Florida National Guard Invades Cuba

Vanessa Blakeslee

From OWL News in Miami, this just in:
Early this morning, fighter jets from the Florida National Guard attacked Havana under cover of darkness. Five thousand troops, roughly half of the Sunshine State's entire defense force, charged Cuba's beaches. Fighter jets of the 53rd Infantry Brigade made the first strikes on Havana.

Around midnight last night, Governor of Florida, Richard Bull, held a news conference in which he repeated the message that he has continually delivered over the past three weeks: that the nation of Cuba remains a clear and imminent threat to his state. He demanded the resignation of the island's autocracy or else face invasion.

At nine a.m. Eastern time, the Governor of Florida, now interim leader of Cuba until democratic elections can take place, met with the ousted Cuban president, Hugo Castrado, in Havana. Governor Bull, who appeared strained from lack of sleep and still dressed in military uniform, spoke at a podium while addressing the former president, who remained behind the bars of a large cage. Castrado was wearing what appeared to be an animal costume and delivered his rebuttals in broken English and Spanish.

OWL News was the first on the ground in Cuba for the live press conference.

Bull: I ask El Presidente, why not order your troops to surrender and save thousands of young lives? But he refuses peace and so propagates the senseless violence going on.

Castrado: Marauder!

Bull: El Presidente is nothing but a hyena, and so we've exposed him this afternoon in his true stinking flesh. Note Aristotle's discussion of threats posed by the hyena: "(a) they are active predators of particular danger to us; (b) they are crafty or deceitful and capable of using their vocal skills to lure an animal into trouble; (c) they are scavengers who prefer rotting meat; and (d) they will disturb human gravesites." This should sound especially familiar to the citizens of South Florida, who have cowered in fear of this hyena's prowess and capabilities to strike for far too many decades.

Castrado: (laughter)

Bull: You see he even laughs like a hyena.

Castrado: (spitting; silence)

Bull: With the members of the international press as witnesses, I ask you, Señor Presidente, dismantle your regime!

Castrado: Nunca!

In the streets of Paris and London, protestors of the American invasion in Europe are already carrying signs and shouting the "Nunca" refrain.

Bull concluded the meeting by allowing the release of Castrado from the cage, but the former leader was led away under the restraint of handcuffs, quite visibly shedding tears, and then transported by helicopter to Guantanamo Bay.

Governor of Florida, Richard Bull, earned degrees in Ancient Studies and Drama at University of Florida before becoming the most profitable real estate developer in the state's history. The quote he used in reference to El Presidente is from Aristotle's History of Animals.

Stay tuned to OWL News for the most up-to-the-minute coverage of Operation Bay of Pigs II.

*

Now for the afternoon report with footage you'll only find here on OWL News.

Riots broke out across the island of Cuba among the eleven million citizens who now find themselves divided over whether or not to fight the American liberators or join them against the old regime. In Miami's Little Havana, an estimated hundred thousand Cuban-Americans marched for the organization, "Cuban's United." But even among this group, which publicly supports Governor Bull's action, some found his mockery to have crossed the line. "To make an eighty-year-old man wear a lion costume, or whatever that was, is too much," one woman from Cuban's United said, adding, "He could have suffered a heatstroke from all that fur." Many around her agreed, although others applauded the Governor for making such a bold statement. One of the Bull's supporters stated, "A costume worn in A/C to prove a point hardly amounts to torture."

At one p.m. Eastern time, Governor Bull held a press conference in the heart of Little Havana and was accompanied by his brother, President H. Walker Bull. Governor Bull announced that Operation Bay of Pigs II was suffering identical losses to its namesake battle, with approximately twenty-two hundred Cuban casualties in the first twelve hours, but ground reports estimate nearly identical losses on the Floridian side. Afterward, the President made a speech in which he praised his brother's leadership and foresight to protect Florida's borders from the threat of Cuba. "By refusing to play defense in border security against the hostile nation of Cuba, Florida serves as a proactive example to other states," the President stated. "Her measures to secure state borders increase our national border security, and for that America thanks her."

The Governor then flew to Guantanamo to make a personal plea to the captive dictator, and the two met in private around three p.m. OWL News has obtained an exclusive transcript of the meeting.

Castrado: My troops fight to the death for this island, as I knew they would.

Bull: Yo se. But consider what's already happened. You're finished. David can't beat Goliath.

Castrado: But your troops do not want to be here. That is difference enough to get many of them killed.

Bull: My troops have orders to secure our borders at any cost. And they will.

Castrado: I was Minister of the Revolutionary Armed Forces. You think my troops will abandon me? Not while I'm locked in your stinking jail!

Bull: You may be transferred to your country estate, but remain under house arrest. I strongly encourage you to consider your options while there.

Castrado: Ladron! Perro! You should be begging and licking my boots for me to even consider such a thing.

Audio recordings of this exchange are already cropping up on the Internet, but experts are questioning the authenticity of the supposed recording, which ends with thirty seconds of man-made barks and growls, as well as shouting and swearing in Spanish.

Only as the reports poured in later today, showing death in the streets of Havana, did some of the Governor's supporters here in Miami lower their cigars and freedom banners. Many of their faces are now long with worry.

Back to you in the studio.

For an in-depth commentary on the day's events, we turn to Columbia University Chair of the International Affairs Department, Dr. James Lovepeace. Professor, what is this strange and unyielding showdown between these two leaders, and these two governments, about? Is the Governor of Florida eager to add Cuba to his already messy state of disarray just out of greed or fear?

Dr. James Lovepeace, Chair of International Affairs, Columbia University: Most likely he desires Cuba for economic reasons—he sees tourist dollars in a restored Havana. Both men exhibit a responsibility and allegiance for their people's welfare. But the real question is: how much do the people, in turn, love their leader? Will Castrado back down in order to spare further bloodshed or die in a blaze of glory? At this point, we just don't know. But just the possibility of a Cuban resurgence after siesta is a clear sign that all's not going as well as had been expected for the Floridians.

The OWL Report will be back in a moment.

*

Tonight, new developments. We take you to our reporter embedded with the Florida National Guard troops in the Cuban hillsides.

The sun has just set and, across Cuba, blackouts hide the hills and towns now occupied by the Floridian soldiers. The sky booms overhead with the sounds of war. In between the bursts of fire, an eerie quiet stretches across these hills.

Then a few minutes ago, chaos broke out about six miles from this undisclosed location. A military caravan containing an estimated eighty to a hundred military and soldiers loyal to Hugo Castrado stormed the estate where he arrived just several hours ago. They killed and injured the thirty-five National Guard troops on the premises and escaped with Castrado in a fleet of army jeeps, into the same hills that sheltered their forefathers over forty years ago. Governor Bull was captured along with his now reinstated rival. That's all for the time being.

Stay with OWL News for more updates.

*

A Special Report from the news desk in New York.

A second video of Governor of Florida Richard Bull and Hugo Castrado has been released on the Internet. While the authenticity of its origins and contents remains unconfirmed, the subject matter contains significant parallels to the startling and peculiar early morning press conference held earlier today. Again, experts have been unable to determine the source; the camera is shaky and appears to be hand-held. In the clip brought to you by OWL News is what appears to be the unkempt but grinning Hugo Castrado of Cuba, once more in green military uniform. Kneeling on all fours at his heels appears to be Governor of Florida Richard Bull, wearing only Polo briefs with a choke-chain around his neck. Governor Bull's wife has issued a preliminary statement that the apparent underwear brand is a match, although experts say her testimony alone is not enough to prove the video is not a hoax. However, in this video, Castrado explains the rightful government in Cuba has been restored and, "the invaders are retreating this very moment." He goes on to say that the Florida National Guard will be allowed to go home in peace, and an agreement involving "economic reparations" is under negotiation this very night between the two adversaries. But again, this video and this report remain unconfirmed.

The audio quality is poor, but we are able to bring you a few clear seconds of the video clip with subtitles. The excerpt we are about to air occurs just before Hugo Castrado signs off.

Castrado: (bending down to pet the Governor's head): Something to say, mi amigo?

Bull: (glares straight into camera)

Castrado: (yanks the choke-chain several times) We could feed you to the dogs, but after all, Cuba is a peaceful, merciful nation.

Bull: We surrender!

Castrado: Bien. Cuba hears your plea.

Now for a recap of this evening's events here at home.

In Miami tonight, thousands of Floridians burned flags, Cuban and American next to one another. One protestor in Ft. Lauderdale commented that, "No one burns the state flag, perhaps because most Floridians would not recognize it if they did." Within the past three hours, signs sprung up in shop windows and on the back of cars with statements like, "Welcome to Florida: The Ass of the Country." Residents expressed opinions from disgust at the Governor's failed mission turned into "just another Florida blunder" to anger at Cubans for not welcoming the Americans troops with open arms and mojitos.

Across America, Cuban sandwiches are already being renamed "Puerto Rican sandwiches." When asked for the reason behind the renaming, one deli owner in Manhattan replied, "I'd rather this establishment to honor a more grateful and loyal island nation."

*

This is an OWL News Alert.

An OWL News correspondent embedded with the troops at a secret location just outside the finca estate gave us an exclusive eyewitness account of the Cuban leader and the Governor-turned-prisoner returning by SUV caravan. According to our reporter, Castrado descended the steps with Governor Bull now clothed, but still on hands and knees in the position of a dog.

Castrado just announced in a two-minute radio address that an economic reparations agreement has been reached. Operation Bay of Pigs II is officially over.

*

Good evening and welcome to the Night OWL late-night roundtable. Let's start the discussion with two questions for tonight's guest panel: Why did both men, President Castrado and Governor Bull, choose to combat one another with childish ridicule? And did Castrado show his true colors in letting Bull go, humiliated but unscathed? Let's start with you, Dr. Lovepeace.

Lovepeace: The day is a blur of surreal play-acting: costumes, cages, a lean, tanned fifty-year-old man in underwear rolling over and playing dead with the entire world transfixed. No question Castrado is a disturbed man; we've known that for years by the stories of those who've escaped his regime. But there remains the question we're neglecting to ask: what is real?

*

Welcome to the OWL News Weekend Edition.

A week after the Operation Bay of Pigs II attack and retreat, much has happened. Stories from all over the island have opened up a Pandora's box of lessons learned as well as heated controversies, but you won't find this account anywhere else. Our team of investigative reporters now brings you the story.

Late at night on October 26, immediately following the National Guard's invasion, Governor of Florida, Richard Bull, and President of Cuba, Hugo Castrado, were sequestered at the luxurious finca where they discussed the details of Florida's reparations to the victim nation. Twenty-four hours of bombing and fighting on the small island caused no widespread damage, but enough to call for reconstruction of significant areas. In the secret meeting, the two men laid out a master plan: for the State of Florida to contract its largest developer, the Governor's own family firm Bullion, and subsidiary corporations Toro, Toro & Toro, to handle the project. Within a few years, the road will be paved for commerce and tourism to develop. Castrado can die in peace, knowing he has provided a new future for his people.

On the last evening before Governor Bull's departure, the two men conspired further on these joint plans—plans which have since come to pass. Richard Bull would disappear for three days, resurface, and claim that a missed dose of his bi-polar medication sparked the decision to launch the Operation. All this was discussed as the two leaders enjoyed mojitos and a steak dinner.

One of our OWL News investigative reporters, who posed undercover as a maid at the finca since three weeks prior to the invasion, recorded the following hidden camera footage.

Bull: What we staged was by all means evil.

Castrado: Si, you are pure concentrated evil. But I am only weak. Hay una differencia.

Bull: (laughing; clinking glasses) Tallahassee, that's where the real show begins. But don't you worry; I'll get your agreement to rebuild signed before I resign. I've had my fun. I want to be like you, la pura vida, eh?

(Silence)

Castrado: Senorita, un cigarro, por favor. You are a deceiver of your own people. Not once did I lie. You invaded us. Not one of my soldiers died in vain. But yours did (match striking; heavy breathing). Whose pura vida, eh?

Thanks for watching OWL News.


About the Author

Vanessa Blakeslee's work has been recognized by grants and fellowships from the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, Yaddo, the Ragdale Foundation and the United Arts of Central Florida, and has appeared or is forthcoming in Harpur Palate, The Bellingham Review, Green Mountains Review, and The Southern Review, among other journals. She was a finalist for the 2011 Philip Roth Residency at Bucknell University and the Sozopol Fiction Seminars. Her short story "Shadowboxes" won the 2011 Bosque Fiction Prize. Please visit www.vanessablakeslee.com for more.