel. You get two for one. This one gets you a free photograph with a 1952 Studebaker at the Fidel Classic Car Museum. And this one gets you a discount on a burro ride up San Juan Hill. Here’s one for a free cocktail at Ernest Hemingway’s old house. And you get to dance with the three-toed cats.”

Visitor: ”I thought those cats were at his Key West house.”

Official: “What difference does it make? Señor, this is Cuba. Truth is not relative. By the way, do you have any relatives in Cuba.”

Visitor: “Not yet. Let’s talk after I visit the Castro Brothers Brothel. And what’s this one with the little pig on it?”

Official: “That entitles you to visit the Bay of Pigs. You actually will get a stuffed pig that is a replica of one of the real pigs after whom the bay is named.”

Visitor: “And this one, is that a cigar token?”

Official: “Si. It is a replica of the cigar you guys were planning to send to Fidel to blow him up. But I must warn you not to light it. We Cubans make very good cigars, but were are not so good at keeping track of the ones laced with dynamite.”

Visitor: “Gracias. And what about this token with the little bulls eye on it?”

Official: “That’s for admission to a firing squad.”

Visitor: “But whose?”

Official: “That’s up to you, señor.”

Visitor: “Si, I see.”