07 August 2021 ~ 0 Comentarios

Cayetano Brulé Fights Against the “Demon”

By Carlos Alberto Montaner

Roberto Ampuero

Roberto Ampuero

There’s a skeleton in the closet here. Chile was the great model of Latin American development. It was the bespectacled guy, the know-it-all who had all the answers. It seemed that the country was heading steadily towards the First World. Suddenly, faced with a minimal increase in the cost of public transportation in 2019, a pandemonium arose that is “the ray that doesn’t stop” (El rayo que no cesa,) as Spanish poet Miguel Hernández titled his love poems inspired by the surrealist painter Maruja Mallo.

What had happened? Writer Roberto Ampuero thought that he should ask Cayetano Brulé. Cayetano Brulé is a private detective born in Cuba around 1950. He lives in today’s Chile and loves “the country of crazy geography” as his homeland. He is not a former FBI agent. He earned his correspondence investigator degree studying a correspondence course in Miami, with very modest means. Nonetheless, he has had some achievements in his career, usually with the help of Bernardo Suzuki, his faithful assistant, the son of a Japanese sailor and a Chilean lady who died shortly after giving birth.

Brulé is not a Cuban exile, but he is not unaware that the Revolution is a total disaster. His life and experience have led him to anti-communism and anti-fascism. He arrived in the country, very young, with a Chilean woman, Angela Undurraga, whom he had met in the Florida Keys. The woman suddenly left him.

Cayetano Brulé is a fiction created by Roberto Ampuero, a magnificent Chilean writer. The detective is an old overweight man. He drinks coffee and smokes like a maniac. He is the protagonist of several police stories. Obviously, he’s not James Bond and he doesn’t drive spectacular cars, but a humble Lada. He doesn’t exist more than what imaginary characters exist. The abundant details Ampuero gives about Brulé’s life is a method to introduce a credible character that we can consider like one of us. He uses his reality to frame his narrative, like almost all writers. In any case, Cervantes performed the same literary trick with his universal character: “Somewhere in La Mancha, in a place whose name I do not care to remember, a gentleman lived not long ago, one of those who has a lance and ancient shield on a shelf and keeps a skinny nag and a greyhound for racing.” Until today the doubt remains: did Don Quixote exist? Does Cayetano Brulé exist?

Of course he exists. He is the alter ego of Roberto Ampuero. The one that helps him to give answers committed to his past. The novelist has lived in Cuba and in communist Germany. He was a young Marxist-Leninist until he managed to get rid of that ideological scabies. He lived the dreams of that foolish and dangerous tribe, capable of killing for sustaining their superstitions. They already have more than a hundred million dead.

Ampuero has used the detective in eight novels. The saga began with Who Killed Cristian Kustermann?, an award-winning book that established Ampuero among the great writers of detective novels. It was natural for him to ask Cayetano Brulé about the homicidal and suicidal reaction of Chilean society.

The answer is in the novel Demon. That is the nom de guerre of the person who leads the plot against Chile. Cayetano Brulé has the correct hunch that Demon is the key. In the background appear the Sao Paulo Forum and the Puebla Group. There are Havana, Caracas and even the example of Nicaragua, when they took over the National Parliament, with all the congressmen inside, in a guerrilla operation that catapulted Edén Pastora, the Commander Zero, to fame. According to Demon, they planned to reproduce that episode in Santiago de Chile.

The left has segregated its own cells for international action. That is not to say that all who throw stone are part of the conspiracy. There are many young people who march unwittingly to the slaughterhouse. They will go into exile, they will be shot, or they will “integrate” into the revolution, when it is their turn to decide what they want to do with their dark little lives. They are in the preliminary stage of “accumulating the stones,” as Hugo Chávez preached.

The novel has a great beginning and a great ending. First, a nervous lady asks Cayetano Brulé, who has always lived in Valparaíso, to find out why a painter has turned up dead. But along that thread the plot is woven, explaining the destruction of Chile and culminating in “Demon.” Brulé is about to trap his enemy in a church, but he manages to escape by kicking the old and rusty detective in the face.

Later on, Brulé manages to learn chilling news: the crazy guerrilla has and is going to use a man-plane rocket. It is fired from the shoulder and is very easy to hit the target an aircraft’s takeoff or landing. The project is to freeze all flights at airports. Paralyze Chile. “Demon” doesn’t achieve his goal. I won’t tell it because it would be betraying the reader. If I were a director or producer of television series, I would film all eight or ten chapters of this extraordinary book. There is no better way to pass the pandemic or to explain what is happening in the Americas.

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