Sunday, July 11, 2010

Young Man, Ersatz Father, Prayer

That Russian spy ring exposed by American authorities has been in the news quite a bit lately. From this morning's New York City news:
"2 spy kids high & dry"
New York Post (July 11, 2010)

"This spy kid is now an orphan.

"First, Juan Lazaro Jr. learned his father had a secret Russian name and was living a lie -- and that his mom was in cahoots.

"Then the moles of Yonkers copped a plea to avoid prison for espionage and left the 17-year-old piano virtuoso behind.

"Making matters worse, Lazaro Jr. and his 38-year-old brother, Waldo Mariscal, are so broke that they had to turn to the Red Cross for help in their bid to stay in New York, said their mother's lawyer, Carlos Moreno...."
Two points: first, "in cahoots" is an idiom meaning "conspiring together." (

Second, as the Juan Lazaro Jr.'s mother may or may not have known what her husband was up to. As usual when reading the news: it's a good idea to read the whole article - and then think. Here's how that same article ends:
"...Pelaez, 54, passed invisible-ink messages for her husband and picked up a bag of cash from a Russian contact. Her 66-year-old spouse called himself Juan Lazaro Sr., claimed to be from Uruguay, and once worked as a CUNY prof.

"Lazaro Jr. would talk about sports and basketball; he was a LeBron James fan, Virgilio said.

" 'I thought spies were cool, not homely, politely mannered dads,' Virgilio said.

"Lazaro Sr. apparently had the whole family fooled.

"When Pelaez met up with her husband in court before their guilty pleas, she asked him: 'What's your name? What's your real name?' her lawyer recounted."
("2 spy kids high & dry," New York Post)
Did the Pervian lady who was part of Juan Lazaro Sr./Mikhail Vasenkov's cover in this country know how she was being used? That's a reasonable question - for which I don't have an answer.

And, happily, I don't need one. I'm not responsible for any part of the handling of this convoluted espionage case, so my curiosity is just that - curiosity.

Spies? Abandoned Teen? Lying Father? Where's the Catholic Angle?

There are quite a few Catholics in Peru. For that matter, there are quite a few Catholics in New York City. Juan Lazaro Jr. may or may not be Catholic: I don't know.

The 'Catholic angle' in this mess is, for me, noting that Juan Lazaro Jr. - like many other people - isn't in a really cheerful situation just now. My prayer is that he gets the help he needs to make sensible decisions, and get through the next few years.

It sounds like he wants to stay in New York and continue with his piano studies - and try to rebuild the life he had here. The good news is that the person who may actually be his half-brother is staying in this country, and apparently is willing to take him in. Good thing, too, since the house his parents had is being taken by the government.
Off on a Tangent About Names
Back in the sixties, teenagers who moved away from their parents and changed their names to something groovy didn't impress me all that much. In this case, though, Juan Lazaro Jr. didn't move away from his father. His father had been systematically deceiving him for all his life: and finally got caught.

I wouldn't be quite as unsympathetic with Juan if he eventually decided to have his name changed. That "Junior" at the end might seem rather meaningless now, since in at least one sense there never really was a Juan Lazaro Senior.

But, that's Juan's decision.

Prayer Couldn't Hurt

No pressure, but this young man could, I think, use prayers - and that's a sort of support anybody can provide.


Brigid said...

"person why may actually" After a couple reads I see what you mean, but it's kinda awkward.

The Friendly Neighborhood Proofreader

Brian, aka Aluwir, aka Norski said...


Thanks for spotting that. Actually, it's a typo. And fixed.

Thanks again.

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