:  This was a large 2nd floor apartment in a shady 1950's vintage neighborhood.  The owner was one of a growing number of Cubans participating in the tourist sector, renting a room or two, paying taxes, responsible for costs of upkeep that  meets standards, even employing housekeepers. They've become small-scale capitalists.  But they don't necessarily think of themselves that way.  This woman didn't.  The cop was her boyfriend.  The purchaser, a woman who traveled to other countries in her job, was a visiting friend.
    I asked the cop why I saw no jinoteros (hustlers) or chicas (hustlerettes) in the places they'd been very visible in '01.  I was privately wondering if they'd been rounded up before Carter arrived.  Someone had suggested the night before that "maybe they're taking job training."  Cubans tend to sound like Republicans when they talk about  their ne'er-do-wells.
   The cop said that, after 9-11, tourism had slumped and the profits of hustling had dried up.  He said they were starting to reappear, but slowly.
    Hearing that the woman had traveled even as a child, because her father was a journalist, I told her of the complaints a friend of mine had about Granma's crime coverage. 
   She'd seen excessive crime reporting in Brazil and Mexico, she said, and she didn't agree.  She understood wanting to know what dark streets to avoid in Brazil, but she didn't think there's that much crime in Cuba.  The cop said things happen but not on "certain dark streets" and there isn't nearly as much crime as in other countries
    He said Cubans aren't desperately poor and they're united by the revolution.   I said Americans don't believe Cubans are so united that 98% had freely signed a petition to lock in socialism. 
   She started telling me about poverty in Brazil, pointing out that there's nothing like that in Cuba, and then they launched into a chorus of what they didn't believe about Americans.
   How could Bush steal an election, break his own laws and world law, too, be unable to speak his own language, and still be president? (This probably hasn't occurred to many Americans but, since Fidel has always been president, Cubans have never had a stupid president.) Why don't Americans know the Miamistas (Cuban exiles) are mafiosi, that most Latin Americans are exploited and miserable, that they themselves, the Americans, exploit them, and that Cubans are fine because the Americans can't get at them?
   Well, aside from that, I told them Americans heard of dissidents not being allowed to speak and...
  "Not allowed to speak!"  She said I'd find Cubans very ready to speak (in fact I'd often found it hard to get a word in).  The dissidents' problem, she said, was that they had no one to speak to.  I'd find they were a very small group.  "Nobody will agree with them here, so they talk to the ones who will."
  The cop was telling me almost all the Cubans always voted, even during the depression of the early 90's, and everyone had signed the petition because Fidel had promised it meant capitalism would never return, and I think he had more to say, but when he took a breath, the woman of the house took the floor to wrap it up in her mind.
   Counting off points on her fingers, she declared that, one, it was easy to sign, with so many tables ("It was like a party in the street," she said); two, they all think Bush is a monster, killing people with no respect for other countries; three, all Cubans over 50 remember how capitalism was, and all know how it still is in other places, and they know they don't want it; and four, everything is fine and they don't want to change it.
   She said a friend of hers had gone to Florida and come right back when she saw how they treat blacks there and because Americans have to lock themselves in at night and are afraid to go outside.
  Well, not everywhere, I started to say, when the cop asked why Americans didn't believe everyone signed when American tourists had seen it and wanted to sign, too.  I'd read about that on the internet, and the irony did strike me that those tourists may have been afraid to speak freely in America.
   But I asked if it would have been different with a choice of yes or no in secret.  The purchaser pointed out they have secret votes all the time (which, of couse, they do) and, in spite of constant Miami propaganda to spoil their ballots, very few do that.
   The cop said people in jail and seriously disabled mental patients were ineligible, but even people overseas and people away from home on the island  had "sent" their signatures.  With 100,000 CDR's involved, the process had been thorough.  All three said they thought that everyone  had signed.
   He had signed, of course, as one with revolutionary consciousness, as had the woman of the house.  I put the purchaser down as a militant, since she had previously been in the Juventud.  In Cuba, only members of the Communist Party and the Juventud are called militants.   Anyone who sounded  militant but technically wasn't I decided I'd say signed from revolutionary consciousness.  That's a well known term to anyone who was in Central America in the 80's.  It means the person has really thought about  economic issues and rationally and seriously favors socialist or communist revolution.