Thursday, February 28, 2013

Cuban Women: Yoani Sanchez Against Rosa Baez

With Diametrically Opposing Views
     Yoani Sanchez {above}, the Cuban dissident blogger who has replaced Luis Posada Carriles as the Western World's favorite anti-Castro zealot, stopped off in Prague on her 80-day worldwide tour that is meticulously designed and craftily programmed to denounce her native country's government. The anti-Castro Czech News Agency {CTKlavishly reported every scathing word without mentioning that the majority of Cubans on the island, including the pro-Castro/pro-Cuban blogger Rosa Baez, strongly disagree with Yoani Sanchez's ubiquitous depictions of the island. For example, in Prague Yoani Sanchez told the welcoming choir not to be "misled" by all the changes taking place on the island and she described conditions on the island as "appalling." But some see things in Cuba as "appealing."
      Rosa C. Baez {aboveis a lifelong Cuban who is quite familiar with the Fulgencio Batista regime in the 1950s and with the regime that replaced it from 1959 till today. She is a prolific writer-photographer on her own blog and on her massive Facebook pages. Of course, the media in the Western World is not interested in what Rosa Baez has to say. Rosa, for example, says that conditions in Batista's Cuba were "appalling" and that Revolutionary Cuba has corrected "most of those sins" although the corrections are still evolving because the sins of Batista...torture-murders of children, rampant illegal drugs, prostitution that included children, wholesale thievery that left the majority of Cubans hungry and without educational opportunities and health care, etc...were so, yes, "appalling." Cuba without Batista "appeals" to Rosa.
    The above photo was taken by Rosa C. Baez, an excellent writer and photographer. She used it on her Facebook page to exemplify modern Cuba, contrasting it with Batista's Cuba. In other words, the two girls were enjoying a carefree day. They are not pampered nor are they spoiled. But they are guaranteed free educations through college and free, high-class heath care for the rest of their lives. But even more importantly, Rosa points out, the two girls above "have zero concern about their safety" because, unlike in pre-revolutionary Cuba or in the United States, "crime and brutality are not a primary concern."
       On her stopover in Prague, Yoani Sanchez said only "one-tenth" of the 11 million Cubans support Fidel Castro. Rosa says Yoani says such things only because she is a puppet {see aboveof the United States and that, if only one-tenth of the Cubans on the island supported Fidel he would have either "been consigned to history decades ago or living snugly in Miami about to celebrate his 87th birthday in August." 
     The above photo shows Rosa C. Baez in Havana flanked by her two daughters. Rosa is glad her daughters have been raised in Revolutionary Cuba as opposed to Batista's Cuba. Moreover, Rosa does not want her daughters or their children to be raised in a Cuba dominated and exploited by a foreign-backed government that is only interested in mistreating the majority and robbing the island of its treasures and resources. As far as Rosa is concerned, "We have been there and done that." Rosa does not want another Batista in Cuba. 
        As far as Rosa Baez is concerned, Yoani Sanchez, like Batista, was made in the USA. In Prague the CTK news agency hailed Yoani's visit: "Castro's secret police persecutes Sanchez because she maintains the independent blog Generacio Y where she criticizes the regime's practices." Rosa says, "She has a nice apartment in Havana and the main thing the authorities worry about is her creating an incident that she can use to show Cuba in a bad light." Rosa also points out that Cuba gave Yoani a passport to travel around the world denouncing Cuba while the United States, on behalf of the anti-Castro Cuban exiles, "will not permit the average American to visit Cuba to see the island for themselves because they would see an island unlike the one portrayed by her and the Miami Mafia." Indeed, Cuba allows Yoani Sanchez to post her blog, to use gigantic Western media outlets to promote her anti-Castro books, and to go on an 80-day anti-Castro speaking tour around the world. Rosa says that's a lot more freedom than the USA affords the average American when it comes to Cuba. And...perhaps she has a point.
     Yoani Sanchez's first stopover was in Brazil where, not unexpectedly, she encountered anti-Yoani protesters. Rosa says, "Cuba does have friends around the world, maybe more than the U. S. because of the U. S. treatment of Cuba since the Mob was chased to Miami. The UN vote each year proves that but, I guess, Americans are not told about that unanimous pro-Cuban vote." NOTE: The sign above held by the Brazilian man called Yoani Sanchez an "agent of the CIA." Rosa Baez does not believe she is but Rosa is correct to point out, I believe, that millions of Latin Americans, concerned with past history, are quick to label anyone who takes the pro-American attitude towards Cuba as "Made in the USA" or "Agents of the CIA." Latin Americans are quite familiar with Fidel Castro; they are also abundantly aware of Fulgencio Batista and other U. S. - backed Latin American dictators. Rosa Baez believes it's time Americans as well as Yoani Sanchez recognize that basic Latin America reality, one that addresses both sides of a two-sided issue.
       Rosa Baez posted on Facebook the above caricature of Yoani Sanchez on her worldwide anti-Castro tour. Rosa is proud Cuba gave Yoani the freedom to make the tour but she believes it is wrong for self-serving anti-Cubans in foreign countries to finance and/or promote it. NOTE: I believe Yoani Sanchez should have the right to say whatever she wants about Fidel Castro wherever she wants to say it. But I also believe Rosa Baez, who remains quite sensitive about the foreign-backed Batista years, has a right to question whether foreign entities "created and are prolonging the Yoani Sanchez phenomenon."
      Although Yoani Sanchez's 80-day tour has been well choreographed to put her in front of friendly audiences and anti-Cuban media, she has been harassed by sentiments Rosa Baez sincerely projects.
Whether or not U. S. dollar bills are flying Yoani around the world is open to conjecture.
But my point is this: 
     The majority of Cubans on the island probably disagree strongly with Yoani Sanchez and I believe it is fair for their opinions, as well as Yoani's, to be expressed, even in the United States. The above photo shows Rosa Baez, fourth from your right, with nine of her very adult Cuban friends. They know all about Batista; and they know all about Castro. They know which one was supported by the U. S., and why; and they know which one is opposed by the U. S., and why. Moreover, they wonder why the U. S. democracy is not strong enough to allow everyday Americans to visit Cuba and judge the island for themselves and not just through the prism of, say, a Yoani Sanchez. Rosa says, "I live modestly in Havana. So does Fidel. And no one is flying us around the world. I'm not jealous of Yoani Sanchez or her lack of modesty. But I know Cuba today is not what she and the folks in Miami say it is. Do I have a right to question why she says what she says? Jose Marti and a lot of other Cubans have fought, and many have died, for my right to question anyone supporting foreigners and not Cubans. Jose Marti fought and died; Fidel Castro fought and lived."
       And that brings us back around to Rosa Baez's photo of the two carefree Cuban girls. They are a part of the Cuban youth, healthy and well educated, that will determine Cuba's post-Castro future. Yes, as Rosa admits, they would like to one day bask in the affluence that could come with the cooperation of the nearby super-power and super-rich United States. But alongside that cooperation, Rosa believes, would be ugly Batista-like accouterments such as...the Mafia, unspeakable crime, rampant prostitution, illegal drugs, greedy businessmen concerned only with what they can take from the island, and seedy gamblers over-running the beautiful island with filthy parties. Does Rosa, a Cuban grand-mother with decades of hard-earned wisdom, have a right to that opinion? And what about the two young girls Rosa photographed? Do they have a right to express an opinion? Or is that right, when it comes to Cuba, reserved for Yoani and her legion of fans that Rosa believes are self-serving, politically correct, and economically ascendant? The U. S.-Cuban conundrum is multi-faceted, not one-dimensional. Fidel Castro did not replace Mother Teresa in Cuba; he replaced Fulgencio Batista and Meyer Lansky.
There is a Cuban woman named Yoani Sanchez. There is also a Cuban woman named Rosa Baez.
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Friday, February 22, 2013

Cuba Helped End U.S. Latin American Dominance

Good for Latin Americans
Not So Good for Americans
    For the last week of February-2013 Time Magazine produced a Special Edition, written by Steven Brill, entitled: "Bitter Pill: Why Medical Bills Are Killing Us." In minute, chilling detail it explains how medical and drug operations in the United States routinely rob Americans and their government of billions of dollars in a manner that would make Mafia kingpins like Al Capone envious. As Time points out, a trip to an emergency room or a brief stay in a hospital could and does cost the patients or the U. S. government not only tens of millions of dollars but hundreds of millions of dollars hourly! Investigative reporter Brill documents such charges as: $7 for the ink used by a pen to write an "x" next to an alleged procedure; $12 for a tiny paper cup used when a nurse gives a pill to a patient; etc.; etc. All of this, of course, occurs daily because such medical and drug operations can contribute millions of dollars to members of the U. S. Congress and candidates for the White House who, in turn, lushly create laws that allow their benefactors to rape and rob Americans at will. This past summer the U. S. Supreme Court astonished democracy lovers by allowing special interests to donate huge amounts of money to politicians, thus putting and keeping bought-and-paid-for incumbents in office for decades to do the bidding of...special interests.  
       This week's revelations by Time Magazine are reminders of how (1) U. S. companies such as The United Fruit Company quite legally once raped and robbed Caribbean and Latin American nations at will and how (2) The Cuban Revolution's overthrow of the U. S. - backed Batista dictatorship on Jan. 1-1959 immediately ended such practices in Cuba and later throughout the Caribbean and Latin America.
      For many decades, the United Fruit Company and other U. S. companies, backed by the overwhelming U. S. military, unmercifully plundered helpless Caribbean and Latin American nations. The American people were kept in the dark and, when the gruesome facts filtered out, United Fruit Company changed its name to Chiquita. Thus, the graphic above resonates in the Caribbean and Latin America.
    Above is the United Fruit ship SS Abangarez in 1945 on its way to New Orleans with its plunder.
    United Fruit was headquartered in Boston but this was the facade of its New Orleans office.
    John Foster Dulles {above, right} was President Dwight Eisenhower's Secretary of State from 1953 till 1959. Dulles's law firm represented the United Fruit Company and Dulles was a major share-holder. In the 1950s Dulles and other powerful right-wingers, such as Senator Joe McCarthy and Eisenhower's Vice President Richard Nixon, made political and financial hay by accusing any and every opposition of being "communist." In that manner they could be backed by the unmatched power of the U. S. military. Thus, in Guatemala in 1954 when a democratically elected government took over and vowed to end the United Fruit Company's rape and robbery of that nation, U. S. Secretary of State Dulles, on behalf of the United Fruit Company, induced the U. S. military and the CIA to assist in the overthrow of that democratically elected Guatemalan government to install a military dictatorship that would allow the United Fruit Company to continue raping and robbing the nation of Guatemala of its resources and dignity.
       In 1954, the very year John Foster Dulles instigated the overthrow of the democratically elected Guatemalan government to install a military dictatorship, Time Magazine honored John Foster Dulles as its "Man of the Year." To this day, John Foster Dulles is often called the all-time most powerful and most brilliant U. S. Secretary of State because of sanitized school books and biased journalism.
       Allen Dulles, the younger brother of John Foster Dulles, was Director of the CIA from 1953 till 1961 when he was fired by new President John Kennedy who commented, "If I could I would blow the CIA to Smithereens!" Kennedy had inherited Allen Dulles from the Eisenhower administration and that inheritance included CIA plans to murder Fidel Castro and re-capture Cuba. And, uh, oh yes! Allen Dulles was also a Board Member and major stock-holder of the United Fruit Company that had robbed Cuba blind before Fidel Castro booted it off the island. So, like the powerful U. S. State Department run by his brother, Allen Dulles' CIA had ample reason to over-throw democratically elected Latin American governments that were attempting to curtail foreign entities like the United Fruit Company from brutally robbing their countries at will. The CIA, the Mafia, and the State Department all hated Castro!
       You can read all about Allen Dulles in Peter Grose's biography or in many other books. But a simple Google search will be sufficient. The Wikipedia bio of Allen Dulles, for example, has a major section under the title: "Involvements in Coups Against Iran and Guatemala." In Iran, the CIA teamed with British interests to overthrow the democratically elected government of Mohammad Mossadeq to put in the dictatorship of the Shah of Iran, Reza Pahlavi. The Shah's allowing foreign companies to loot Iran led to the Islamic Revolution that, to this day, is a huge problem for this generation of Americans. In Guatemala, the 1954 coup eliminated the still revered democratically elected President Jacobo Arbenz Guzman to make way for a military dictatorship that, thanks to kick-backs, would allow U. S. companies, like the Dulles-connected United Fruit Company, to continue to rape and rob that country blind. And -- oh, yes! -- if the U. S. military was needed to help the CIA conquests...no problem. The U. S. citizens would simply be told, "Mossadeq (or Arbenz or whomever) is a communist and his government would have started a domino effect in the region." Everyone in those helpless countries as well as history knew that was a lie...everyone, as it turned out, except us not-too-bright U. S. citizens who, for too long, were content to be kept in the dark or easily lied to. Also, all bios of Allen Dulles credit him with creating what history calls "Operation 40." In all of history, Operation 40 is one of the most vicious assassination and terrorist outfits. In the Wikipedia bio of Allen Dulles, for example, another of the major sections is headlined: "Sabotage Against Cuba: Operation 40." The sabotage against Cuba included such things as blowing up of a ship in Havana Harbor that killed 75 innocent people as well as countless assassinations and, of course, innumerable assassination attempts against Fidel Castro, the man "Operation 40" most hated. 
      Of course, even the mainstream U. S. media, such as Time Magazine, kept telling Americans what a great, great man Allen Dulles was. Long after the Dulles brothers were gone would insightful Americans begin to learn about what the coups in Guatemala, Iran, and elsewhere were all about; what John Kennedy's comment about blowing the CIA to smithereens was all about; what Operation 40 was all about; and what the United Fruit Company was all about. Rogues in the U. S. government, like the Dulles brothers, got most of their power not because they have access to the CIA and U. S. military to back up their greedy intentions in helpless countries but because men like the Dulles brothers had/have the power to "classify" data that will keep their actions secret "in the national interest." If and when that data is finally de-classified it becomes apparent that most of the "classified" material was hidden to protect individuals, not the nation. That's why investigative journalists such as Jack Anderson, James Bamford, Robert Parry, Gary Webb, Tracey Eaton, etc., were/are the best friends a democracy ever had because their work has been to crack the veils of secrecy that cover-up greedy acts by so-called public servants.
      The Colombia-born, now 85-year-old Gabriel Garcia Marquez is generally considered the all-time greatest Latin American writer. His most famous book is "One Hundred Years of Solitude." It is based on an event in Colombia when soldiers, on behalf of the United Fruit Company, massacred up to 2,000 workers who had merely asked for better wages and working conditions.
Not coincidentally, Gabriel Garcia Marquez's best friend since 1958 is Fidel Castro.
      The 85-year-old Gabriel Garcia Marquez frequently visits Havana to check on the ailing 86-year-old Fidel Castro. Gabriel Garcia Marquez says, "If it were not for Fidel Castro, I'm afraid the United Fruit Company and the CIA would still own the entire Caribbean and all of Latin America."
       The great American writer Gore Vidal was born in 1925 and died on July 31, 2012. He was renowned for his patrician manner and witty aphorisms. His great novel "Dark Green, Bright Red" -- depicting the color of a green banana and red blood -- was based on the United Fruit Company's rape and robbery of Guatemala following the coup that overturned the democratically elected government. In a famous essay, Gore Vidal wrote: "When the CIA and the Mafia started really attacking Cuba in 1960, the most pertinent words a revolutionary leader ever said were spoken by Fidel Castro. In a broadcast he told the CIA, 'Cuba is not another Guatemala.' And it seems he meant it because Cuba is not another Guatemala."
       The Cuban Revolution figures into this narrative about the United Fruit Company, the Dulles brothers, the CIA, coups in Third World nations, and Time Magazine's new Special Edition this week about how U. S. hospitals and drug companies literally and LEGALLY rob American citizens and the U. S. government blind. For two generations the U. S. media and the U. S. government have vilified and demeaned the Cuban Revolution as a means of justifying the rape and robbery of Cuba from 1952 till 1959 by the U. S. - backed Batista-Mafia dictatorship. But in the year 2013 all 33 countries in the Caribbean and Latin America, in unanimity, agree that, while the Cuban Revolution can be legitimately criticized for many things, it also: (1) Inspired the rest of the Caribbean and Latin America to believe that they, too, could rebel against foreign domination; and (2) Sparked a wave of nationalism throughout the Caribbean and Latin America that eventually spawned the waves of democracy that no longer could simply and routinely be overthrown by foreign powers. Today, the democratically elected Presidents of countries like Brazil, Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua, etc., were inspired to switch from being rebels to politicians because they idolized what the Cuban Revolution did to the U. S. in a David-vs.-Goliath fashion.
      For example, that's the 20-year-old Dilma Rousseff bravely facing a military court after she tried to replicate the Cuban Revolution and overthrow a U. S. - backed dictatorship in Brazil. She spent three years in a military prison where she was unmercifully tortured. She's come a long way since then.
Today Dilma Rousseff is the democratically elected President of Brazil, the Latin American superpower.
    And today...President Barack Obama wishes he and the United States had as much influence in the Caribbean and Latin America as Dilma Rousseff and Brazil enjoys. After her election, President Rousseff let President Obama kiss her but she does not let him tell Brazil what to do when it comes to the Caribbean, Latin America, or Cuba. She is a dear friend of Cuba and Fidel Castro.
    In fact, President Rousseff of Brazil is amazed that the American people have "for so long allowed their own democracy to suffer so much worldwide ridicule by permitting a few Cuban exiles to rule America's Cuban policy." An interesting but not surprising comment from a powerful Latin American lady.
   President Rousseff of Brazil likes President Obama of the U. S. and believes he is a "well-intentioned man." Yet, she told Cristina Fernandez, the democratically elected President of Argentina, she "felt sorry for him" because even President Obama is "not strong enough to fix or even dent  the U. S. Cuban policy."
    President Obama and his Secretary of State, John Kerry, both want to end the U. S. embargo of Cuba. But they can't because a handful of now second generation Cuban-Americans won't let them. Both President Obama and Secretary Kerry want to remove Cuba from the very short U. S. list of "Sponsors of Terrorism." But they can't because a handful of now second generation Cuban-Americans won't let them. President Rousseff feels sorry for the U. S. democracy because of that, and so do the Presidents of almost every other nation in the world. Inextricably linked to Cuba, it's been that way since 1959.
    In the above photo John Kerry is at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville Feb. 20-2013 making his first foreign policy speech as Secretary of State. He didn't mention Cuba because he apparently did not have permission to do so from a handful of second generation Cuban-Americans.
       And that's why my new hero is this superb investigative reporter Steven Brill. He wrote this week's Time Magazine Special Edition about how hospitals and drug companies literally and LEGALLY rob Americans and the U. S. government blind. As I read Brill's brilliant documentation, it reminded me of how, in decades past, the United Fruit Company literally and LEGALLY robbed Cuba and other Latin American nations blind until the Cuban Revolution began to show those nations that they could, indeed, resist.
     By the way, I'm a very poor man with a low IQ but my thirst for knowledge has me paying for subscriptions to Time Magazine, ESPN Magazine, and seven other magazines in addition to USA Today. In honor of Michael Jordan's 50th birthday, ESPN Magazine this week has a book-length article about the former basketball player it says has the most recognizable name in the world. The article indicates easy endorsement money, especially from Nike, has made Jordan a billionaire who owns an NBA team, his own jet, many mansions, etc. But it was Jordan's Cuban connections that intrigued me most. In the above Jeff Haynes/Reuters photo Jordan is enjoying one of his favorite pastimes...smoking a Cuban cigar, which I thought was illegal to have in the U. S. but, remember, Jordan is a billionaire with his own jet and rich enough to have his own set of rules. The rich and powerful, you know, are different from you and me.
       The Chris Weeks photo above shows Michael Jordan with his fiance. Her name is Yvette Prieto and she is Cuban-American. Unlike the Cuban cigars that Mr. Jordan also loves, she is legal and healthful.
        Michael Jordan reportedly lost $168 million to his ex-wife Juanita in their divorce settlement. But he is still a billionaire, thanks to Nike, and he still has his jets, his NBA team, his yachts, his mansions, his golf clubs and courses, his truly beautiful Cuban-American finance, and, of course, his Cuban cigars. In other words, capitalism and Cuba go together like bananas and the United Fruit Company. 
     Fidel Castro, of course, is also famous for his love of Cuban cigars. But he quit smoking in 1984 in hopes of influencing Cuban children "not to smoke because it's not a healthy thing to do."
President John Kennedy also loved Cuban cigars.
      Pierre Salinger, President Kennedy's Press Secretary, revealed in 1992 just how much his boss loved Cuban cigars. Kennedy was about to sign into law the U. S. embargo against Cuba but he told Salinger to postpone the signing until he, the President, received a box of 1200 Cohiba cigars that he had ordered from Havana, cigars that the embargo out-lawed. After getting the cigars, Kennedy signed the embargo law on Feb. 3, 1962. Notice in Mr. Salinger's right hand that President Kennedy obviously gave one of those cigars to his Press Secretary. Because it came the day before the embargo, it was a legal cigar.
       Of course, even though the embargo against Cuba remains a relic of the Cold War and a symbol of why a U. S. - backed overthrown dictatorship should not be allowed to reconstitute itself on U. S. soil, rich and powerful Americans have little trouble obtaining genuine hand-crafted cigars from Cuba. Otherwise, for the most part, the embargo Kennedy signed on Feb. 3-1962 remains in place till this very day to appease a handful of Cuban-American radicals even if President Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry, most Americans, most Cuban-Americans, and almost all of the people around the world want it ended. So much for democracy! President Dilma Rousseff of Brazil says the Cuban Revolution "exposed the frailty of the American democracy." So did mild Cuban cigars. And so did the infamous United Fruit Company. 
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Monday, February 18, 2013

Two Cubans: Yoani Sanchez & Melba Hernandez

With Two Very Different Stories
{Updated: Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2013}
         The above AFP photo shows Cuban dissident Yoani Sanchez arriving in Brazil on the first leg of her 80-day worldwide anti-Castro tour Monday, February 18, 2013. As she debarked at Recife, she said, "Long live democracy. I want this democracy in my country, too" according to the AFP article from Sao Paulo on Feb. 19th. She was "welcomed by friends, supporters and journalists...and also by pro-Cuban protesters who waved signs accusing her of being 'Yoani: agent of the CIA.'" She said she didn't think the Cuban government would prevent her returning to the island at the end of the tour. "I want to stay in Cuba, to help the Cubans," she said. "I don't want to be a migrant Yoani Sanchez in another country."
    Melba Hernandez, the legendary Cuban depicted above, says, "Yoani Sanchez, once she gets to Miami on her world tour to demean Cuba, should stay forever in Miami. That's where she belongs." 
                                     
       Melba Hernandez knows more about Fidel Castro, Cuba, dictators, and democracy than Yoani Sanchez will ever know. Melba was born in 1921 in Cruces, Las Villas province, Cuba. She graduated from the University of Havana Law School in 1943 and was known as a fierce children's advocate.
    The above photo shows Melba Hernandez standing behind the bench in the white blouse next to her best friend, Haydee Santamaria. The two women sitting on the bench are Haydee's sisters, Aida and Ada. This iconic photo was taken by young journalist Marta Rojas and the original is kept today in the Archives Section of Casa de las Americas, the famed Latin American journalism/arts foundation that Haydee created in Havana in 1959, with  similar branches later opening in Paris, France, and Madrid, Spain.
       The above Marta Rojas photo shows Melba Hernandez on your left with Haydee Santamaria. By the time this photo was taken, Melba and Haydee had made an indelible vow: They would overthrow the U. S. - backed Batista-Mafia dictatorship in Cuba or they would die trying. At these moments in time, the two young women were conspiring with Haydee's brother Abel and with a young lawyer named Fidel Castro to make their first audacious rebel attack against the Batista-Mafia regime. Melba and Haydee not only helped plan the attack, they were participants. Melba, Haydee, Abel, and Fidel rented a farmhouse in Oriente province outside the southeastern city of Santiago de Cuba. In that farmhouse the plan was finalized for 138 rebels to attack the Moncada Army Barracks on the edge of Santiago while 26 other rebels, led by the then teenage Frank Pais, attacked a smaller Batista barracks in Bayama as a diversion.
The Moncada Attack began at 5:00 A.M. on July 26, 1953. 
      It was a disaster for the rebels because Batista's Moncada soldiers {above} were far better armed and they had been tipped off about the attack. All of the rebels were either killed or captured. As was Batista's custom, each prisoner was tortured, to solicit information, and then murdered. As that grim process unfolded, the New York Times and other media exposed it, creating embarrassment in Washington. Among the prisoners were Melba Hernandez, Haydee Santamaria, and Fidel Castro. Haydee's brother Abel and her fiance were tortured to death and then their warm testicles rubbed over Haydee's chest while she was tied to a chair. But before Melba, Haydee, and Fidel were tortured and then murdered, the U. S. induced Batista to cease the gruesome torture-murders, at least while the media was managing to chronicle them. Thus, Batista conducted show trials and sentenced Melba, Haydee, and Fidel to prison.
     While in prison, Fidel Castro got word to urban underground leaders Celia Sanchez and Frank Pais to make the failed Moncada attack the theme of the rebellion. Thus, "M-26-7" posters -- meaning "Moncada 26th of July" -- became ubiquitous and, to this day, that symbol is used to define the revolution.
   To appease his supporters in Washington, Batista allowed trusted journalists to interview the two imprisoned females, Melba Hernandez and Haydee Santamaria. In the photo above, that is the young, black Havana journalist Marta Rojas talking with prisoners Melba Hernandez, in the middle, and Haydee Santamaria! Marta was also permitted to interview the imprisoned Fidel Castro. Unknown to Batista, Marta supported the rebels. Amazingly, Marta took notes Fidel had written to Celia Sanchez from his cell in her bra and got them into the underground and on their way to Celia far away in the Sierra Maestra! 
     After the triumph of the Cuban Revolution on Jan. 1-1959, the young journalist Marta Rojas {above} introduced Fidel Castro for his very first televised speech to the Cuban people!
A young Marta Rojas was already a renowned Latin American journalist.
Marta Rojas {in the center above} was an award-winning Vietnam War correspondent.
On the left above, Marta had some close calls on the Vietnam War front-lines.
       Marta Rojas today -- as a journalist, author, and historian -- knows more about Fidel Castro, the Cuban Revolution, and Cuba than any soul alive, including Yoani Sanchez. My favorite Marta Rojas book -- "Tania: The Unforgettable Guerrilla" -- was first published by Random House in the 1970s. Of course, no one is sponsoring a world tour for Marta to express her views on Fidel Castro or Cuba.
The above Tracey Eaton photo shows Marta Rojas in her Havana home.
     From July-1953 till May-1955 Fidel Castro was Prisoner #3859 on the Isle of Pines in Batista's Cuba. But the Moncada attack had made him the super hero in the eyes of the vast majority of Cubans.
     Herbert Lionel Mathews {left}, a key writer for the New York Times, loved Fidel Castro and hated Fulgencio Batista. His scathing articles embarrassed the U. S. to such an extent that Washington induced Batista to free Fidel from prison. Batista complied but, of course, put a team of assassins on Fidel's trail with the intention of killing him on the outside beyond the prying eyes of journalists like Mathews.
Thus, on May 15-1955 Fidel Castro {above} left Batista's prison! 
         As a free man, although quite cognizant of the murder squads tailing him, Fidel's first order of business {abovewas to meet and comfort Melba Hernandez {left} and Haydee Santamaria, the two female rebels who had been unmercifully tortured for almost two years in Batista's prison.
     Haydee Santamaria then rushed to the Sierra Maestra where she and Celia Sanchez would carve out niches as history's two all-time greatest female revolutionary warriors. The photo above shows Haydee and Celia leading a guerrilla detail in the Sierra Maestra. Their facial expressions, fearless and determined, defined both of them as well as the revolutionary war that defeated Batista.
      In December, 1956 -- after his recruitment exile to the U. S. and Mexico -- Fidel Castro finally joined the two female guerrilla fighters in the Sierra Maestra. In the above photo, that is the heavily armed Celia Sanchez {center} and Haydee Santamaria showing Fidel how to handle a weapon they gave him.
    Two weeks earlier {above} Celia Sanchez had given Fidel his first telescopic rifle in the Sierra Maestra. This is the first photo ever taken of them together although, via the exchange of notes while he was in prison, they had already become everlastingly worshipful of each other.
      And never in his long life would Fidel Castro forget that Celia Sanchez and Haydee Santamaria {above} were the two greatest warriors, male or female, in the revolutionary war against Batista.
      After the triumph of the Cuban Revolution on Jan. 1-1959, the three most powerful people in Cuba were the three soul-mates pictured above -- Fidel flanked by Celia and Haydee. That fact, of course, is conveniently denied to this day by the losers of the Cuban Revolution who re-established their ultra-powerful dictatorship in nearby Miami. In all the decades since 1959 the Cuban exiles in Miami have found it convenient to demonize the macho men of the revolution but impossible to demonize Celia and Haydee, the angelic female guerrilla fighters who opposed the Batista regime because of its abuse of Cuban children, a glaring mistake that eventually doomed the powerful Batista-U.S.-Mafia rule in Cuba. Celia died of cancer on Jan. 11, 1980. Shortly, devastated by Celia's death, Haydee committed suicide. 
      Celia Hart Santamaria {above}, the daughter of Haydee Santamaria and fellow rebel Armando Hart, confirmed in a famous 2005 essay about Haydee and Celia that her mother's suicide was solely because of Celia Sanchez's death. Celia Hart, who was named after Celia Sanchez, became a prolific writer but she and her older brother Abel, who was named after Haydee's brother Abel, were both killed in a car wreck in Havana on September 7, 2008, as they drove to assist Cubans left homeless by three back-to-back hurricanes. In her 2005 essay Celia Hart also identified Reynaldo Coloma as Haydee's finance that was tortured to death, along with Haydee's brother Abel, when they were Batista prisoners in 1953.
    The repetitious murders of children in Batista's Cuba, intended as a warning to potential dissidents, infuriated the female half of the Cuban population and eventually spelled defeat for Batista's dictatorship. Quite clearly, as explained by historian Terence Cannon in his book Revolutionary Cuba, Cuban women -- Celia Sanchez, Haydee Santamaria, Vilma Espin, Melba Hernandez, Tete Puebla, Marta Rojas, etc. -- provided the decisive edge in the war against Batista. In the year 2013, women are the majority in Cuba's National Assembly. And since 1959 there have been no murders of children to quell dissent.
The photo above shows Melba Hernandez and Haydee Santamaria in Batista's prison.
     The above photo shows Melba Hernandez and Haydee Santamaria as Batista prisoners. It was a day in which they were being taken back to their cells after having been unmercifully tortured in the basement.
     Melba Hernandez is still alive and therefore a living legend in Cuba and around the world. Two modern countries -- Vietnam and Cambodia -- have recently awarded Melba their highest civilian honors and medals for her yeoman work on behalf of children in those two countries. As an anti-Batista warrior and as a humanitarian obsessed with the welfare of children, Melba has a plethora of memories...about Celia, Haydee, Batista, Fidel, the Cuban Revolution and Revolutionary Cuba. She is a Cuban treasure.
Yoani Sanchez has just embarked on a lucrative, 80-day anti-Castro tour. 
Perhaps Melba Hernandez could embark on an 80-day anti-Batista tour.
Today's {Feb. 20th} Jamaica Observer gem: Jobs to China for cheap labor.
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