|Limón Blues: Summary of Chapters 7, 9 and 11
Orlandus goes to Kingston, Jamaica because his father is sick. He asks his mother about the strange disappearance of his little sister Ofelia, but Nanah does not answer him. They discuss about happiness and refer to mystical powers. Orlandus receives a letter from Garvey telling him about the situation of black people in Central and South America: they were poor, disorganized, abandoned by Governments, and they lacked leaders. His dream is to organize them in a strong social group. He convinces Orlandus to get involved and help him. During one of the “Garveitas” meetings in Jamaica, Orlandus meets Irene, whom he would marry later and would set down in Limón. In Costa Rica, Orlandus works for Lindo Bank while Irene teaches at two schools. The blacks are being mistreated by white owners of the banana plantations, and Keith closes all newspapers that attack him. When they go on a strike, Keith brings men from St. Kitts, who are kept in filthy slums before going to the plantations. When the St. Kitts find out they were tricked, they flee.
In 1912, the Atlantic Fruit Co. places an add on the Times newspaper to break the monopoly of the United Fruit Co. They offer to buy all the fruit from small producers, but the police, under Keith’s command, set barbed wires along the train line and destroy the small producers’ fruit, killed their mules, and even murders black people defending their fruit. In that event, Orlandus meets former President Cleto González Víquez, who remarks that it is incredible to see the Costa Rican police and army at service of the “Yanquies.” Under these circumstances, the Atlantic Fruit and the small producers go bankrupt, and poverty comes down over Limon. Mullins, the United Fruit Manager, and the police close Nation’s newspaper and others such as Times, El Heraldo del Atlántico, and El Limonense. Garvey opens The Negro World newspaper and, in 1929, after the United Fruit Company moves out of Limon Town; Nation opens another newspaper called The Search Light.
1916 was the year of the earthquake. While Orlandus is working at Maduro’s office, he hears some men talking about the bad situation of Limón. Some of the gentlemen blame the United Fruit Company, but some others blame Costa Rican president González Flores. Orlandus receives a telegram from Garvey asking him to go to Kingston in order to start his movement there. In Kingston he is with his family; his mother insists on returning to Cahuita to take care of the land that Orlandus neglected. Orlandus tries to remain calmed, but Nanah is so persistent that he tells her about the way he was forced to evacuate their land.
In Orlandus’ meeting with Garvey, both agree to change the movement’s name “Universal Negro Improvement and Conservation Association and African Communities League” into “Universal Negro Improvement Association” (U.N.I.A.). After that, they have a disagreement because one of the objectives of Garvey was “to Christianize all the African tribes”, and for Orlandus that was disrespectful towards their traditions and beliefs. At the end, Garvey changes the objective into “promote a conscientious spiritual cult between the African tribes”. Some days later, Garvey suggests Orlandus that he should not live his life by coincidence, that he should have goals and read more. These words and the impotence that Garvey remarked in Orlandus are a constant echo in Orlandus’ head. The failure of the UNIA in Kingston, his fight with his family, and Dr. Love’s death make Orlandus feel a great depression when he is in the ship back home. During the four-day journey to Port Limón, Orlandus compares himself with his father, Prince: he doesn’t want to live as passive as his father.
Irene starts working as a maid in the American Area. Even though her employer hits her, Orlandus becomes aware of it later and because of this she calls him “El Rey del Despiste”. Then Orlandus starts working with Ruben Rosas, who had created a chocolate company called “Rosas Trading Exporters”. Orlandus and Irene have some problems because she thinks that Orlandus is an introverted man.
One day in the market, while she was buying the ingredients for a “spell”, Irene is followed by a stranger. He reaches her, and after saying some words, they get on his car to the bay. His name is Ariel Zimmermann; a doctor who works for the United Fruit Company. After talking for a while, Dr. Zimmermann –who likes Irene- asks her to work for him in his office. They have an affair (with sexual relations included) until he leaves the country. However, Orlandus only knew that she worked for a doctor, but he did not know about the affair.
The meetings with Ariel are dangerous but they have become a need for her; she needs to talk to him. She tells him the story of her life and she also mentions her desire of having a Cuban passport. That same day she thinks about living with Ariel, and he tells her that they form a great team. Irene wanted to talk about future to Ariel, but there is no future.
Their six months’ relationship passes fast; Ariel is almost leaving. Ariel gives her the payment and two recommendation letters and tells her that those letters would be useful for her in the future; he was going to leave the next day. Ariel Zimmermann does not try to kiss, embrace or touch her. Irene could not change this situation; she leaves the American Area without saying good bye. Their relationship has apparently finished.
The chapter begins with Orlandus asking Irene why her menstruation has not come yet, and she reveals that she is pregnant, though she does not know who the father is. Now she wonders why she did not use the contraceptive method she always used. Soon after her confession Orlandus leaves to the United States, accepting an invitation from Marcus Garvey. When he arrives he attends several meetings and social events, and he realizes that he is among the African American intellectual elite.
One morning he goes to see his friend Marcus and while he is waiting for him he watches one of the employees stealing money. He immediately tells Garvey and the man is fired. This proof of honesty convinces Garvey that Orlandus is a good friend and asks him to settle in New York with his family to help him with the cause. However, Orlandus does not accept, saying that he has decided to live in Limón and that he cannot be wandering from one place to another. He and his family need stability in their lives. He then goes back to Limón, where he has left his pregnant wife. Time goes by, and in April Irene is about to give birth to a baby girl. However, something goes wrong, and she tells Orlandus that she and the baby are going to die, so he looks for Miss Mabel Grant to help them. She says that the girl is not in the right position and that is why Irene cannot give birth to her daughter. She begins massaging Irene’s belly –which hurts her immensely- and warns her not to push until the baby is in the right position. Finally, the baby is born, but Irene is “bleedin like hell” (186) She then loses conscience and dreams of a woman all dressed in white who tells her she has to go back to take care of her little daughter. When she finally wakes up she is told that she has been unconscious for three days because of the blood loss she suffered. Irene insists on naming the girl Katherine Their baby was called Katherine, who was very white and muy narigona, with which Orlandus is not quite convinced.
Some time afterwards Garvey visits Limón, where he gives a speech in which he denounces the lack of awareness of a Paradigma de Referencia and a poor education on the history of the Negro culture. As an example, he shows the white blond dolls with which the little black girls are playing. Then, he prohibits the use of white dolls, and takes out a package of black dolls made in New York. As a consequence, people grow really enthusiastic about Garvey’s organization, and they establish the first UNIA in Limón. The movement continues growing until it expands to San José and Puntarenas.
One night, some police officers catch Orlandus and take him to the cuartel. He is advised not to offer resistance, otherwise they will kill him. He remains in a cell with poor hygienic conditions and no books. He hears people saying that the Tinoco government is falling. Then, he is transferred to another cell, and one midnight he is visited by a military man known as Lieutenant Rodríguez, who begins to touch him though Orlandus cannot tell if he is really a man. Orlandus is about to punch him then he realizes that the officer is not a man, but a woman. He thinks she is Leonor. She says she is not, but he cannot see her because the cell is completely dark. They have sex and then Orlandus is released. One of the soldiers tells him that the Tinoco dictatorship has been overthrown, which makes black people in Limón think that the power of “La Compañía” is going to diminish, but the situation only gets worse.
The fallen of the Tinoco government is announced in all newspapers. Orlandus sees Tinoco departing in a ship towards Paris with his wife. Moreover, World War I has finished and Limón starts to prosper again, though it is not the same Limón than in years before. Exploitation gets worse and free expression continues being a fake, at least for black people. Even the post office service does not allow certain documents to arrive, like the “Acta de Inscripción”, so Orlandus and the rest of black people have to find another way to receive it. In fact, the way they do it is by bringing it through the jungle. The black people’s organization asks for the presence of the international organizer, Henrietta Vinton Davies, who was at Colón. The Unites States’ consul, McMillan, worries about the Negro movement and the publication of The Negro World, and for this reason he warns the Limón governor, Luis García, just like other men interested in destroying the Negro organization had warned him before. When García at last realizes how large and powerful this organization is, he starts to do something, but he is asked not to deport black people to the United States or Jamaica, according to what Fred Gordon and the British vice-consul advice to him.
The final decision carried out by the governor, McMillan, Chittenden and Blair deals with the prohibition of the entrance of Henrietta Vinton Davies to Costa Rica. The plan consists of letting her and her followers to gather enough money to arrest them later. This plan is no more than a rigorous method to blackmail them.