UNITED STATES—By the time he got on his way to the airport, he had picked up a book at a charming bookstore that had always, at pivotal points in his life, plied just the book to get through what he was going through. This was a choice tome, the corner of the gilt-edged pages; a handsome little tome called, “The Lives of the Dictators.”

Miller would pick up many details about leadership in his quest to become a man of action. One of the details that struck him was Uribe, known as the Napoleon of Guatemala and Tata, who used to tool around Sexta Avenida aboard his Harley Davidson motorcycle, and he shouted at the top of his lungs when, his heart already mired in a cardiac lagoon, before he slid into exile in New Orleans, he shouted, “Beware of the Communists and the conservatives!”

It was fascinating how this man had come to power by election, when the people were sick and tired. The previous president who’d been in power for ten years had died, and this led the country to a period of people rioting on the streets. Whether there were riots with stones thrown and machetes brandished or peaceful demonstrations, god knows, it depended whose side you were on. There were strikes, schools closed, and teachers played hooky, some went to the parks while this urban volcano ran its course in Grenadine. Major highways were blockaded, and not just blockaded but tanks were brought out.

When Lazaro Chacon Castañeda died at the end of this period of lavish graft and bribery, and lawlessness when somehow the fields still grew and people came to market and the sun came up, still reduced exports and taxes the people were already clambering for a new savior. And he came in the form of this Napoleon. When he took the oath of office, there was a total of $27 dollars in the national treasury. He was voted in office like all the “good” dictators, and victorious election that would later be characterized as fraudulent. On the one hand, all the medals must have weighed a ton, and the epaulets, the gold embroider curlicues thick as gold cables on his general’s cap. It would take a strong leader to fix all that needed to be fixed and Jorge Uribe, El Generalisimo, would be succeeded by a long line of those who followed him to fill to vacuum of a small country, too small to be honest and not big enough to be righteous and devious like the big American and European nations. He had to do it his way.

He was liberal for a government to benefit the population, and not just the land-owning oligarchs, he was elected for a term limited to one four-year term, and like the beer-drinker that cannot stop at one beer, saw fit to alter the constitution with some white-out and Flair pen so that another election could be held, and so on. He loved parading, being driven in in the backseat of the open phaeton, the adoring crowds cheering, cigarette in holder clenched in his mouth.

“You are just like Roosevelt,” said one of Uribe’s sycophants.

“Theodore or Franklin Delano?”

“Franklin, of course. A huge influence. There’s an Alameda Franklin Delano Roosevelt Blvd. in San Salvador; a calle in Soyapango.”

“How is that?”

“I was a huge influence on HIM, when he ran defying American tradition for an unprecedented second term. I was the first to do it in my country, despite reelection being banned in the constitution. My spies tell me he read about it in the papers.”

Presidente Uribe said that anybody who was more liberal than he ought to be considered a communist, and thus a danger. They’ve done university thesis get to sashay around was he, “Distractorship or Tyranny.” Like Willy Long, General Uribe indulged in public constructions with zest. A whole regal crop of palaces, baroque, palatial and grandiose, the palace of mails, the palace of the police, the palace of justice lends regal and adorned beauty to the capital, as well as hospitals, airports, roller coasters for diversion of the populace,

Each project had to be approved by Uribe, who notoriously meddled in every aspect the projects. He liked to supervise and revise every aspect of construction, planning, budget and execution. Historically, dictatorship referred to exceptional governance in ancient Rome. In cases of war and states of emergence the Roman Senate granted one-man absolute power for sixth months, after which the government would revert to its normal format. Indeed, both Uribe and Franklin Roosevelt took advantages of national emergencies to achieve longevity of rule that would be the envy if any Stalin or Hitler. However, Porfirio Díaz, bested them all by a long-shot. Thirty years, baby. Porfirio Díaz was president of Mexico from 1877 to 1880 and from 1884 to 1911. He did not run for reelection in 1880 but did handpick his successor, Manuel González. Dissatisfied with González, Díaz ran for president again in 1884. He won and remained in power until he was forced out during the Mexican Revolution. He heard the final tuneful kiss-off of mariachi horns.

After reading Graydon dozed off, lulled by the puffy hum of the jet and serenaded by the velvety conviction that being a Virgo was a plus in Latin American leadership, the least popular sign when it comes to American presidents, but when it comes to Latin America, which starts at the Tijuana border, a place where Graydon was accidentally conceived in this universe, ay, ni se diga. Virgo ranks among the most popular, along with Taurus and Capricorn, also earth signs.

To be continued… a

Grady is the Wizard of Fiction.

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Hollywood humorist Grady grew up in the heart of Steinbeck Country on the Central California coast. More Bombeck than Steinbeck, Grady Miller has been compared to T.C. Boyle, Joel Stein, and Voltaire. He briefly attended Columbia University in New York and came to Los Angeles to study filmmaking, but discovered literature instead, in T.C. Boyle’s fiction writing workshop at USC. In addition to A Very Grady Christmas, he has written the humorous diet book, Lighten Up Now: The Grady Diet and the popular humor collection, Late Bloomer (both on Amazon) and its follow-up, Later Bloomer: Tales from Darkest Hollywood. (https://amzn.to/3bGBLB8) His humor column, Miller Time, appears weekly in The Canyon News (www.canyon-news.com)