Save Tiberio!
"I want to come back to Puerto Escondido... And I want to open a new, more beautiful, bar that will be even more fun."

Read a new introduction by authors
Pino Cacucci and Gloria Corica

ZICATELA BEACH, OAXACA; 2004: The socially conscious bartender known far and wide as "Tiberio" has left his home of eighteen years, Puerto Escondido, on world-class surfer's Emerald Coast, but not entirely by choice. Mexico's most popular fugitive was turned in to the authorities, and is now in Italy serving an old sentence courtesy of the war on (some) drugs.

Tiberio is gone from the hemisphere he loved. He returned to the Mediterranean land of his birth on May 11th to finish a 1994 sentence leftover from charges of violating Italian drug laws. In 1995, '96 and '97, Tiberio served sixteen months in European prisons on those charges. But the Italian government now insists that he must serve an additional sentence of… one year… plus three months… and fourteen days.

Tiberio's road story will probably someday be a major motion picture (a widely published European author is already working on his biography): His is the tale of a fugitive that was too entertaining, just too alive, to hide timidly in the shadows. Tiberio's daily fight for the right to enjoy life, his unrivaled sense of humor, his love of music, cooking, soccer (¡Bologna F.C.!), and, most of all, of people, is already an academy award-winning Hollywood blockbuster of daily life in a theater named earth.

With his trademark spirit of abbondanza, of generosity, Tiberio, today, announces his future plans, shares his philosophies, and via this exclusive interview with Salón Chingón, reveals his famous recipe for mojitos - the author Ernest Hemingway's favorite beverage - gratis, for one and all.

And you're probably going to need a drink now, kind reader, if you believe in justice: Tiberio's Trail is also, sadly, a tale of betrayal, of the carelessness of some people in "counter-cultural" circles, and of the malice displayed by the villains of every hero's journey, by those lowest of life-forms - the snitches - who for selfish motives fingered my friend and yours and set in motion his theft from Zicatela Beach and all who loved him there.

The snitches, and the careless ones who do not abide by the human code of shunning informants, have thus caused great harm not only to Tiberio, but also to his thousands of friends and fans, and to the tourism-dependent economy of Zicatela Beach and Puerto Escondido, which has basked in his supernova light for most of the past eighteen years.

On the road in Latin America, in the great tourist centers, you will meet many travelers and expatriates who wear "rebellion" like the icons - Che Guevara! Manu Chau! Maria Sabina! Marijuana! - displayed on their tee-shirts, but who are essentially "takers," those who, like the colonialists of yesterday and today, seek to profit and to squeeze every unfair advantage from the wide gap between rich and poor. Tiberio was and is the antithesis of that kind of faux-rebel parasite. This Italian-born Renaissance man and raconteur always gave more than he took. Kids, for example, universally loved him. They shouted the name "Tiberio" from sidewalks and bicycles with glee. He'd tell them jokes that only they understood, and they'd giggle uncontrollably. The locals, their parents, respected and appreciated Tiberio. He knew their names, addressed them as peers, made everyone laugh with him at the ironies and unfairness of life under capitalism. Tiberio pitched in for the good of the community, not as defined by do-gooders, missionaries, and "enlightened" New Age fakers, but, rather, as the natives defined that good.

And the tourists… upon whose spending or lack thereof much of Puerto Escondido eats or goes hungry another day… flocked from around the world to his bar, again and again, more than for the mojitos, but to be in his presence. It is safe to say that Tiberio has thousands of fans (sign the "Save Tiberio" petition below this article to make it clear to those who tried to destroy him that we stand with him, now and always, and together now we roll out the finest red and black carpet ever woven to help him serve his time and then bring him home).

I was there, on September 1, 1999, when Casa Babylon, where Tiberio held court, was born as a bar. The small stone building on the corner of the Zicatela beachfront lawn of the Hotel Arcoiris was a used book-trading shop and a bazaar to sell tee shirts and other tourist trinkets. It was the end of the summer "high season," a time when most of the European visitors and surfers headed back home (Zicatela is widely considered one of the top three or four surfing beaches on earth; and for the past five years it was also the most fun, largely thanks to Tiberio). That was the September night when the five-peso beer was introduced for sale - at zero profit - and the quiet, bored, little bookstore became the hottest anarcho-artist bar on the beach.

But all is lost, now. Someone (or some ones) alerted the authorities that although Tiberio was married to a Mexican he did not count with the papers to allow him to remain legally within national territory. He has just lost his bar and now he has lost his freedom. He has gone back to a country where he was born, Italy, but that is no longer his. Tiberio has been ripped from the land that loves him: Mexico… and vice versa.

Even the Mexican authorities that had to enforce the law were, it is commonly said in town, not happy to have been put in the position where they had to act: They were very fair and just with him, Tiberio notes, allowing him the time to negotiate his surrender to Italian authorities (who seemed overly eager to catch this smallest of fish and ruin his life again). But we will not dwell on snitches and interests today: right now we have one greater, more urgent, priority - to save Tiberio.

Donate to Save Tiberio

We must first make it possible for Tiberio to serve his remaining time not in prison, but, rather, doing social work, in Italy, as a form of community service.

That is possible, kind reader, with your help: Tiberio has received a job from a social service agency in Bologna to do just that, but he must be able to show to the Italian authorities that he maintains a stable apartment or home, and that costs a lot more rent money than it would in Mexico. Additionally, he must pay a fine of 13,000 euros (almost $17,000 U.S. dollars) to the Italian State. To have any chance of returning to Mexico, to Puerto Escondido, to Playa Zicatela, and to the municipality of Santa María Colotepec (¡Que nos bendigas Tú!) - his true home - he must be able to pay that fine.

We are his friends - yes, I'm speaking to you - and we are going to do that right now. We are going to pay that fine for him. We are going to contact all his friends around the world: past, present, and future, and meet this goal. I am going to contribute. And you are going to contribute. The amount you give is less important than the solidarity you show by giving something, anything, to the best of your abilities. We will show Tiberio, at this stressful moment for him (and for many of us), who his true friends are, and that his true friends are many.

You can make a donation today, online, of any amount large or small, in euros, or in dollars, in Canadian dollars, in Sterling Pounds, or in Yen, via credit card, to save Tiberio, by using this link:

All money donated will go directly to Tiberio, who will have exclusive control over its use: No committee, no bureaucracy, no percentages collected (except the three percent charged by PayPal, the company that will put the money directly into Tiberio's Italian bank account), no scams, no quid pro quo, nada de eso… Just pure gift money for Tiberio, to pay off his debt to society and, well, if we collect more than he needs to do that, he can spend it on anything he wants.

We are going to do this, first, because we stand by our friends. Second, because we all probably skipped out of his bar on occasion without leaving enough of a tip, or after receiving a free drink, or maybe even without paying (he never called the cops!) Third, we launch this global act of solidarity to send a message far and wide: that an attack against one of our friends is an attack against all of us. Those who, maliciously, sought to destroy Tiberio will now find that, because he has the one thing they don't have - true friends - they only ended up making him stronger. And that will be the sweetest, most positive, form of justice.

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In addition to helping Tiberio financially at his hour of need, and to signing the petition below that will be read and signed first by dozens, later by hundreds, and later, well, let's see what kind of show of strength we can, together, muster, this web page seeks to accomplish one other goal: To ensure that when Tiberio does serve his time, and pay off his fine, that he returns, in mid-to-late 2005, triumphantly to Puerto Escondido, with the largest email list of friends and fans possible, so that we can alert you to his return, to the location of the bar where he will be holding court, and to his welcome home party.

"I want to come back," Tiberio told me in a lengthy five-day interview prior to his departure. "And I want to open a new, more beautiful, bar that will be even more fun."
By signing up on this free email list, you ensure that you, too, will receive an invitation to the grand opening of Tiberio's new bar upon his return.

Sign up for the Save Tiberio email list by typing your email address in the box below and by clicking "Save Tiberio."

 

I often think of Tiberio as the brother that I never had. Any kindness that you show to him will be a kindness received and appreciated by me and by everyone else who loves him.

My colleagues in journalism and I have another special reason to save Tiberio: He is the chief bartender of the Narco News School of Authentic Journalism. And there are more than 70 journalists from around the world who assembled this July in Bolivia - but without Tiberio this time - who missed his towering presence more than we could stand.

His attackers were really smart, weren't they? ("Hey, let's get 100 of the top investigative reporters on earth really mad at us." "Yeah, that sounds like a great idea!") It's a law of nature: informants and traitors almost always fall of the weight of their own stupidity.

Narco News is the online newspaper reporting on the drug war and democracy from Latin America, with an editorial position in favor of the legalization of drugs. We are journalists that don't believe the kinds of laws now being used against millions of people like Tiberio should exist at all. The cause of saving Tiberio is the cause of all who are persecuted by unjust laws.

Last year we Narconusistas started to train beginning journalists and journalism students to do this important work. We did it because young people all over América asked us to do it, and nobody else was training them to resist the corruptions of the Commercial Media. This website, salonchingon.com, has sponsored and donated the bandwidth and labor to savetiberio.com. Salón Chingón is the website of the students and professors (and bartenders) of the Narco News J-School. We have special reasons for wanting our favorite school bartender, entertainer, guidance counselor, and extraordinary social lubricant back.

As Authentic Journalist Ashley Kennedy of New Orleans, a regular contributor to High Times magazine, one of last year's Narco News scholars, author of The Superior Bush, returning this year as a professor, wrote in her evaluation form when asked if she had any complaints about the ten-day J-School held in February 2003 on Mexico's Yucatán Peninsula:

"Yes, I have a big complaint: How come I couldn't take Tiberio home in my suitcase?"

Or as globally renowned documentary film producer Stephen Marshall of Guerrilla News wrote on his weblog at that Authentic Media's website:

Arriving at the small oceanside hotel on the beautiful Mexican island of Mujeres the night before my part of the GNN/NarcoNews video workshop was to begin, I received one of those uncanny telegraphs from the unseen world about what was ahead of me. A young traveler with a backpack was attempting to ask the desk clerk about the status of one of their guests. When I offered to help, explaining that I was part of the NarcoNews conference, she began to excitedly relate that she was here to meet her friend who was the bartender for the conference. Relatively confident that there was no official designation of 'bartender' for what was slated as a gathering of international journalists to study the aspects of 'authentic journalism', I told her that she probably had the wrong hotel.

And the wrong conference.

"Isn't this the one being run by Giordano?" she persisted, referring to NarcoNews founder and visionary behind the event, Alberto Giordano.

"It is," I replied.

"Well then, this is definitely the right place."

That was only the initial stage of my baptism into the chaotically Bohemian and uniquely 21st century Romantic realm of NarcoNews…

Marshall, among others, often speaks of the power of art and creating a "revolutionary aesthetic," something that both Guerrilla News and Narco News, among others, do with some success. But, truth be told, the source artists for the revolutionary aesthetic are those rare people like Tiberio (and, in our case, specifically that guy, our Tiberio, and yours); those individuals who awaken each morning, as if on stage, and approach daily life with the same passion that a Performance Artist puts into a two-hour show on a good night. A lot of us who get attention in this world for "creating a scene," for works of writing, or art, or theater, or media, are mere reporters and translators: We get all our best concepts and ideas from those "source artists," like Tiberio, who made us laugh and smile during hard times and bitter battles, who brought us the moments of sublime joy in daily life that made creativity, and a glimpse of how the world could be, possible. There is a long list of artists and creators - maybe you've heard of some of them - who also call Tiberio friend. I'll tell you about some of them in a moment.

You've heard, now, brief impressions from great journalists like Ashley Kennedy and Stephen Marshall, glimpses of their testimonials of the wild world of Tiberio. You'll hear mine in a moment. But we also want to read yours, via the online petition below.

Photographers and artists: We also invite you to submit photos and portraits of Tiberio to our online Save Tiberio photo gallery. Scan them and send them to gallery@savetiberio.com. (And we invite readers to print them out as posters and stickers with the banner: "Save Tiberio! www.SaveTiberio.com.")

Likewise, musicians and poets: if you've got the audio file of a work inspired by him that is chingón enough to fly with Tiberio on the World Wide Web, Salón Chingón has the bandwidth.

We sat down at the Comedor Vicky, a favorite lunch spot of the local taxi drivers, on the hill overlooking Zicatela Beach, dining on fried whole fish - huachinango al mojo de ajo - sharing some cold cervezas, and began the interview.

SalónChingón: "So, my old friend. What is your name?"

Tiberio: "Tinarelli."

SalónChingón: "I never asked you questions about your past before. Now I know that my instincts served me well. Thanks for not turning me into an accomplice… Anyway, you'll always be Tiberio to me. So, Tiberio, when did you first come to Puerto Escondido?"

Tiberio: "I came as a tourist in 1986. Puerto almost didn't exist. They had just finished building the Adoquín (the downtown tourist walk). Here on Zicatela, there was only the Hotel Santa Fe, nothing else. In 1988, I opened an Italian restaurant downtown, El Bafo d'Oro (The Golden Mustache). In 1990, I moved the restaurant to Playa Marinero, to the Flor de María Hotel. In 1992, I opened a Laundromat and video game parlor from where I also rented mopeds. But all this time I was coming back and forth from Italy, still a tourist, really."

SalónChingón: "When did your legal problems begin?"

Tiberio: "I went to Italy in 1994, and from there I went to Holland. In November of 1995, the Dutch police arrested me on a warrant from Italy. Some snitch (soplón) had named me in a drug deal. I was never found with any drugs on me. But I spent eight months in Dutch prison and another eight months in Italian prison. Then I got out, but still couldn't leave Italy, with legal proceedings still pending. My wife didn't like being in Italy and so I decided to escape. I took a boat from France to the Mexican port of Veracruz, and came back to Puerto Escondido…

"But already, because of the testimony of a snitch, I had lost my businesses in Puerto and my freedom. When I came back I had to start all over again. I started doing silkscreen printing, making tee shirts, and needed a place to sell them. So we rented that stone building that became Casa Babylon.

"On September 1st, 1999, we started serving drinks, and that's how Casa Babylon was born. For almost five years, I worked every night, happy in life, with the only goal that the client would leave the bar with a smile from ear to ear… Now, all over again, because of the testimony of a snitch that wants to be anonymous, I have lost my bar and my freedom all over again…"

SalónChingón: "You did work long nights. I remember closing the bar with you at 4 a.m., at 4:30 a.m. some nights, the place still filled with people… And yet there I would find you, again, at 7 o'clock in the morning, three hours later, when I'd go out to get my morning coffee, and you'd be there supervising the construction crew that built the dome and more than doubled the size of that little stone building into a real bar and a real work of art. How long did that construction take?"

Tiberio: "Seven months. But it wasn't only during the construction that I'd get up early every morning. I've always done that. I go to the market early to buy fresh mint and key limes for the mojitos. You have to get there early to get the good stuff…"

SalónChingón: "I have a big favor to ask you of you, Tiberio… because you were the reason to go to that bar. It's not the same without you there. And I know that many others feel the same way. That without Tiberio, there is no Casa Babylon… that a stone building that was so full of life, without its star attraction, is just a pile of rocks… So while you are in Italy for the next fifteen months or so, serving your time, I wonder if you would be willing to share your mojito and capairiña recipes with the people, so that all over the world we can make them ourselves and drink a toast out loud to you…"

Tiberio: "First, you need key limes, not just any lime or lemon: they must be key limes. And you need hierba buena, fresh mint… You need a medium sized glass, ice, agua mineral (carbonated water), and a wooden, rounded, stick to mash with… In the glass you put…

1 tablespoon of sugar
Juice of 1 key lime
4 stalks of mint
"Mash it with love."
Fill the glass with crushed ice.
Then fill 3/4 of the glass with rum, and…
1/4 with soda water
"Ciao, Mojito!"
Tiberio's Caparina Recipe Revealed!
1 medium sized glass
Cut two key limes in 16 parts
Add 2 tablespoons of sugar
"Mash forcefully (and with love)"
Add crushed ice
Add rum to make a capairiña
Add vodka to make a capairoska
("Shaken, not stirred.")
Tiberio's Iced Coffee Recipe Revealed!
1 shot of espresso
1 medium sized glass filled with ice cubes
1 tablespoon of sugar
"Shake violently"
"Your Mother Fucked Tiberio!"

During the breakout 2001 Mexican movie blockbuster, Y Tu Mamá También, much of it filmed in Puerto Escondido and environs, there is a scene filmed in a palapa, a straw-thatched bar, in nearby Roca Blanca (called "Boca de Cielo" in the movie) in which the three traveling companions, the Spaniard, Luisa (Maribel Verdú) and two young men from Mexico City, Tenoch (Diego Luna) and Julio (Gael Garcia Bernal), are getting drunk on tequila. The two young guys are laughing as they insult each other's mothers and supposed girlfriends. "To your girlfriends, who are fucking ten Italians at a time! …to Luigi! …to Francesco! …I toast to Tiberio!" And they raise another shot of tequila high above, laughing. ¡¡¡Tiberio!!!

That is, in fact, the title scene of the movie: The next toast calls out, "and to your mama, too!"

The screenplay dialogue, by director Alfonso Cuarán and his brother Carlos, originally called for the actor to say, "I toast to Antonio." The story of how the actors and the director decided to change the script - as a silver screen tribute to our very own Tiberio - offers a glimpse into both his popular charisma and also the positive effect he has on talented people that, sadly, sometimes makes other lesser lights envious to the point of distraction, even to the point of resenting Tiberio… perhaps even to the point of turning him in to the authorities?

SalónChingón: "Everybody says you're the Tiberio in that scene from the movie. How did that happen?"

Tiberio: "They were here, filming, for one-and-a-half months and they came back again and again to the bar. And because I don't watch TV I didn't know they were famous actors. But they were clients of the bar, and they were just fun people to play backgammon with. And they left every night with smiles, ear to year, happy to work the next day…"

SalónChingón: "You've done that for a lot of artists and writers, myself included… Picasso understood that pleasure principle… That an artist who laughs and lives life in pursuit and receipt of great pleasures is a more inspired artist… Maybe some people don't understand why artists flock around you… You're a ringleader, the guy who reminds the creative people of what life can be, of how it's supposed to be fun, and enjoyed…

"I remember the night, during the first month of Casa Babylon, that the New Zealand painter Justine Ward walked in, and she kept coming back. First she designed and painted your sign… Then your menus… Then, when you built the addition, and the great dome atop, she laid back on that scaffolding like Michelangelo with tiny brushes in ornate blue and golden hues and symbols that glisten in the light and have hypnotized many a visitor. People walking by on the street stop to show their kids that dome, as if it were a museum, or the Sistine Chapel itself… And beyond the fact that you constructed the canvass, the concrete dome, there is a lot of Tiberio reflecting off of it…

Anyway, that's why I was thrilled when you agreed to be the chief bartender for the Narco News School of Authentic Journalism in February 2003. I knew you could infuse my students with that same creative force… But you were taking a risk by going to Mérida, as you knew in advance...."

Tiberio: "First, you have to take risks. I had not left Puerto Escondido for three years. And, yes, I had to pass through forty immigration and police roadblocks to get to Mérida. But I'm glad I did. I thought I'd just be, you know, pouring mojitos at some conference. I never imagined the quality of people that would be there…"

SalónChingón: "On the last day of the J-School, up on the roof high above Isla Mujeres and the blue Caribbean, you spoke to the students and told of when you were eighteen, 25 years prior, how you went to gatherings like this where people plotted to shake the world, and how…"

Tiberio: "…and how inspired I was to be in a new century and see that there were still gatherings like those I remember. You don't see those every day, now, you know?"

SalónChingón: "When you were eighteen, the Autonomy movement had begun in Northern Italy… Workers taking over factories… Tony Negri coming into the spotlight… Is that what you were talking about?"

Tiberio: "Well, your students are taking over the factory of journalism, aren't they? Maybe we should have done that back then!"

SalónChingón: "Heh. You would have surely gone to jail then!"

Tiberio: "I did go to jail then! It was for a month, when I was eighteen, all because of my involvement in that movement. There are some fights that we can't, that we shouldn't, run from."

SalónChingón: "A lot of people in your position, fugitives from unjust 'justice' systems, would not take risks like that. I remember, a month after Casa Babylon's inauguration, we were sitting there in the middle of a hot, hot, day when the earthquake struck. It was 7.4 on the Richter scale and Puerto Escondido was the epicenter. We went flying out the windows, the doors, and onto the beach, as the bookshelves and liquor bottles came crashing down onto the stone floor. It was kind of exciting, really…

"But that was on the beach. Up in the hills, people had lost their homes, mudslides happened, people died, entire communities were cut off from contact with the outside world, and you were one of the ringleaders of our little group raising money from the tourists to bring aid and materials to those folks who really had suffered from the earthquake.

"And I remember one thing in particular: To make sure that the money we raised didn't get pocketed by some middleman, you personally went out there and used it to buy aluminum sheet for roofs and other construction materials, and you personally drove it to the airport where it was being packed on trucks or airlifted into the Sierra. The army was there. The police were there. And you were a fugitive. But you went face to face with the governmental authorities to get that aid to the people. I had only known you for a short time but I had already heard the rumors that you were underground. And that's when I knew you were for real.

"And that's when I saw how much you loved Mexico and the people of the Emerald Coast and the mountains behind it. Do you feel that Mexico is your home, even after you have to leave the country to serve out your sentence?"

Tiberio: "Yes, and I will come back. The local authorities have been very supportive. Here, I always behaved. They never bothered me. I really want to thank the entire people of Puerto Escondido for accepting me as their clandestine son, and some of whom have openly cried over my going away."

SalónChingón: "There were a lot of tears at your going away party on April 27th. Some of them were mine. But back to Puerto Escondido: Is there anybody else, here, locally, you'd like to thank as particularly supportive."

Tiberio: "Yes. Georgina Mungaray Cruz, of the Los Delfines Hotel, I call her, "La Madrina Espectacular," and José Luis Mendiola, a partner in the Arcoiris Hotel and in Casa Babylon, I'd like to thank them. And I'd also like to thank the National Institute of Immigration authorities here in Puerto Escondido, who handled my case very professionally and fairly. They could have handled this in a way that barred me from ever returning. But they were pros. Even though I have to go away for a while, I know I was treated fairly here. And of course I'd also like to thank Angela, the hammock seller from Juchitán, who has been such a good friend for so many years."

SalónChingón: "Well, Angela is the biggest tourist attraction left on this beach. In your absence, she's all we've got in terms of rock stars of daily life. So, my friend, Tiberio, I mean, um… Tinarelli… tell us, now: What is your theory of life?"

Tiberio: "Puta! That is a question! I guess it's that 'god helps those who help themselves.' When you have a wish, the entire universe collaborates to make your wish come true. My wish is that someday we'll have another bar in Puerto Escondido."

* * *

And our job, kind readers, is to create that entire universe that makes Tiberio's wish come true. After all, it's our wish, too: Thus, we're already part of that vast universe that is conspiring to make it happen! ¡Ciao Tiberio! ¡Viva Tiberio! Save Tiberio!

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