The Puerto Ricans hosted the Caribbean zonal tournament in 1985, in San Juan. [...] The zonal was well organized by Narciso Rabell Mendez, as were all other tournaments of his that I attended. This was my third zonal, and I finished in the lower half of the field, as usual. The Cubans had the preponderance of chess strength in the Caribbean, and they took the first three places.
The best way to reconcile the contradictory pieces of information was to verify that 1985 San Juan was a subzonal, but how? A library visit wasn't possible and I could find nothing on the web except for a single game reference, William Hook vs Craig van Tilbury; Zonal Tournament (1985) on Chessgames.com (CG).
What about Hook's reference to the Cubans? From my page (C13) 1984-1987 Zonal Cycle, I knew that the Cuban players in the 1985 Caracas zonal were Amador Rodriguez and Jesus Nogueiras, but their player pages on CG didn't mention it. [I did discover, however, that GM Rodriguez was listed on CG as 'Cespedes, Amador Rodriguez' rather than 'Rodriguez Cespedes, Amador', making his record harder to find.]
CG helped by providing a link to GM Rodriguez' personal site, amadorgm.com. I took the liberty of contacting him there to ask if he had any information about the San Juan tournament. Some time later the GM answered,
I did play in San Juan in 1985, a great year, happy times. It was a sub-zonal tournament, there were two spots valid for the zonal tournament that was played next month in Caracas, where I took first and went all the way to play the Interzonal. In Puerto Rico I shared first with GMs Nogueiras and Guillermo Garcia, all of us from Cuba. At the end we had to play a double round match to eliminate one, but Guillermo Garcia had to return home and declined to play those tiebreaks.
That info matched Hook's perfectly, so I thanked GM Rodriguez and wrote this post.