Justifiable Evil by Mario J. Pabon
Justifiable Evil by Mario J. Pabon
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Puerto Rico is poised to petition Congress to become its 51st state, which would give the island more Congressional representatives than half of the fifty states in the Union, and permanently alter the balance of American politics. To those favoring the independence of Puerto Rico, this is nothing short of an unmitigated disaster.
Professing to sympathize with the pro-independence movement, an Al Qaeda-like organization gathers the most violent factions of the island’s independence movement, including the dreaded Macheteros, and even secures the covert aid of a Venezuelan special army unit that provides the heavier, sophisticated weapons that the operation will require. Together, they blow up the four bridges that span the Condado Lagoon and connect San Juan—Puerto Rico’s capital and home to about fifty thousand people—to the rest of the island. They capture the “Grand Laguna Hotel”, San Juan’s principal tourist resort; La Fortaleza, the Governor’s mansion; and the Mardi Gras, a cruise ship docked in Old San Juan. They hope that the insurrection will stop dead in its track the statehood movement, when Congress is faced with the prospect—as one terrorist phrases it—of “swallowing up a source of permanent indigestion”.
While the insurrection takes place and the attention of the world is riveted on the hostages, the Al Qaeda group—headed by the charismatic Angel San Miguel—secretly plants a “device” in one of Old San Juan’s long forgotten tunnels, to be used several months later, during the G-20 Conference that is to held in the walled city.
Lucas Alfaro, an ex-Army Ranger who works in his family’s small business, is unwillingly drawn into the conflict after his godson, an eight-year old boy spending the night in the Governor’s mansion with his best friend, the Governor’s son, is captured by the terrorists. Failing to convince the Macheteros that his godson is of no value to them, Lucas finds himself desperately fighting for his life and that of the other hostages in La Fortaleza and in the tunnels of Old San Juan. They are relentlessly pursued by El Alacran, the leader of the Macheteros, who is set on killing the Governor and his family.
John McFadden is a gigolo who travels on board the Mardi Gras, the cruise ship captured by the terrorists. As he is about to disembark with his present companion, the Countess of Gilly, a ship steward warns them that “pirates” have taken over the ship. The three evade capture and hide inside the Mardi Gras. Risking their lives, they try to help their fellow passengers, and attempt to guide a unit of Navy SEALs to free the ship.
Michelle Alfaro, Lucas’ sister and a television news reporter, is caught in the middle of a firefight where the Venezuelans destroy and burn San Juan’s principal police station. Michelle manages to escape, and with the help of a rookie policeman and an illegal lottery numbers vendor, she infiltrates the Grand Laguna Hotel, where more than two thousand guests are trapped in the main ballroom, and where the terrorists have threatened to throw one hostage from the hotel’s roof every hour—in front of all of the international news organizations transmitting from the other side of the Condado Lagoon—unless their demands are met. Michelle and her two companions, as well as two SWAT officers stranded from a prior rescue attempt, slip through the terrorists’ lines and succeed in capturing the ballroom where the hostages are kept. They desperately try to ward off various fierce counterattacks from the terrorists while the government attempts a night rescue.
Having accomplished planted the “device”, the Al-Qaeda group withdraws, abandoning their Puerto Rican allies to their fate.
Several months later, as the G-20 leaders meet in Old San Juan, San Miguel and two of his most dangerous associates return to the ancient city, to make certain that the “device” they planted is operating properly, However, their paths accidentally cross with that of Lucas Alfaro, leading to the book’s finale.
About the author:
Mario J Pabon is a former partner and a litigating attorney of the law firm of O’Neill & Borges, in San Juan, Puerto Rico. He retired in 2008, and moved to Tampa, Florida, where he still resides with his wife Cira.
“Justifiable Evil” is his first novel.