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April 8, 2016

Notaries in Cuba — the clock stops in this comedy

Cuba remains a land lost in another time. The clock just stopped many decades ago. It must be hard keeping track of the vintage of family photos there (if they have working cameras) because the cars in the background have been from the ‘50s ever since the ‘50s!

Cuba has old cars, and old notaries. Every current Cuban Notary’s commission expired in 1959 it seems. Yet life goes on. Rather than discarding those older Notaries, they supplemented them with innovative repairs and smuggled parts. When the old notaries passed on, they handed over their commissions to younger Notaries.

Meet Juan Gonzales. He took over the Notary commission for Octavio Gonzales, his uncle.

JUAN: I took it over, his Notary commission. It seemed like the right thing to do. Over here, we have family traditions. Some families have been making cigars for generations. Others have plantain recipes going back to the 1700’s. Others tell stories about shipwrecks dating back hundreds of years. Cuba is like this. Every time I do a notary job, I have to write the expiration date of my seal which is 1958. It doesn’t matter. It is just for records. Nobody minds just as long as it is recorded.

INTERVIEWER: How is medical care for notaries in Cuba?

JUAN: We are laughing at the United States. We have better medical care and cooler cars. We all look as cool as Elvis in our 50’s cars. And when I got Notarial Elbow from overdoing it with my 1958 seal (which has a new suspension) I was treated immediately. We’re on pins and needles waiting to get acupuncture in Cuba. I know, that sounds redundant. The embargo includes needles used for medical work, so we might have to wait.

INTERVIEWER: One more question. Do you think you can notarize the authenticity of these cigars I just got?

JUAN: If they were made here, they are the best in the world. Ask any smuggler. They’ll swear under Oath. Why do you think there are so many proud fathers here? It’s from passing out Cuban cigars outside the delivery room. Beats passing out inside the delivery room.

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