Sunday, March 29, 2015

Cuba: A Past & A Present

The Great Compensation Debate
Essay posted: Monday, March 30th, 2015
    This photo was provided to the AP by Carolyn Chester of Omaha, Nebraska. It shows a rich American, her father Edmund Chester, on the left, during a friendly exchange in 1939 with his dear friend, Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista. An American journalist, Chester had become associated with Batista during the first Batista dictatorship, which began in 1933. After a lucrative decade as Cuba's dictator, Batista was content to live the life of a very rich man, mostly in South Florida. But Batista's friend there, Mafia kingpin Meyer Lansky, wanted "the Mob to own its own country." Batista obliged and in 1952 returned as Cuba's dictator with Lansky the co-dictator. Batista's old friends, such as Edmund Chester, took notice. Chester soon owned radio stations all over the island and other luxurious toys such as an 80-acre farm. Chester also invested $250,000 {1950s money} in A T & T stock in Cuba. Batista, Lansky, and Americans like Mr. Chester were seemingly too busy buying up Cuba and building such things as plush new hotel-casinos that they didn't fully appreciate the rebel revolt on the eastern end of the island even as it began to fight its way westward by the beginning of 1958. Batista's first reaction to the rebel affront was sheer brutality against the peasants, including the children. He thought such brutality would discourage any resistance. The brutality, especially against children, embarrassed Batista's main supporter, the U. S. government. That finally induced Washington to stop arming Batista's army. In the last week of 1958 the rebels captured the railroad hub of Santa Clara, the signal for Batista, Lansky, and other leaders of the Batista-Mafia dictatorship to head to their getaway boats, ships, and airplanes. The triumphant rebels turned out to be serious about ending the one-sided hedonism on the island. By daylight on January 1, 1959, the lush casinos were being destroyed. Shortly, the maligned peasants were being housed in the luxurious mansions left behind by the Batistianos, Mafiosi, and Americans. And soon, much property, which the rebels considered ill-gotten, was nationalized. The rich Batistianos and Mafiosi, having shipped huge sums of money off the island, fared well as they regrouped in places like the Mafia havens of South Florida and Union City, New Jersey. Rich American businessmen booted out of Cuba, like Edmund Chester, fared less well and to this day they, or their heirs, are still trying to be compensated for their Cuban losses.
       For example, this AP/Nati Harnik photo shows Edmund Chester's daughter Carolyn this year in her Omaha home. She is holding up "Cuban Telephone Company" stock certificates that were a part of her father's huge investment in Batista-era A T & T stock. Carolyn, like many other heirs in America, believes she should recoup her father's investment. In fact, since 1959 and especially since the 1980s, Cuban-Americans have had iron grips on both America's Cuban policy and on Cuban-related laws mandated by the U. S. Congress. In that milieu, in 1996 the U. S. Congress used the Helms-Burton Law to mandate that Cuba must compensate people like Carolyn before the U. S. government can end or ease the embargo against Cuba. As the month of April dawns in the year 2015, President Barack Obama is trying to use Executive Privilege to compete with Helms-Burton but in all likelihood the current Batistiano-controlled U. S. Congress will prevail because the Congress is much more malleable {much more easily purchased}.
         From 1952 till 1959 the majority Cuban peasants lived in abject poverty while the U.S.-backed Batista dictatorship helped the Batistianos, the Mafiosi, and U. S. businessmen use the island as a piggy-bank.
         The poverty of the majority peasants in Cuba during the Batista dictatorship will not likely factor into any U. S. discussions of dual compensation because, as far as Americans have been told, photos like this were not commonplace in Batista's Cuba. But yes, in Batista's Cuba this was an ignored but typical scene.
     Of course, poverty for the many amid extreme wealth for a few was only a secondary cause for the Cuban Revolution. The primary cause were brave marches like these by Cuban mothers protesting the murders of their children in Batista's Cuba. This photo explains why and how the female-fueled Cuban Revolution ousted Batista. As discussions about compensating Americans and Cuban-Americans heats up in 2015, should compensation, or at least an apology, for mothers like these at least be a consideration?
       Throughout Cuba and throughout the Caribbean and Latin America to this day, relatives and friends of the victims of Cubana Flight 455 vividly remember and deeply mourn the loss of all 73 innocent souls on that civilian airplane bombed out of the sky by a terrorist bomb, one of many unpunished terrorist acts against innocent Cubans. With former CIA operative Posada Carriles to this day a heralded citizen of Miami, many Caribbeans and Latin Americans believe it is ironic that the U. S., to appease the anti-Castro extremists, is the only nation in the world that believes Cuba should be on the U. S. Sponsor of Terrorism list. And those same people wonder if all the talk about compensation for Americans will also include some talk of compensation for the families of the victims depicted above? {Two dozen aboard Cubana Flight 455 were young Cuban athletes returning to the island after winning gold medals in the Central American Championships in Caracas. Most of the doomed young Cubans aboard Cubana Flight 455 were fencers.}
         This Cuban girl had been waiting with her mother at Jose Marti Airport in Havana for the return of her teenage brother on Cubana Flight 455. Is it too late for this girl, now a woman, to be compensated?
A Cuban remembering Cubana Flight 455.
        While the fate of Cubana Flight 455 remains an integral part of Cuba's and America's past, this Torsten Maiwald photo is more recent. This is a Cubana airliner preparing to land at Toronto's Pearson Airport.
         The U. S. embargo against Cuba has been in effect since 1962, severely harming the lives of everyday Cubans decade after decade. As indicated yearly by a vote in the United Nations, the rest of the countries around the world believe the embargo is unjustified and merely sates the insatiable revenge motive of a handful of Cuban-Americans. And if that is not so, how can the U. S. account for the yearly UN vote?  
By the way............. 
........this is the yellow hacienda in Biran, Cuba, where Fidel Castro was born  in 1926.
Today Biran is a bucolic little Cuban town 500 miles east of Havana.
       This is Fidel Castro on his last visit to his childhood home in Biran, Cuba. He was surprised to notice that a photo of him as a youth still hung on a wall. There are no monuments or statues in Cuba honoring Fidel Castro and he has never allowed his childhood home to become a shrine. His father, Angel, was a multi-millionaire farmer. But the Castro property was nationalized by Fidel, much to the chagrin of his mother Lina. When Fidel sent his older brother Ramon to tell Lina that she would have to leave because her home-place was going to be flooded to help peasant farmers, Lina fetched her .22-caliber rifle and chased Ramon off the property. Then Lina summoned Celia Sanchez, knowing Celia could over-rule Fidel, which she did as Lina requested. Greed has never been one of Fidel Castro's faults. At age 88 today, he is living out his life in a modest home in Havana; most of his severest critics, through two generations, have lived in mansions. Till his revolutionary soul-mate Celia Sanchez died in 1980, Fidel's primary home was her small apartment at Calle 11 {11th Street} in the Vedado section of Havana. Celia and Fidel also maintained an office-suite in the Habana Libre Hotel but, after repeated assassination attempts, his security detail always preferred to have him at the more secure compound located at 166 Street in the Siboney area. 
Lina Castro, Fidel's mother.
Lina Castro, shown here with her rifle and pistol, was a tough cookie.
Angel Castro, Fidel's rich father.
       This photo was taken on January 8th, 1959. Fidel Castro was making his first speech in Havana after the triumph of the Cuban Revolution when a white dove landed on his left shoulder. The dove was one of several released to highlight the speech. Camilo Cienfuegos had requested the doves. The triumph of the Cuban Revolution was sealed on January 1st, 1959 when the leaders of the Batista dictatorship fled a rebel army, led by Camilo Cienfuegos and Che Guevara, that was charging toward Havana after capturing the railroad hub of Santa Clara. Fidel and his soul-mate Celia Sanchez had taken almost a week on a dilatory trek from Santiago de Cuba on the island's eastern tip to reach the capital city of Havana in western Cuba, setting the stage for the January 8th, 1959 speech by Fidel in Havana that spotlighted the white dove. 
       This photo was taken on January 8th, 1989. It shows Fidel Castro making a speech on the 30th anniversary of his first Havana speech in 1959. In honor of the white dove that landed on Fidel's left shoulder in 1959, the white dove in this photo thirty years later was admittedly placed on Fidel's right shoulder.  It's not known how long it stayed there but it obviously was long enough for the photo to be taken. The omen of the original white dove has been debated since 1959 by pro-and-con Castro zealots. Earlier, till reminded by a reader, I had gotten the dove on his right shoulder in 1989 confused with the dove on his left shoulder in 1959. A sharp reader cleared up my lugubrious confusion. {see comments}
       This is Fidel Castro in January of 1959 when Edward R. Murrow introduced him to America as the new leader of Cuba. A 3 minute and 55 second excerpt {aboveof that interview is available on YouTube.
         In 1959 when he interviewed Fidel Castro on his "Person to Person" program, Edward R. Murrow was America's top journalist. He asked Fidel, "Will you now cut your beard off? Fidel replied with these exact words: "When we fulfill our promise of good government, I will cut my beard." Mr. Murrow was taken aback by that answer. More than 56 years later, cynics will note that, to this day, Fidel still has not cut his beard.
The bearded Fidel Castro, at age 88 in 2015 -- moody and contemplative.
An historic fact from 1962.
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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Miami-Cubans vs.The World

The World Is The Underdog
Updated: Sunday, March 29th, 2015
    Fumio Kishida is the Foreign Minister of Japan. This week he requested permission to visit Cuba in April. Japan is interested in investments in Cuba, particularly regarding infrastructure projects and mineral resource development. Japan's significant overture is a product of America's ongoing attempt to normalize relations with Cuba, at least in regards to easing or ending the embargo that has been in place since 1962. Because of the U. S. status as the world's economic and military superpower, nations such as Japan have capitulated to U. S. influence when it comes to Cuba. Miami Cubans have taken full advantage of that fact to dictate to the U. S. Congress and to foreign nations that any positive actions regarding Cuba are strictly verboten. President Obama's bold and sane overtures toward Cuba are now being reciprocated by other key nations, including Japan. Of course, such positive developments spawn vicious reactions from Miami Cubans who believe they alone should dictate U.S.-Cuban relations. 
       This is Pedro Luis Pedroso, one of the rising stars in Cuba. He already has an impressive title: Deputy Director for Multilateral Affairs and International Law. This week -- Thursday, March 26th -- Pedroso announced that Cuban diplomats will in Washington Tuesday to discuss the touchy issue of human rights. He said, "These conversations about human rights show that Cuba is ready to discuss any topic with the U. S., despite our differences, and from a basis of equality. There are different political systems and models for democracy. We live in a plural world and that plurality should apply to the case of Cuba as well." The U. S. wanted the human rights discussion to take place so the process of opening a U. S. embassy in Havana can proceed prior to the April 10th start of the Summit of the Americas in Panama. At Tuesday's session in Washington Pedroso will make sure that Cuba's side of the human rights equation is considered, meaning that Cuba will stress that U. S. funds and actions designed to encourage dissidents on the island "are something that no sovereign nation, including Cuba and the United States, should ever be subjected to."
        To understand the U.S.-Cuban conundrum in the spring of 2015, one needs to comprehend this Kathleen McGrory/Miami Herald photo that was taken this week in Florida's capital city of Tallahassee. It shows 38-year-old Miami-born Florida State Senator Anitere Flores, supported by other like-minded Republicans, making an impassioned speech in support of a proposal she sponsored to rebuke President Obama's plans to begin the process of normalizing relations with Cuba. Ms. Flores, a University of Florida Law School graduate, represents Miami-Dade County in the Florida Senate. Republican politicians from Miami-Dade continue to defend their decades-old dominance and control of America's Cuban policy. 
        As it happened, the very hour this week -- on March 24th -- that Miami-Dade politician Anitere Flores was holding her volatile news conference in Tallahassee, Florida, this significant lady was holding this much calmer news conference in Havana. She is Federica Mogherini, the European Union's Foreign Policy Chief. On the heels of President Obama's peaceful overtures towards Cuba, Ms. Mogherini is trying real hard to normalize relations between the 28-nation European Union and Cuba. She will even represent the EU next month at the Summit of the Americas in Panama where Cuban President Raul Castro and American President Barack Obama will be featured. In Havana this week Ms. Mogherini began her news conference with these words: "We decided to speed up the rhythm of our negotiations with Cuba, hopefully to manage to finalize the framework of our ongoing dialogue." Around the world many good people such as Federica Mogherini have, from time-to-time in the past five decades, done their best to bring a degree of sanity and decency to U.S.-Cuban relations. Unfortuantely, those efforts have failed. So will Federica Mogherini's.
EU's Federica Mogherini discussions with Cuba's Bruno Rodriguez.
The EU's Federica Mogherini and Cuba's Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez.
         For two generations, Cubans and Cuban-Americans in just one small area of the United States -- Miami-Dade -- have dictated America's Cuban policy. Recent polls agree that the majority of Cuban-Americans in Miami-Dade, along with the rest of the world, want that to change, starting with the end of the cruel U. S. embargo against Cuba that has existed since 1962. But since the 1950s America's Cuban policy has been in the hands of a self-serving few, leaving majority opinions out in the cold. That won't change.
      Cuba's President Raul Castro and America's President Barack Obama will both attend the Summit of the Americas that begins on April 10th in Panama. President Obama is tired of being embarrassed at international gatherings because of the universal disapproval of America's Cuban policy. Therefore, Mr. Obama hopes his plans to normalize relations with Cuba will have progressed enough by then to impress the other 33 nations in the Americas, at least enough to spare him from the usual embarrassments. Yet, by April 10th of 2015 -- and far beyond that -- America's Cuban policy will, for the most part, remain firmly in the hands of a self-serving few. The Summit of the Americas next month will be a reminder yet again that the U. S. democracy, even bolstered by the 28 EU democracies, cannot wiggle free of Miami-Dade's grip on America's Cuban policy. Understanding such undemocratic facts of life will help you understand those competing simultaneous news conferences this week -- the one featuring Anitere Flores in Florida and the one held by Federico Mogherini in Cuba. Both were...rather insightful.
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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Recapturing Cuba

Start By Capturing America!!
Wednesday, March, 2015
    Ted Cruz, the Canadian-born Cuban-American U. S. Senator from Texas, this week became the first "major" Republican to formally announce his candidacy for the office of President of the United States. My favorite brother {true story} watches Fox News and firmly believes that Ted Cruz should be elected President in 2016 with Marco Rubio Vice President, Bob Menendez Secretary of Defense, and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen Secretary of State. After Ted Cruz's two terms, my favorite brother plans for Marco Rubio to begin his two terms as President. When my favorite brother imparted that opinion to me last week, I laughed and said, "But if Cruz actually wins, do you realize what will happen to poor little Cuba before dark on January 21, 2017" Without cracking a smile, he replied, "Sure. By dark on January 21st, 2017 Cuba would be wiped off the map." After that very definitive and confident reply, I didn't laugh anymore. But I recovered quickly and managed to presciently {I believeremind my favorite brother that, "Well, after almost six decades of being unable to recapture Cuba, I guess the plan of a second generation of Batistianos is to capture America first and then re-capture Cuba." 
       Peter King is a moderate Republican who has represented New York in the U. S. Congress since 1993. After Ted Cruz's official announcement about seeking the Republican nomination for President, Mr. King expressed his outrage to CNN's Wolf Blitzer. Among other things, Congressman King said he would "jump off a bridge" if Ted Cruz actually captures the Republican nomination for President. Hopefully that won't happen but, for sure, many Americans who care deeply about their democracy share Mr. King's outrage.
        Jon Stewart is understandably outraged that Ted Cruz can even be considered "a serious" presidential candidate. Mainstream news is so consistently discouraging we need satirists, like Stewart, to make things a bit more palatable. It is, indeed, discouraging to contemplate what has happened to America's two-party political system that pits right-wing billionaire money against left-wing Wall Street money. Overwhelmed voters need a third choice, to say the least, but that is simply no longer possible.
      After Ted Cruz's official announcement about his presidential plans this week, Marco Rubio's official announcement is only a week away. In addition to being first-term members of the U. S. Senate, Cruz and Rubio have many similarities: They are both Cuban-Americans whose parents fled the Batista dictatorship in Cuba for the "freedom" of the United States; Cruz was born in Canada and Rubio in Miami. Both Cruz and Rubio got their political impetus by latching onto the coattails of the Bush dynasty, Cruz in Texas and Rubio in Miami. Both Cruz and Rubio are viciously determined to eliminate Cuba's revolutionary government and they apparently believe that the best way to accomplish that is to become Commander-in-Chief of the United States. Both Cruz and Rubio will be backed by millions of dollars, perhaps billions, from right-wing billionaires in America. Both Cruz and Rubio are Tea Party darlings. Both Cruz and Rubio can count on thousands of hours of free advertisements on the Fox News network. Of the two, Cruz -- the extreme right-winger -- is by far the smartest and by far the best orator. But Rubio -- postured as a moderate right-winger -- has by far the best chance to attain the Republican presidential nomination and he likely will get it unless his mentor, Jeb Bush, blocks his path with what is yet another presidential bid from the Bush dynasty.
     These are sad, sad days for lifelong conservative Republicans like me...and like Congressman Peter King and satirists such as Jon Stewart. If the seven men depicted above are the seven best Republican candidates to be the next President of the United States, then it is abundantly clear that America's two-party system -- Republican and Democrat -- needs more choices. U. S. politics have evolved into a money-fueled joke in which voters all too often are left with a singular bad choice -- in other words, the lesser of two evils or at the least the lesser of two incompetents or two dangerous choices. That is not what America's Founding Fathers intended. But I assure you that my favorite right-wing brother is rejoicing.
This poor Cuban, Hector Olivera, became a rich American this week.
       Hector Olivera wore #26 on his Cuban uniform. This week he received a $26 million bonus check from the Los Angeles Dodgers. His 6-year contract with the Dodgers guarantees Hector a total of $62.5 million with many more dollars if he can play Major League baseball. Hector turns 30-years-old next month and many thought his age would prevent him from getting such a bonus or guaranteed contract. Two weeks ago the Boston Red Sox signed 19-year-old Cuban Joan Moncada to a $31.5 million upfront bonus. But even nearing 30, Hector Olivera cashes in because #1 he is Cuban and Cubans who touch U. S. soil have special privileges, including bids from all 30 Major League teams while an American with similar talent would be required to accept or decline a bid from just one team, the one that drafted him; #2 all thirty Major League baseball teams in the U. S. are awash with money from television and advertising contracts; and #3 the 30 Major League teams in the U. S. seem convinced that the island of Cuba, per capita, has far more baseball talent than the 50 U. S. states have. So, with such enticements to enter the defection pipelines, even veterans such as Hector Olivera get very rich very quick, with their upfront millions guaranteed whether or not they make the Majors. Being an American is nice. Being a Cuban in America is even nicer! In America a few Cuban exiles can make laws and policies that benefit only Cuban exiles at everyone else's expense. It's politically incorrect to say that, but Hector Olivera discovered it is so.
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Monday, March 23, 2015

Captivating, Complicated Cuba

See It to Believe It   
        This is a sight that Cuban tourists can expect to see. These are "Abby Road" performers on the edge of Havana. The photo was taken by Dr. David Boran, a physician and photographer from Brainerd, Minnesota. He is a frequent visitor to Cuba and 34 of his recent photos were featured to highlight an insightful article written by Renee Richardson this week in the Brainerd Dispatch newspaper. Her article is entitled "Captivating, Complicated Cuba." If you dial it up online you will, I think, be salivating about how captivating and complicated the nearby island of Cuba really is.
      This photo by Dr. David Boran shows a hard-working Cuban getting a delightful visit from his grand-daughter. From Dr. Boran's 34 photos, it was hard to pick my two favorites because all captured the essence of Cuba, as did the well-written article by Renee Richardson in this week's Brainerd Dispatch. With less animus due to a slight thawing of relations between the United States and Cuba, Dr. Boran hopes that all Americans will be allowed to visit the island and judge it for themselves. That singular advance would also remove a blight on America's regional and worldwide image, which is: "Americans live in the greatest democracy in the entire world, so why are everyday Americans the only people in the world without the freedom to visit Cuba?"
Here's a snapshot of Brainerd, Minnesota.
It's in Crow Wing County.
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Thursday, March 19, 2015

U.S.-Cuba Detente: No Chance!!

Americans Need to Know Why
Monday,  March 23rd,  2015
      This photo was used by Fox News Latino to illustrate a major article this week written by Andrew O'Reilly. It shows American tourists on the beach at the luxurious Casa de Campo resort in the Dominican Republic. Located 70 miles east of the capital of Santo Domingo, Casa de Campo has long been one of the favorite destination for the very richest Americans, such as the billionaire Cuban-American Fanjul family that had a very rich sugar monopoly in pre-revolutionary Cuba and then a far richer sugar monopoly in the U. S. and the Dominican Republic after the revolutionary triumph in January of 1959. O'Reilly's article stressed the fact that many in the Dominican tourist industry are now worried that much of their business will go to the Pearl of the Antilles, Cuba, now that it appears the U. S. is easing its decades-old embargo against the island. O'Reilly quoted an executive who indicated he is already feeling the pinch from some of the regular Dominican tourists "who want to go to Cuba." Since the demise of Batista and Trujillo, Cuba has had far better relations with the Dominican Republic, and all other Caribbean nations, than with the U. S.
       Beyond doubt, any thawing of U.S.-Cuban relations will have a profound effect on the entire Caribbean -- especially the Bahamas, Jamaica, and the Dominican Republic. The Dominican Republic shares the big island of Hispaniola with Haiti just off the southeastern coast of Cuba. At 3:00 A. M. on the morning of January 1, 1959, Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista fled the charging rebels and flew his get-away airplane to Santo Domingo where Rafael Trujillo, the brutal U.S.-backed and anti-Castro dictator of the Dominican Republic, waited with open arms. Batista and his Mafia allies had invested most of their Cuban loot in the banks and properties of South Florida and the Dominican Republic. From that day to this day, that money has drastically affected both those areas -- South Florida and the Dominican Republic -- at Cuba's expense. 
      This photo shows Cuban Coast Guard troops commanding a drug stash that had washed up on their shores. This week -- Wednesday, March 18th -- the United States released its 2015 report on drug trafficking. It was entitled "International Narcotics Control Strategy Report." IN ALL THE WORLD, GUESS WHICH COUNTRY RECEIVED THE MOST LAVISH PRAISE FOR FIGHTING THE VILE SCOURGE OF DRUG TRAFFICKING? If you guessed "Cuba" you would be correct! While excoriating the usual suspects, the U. S. conclusions regarding Cuba contained only lavish positives, such as: "Cuba concentrates supply reduction efforts by preventing smuggling through its territorial waters, rapidly collecting wash-up, and conducting airport searches. The Cuban Border Guard continues to patrol Cuban waters and TGF notifications to U. S. authorities of maritime smuggling incidents are timely and detailed." In fact, the U. S. report on drug trafficking lauded Cuba more than the U. S., noting that drug smugglers try to avoid Cuba while the U. S. is the prime destination point where excess use of drugs fuels the profit motive that, in turn, devastates many countries, including Mexico along the U. S. southern border. Of course, the mainstream U. S. media will ignore this report because it is a positive related to Cuba. However, if the report had criticized Cuba, propaganda machines fueled by media-savvy anti-Cuban zealots such as the Cuban-Americans in the U. S. Congress and their well-heeled sycophants -- such as Mauricio Claver-Carone, Ana Navarro, and Fox News -- would have endlessly saturated America's television screens with their politically correct anti-Cuban salivating. Vilifying Cuba sates vengeful, economic, and political motives in America. Cuban positives are verboten. It's been that way since 1959. And thus, it's not about to end. The status-quo is too beneficial to a select few, similar to what perpetrates drug trafficking.
Isabel Saint Malo DE Alvarado is the very impressive Vice President of Panana.
        Born 46 years ago in Panama City, Isabel Malo is married and the mother of three children. As the Vice President of Panama, she will serve as the main hostess and has already been the prime orchestrator of the Summit of the Americas her country will host starting April 10th. Yesterday, March 19th, she was featured in a 6-minute interview on MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell Reports. Mrs. Malo said her theme for the Summit is "prosperity with equity" for all the people of the 34 nations in the Americas. She will stress that theme throughout but she is well aware that the two prime topics will center around U. S. relations with Cuba and Venezuela. She said, "It is great news what is happening between the United States and Cuba. It is great for the region." She indicated that she has arranged a table setting in which President Barack Obama and Raul Castro will meet and have dialogue. She said, "The last time the Presidents of those two nations met for a working meeting was in 1956 in Panama." {Dwight Eisenhower and Fulgencio Batista were the Presidents she referenced}. Mrs. Malo seemed to relish the opportunity for Panama next month to try to bridge the gap in the most contentious issues facing the Americas -- namely, the wide chasms separating the United States from Cuba and Venezuela. She said that harmony and cooperation are important "in dealing with the issues of security, immigration, energy, prosperity, jobs, and equity." {Note: Isabel Saint Malo DE Alvarado is an example of why women, as opposed to men, should be the Presidents of all 34 nations in the Americas. Women like her tend to care more about people and less about money and power}.
Yes, the U. S. direly needs Elizabeth Warren to be President in 2016     
     This Joshua Gunter photo shows President Obama getting off Air Force One in Cleveland Wednesday, March 18th. He made a speech at the Cleveland Convention Center. Cuba was one of the main topics.
      Cleveland's NBC television station, WKYC-3, provided live coverage {aboveof that important speech. President Obama got his loudest ovation when he stated: "I hoped on Day One of my presidency to close Guantanamo Bay." The majority of people in Cleveland and the vast majority of people around the world were hoping then and are hoping now that he could accomplish that goal. But more than six years into his two-term presidency, Mr. Obama has not come close to closing the infamous U. S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, the lush port that the world understands, even if Americans don't, the U. S. stole from Cuba way back in 1903, shortly after the U. S. gained dominance over the island with the easy 1898 victory in the Spanish-American War. The Gitmo prison at Guantanamo has been labeled "the Gulag of our time" by Amnesty International, a viewpoint shared by most of the world. After his comment about Gitmo in Cleveland this week, President Obama explained why he has failed to close the prison that remains one of the many Cuban-related products of the Bush dynasty's alignment with a handful of revengeful Cuban-American zealots. The President told the Cleveland audience that Gitmo needs to be closed because it so badly "hurts the image of America around the world and harms the security of the United States." But then, the President explained that his failure to close Gitmo is because a few anti-Cuban extremists have far more control of Cuban-related issues in the United States Congress than he, the twice-elected President of the United States, has. Americans are not supposed to understand that sad fact but the President does, and so does the rest of the world as reflected year-after-year by a vote in the United Nations. Meanwhile, as Mr. Obama related in Cleveland, the U. S. image around the world and the security of the United States are not nearly as important as capitulating to a few Cuban-American extremists when it comes to crafting or changing a longstanding Cuban policy that remains a blight on America's image and on America's security in a world in which anti-American terrorists have evolved into powerful and relentless armies.
       This week Luis Almagro, Uruguay's former Foreign Minister, was elected Secretary General of the Organization of American States. The 34-member nations include the United States and Cuba although Cuba has been left out in the cold for decades because of the U. S. influence. Mr. Almagro and all the other non-U.S. forces at the OAS have finally mustered enough courage to resist the U. S. treatment of Cuba.
          Jose Miguel Insulza, a respected Chilean statesman, is the current Secretary General of the Organization of American States and he won't be replaced by Luis Almagro until May 25th. So, Miguel will be in charge of the Summit of the Americas that begins on April 10th in Panama. Jose Miguel, like his successor Luis Almagro and all other non-U.S. officials at the OAS, urgently desire Cuba's full membership.
        In the last six years, U. S. President Barack Obama has grown very, very tired of attending international gatherings and being repeatedly embarrassed when even the leaders of America's most friendly countries -- England, Australia, Canada, etc. -- criticize America's Cuban policy. The last straw for President Obama was his embarrassment at the Nelson Mandela Memorial in South Africa in 2013.
        At the Nelson Mandela Memorial Ceremony, U. S. President Barack Obama shook hands with Cuban President Raul Castro. The gesture pleased the world but outraged rich and powerful Cuban-Americans. 
         Before he died on December 5th, 2013, Nelson Mandela was the world's most-beloved Civil Rights icon. In all the years after his 27-year imprisonment in South Africa, Mr. Mandela let the world know that his "favorite world leader" was...Cuba's Fidel Castro. At the Mandela Memorial Ceremony President Obama was reminded of Mandela's everlasting affection for Castro's Cuban Revolution, an affection that Mr. Obama has learned is shared by many other democratically elected leaders, especially throughout Latin America.  
      President Obama returned from South Africa determined to change the U. S. policy regarding Cuba that a handful of Cuban-Americans have dictated since 1959 and which the entire world in 2015 opposes. Obama very bravely announced on Dec. 17-2014 that he intended to "normalize" relations with Cuba!!! 
     Since President Obama's startling December 17th announcement, America's Roberta Jacobson and Cuba's Josefina Vidal have had three mostly productive face-to-face diplomatic meetings -- two in Havana and one in Washington -- aimed at normalizing relations between the two longtime adversaries.
        These two U. S. Senators -- one from Union City and the other from Miami -- have loudly bragged that they can "block" President Obama's ongoing attempts to normalize relations with Cuba. The sad reality for the U. S. democracy is this: They can. This photo shows Senator Bob Menendez of Union City dourly staring outwardly in the chambers of the U. S. Senate as he listens to Senator Marco Rubio of Miami shamelessly assail President Obama's sane overtures regarding Cuba. It is no coincidence that Union City -- Menendez's path to the U. S. Senate -- and Miami -- Rubio's path to the U. S. Senate -- were the two Mafia havens that sent many of the leaders of the Batista-Mafia dictatorship to Cuba in 1952 and then, after the triumph of the Cuban Revolution in 1959, the same two U. S. cities became the primary destinations for the fleeing Batistiano-Mafiosi leadership. From 1959 into the 1980s the most ardent anti-Castro exiles dominated the feverish attempts to have the U. S. military and the U. S. treasury recapture the island for them. When that stratagem failed, the Reagan-Bush administration in the 1980s anointed anti-Castro zealot Jorge Mas Canosa as the leader of the Cuban exiles, and advised Mas Canosa to study and replicate the omnipotent Israeli lobby AIPAC. Mas Canosa took that advice and created the Cuban lobby CANF. From that day to this day, a handful of Cuban-Americans from Miami and Union City, aligned with self-serving sycophants, have quite easily controlled the U. S. Congress and its dictation of America's Cuban policy.
       In March of 2015 both U. S. Senator Marco Rubio from Miami and U. S. Senator Bob Menendez have been back in the headlines regarding fresh scandals -- Rubio because of a real estate deal with a disgraced former Cuban-American in Congress and Menendez because of alleged favors he extended to a controversial Miami doctor who is the nation's top recipient of Medicare dollars, among other things. But no one in the U. S. Congress from Miami or Union City needs to ever worry about such things; if they want it, their entrenchment in the U. S. Congress and in control of America's Cuban policy is fully ensured.
       In 2015 Josefina Vidal has emerged as the new face of Cuba. She is not only representing Cuba in the futile but ongoing efforts to normalize relations with the United States, but she is the prime decision-maker on the island regarding all things American, which are, without a doubt, Cuba's most important "things."
          In 2015 Luis Posada Carriles remains the face of America when it comes to Cuba. This photo shows the 86-year-old Posada -- on December 18th, 2014 -- leading an anti-Obama demonstration on the streets of Miami the day after President Obama announced his plans to normalize relations with Cuba. Americans to this day are not supposed to comprehend why every Caribbean and every Latin American nation considers Posada to be the most notable terrorist on the North American continent. And therein lies the precise reason why neither President Obama nor anyone else can measurably alter America's Cuban policy.
        In 2015 Kathy Castor is the face of the un-afraid and un-purchased members of the U. S. Congress who strive, in vain, for a sane and decent U.S.-Cuban policy. The Miami-born Ms. Castor bravely and decently represents Florida's Tampa-St. Petersburg area in the U. S. Congress. Her views regarding Cuba, of course, are supposed to be kept from the American people and, for sure, the mainstream U. S. media -- and not just Fox News -- makes sure that is so. Congresswoman Kathy Castor is the antipathy of Bush-Rubio-Menendez-Posada when it comes to Cuba. That's why most Americans have never heard of Kathy Castor. And that helps explain why Cuba says a lot more about the United States than it says about Cuba.
         This AP/news.yahoo.com photo was taken yesterday -- Thursday, March 19th -- in Havana. A woman is jogging on the famed Malecon seawall as the huge cruise ship Thompson Dream enters Havana Harbor.
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