Part Two: Cubana Flight 455

A Large Part of U.S.-Cuban History
      In the pantheon of American politics, the Bush political dynasty has included, among many other things, two members of Congress, a CIA Director, a two-term Vice President, a one-term President, a two-term President, a two-term governor of Texas, and a two-term governor of Florida.  And whether or not you disdain or applaud that monarchy, it actually is (God help us all) only in its infancy. That's what democracy-lovers get for allowing money, lobbyists, nepotism, celebrity, and (as you'll see) shady characters dominate our government.  
         Jeb Bush -- who has always eagerly latched onto the shoulders of his grandfather, father, and older brother -- is currently in a lucrative respite recovering from his two very lucrative terms as Florida's governor. But he plans a lucrative 2016 presidential bid...that is, if he is not "compelled" to yet enter the lucrative 2012 race to overlap an admittedly dreadful Republican field. (I'm a conservative Republican, neither right-wing nor left-wing)
Senator Marco Rubio
         In the meantime, the Bush dynasty has succeeded in getting yet another Cuban-American protege/puppet, young Marco Rubio from Miami, in the U. S. Senate. And, in tight conjunction with the Fox "news" network, the Bush dynasty is already thrusting Rubio down America's throat as a VP candidate in 2012...followed, of course, by at least two future presidential bids.
George P. Bush
          Further into that future, George P. (for Prescott) Bush is a sure bet to follow his father Jeb and Jeb's anointed Cuban-American puppet Marco Rubio as presidential material. George P. got one prerequisite out of the way in 2003 when he graduated from the University of Texas Law School. And he's awash in the other two even more necessary requirements -- endless bundles of money and the Bush political machine.
Neil Bush
          Abundant progeny in monarchies allows for a few missteps or, shall we say, really bad apples. For example, Neil Bush, another of George H. W. Bush's sons, had visions of the Oval Office too but, alas, his involvement with the Silverado Savings & Loan scandal, which cost taxpayers billions while his father was Vice President, scuttled Neil's political ambitions...or at least we can hope so. However, he has ample reason to smile for being one of the G. H. W. Bush sons. His name is still golden for lucrative contracts abroad, like the political revolving door even though he's not an ex-politico, just a bloodline Bush. Neil, you see, has a little consulting firm, Crest Investments, that received $2 million for one simple deal with a firm backed by Jiang Mianheng, the son of former Chinese President Jiang Zemin; according to papers revealed in his divorce, Neil received $642,500.00 as his commission for introducing an Asian investor to an American company; etc. (We could go on but I think you get the idea. The Bush dynasty epitomizes the decaying of the U. S. democracy when a Neil Bush, for heaven's sake, makes millions by using the Bush name to secure massive contracts from those always eager to buy clandestine access inside the money pit known as the U. S. government. It also chronicles the alarmingly increasing disparity between the rich and powerful as opposed to the poor, weak, and helpless. The disparity is not just in the widening gap but in the disparity inherent in the ability to create wealth or even a living wage. Born a Bush, you can be shady and incompetent but create obscene wealth; born Neil Smith with a moral compass as well as intelligence and ambition, the odds are stacked very high against you. The Bush dynasty, for example, can keep Neil in the family closet but the Bush political ties now and forever can reach out from even there to wads of insider money, money that is seemingly as ubiquitous as sand in the Sahara).  
Prescott Bush and son George Herbert Walker Bush
          The Bush political dynasty...or monarchy, if you will...did not start with the now 83-year-old George H. W. Bush. It started with his father, Prescott Bush. Some say it started with Prescott's father Samuel, who made a lot of money dealing in weapons contracts, but I think that's being picky and the really interesting stuff began with Samuel's son Prescott, who was born on May 15, 1895, and began the Bush tradition of going to Yale and getting very involved it its Skull and Bones secret society, like his son and grandson who later found the sometime-secretive (classified documents, you know) Oval Office.
Prescott Bush
      Prescott Bush was preceded at Yale by his grandfather James Smith Bush, class of 1844, and his uncle Robert E. Sheldon, class of 1904. Prescott and his son George both  played baseball at Yale. Prescott became a Wall Street banker and represented Connecticut in the U. S. Senate from 1952 to 1963. A rule of thumb in studying most monarchies is to Follow the Money, especially the original stash. The Kennedy monarchy, for example, started with the money Joe Kennedy made when he was aligned with the Mafia in Prohibition days.
Samuel Bush
        Sure, Samuel Bush made enough money in weapons deals to send Prescott to Yale 'n all, but Prescott made the really serious money.
President Dwight D. Eisenhower and Prescott Bush 
       When he died at age 77 in 1972,  Prescott Bush owned, among many other things, mansions in New York, Long Island, Greenwich (Connecticut), and Kennebunkport (Maine), not to mention a 10,000 acre plantation in South Carolina and a secluded island off the Connecticut coast (Fishers Island). In any case, with money like that it is no wonder Prescott ended up in the U. S. Senate and his son George and George's son George W. both ended up in the White House where George W.'s brother Jeb and Jeb's son George P. (for Prescott) expect to reside in the near future. (Monarchies are fascinating, whether in England, Russia, the U. S., or wherever). But where in the world, except from his father and from Wall Street, did all of Prescott Shelton Bush's money come from?
 Richard M. Nixon and Prescott Bush
       Based in LondonThe Guardian is one of the world's best and most respected newspapers and easily accessible online (http://www.guardian.uk). On Sept. 25-2004, during the first presidential term of George W. Bush,  the major article in The Guardian was entitled "How Bush's Grandfather Helped Hitler's Rise to Power." Here are the first seven paragraphs of that long (and I believe undisputed) article word-for-word:
         "George Bush's grandfather, the late US senator Prescott Bush, was a director and shareholder of companies that profited from their involvement with the financial backers of Nazi Germany.
          "The Guardian has obtained confirmation from newly discovered files in the US National Archives that a firm of which Prescott Bush was a director was involved with the financial architects of Nazism.
          "His business dealings, which continued until his company's assets were seized in 1942 under the Trading with the Enemy Act, has led more than sixty years later to a civil action for damages being brought in Germany against the Bush family by two former slave labourers at Auschwitz and to a hum of pre-election controversy.
           "The evidence has also prompted one former US Nazi war crimes prosecutor to argue that the late senator's action should have been grounds for prosecution for giving aid and comfort to the enemy.
           "The debate over Prescott Bush's behaviour has been bubbling under the surface for some time. There has been a steady Internet chatter about the 'Bush/Nazi' connection, much of it inaccurate and unfair. But the new documents, many of which were only declassified last year, show that even after America had entered the war and when there was already significant information about the Nazis' plans and policies, he worked for and profited from companies closely involved with the very German businesses that financed Hitler's rise to power. It has also been suggested that the money he made from these dealings helped to establish the Bush family fortune and set up its political dynasty.
           "Remarkably, little of Bush's dealings with Germany has received public scrutiny, partly because of the secret status of the documentation involving him. But now the multi-billion dollar legal action for damages by two Holocaust survivors against the Bush family, and the imminent publication of three books on the subject are threatening to make Prescott Bush's business history an uncomfortable issue for his grandson, George W., as he seeks re-election.
           "While there is no suggestion that Prescott Bush was sympathetic to the Nazi cause, the documents reveal that the firm he worked for, Brown Brothers Harriman (BBH), acted as a US base for the German industrialist, Fritz Thyssen, who helped finance Hitler in the 1930s before falling out with him at the end of the decade. The Guardian has seen evidence that shows Bush was the director of the New York-based Union Banking Corporation (UBC) that represented Thyssen's US interests and he continued to work for the bank after America entered the war." (The Guardian, UK, September 25, 2004).
Senator Prescott Bush
            D. A. Friedrichs wrote a column in which his data was sanctioned and aided by John Loftus, President of the Florida Holocaust Museum, and Tony Rogers of Clamor Magazine. Friedrichs wrote
            "Despite being held and interrogated by the Allies, Fritz Thyssen never told the authorities where his fortune was hidden and ultimately he was released from prison. He died in Argentina in 1951. Upon his death, the Alien Property Custodian released the assets of the Union Banking Corporation. The principles cashed out and the UBC was no more. Prescott Bush received $750,000 for his share of the Union Banking Corporation, a princely sum in 1951, but nothing compared to the millions the Thyssen family got back. Prescott used some of this Nazi cash to bankroll his son George Herbert Walker Bush's first business enterprise and to support his successful bid for the Senate in 1952." 
Robert Parry 
        Robert Parry is one of America's most honored and respected journalists. He was awarded the prestigious George Polk Award for National Reporting in 1984 for his Associated Press work on the Iran-Contra scandal. He also received numerous awards for his Newsweek reporting that uncovered Oliver North's involvement in Iran-Contra. His investigative journalism is unbiased whether the subjects involve Republicans, Democrats, liberals, conservatives or whomever. He has done financial work for Bloomberg and he owns Consortium News, which is dedicated to investigative journalism. Robert Parry's books include "Secrecy & Privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq, which was published in 2004.
        Robert Parry wrote an essay in April of 2006 entitled "Bush's Hypocrisy: Cuban Terrorists. It began with these exact words:
    "Like an aging rock star singing a beloved oldie, George W. Bush can count on cheers whenever he delivers a favorite line from the Bush Doctrine enunciated after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks: Any country that harbors a terrorist is equally guilty as the terrorist.
     "Bush got a round of applause at an Indianapolis speech on March 24, 2006, when he declared 'one of the lessons learned after September the 11th is that we must hold people to account for harboring terrorists. If you harbor a terrorist, if you feed a terrorist, if you house a terrorist, you're as equally guilty as the terrorist.'
     "But like much else from the post-9/11 period...this supposedly clear-cut rule applies differently when a Bush ally is implicated in terrorism and the Bushes are the ones doing the harboring.
     "While the anti-harboring principle is cited when invading Afghanistan and Iraq, the Bush administration continues to turn a blind eye to the presence of right-wing Cuban terrorists living in the United States.
      "This double standard was underscored again in early April when a Spanish-language Miami television station interviewed notorious Cuban terrorist Orlando Bosch, who offered a detailed justification for the 1976 mid-air bombing of a Cubana Airlines flight that killed 73 people, including the young members of the Cuban national fencing team.
      "Another Cuban exile, Luis Posada Carriles, also has been tied to the bombing, but the Bush administration has so far rebuffed Venezuela's extradition request for him, even as he lives in Miami as a free man.
      "But there's really nothing new about these two terrorists -- and other violent right-wing extremists -- getting protection from the Bush family. 
      "For three decades, both Bosch and Posada have been under the Bush family's wing, starting with former President George H. W. Bush (who was CIA director when the airline bombing occurred in 1976) and including Florida gov. Jeb Bush and President George W. Bush.
       "The evidence points to one conclusion: the Bushes regard terrorism -- defined as killing civilians for a political reason -- as justified in cases when their interests match those of the terrorists. Moral clarity against terrorism only applies when the Bush side disagrees with the terrorists.
        "This hypocrisy often has been aided and abetted by the U. S. news media, which intuitively understands the double standard and largely ignores cases in which the terrorism is connected to U. S. government officials. Bosch's comments on Miami's Channel 41 interview received almost no attention from the mainstream U. S. press. Reporter Juan Manuel Cao interviewed Bosch, who had been jailed for illegally entering the United States but was paroled in 1990 by President George H. W. Bush at the behest of his son Jeb, then an aspiring Florida politician.    
       "'Did you down that plane in 1976,' Cao asked Bosch.    
          "'If I tell you that I was involved, I will be inculpating myself,' Bosch answered, 'and if I tell you that I did not participate in that action, you would say I am lying. I am therefore not going to answer one thing or the other.'
       "But when Cao asked Bosch to comment on the civilians who died when the plane crashed off the coast of Barbados, Bosch responded, 'In a war such as us Cubans who love liberty wage against the tyrant (Fidel Castro), you have to down planes, you have to sink ships, you have to be prepared to attack anything that is within your reach.'
        "'And the fencers?' Cao asked about Cuba's amateur fencing team that had just won gold, silver and bronze medals at a youth fencing competition in Caracas. 'The young people on board?'
         "Bosch relied, 'I was in Caracas. I saw the young girls on television. There were six of them. After the end of the competition, the leader of the six dedicated their triumph to the tyrant...she gave a speech filled with praise for the tyrant.'
         "Declassified U. S. documents show that after the Cubana Airlines plane was blown out of the sky on Oct. 6, 1976, the CIA, then under the direction of George H. W. Bush, quickly identified Posada and Bosch as the masterminds of the Cubana Airlines bombing...but the Ford administration wanted to keep intelligence scandals out of the newspapers so Bush and other officials kept the lid on the investigations.
        "Still, inside the U. S. government, the facts were known. According to a secret CIA cable dated Oct. 14, 1976, intelligence sources in Venezuela relayed information about the Cubana Airlines bombing that tied in Bosch and Posada. Later, a fundraising dinner was held in Bosch's honor by Venezuelan President Carlos Andres Perez, a close Washington ally. A few days following the fund-raising dinner, Posada was overheard to say that, 'we are going to hit a Cuban airplane,' and that 'Orlando has the details,' the CIA report said. The CIA report was sent to CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, as well as to the FBI and other U. S. intelligence sources, according to the markings on the cable."
        Shortly before writing that long essay ("Bush's Hypocrisy: Cuban Terrorists"), Robert Parry's book Secrecy & Privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty  depicted in even more detail the Bush family's incredible ties to the most radical Cuban exile extremists. Robert Parry is a highly respected and award-winning investigative journalist for the Associated Press and Newsweek Magazine. As far as I know, his writings about the Bush dynasty and the Cuban exiles have never been challenged or denied. He has also written extensively about how he has tried, even begged, the Bush family -- especially George H. W. Bush -- to at least comment on his revelations, and those fervent efforts have all been in vain. Meanwhile, to Robert Parry's chagrin, any member of the Bush family can appear nightly on cable or network news to promote their latest books or other projects and never have to worry about having to hear the questions Robert Parry has spent two decades trying to ask.
       In the previous posting ("Cubana Flight 455" Part One), you'll also recall that another truly great investigative journalist, Jim DeFede, stated that he, too, got no reaction when he begged the powerful, Bush-aligned, Cuban-born congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen to comment on his famous Miami Herald "Terrorism is Terrorism" column, which excoriated her for defending and protecting a plethora of Cuban-exile extremists, including Posada and Bosch.  
     The above photo shows former president George H. W. Bush in 2000 meeting with Saudi Arabia's King Faud on behalf of the Carlyle Group and, of course, his own bank account. Mr. Bush had denied the meeting took place, till The Wall Street Journal (on 9/27/2001) and London's The Guardian (on 10/11/01) both proved it did take place via such declassified data as a "thank you" note from the Royal family, which also released the definitive photo. Bush cronies such as former Secretary of State James Baker and former CIA Director and Secretary of Defense Frank Carlucci, who became chairman of the Carlyle Group, crafted the company (created in 1987 in Washington) into one of the world's largest defense contractors, among other lucrative ventures. Washington's revolving door (describing politicians leaving office to use their old contacts for huge monetary gain) was essentially invented, at least perfected, by George H. W. Bush and his dynasty.
      Craig Unger's famous 2004 book House of Bush/House of Saud: The Secret Relationship Between the World's Two Most Powerful Dynasties is, at the least, a chilling reminder of what can happen to a democracy when neither the mainstream media nor the citizenry has the integrity, courage, or intelligence to defend or even care about its most sacred principles or pillars. The Carlyle Group has admitted that on the morning of Sept. 1-2001 Shafig bin Laden, the brother of Osama bin Laden, was in Washington attending the group's annual investor conference regarding the Asian Partners Fund that George H. W. Bush headed, the day his son, the President, grounded all private planes except those carrying members of the bin Laden family. Unger writes: "Never before has an American president been so closely tied to a foreign power that harbors and supports our country's mortal enemies." Wikipedia states: "Craig Unger explores the relationship between the Saudi Royal Family and the Bush extended political family. Unger asserts that the groundwork for today's terrorist movements and the modern wars that have sprung up about them was unintentionally laid more than 30 years ago with a series of business deals between the ruling Saudis and the powerful Bush family. The Saudis received investments and military protection in exchange for cooperation on lucrative oil deals. The author claims that the result has been a shady alliance between 'the world's two most powerful dynasties.'"
     In other words, if the incredibly rich and powerful Bush political dynasty began its monarchy with Preston Bush deals with Nazi Germany in the 1930s into the 1940s, the alliance with the Saudi Royal family, engineered by Preston Bush's son G. H. W. Bush, didn't exactly derail those personal riches and political powers, and neither did the Bush dynasty's economic and political alliances with the most radical exiles from the overthrown Batista regime in Cuba. All of that factors into the history of many disturbing things, including Cubana Flight 455 and the lack of luminosity in the world's most famed democracy.
     The problem with politically active monarchies, as with dictatorships, is that, unlike in democracies, they continually extend power and wealth strictly along bloodlines or clan-lines, rarely to the benefit of that nation or the world. That sad state of affairs is exaggerated when the monarchy, such as the Bushes, has an incredibly insatiable appetite for wealth. Take, for example...Jeb Bush. As a Bush, he was born into extreme wealth. But guess what? In the late 1980s he moved to Florida. The Miami Herald asked him why. Jeb's famous answer: "To get rich." Notable journalists and historians, including Ann Louise Bardach, have pondered that answer, with most concluding that the little brother meant he wanted to prove that he too could make wads of money. Well, he did...very quickly...taking advantage of his knowledge concerning his family's ties to the Cuban-exile radicals that dominated South Florida politically and economically.  In somewhat of a hurry, Jeb instantly aligned himself in real estate deals with highly controversial Cuban exiles, including some high up on the FBI radar, and in political alliances, including his role as anti-Castro zealot Ileana Ros-Lehtinen's Campaign Manager in 1989  on her way to becoming, in 2011, Chairperson of the House Foreign Relations Committee...as well as positioning himself for his two-term Florida governorship and future run for the presidency.  Jeb, like others in the Bush dynasty but unlike most U. S. citizens and voters, seemed well aware of the Batistiano dictatorial control of South Florida, and, like others in the Bush dynasty, he has taken full economic and political advantage of it. In the interlude between his two-term governorship of Florida and his 2016 bid for the presidency, Jeb has already mapped out plans for his protege, Senator Marco Rubio, and his son, George P. (for Preston) Bush, to be future presidential candidates. In a "Democracy" more and more dictated by Super Pacs, lobbyists, and special interest money, monarchies such as the Bush Political Dynasty are not as benign and ceremonial as, for example, England's non-political one. Celebrity, wealth, and nepotism are not necessarily good in a democracy but ultra-rich political dynasties that create monarchies are devastating, the antithesis to democratic ideals and reminiscent of an untreatable cancer in a human body being passed from one relative to another. Previous generations of democracy-loving Americans would never have allowed it to happen, but the last two (post-World War II) generations lack the integrity, courage, will, and intelligence to preserve the precious gift bestowed to them by the Founding Fathers as well as by the multiple generations that followed them. Americans still go to the polls and vote but they have no opinions about such things as...Cubana Flight 455, an historic event that is but a microcosm of the world's greatest and fairest democracy evolving into a superpower that installed and supported cruel dictatorships in helpless countries, sometimes by overthrowing democratically elected governments in such disparate countries as Chile and Iran to install "U. S.-friendly" killer-dictators (Pinochet, the Shah, etc.). "U. S. friendly" all too often since World War II has meant dictatorships that, goaded by huge military and economic kickbacks from Washington, permit rich Americans to partake in the rape and robbery of those counties, something the overthrown democracies would not have permitted. TAKE, FOR EXAMPLE...the Congo.
VP Richard Nixon toasting new U. S.-friendly killer-dictator Mobutu
      Shortly after World War II, crooked politicians such as Richard Nixon began to penetrate weaknesses in the U. S. democracy, such as apathy from its citizens and the emergence of special interests lobbyists, by getting elected Vice President and even President. Then the resources and tools of the post-war superpower, including the newly formed (in 1947) CIA, could be used to enrich and empower such politicians and their cronies. When, for example,  Belgium and the U. S. were robbing mineral-rich Congo, in the heart of Africa, blind, both colonial powers weren't about to let a democracy take hold, one that would preserve at least some of the Congo's vast wealth for its own starving people. 
Patrice Lamumba, Prime Minister of the Republic of the Congo 
      Like all people, the Congolese yearned for freedom. The saintly Patrice Lamumba gave it to them, briefly, in June of 1960 when his independence movement ousted the Belgium military leaders. Lamumba became the Congo's first legally elected Prime Minister. Twelve weeks later, Lamumba and his top aides were kidnapped, brutally tortured, and later taken to the forest, tied to trees, and shot. The coup was led by agents of the CIA and the Belgium Secret Police.
Mobutu Sese Seko
     After the gruesome murder of Patrice Lamumba, the U. S. and Belgium chose Mobutu Sese Seko as the dictator of the Congo, which is also known as Zaire. He would rule from 1965 to 1997. During that time, in exchange for kickbacks, he allowed rich Americans and Belgians to team with him and his cronies in the wholesale rape and robbery of the mineral-rich nation. Mobutu rarely appeared in the country, leaving it in the hands of his U. S./Belgium-supplied soldiers. His people were without electricity and food, except for his soldiers and officials. Thousands of the people literally starved to death. Mobutu meanwhile stored billions of dollars in Swiss banks and he lived almost entirely on his jets and yachts and in his mansions around the world. The May 12-1997 edition of U. S. News & World Report (which I still have) features a huge article entitled "Zaireans Anger Aimed at U. S. Role; Blame U. S. for Much of Their Woe." The "woe" is graphically depicted with photos of a little boy as he starves to death and a starving, naked little girl on her left side in a fetal position. Neither child could be saved by the writers and photographers of the article. The caption below the photo of the little girl said: "Some have no hope. Too sick to be helped, this girl died minutes later." The article features a photo of U. S. United Nations ambassador Bill Richardson with a smiling Mobutu. The article stated: "The Mobutu fortune reaches beyond the Swiss domain...his financial empire includes sumptuous residences in France, Portugal and Morocco, hotels in Spain and South Africa, and coffee plantations in Brazil and the Ivory Coast."  Mobutu, of course, had a right to smile as he stood beside Bill Richardson; being "U. S. friendly" is a great thing for dictators. But the little boy and the little girl, shown as they starved to death, weren't smiling. The naked little boy had a haunting look of helplessness across his face; the naked little girl had her hands covering her face in shame as she died, and she died before any in the American press entourage could convey to her this salient fact:  It was not HER shame. For over three decades (31-plus years) Mobutu road the coattails of the U. S. and Belgium in amassing his fortune while thousands of Zairian children starved to death and while rich Americans and Belgians also robbed the country blind. Eventually cancer began to rob Mobutu of his health and his power. Amazingly, one of his top American doctors was William Close, the father of acclaimed actress Glenn Close. (The day I type this -- Jan. 21-2012 -- huge color photos of Glenn Close headline two of USA Today's four sections; Dr. William Close, her father, wrote a book about his extensive and expensive treatment of Mobutu). But Mobutu died of prostate cancer on September 7, 1997, in Rabat, Morocco, where he is buried in a Christian cemetery near one of his mansions. (He had nine mansions in Belgium alone). In 2002 the government of Belgium officially apologized to Zaire for its role in the murder of the democratically elected Lamumba and for its decades of support for the killer-thief dictator Mobutu. Zaire still awaits an apology from the United States, as do others, including the victims of Cubana Flight 455(Note: The aforementioned U. S. News & World Report article and photos are in the May 12-1997 issue. I believe it is worth your time to read the article and view the photos, especially the one of the ravaged little girl hiding her face in shame as her last conscious and worldly act before she died of starvation). Those who prescribed her fate lived on.      
 Rafael Trujillo
      Rafael Trujillo is another killer-thief dictator installed and supported by the U. S. for exactly thirty-one years, this time in the nearby Dominican Republic, which shares the Caribbean island of Hispaniola with Haiti. Trujillo's brutal reign lasted from 1930 till 1961, during which rich Americans benefited immensely from such Dominican resources as sugar, coffee, cocoa, bananas, and slave labor. In 1924 the U. S. Marines on the island had put Trujillo in charge of the Dominican National Guard, which had been created by the U. S. in 1918 to represent American interests. Backed by U. S. arms, Trujillo took over as dictator in 1930, becoming one of history's most brutal fiends. A plethora of books detail how Trujillo and his sons loved to take reputed dissidents up in helicopters and drop them in the ocean or cut up their bodies at seaside mansions while hosting parties and feeding body parts to the sharks. Meanwhile, the Trujillo clan amassed huge fortunes, stashed in foreign bank accounts, complete with multitudes of lush properties worldwide. History records that in 1937 Trujillo murdered 20,000 (some accounts say up to 30,000) black Haitians in one day, blaming them for a sugar cane shortage. Such a slaughter, of course, could not be hidden from the Caribbean, U. S., or worldwide media. In such a circumstance, one would have expected the U. S., as Trujillo's well-known installer and supporter, to...well, at least apologize.
U. S. Secretary of State Cordell Hull
      But after the murder by the U. S. - backed Trujillo of 20,000-plus innocent Haitian peasants in one day, what the world got from the U. S. government was this famous statement from Secretary of State Cordell Hull: "Trujillo is a son-of-a-bitch but he is our son-of-a-bitch." The brash, bullying insult to Caribbeans and to decent Americans was not lost on the rest of the world, or on history.
Richard Nixon toasting Rafael Trujillo at the White House
      After murdering over 20,000 innocent Haitians in one day in 1937, Rafael Trujillo, America's son-of-a-bitch, continued to receive massive U. S. support as dictator of the Dominican Republic for another twenty-four years. During that time, Trujillo and his sons continued such fetishes as feeding dissidents to the sharks, "the best fed sharks in the world" according to historians. But finally, after 31 murderous and thieving years, the U. S. got embarrassed by one particular mass murder attributed to Trujillo, a mass murder so vile that it is believed to have inspired the embarrassed CIA itself to orchestrate the assassination of Trujillo by an over-kill of continuous gunfire on a rural road on May 30, 1961.
      The 1960 murders of the Mirabal sisters in the Dominican Republic shamed even the dictator-lovers in the U. S. government. Patria, Maria, and Antonia Mirabal were not only beautiful, well educated, and talented, but their fight for Dominican independence and the ouster of Trujillo makes them historic icons unparalleled on the island or in the Caribbean. They are lovingly remembered as "The Butterflies" ("Las Mariposas" in Spanish). They risked their lives daily in opposing Trujillo; they and their husbands were jailed and tortured at the La Victoria Penitentiary in Santo Domingo, but they remained undeterred and many felt their fame would prevent Trujillo from murdering them once they were released from prison. But the sisters were kidnapped, driven to a lonely dirt road, and beaten to death with clubs. The outrage reached the White House, and CIA headquarters. That spelled doom for Trujillo, although the U. S. military made sure to give Trujillo's son Ramfi ample time to mount bloody revenge against Dominicans who were suspected of having opposed his father; on Nov. 18-1961, for example, six of Trujillo's supposed enemies were rounded up, taken to Ramfi Trujillo's seaside hacienda, tied to trees, shot, cut up, and fed to the sharks. (That exact account ended up in the three top Caribbean newspapers, many history books and countless Online essays). The day after that bloody venting, the  U. S. navy escorted the Trujillo children and their fortunes out of Santo Domingo harbor to safe foreign shores. In 1999 the United Nations designated November 25 (the anniversary of the Mirabal murders) as the annual date for the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. Books and movies also honor their memory. The best book is In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez and the best movie, with the same title, stars Salma Hayek as the beautiful Minerva Mirabal and Edward James Olmos as Trujillo. Some democracy-lovers timidly remain oppressed; some bravely risk their lives in search of it. The Mirabal sisters risked their lives daily in the fight for freedom, but died before attaining it for themselves although their actions helped secure it for others, including their little sister Dede Mirabal and five Mirabal offspring that have won democratic elections in the Dominican Republic. 
        The Mirabal sisters -- Patria, Maria, and Antonia -- grew up in the above home in Salcedo, Dominican Republic. Their little sister Dede still lives there today. Dede has devoted her life to honoring her sisters, and her book about them was published in 2009. As a democracy-loving American, I truly wish Caribbeans and Latin Americans could today credit the United States for supporting the Mirabal sisters, not Rafael Trujillo. But sadly, that's not the way it is. The United States for thirty-one brutal years supported "our son-of-a-bitch" in the Dominican Republic, not the Mirabal sisters.  And not the little girl in Mobutu's Zaire who covered her face with her hands in shame just before she died of starvation. And not the little girl and 76 other innocents on Cubana Flight 455.
      The U. S democracy is the greatest form of government ever devised by man or woman. Brutal dictatorships are the worst. It is my belief that the U. S. democracy should never have been involved -- past, present or future -- in installing and/or supporting brutal dictatorships to the benefit of an elitist few, and certainly should never have permitted the overthrown Batista dictatorship in Cuba to reconstitute itself on U. S. soil, with tentacles stretching powerfully to the halls of Congress and the White House, ensuring dictates to the entire country and, indeed, the world via such anti-democratic evils as the Helms-Burton Bill.  Contrary to what right-wingers espouse, only cowards and idiots believe the lie that the prime pretext for U. S. support of dictators is America's national security. The prime pretext is to line the pockets of already rich Americans who could not partake in the robbery of democratically ruled foreign countries. For example, Secretary of State John Foster Dulles and CIA Director Allen Dulles supported dictators like Batista, Somoza, Trujillo, etc. Was it for national security reasons or was it because the Dulles brothers had strong financial interests in such companies as The United Fruit Company that were literally robbing Cuba, Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic and other Caribbean and Latin American nations blind thanks to "U. S. - friendly" dictators?
      All of which reminds me anew that right-wing profiteers like my friend Sean Hannity and his ilk (Rob Sequin, Russ Limbaugh, Marco Rubio, etc.) beat their chests proclaiming themselves the world's greatest American patriots while sanctimoniously labeling true American patriots as "anti-American" or "pro-Commie" for pointing out the history of such things as the little girl on Cubana Flight 455, the little girl in Zaire hiding her face in shame as she died of starvation, the Mirabal sisters in the Dominican Republic, etc. etc., etc. Well, Sean, Rob, Russ, Marco...permit me to close with this.
        I and my ilk are the true American patriots and, in a more honest and less pompous way, we salute the U. S. flag and its democracy every day, sometimes by pointing out things the proud and much-honored flag should not be associated with, such as the starvation of little girls in U. S. friendly dictatorships. Sure, we disagree with y'all when it comes to supporting vile Cuban exiles or the little girl on Cubana Flight 455, Mubuto or the little girl in Zaire ashamed to be photographed as she was starving to death, Trujillo or the Mirabal sisters in the Dominican Republic, etc., etc. And that disagreement will continue as long as the starvation or blowing up of little girls is beneficial to or satisfactory to self-anointed superiors and their sycophants. 
       And that's why I believe the Cuban Revolution says more about the United States than it says about Cuba, especially the reconstitution of the ousted Batista regime on U. S. soil.
     And that's why I believe Cubana Flight 455 and its continuous aftermath says more about Miami than it says about Havana, especially from the aspect of terrorism.       


Cubana Flight 455

Lest We Forget
      I subscribe to the premise that the Cuban Revolution says more about the United States than it says about Cuba. After all, Cuba is a small island and the United States is the world's economic and military superpower. And, after all, what happens to a small island, unlike with a superpower, doesn't normally translate to gargantuan historic and topical news. In a similar vein, I believe the fate of Cubana Flight 455 (the actual airplane is shown above) says a lot more about Miami than it says about Havana. Therefore, primarily what the Cuban Revolution says is: The United States, the world's greatest democracy, should not be in the business of supporting murderous/thieving dictators like, for example, Batista in Cuba. And, primarily what the fate of Cubana Flight 455 says is: The United States, the world's greatest democracy, should never have permitted the overthrown Batista dictatorship to immediately (and it seems eternally) reconstitute itself on U. S. soil, namely  South Florida with Miami as its capital.
      Of the million or so prime reasons one could put forth as indisputable evidence that Miami and South Florida indeed constitute a dictatorship, the linchpin is Cubana Flight 455. That particularly includes the decades that preceded the historic flight and the decades that have followed it.
        Cubana Flight 455 was a Douglas DC-8 aircraft with the tail number CU-TI201. On October 6, 1976, the plane took off from Caracas with 73 passengers and five crew members. The passengers included 24 teenage members of the Cuban Fencing Team that had just won the Central American Championship in its age group. A 7-year-old girl was also on board. On the trek from Caracas to Havana, there were scheduled stopovers in Barbados and Jamaica. After ascending skyward from Seawell Airport in Bridgetown, Barbados, over the ocean about 8 kilometers west of Bridgetown, two time bombs -- one featuring dynamite and the other the C-4 explosive -- blasted Cubana Flight 455 from the sky, murdering all 78 on board. Within hours, CIA operatives tightly linked to the anti-Castro factions that ruled South Florida were blamed.
George H. W. Bush
      George H. W. Bush was CIA Director on October 6, 1976, the day Cubana Flight 455 was blown out of the sky.
Luis Posada Carriles
      Luis Posada Carriles, the most infamous of the CIA-trained explosive experts and history's most famed anti-Castro zealot, has -- from October of 1976 to this very day -- been branded as the ringleader of the terrorists who bombed Flight 455 from the sky. He remains today a totally free and much-heralded (and protected) citizen of Miami, Florida.
Orlando Bosch (on the left) and Luis Posada Carriles
     Orlando Bosch will forever be labeled the second most infamous CIA-trained explosives-and-sabotage expert as well as the second most famed anti-Castro terrorist (or, as they say in Miami, freedom fighter). Like Posada Carriles, Bosch will always be tied to the bombing of Cubana Flight 455. And like his friend and colleague Posada Carriles, Bosch relished four decades of active terror against anything remotely related to Fidel Castro, such as the 7-year-old girl on the doomed airplane. The most famous quote attached to Bosch regarding Cubana Flight 455: "There were no innocents on that plane." The most famous quote attached to Posada Carriles regarding that bombing: "It's the biggest blow yet against Castro."  The most famous historical quotation related to the airplane bombing (derived from de-classified U. S. and Venezuelan documents) is a confirmation cable from the two terrorists who placed the bomb on the plane to the masterminds: "73 dogs just went over the cliff."  I will always believe the little girl on that plane was innocent; I will always believe she was not the biggest blow yet against Castro; and I will always believe she was not a dog. And I believe the same could be said for the other 72 civilian passengers and five crew members on that airplane.   
      Both Bosch and Posada Carriles spent time in Latin American prisons for the airplane bombing and other acts of terror against Cuban interests but, incredibly, the Bush political dynasty (GHW, G. W., and Jeb) in association with the two most powerful Cuban exiles, first Jorge Mas Canosa and then Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, secured their freedoms from prisons to the sanctuary of Miami.  Considerable controversy and criticism have always been attached to America's sponsoring, coddling, and protecting Posada Carriles and Bosch but, like a big bully,  America has persisted in undaunted fashion.  President George H. W. Bush on July 18, 1990 pardoned Bosch of all American charges at the direct request of his son Jeb Bush, who had been Ros-Lehtinen's congressional Campaign Manager in 1989 on his way to becoming the two-term governor of Florida.  During the pre-Obama two-term presidency of George W. Bush, the U. S. tried mightily to persuade many other countries to grant asylum to Posada Carriles and Bosch, but to no avail. Orlando Bosch died as a heralded citizen of Miami on April 27, 2011; Posada Carriles remains a ubiquitous free man in Miami.   
      Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia, has a fair compendium of "Cubana Flight 455," including this paragraph: "Evidence implicated several CIA-backed anti-Castro Cuban exiles...CIA documents released in 2005 indicate that the agency 'had concrete advance intelligence, as early as June 1976, on plans by Cuban exile terrorist groups to bomb a Cuban airliner.' Former CIA operative Posada Carriles denies involvement but provides many details of the incident in his own book Caminos del Guerrero (Way of the Warrior)...Orlando Bosch was acquited because of technical defects in the prosecution evidence..." Wikipedia and the U. S. National Security Archives website provides many links to declassified U. S. (CIA, FBI, etc.) documents that clearly reveal the CIA-Posada Carriles-Bosch ties to the bombing of Cubana Flight 455.
 Ann Louise Bardach
      Ann Louise Bardach, a truly great journalist/author, is America's best expert on post-revolutionary Cuba. Bardach's prolific Cuban books provide irrefutable evidence of the warping of the democractic process in the U. S. beginning in January of 1959 when the overthrown Batista/Mafia dictatorship in Cuba merely reconstituted itself on U. S. soil in South Florida. The sheer economic and dictatorial power that had dominated Cuba in the 1950s -- such as top Batista officials like Rafael Diaz-Balart and Meyer Lansky and wealthy companies like Bacardi Rum and Fanjul Sugar -- had planned ahead and thus quickly overwhelmed South Florida and shortly elevated their power northward to the White House and the halls of Congress. Bardach in Cuba Confidential quoted a veteran and very knowledgeable FBI official: "The gansterismo of Havana was transported to Miami by a handful of early Batistiano arrivals. They set up shop here just like they did in Havana." Of course, the insatiable appetites of the Batistianos to recapture Cuba with the help of the U. S. government, the U. S. treasury, and the U. S. military led not only to the infamous Bay of Pigs military attack but also to countless acts of terrorism and sabotage, none of which bothered the U. S. government, including the bombing of Cubana Flight 455. The recapture of Cuba was supposed to take only a matter of days or months but, after more than half a century, it continues to this day, much to the detriment of everyone except, as the FBI official told Bardach, "a handful of early Batistiano arrivals" (and now, of course, a second generation of them, such as the two sons of Rafael Diaz-Balart elected to the U. S. Congress from Miami).
      In the new Guinness Book of World Records, Fidel Castro gets prominent mention because the famed chronicler of world records now officially recognizes that the old revolutionary has survived the most assassination attempts in all of history -- a whopping 638! That may have to be updated in the next yearly tabulation because he is set to turn 86-years-old on August 13, 2012, and because...the Batistiano dictatorship still reigns in South Florida and still rules U. S. Cuban policy.
      Since 1990 Bardach has interviewed all the pertinent parties involved in the Cuba-U.S. imbroglio. Her New York Times interview with Luis Posada Carriles is a classic historical document in which Posada Carriles lavishly praised the CIA and Jorge Mas Canosa (later recanted, of course) for their diligence in training and financing his escapades. Bardach's three most scintillating, accurate, and gripping books are: (1) Cuba Confidential: Love and Vengeance in Miami and Havana (Random House, 2002); (2) Cuba Confidential: The Extraordinary Tragedy of Cuba, Its Revolution and Its Exiles (Penguin, 2004); and (3) Without Fidel: Death Foretold in Miami, Havana and Washington (Scribner, 2009). Bardach's books, articles, and essays remain and continue as perhaps the best sources for understanding the true nature of Cuba-U. S. relations in the post-revolutionary period. And Bardach's long essay entitled Twilight of the Assassins, which was published in The Atlantic Magazine in November of 2006, provides a chilling but valuable and indispensable crystallization of how the U. S. democracy has been affected by the reconstitution of the Cuban/Batista dictatorship to South Florida. The aforementioned three Bardach books, her NY Times' interview with Posada Carriles, and her essay in The Atlantic Magazine are must reads for anyone still claiming that South Florida, with Miami as its capital, IS NOT A DICTATORSHIP.
Peter Kornbluh (Photo courtesy: Tracey Eaton) 
       Peter Kornbluh, the Cuban/Latin American expert at the U. S. National Security Archives, rates with Ann Louise Bardach at the top of any lists of the best Cuba-U. S. experts in America. When it comes to history, journalism, democracy, Cuba, and Latin America, Peter Kornbluh is the American that stands the tallest. The painstaking work he has done to De-classify long classified (hidden) U. S. documents relating to clandestine U. S. involvements regarding Cuba and Latin America is both unrivaled and priceless in its luminosity. The fruition of his remarkable De-classifications are posted on his U. S. National Security Archives website. If you are interested in the true facts about Cubana Flight 455 and its deleterious effect on our democracy, for example, depend on Peter Kornbluh and not the legions of  obfuscating pundits spawned by the uniqueness of having a real live, thriving dictatorship on U. S. soil, a true ubiquity amidst America's vast democracy. 
                         Judy Jackson
      Judy Jackson of London's BBC has won more awards as a documentarian than any living soul, and her sterling reputation as a democracy-loving Human Rights advocate is beyond reproach. No one compares with Judy for exposing the evils of brutal dictators/despots, and getting results. Her documentary The Hidden Holocaust (about Guatemala) touched hearts around the world, including some dictators; her documentary In Search of the Assassin (about Central American killer squads) made sponsors of dictatorships, especially in the UK and the U. S., at least have second thoughts and feel tinges of embarrassment; and her documentary They Shoot Children, Don't They? made many millions of people around the world, including me, literally cry unabashed tears. Most of mine, I admit, was because Judy Jackson cogently revealed that the U. S. government, the world's greatest democracy, trained many of those child-killers and the taxpayers in that democracy paid for it with their money but, apparently, not with their tears, which, in this day and time, seem reserved for more monumental things, such as the latest Kim Kardashian divorce.
Mariana van Zeller
     Mariana van Zeller of Vanguard/Current TV is the best American documentarian. She speaks five languages, especially English and Spanish, and travels anywhere in the world for her stories regardless of the danger, such as confronting masked terrorists in remote jungles.  She graduated from the Columbia School of Journalism where she met her husband (and now her photographer/producer) Darren Foster. She has lived in London and even in Syria when she studied Arabic at Damascus University. Several of Mariana's best documentaries, such as The OxyContin Express, have graphically chronicled how the dictatorship in South Florida harms not only its own citizens but people in other states thousands of miles away. Drugs, both of the illegal and prescription variety, spread away from South Florida like a cancer spreading from one place to other areas of the body. Unlike typical electronic journalists who sit behind a desk and pontificate with other pundits (saving their corporate owners money by not going out to actually cover a story), Mariana doesn't just tell you that the  easily obtained drugs in Miami destroy little towns in, say, Kentucky or Ohio and make the overwhelmed sheriffs in those towns actually cry. Mariana leaves those drug dispensers in Miami and travels to those little towns, and shows you the actual tears and heartbreak of those sheriffs, faraway tears based on the effects of a dictatorship on U. S. soil, the one in South Florida that has Miami as its capital.
     All of which takes us circuitously to Fort Benning, the U. S. Army post located just south of Columbus, Georgia. You see, the genesis for the terrorist bombing of Cubana Flight 455 goes all the way back to 1959 at Fort Benning. In the 1950s the world's greatest democracy, the United States, began supporting killer-thief dictators throughout the Caribbean and South America -- such as Batista in Cuba, Trujillo in the Dominican Republic, Somoza in Nicaragua, etc., etc. And in places like Chile the U. S. was not at all adverse to overthrowing a decent and popular democracy to install a more U. S. - friendly killer-thief dictator, such as Augusto Pinochet. Thus, beginning in the 1950s the U. S. had, in both Panama and at Fort Benning, a secretive outfit internally called The United States Army School of the Americas. It's sole purpose was to take carefully selected soldiers and policemen from U. S. - friendly dictatorships, train them in areas such as explosives and torture, and then send them back to those dictatorships to deal with dissidents or anyone that threatened the dictatorship. Of course, the U. S. taxpayers who paid for it all didn't have a clue as to what the Army School of the Americas was all about. But then, during the Clinton administration, details emerged from Latin American nations trying mightily to embrace democracy. Then, and only then, did President Clinton hold a news conference and apologize for the horrors inflicted across the Caribbean and Latin America by the Army School of the Americas. After that apology, the U. S. government simply changed the name to The Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation. Panama, in one of its flirtations with democracy, had already kicked the infamous School out of its country all the way back to its home-base at Fort Benning.  But will we have to wait another few decades till a Mariana van Zeller or Peter Kornbluh or the saintly child-loving Judy Jackson breaks down normally impenetrable and classified barriers at Fort Benning and D. C. to inform us about what the renamed outfit has done and is doing?  Western Hemisphere Institute. Nice name. But Army of the Americas was once considered a nice name too. 

       After the Cuban Revolution in January of 1959 booted the Batista-Mafia dictatorship all the way from Havana to Miami, the richest and most radical of the Cuban exiles expected, thanks to their relationship with the ultra-powerful U. S. government, to recapture Cuba within weeks if not days. To that end, the U. S. government selected the most visceral Cuban exiles and sent them -- you guessed it! -- to the Army School of the Americas at Fort Benning, Georgia. Luis Posada Carriles was, of course, one of the first star graduates. He is shown above at Fort Benning in his 2nd Lt.'s uniform.
Felix Rodriguez

George H. W. Bush with Felix Rodriguez
      Felix Rodriguez is another famed (infamous) graduate of the Army School of the Americas at Fort Benning and yet another of the most radical Cuban exiles tightly aligned with the Bush dynasty, which has never seemed very interested in the majority moderates within those ranks.
      Above is a famously sweet note that President George H. W. Bush wrote to Felix Rodriguez whose main infamy, aside from his closeness to the Bush clan, is his key role (below) in the assassination of Che Guevara in Bolivia in 1967 and his primary involvement with Oliver North in the Iran-Contra scandal.
      Felix Rodriguez, now in his early 70s, remains one of the most influential power-brokers in Miami. Not coincidentally, he has had uniquely close, decades-old friendships with George H. W. Bush, George W. Bush, and Jeb Bush.
    The above photo shows President George H. W. Bush (seated) meeting with his two definitive choices as the leaders of the Cuban exiles; Ileana Ros-Lehtinen is on the left with Jorge Mas Canosa directly at her left. The Bush dynasty (George H. W., George W., and Jeb) has never needed to explain why they have so mightily sanctioned only the most radical Cuban exiles and not the majority moderates, which great journalists such as Robert Parry consider a palpable warping of the democratic process.
Robert Parry 
     A Google search of the award-winning (AP, Newsweek, Bloomberg, etc.) journalist/author Robert Parry's plethora of anti-terrorism reports, such as "Bush's Hypocrisy: Cuban Terrorists," is an absolutely chilling experience. That essay by Parry detailing the Bush dynasty's incredible ties to Luis Posada Carriles and Orlando Bosch included this paragraph: "But there is nothing really new about these two terrorists (Carriles and Bosch) -- and other violent right-wing extremists -- getting protection from the Bush family. For three decades, both Bosch and Carriles have been under the Bush family's wing, starting with former President George H. W. Bush (who was CIA director when the airline bombing occurred in 1976) and including Florida Governor Jeb Bush and  president George W. Bush." (Parry wrote that essay on April 16, 2006).
Jorge Mas Canosa telling President Clinton how to support his anti-Castro policy
      The all-time most powerful Cuban-exile leader in Miami has been Jorge Mas Canosa, yet another star graduate (above, top) of the Army School of the Americas at Fort Benning. George H. W. Bush, as Vice-President in the Reagan administration, anointed Canosa as  the leader of the Cuban exiles, after which Canosa formed the Cuban-American National Foundation, created gravy trains such as  Radio-TV Marti, crafted the most pertinent congressional bills related to Cuba, became a billionaire in Miami, and was unchallenged, until his death at age 58 in 1997, when it came to anything pertaining to Cuba.  
     Until the decisive anointment by George H. W. Bush, Jorge Mas Canosa competed with two other famed Cuban exiles, Rafael Diaz-Balart and Rolando Masferrer, for leadership of the Cuban government-in-exile in Miami. Masferrer, on the left in the above photo (his brother is on the right) was head of the vile and infamous Masferrer Tigers as the brutal enforcer for the Batista dictatorship; Diaz-Balart, shown above in the center with the holstered pistol, was a key minister in the Batista dictatorship.  Miami's deadly internecine warfare eliminated Masferrer early on, with a car bomb in 1975.  Diaz-Balart didn't lose out till Vice President Bush anointed Canosa but Diaz-Balart remained a force. He, too, was a billionaire when he died of leukemia at age 79 in 2005 and two of his sons, Lincoln and Mario, were elected to the U. S. Congress from South Florida. Lincoln, amazingly, recently resigned his safe seat in the U. S. Congress to form another La Rosa Blanco (The White Rose) anti-Castro group in honor of his father; in January of 1959 Rafael Diaz-Balart had formed La Rosa Blanco as the very first anti-Castro organization in South Florida. 
      Rafael Diaz-Balart (top photo) was Fidel Castro's good buddy when they were law students at the University of Havana. And Rafael was the brother of Mirta Diaz-Balart, Fidel's first wife and the mother of his first child (bottom photo above). At the close of 2011 Mirta, whom Fidel divorced in 1955, is once again Fidel's friend and a frequent visitor to Cuba. Four of her nephews (the sons of Rafael) -- the two powerful politicians, a wealthy banker, and a nationally famed T-V anchor -- remain fiercely anti-Castro with heady visions of a post-Castro Cuba.
Naty Revuelta and daughter Alina Fernandez
      Naty Revuelta was considered the most beautiful socialite in Havana (married to a wealthy doctor) in 1955 when she had an extra-marital affair with Fidel Castro and gave birth to his only daughter, Alina. In 2011 Alina is an extremely wealthy Cuban exile in Miami where she hosts an anti-Castro radio show, writes her anti-Castro books and articles, and flies all across the country making anti-Castro speeches on college campuses at $7,000 a pop plus expenses. Meanwhile, Alina's mother, Naty, says to this day she remains madly in love with Fidel and she is also a frequent and welcomed visitor to Cuba.
Dalia Soto del Valle (Mrs. Fidel Castro)

     Meanwhile, Fidel -- aged 85 and still recovering from his near-fatal 2006 illness -- is married to his devoted wife Dalia, shown above in the baseball hat and below with one of the five sons (and his girlfriend) she has had with Fidel.  All this, I think you'll agree, makes the Cuban Revolution and its American repercussions resemble a soap opera, especially the epic As The World Turns. However, let's not get deterred from the prime theme of the seminal Cuban Revolution and its unending American aftermath. And that overriding theme is unmistakable: The Cuban Revolution spawned the first dictatorship on U. S. soil, namely in South Florida with Miami as its capital. And that salient fact, lest we forget, is best personified by Cubana Flight 455 -- especially when the decades prior to and after the 1976 bombing are factored into the enigmatic equation.
      Jim DeFede succeeded Edna Buchanan as South Florida's greatest investigative reporter and he later became the top columnist for the Miami Herald. He now is the top investigator reporter for CBS-4 Television in Miami. In what he must have known would be one of his final efforts for the Miami Herald, DeFede's column in June of 2005 is must reading for anyone rendering a judgment as to whether or not the overthrown Batista dictatorship in Cuba reconstituted itself in South Florida beginning in January of 1959. DeFede's very bold column was entitled: "Terror is Terror Whether It's in London or Cuba." Below, word for word, is that column:
      "Bodies were still being pulled from the wreckage Thursday when U. S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen issued a statement condemning what she called the 'barbaric' terrorist attack in London. 'The targeting of innocent lives is insidious and shows the utter disrespect that perpetrators of terror have for humanity,' the Miami Republican declared. 'Those who committed this callous act must know that our determination to neutralize terrorism is unshaken and that we will not yield in the face of such perfidy.'
         "Strong words. But where was the congresswoman's outrage when she came to the defense of Luis Posada Carriles, a man who bragged about masterminding a series of hotel bombings in Havana that killed an Italian tourist? A man suspected of blowing up a Cuban airliner?
           "Where was her desire to 'neutralize terrorism' when she pleaded two years ago with the president of Panama to release Pedro Remon, Guillermo Nova and Gaspar Jimenez? Those men, along with Posada, were convicted in Panama of endangering public safety, a charge stemming from an alleged plot to blow up a university center where Fidel Castro was scheduled to visit.
           "Ros-Lehtinen, along with fellow Reps. Lincoln and Mario Diaz-Balart, quietly wrote to Panamanian President Mireya Moscoso asking that she pardon the four men. And in one of her last acts before leaving office, Moscoso did just that.
             "Ros-Lehtinen and the Diaz-Balarts defended the letter, which The Herald recently uncovered in Panama, saying the four men were being held 'under questionable legal and procedural circumstances.'
               "Ros-Lehtinen is currently vying to become the next chair of the House International Relations Committee, which would make her one of the leading voices in Congress on matters of foreign policy and the worldwide fight against terrorism.
                "But what moral authority can she bring to such a post when she helps individuals who many consider to be terrorists themselves? Remon, for example, pleaded guilty in 1986 of trying to blow up the Cuban Mission in New York.
                 "Nova, a member of the violent anti-Castro group Omega-7, was convicted in the 1976 bombing murder of Chilean diplomat Orlando Letelier. The verdict was overturned on appeal.
                 "Jimenez and another man served six years in prison after they tried to kidnap a Cuban diplomat in Mexico and killed his bodyguard instead. Federal prosecutors also indicted him for placing a bomb in the car of radio commentator Emilio Millan, who lost both of his legs in the blast. A new U. S. attorney quashed the indictment, citing problems with a witness.
                   "And finally, there is Posada.
                   "How is placing bombs in hotels and restaurants in Havana any different from placing bombs on trains and buses in London?
                   "Posada -- who denied blowing up the Cubana jetliner -- bragged to the press about the Havana hotel bombings.
                 "When his bragging caused problems for his supporters in Miami, he recanted. Today he won't discuss the bombings.
                   "I wanted to talk to Ros-Lehtinen. Friday morning I called her press secretary and explained precisely what I was working on. He said he would get back to me, but I never heard from him or the congresswoman, despite subsequent calls.
                   "Ros-Lehtinen's efforts on behalf of these four men shouldn't have surprised anyone. When she first ran for Congress, she came to the aid of another Cuban militant, Orlando Bosch, and it helped get her elected.
                   "But what wins elections in some parts of Miami will likely smack of hypocrisy elsewhere. 
                   "Either you believe that terrorism is barbaric or you don't. Either you believe those who commit such acts disrespect humanity or you don't.
                    "The nobility of your cause cannot be a justification for terror, because every terrorist believes that what he is doing is right.
                    "Which is why the only way to fight terrorism is to condemn it in all its forms and not just when it is politically convenient."
         I asked and received Jim DeFede's permission to use his column in its entirety. I also asked him if he felt the column got him fired at the Miami Herald. In an e-mail I received back from him today (Dec. 7-2011) DeFede wrote: "No, I don't believe that column resulted in my firing. I think there are many reasons for my firing. And yes I do believe the fact that I was willing to take controversial stands that alienated both my bosses and different interest groups in the community played a role in my firing. But no single column was the cause."
 Mireya Moscoso
     You'll recall that Jim DeFede documented that Ros-Lehtinen and the Diaz-Balart brothers, as members of the U. S. Congress from Miami, persuaded Panama's president, Mireya Moscoso, to free Posada, Remon, Jimenez, and Nova from prison in her country. It should be noted that Moscoso is the widow of former Panamanian president Arnulfo Arias and that accounted for her becoming Panama's president from 1999 to 2004. She was considered a puppet of the Bush administration and had strong ties to the most radical Cuban exiles in Miami, where her primary home was even when she was president of Panama. Moscoso graduated from Miami-Dade Community College with a major in interior design. From beginning to end, her presidency in Panama was mired in scandal. In 1999 she quickly gave her top 72 aides Cartier watches and earrings worth "an estimated $146,000" according to Wikipedia and when it reached the press she declared she had paid for the gifts with her own money; numerous staff members were accused of "corruption scandals" but "none" were ever investigated. But Moscoso is best remembered for her final act of releasing the four Cuban exile militants back to Miami. Her successor in Panama, Martin Torrijos (a friend of Fidel Castro's as was his father, also a former Panamanian leader) was furious regarding the pardons but was unable to get any cooperation from the U. S. to get them overturned.
     DeFede mentioned in his epic 2005 column that Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, because of her longevity in the U. S. Congress from Miami, was about to become head of the Foreign Relations Committee, which, of course, has become a reality. Like all of the elite Cuban exiles in Miami with strong national influence, Ros-Lehtinen is a product of the Bush dynasty. Jeb Bush, in fact, was her Campaign Manager in 1989 on his way to his two-term governorship in Florida. DeFede mentioned Ros-Lehtinen's congressional bid received impetus from her strong defense of the notorious Orlando Bosch. Within a year of her election to Congress, President George H. W. Bush, at the request of Jeb Bush, pardoned Orlando Bosch from all U. S. charges that might have arisen against him, and the same cabal protected Bosch and Posada from foreign countries, and not just Cuba, that begged for them to be tried for the Cubana Flight 455 bombing. One thing that convinces some people that the so-called Batistiano dictatorship in Miami, like the Batista dictatorship in Cuba, is so firmly backed by the U. S. government is the fact that George H. W. Bush, George W. Bush, Jeb Bush, Ros-Lehtinen, the Diaz-Balarts, etc., have never been hurt one iota by their close ties to the likes of Luis Posada Carriles. Thus Jeb Bush and the latest Cuban exile protege from Miami, Senator Mark Rubio, will be presidential and vice-presidential candidates, respectively, as early as 2012 but definitely by 2016. Anyone who has read Ann Louise Bardach's two truly brilliant Cuba Confidential books (detailing Jeb Bush's entry into South Florida politics and real estate shenanigans in 1989) might, I believe, ask themselves this question: "You mean he wasn't put in jail but went on to be elected twice as the governor of Florida?"  All of which reminds me of the final sentence in the Jim DeFede column: "The only way to fight terrorism is to condemn it in all its forms and not just when it is politically convenient." Jim DeFede, as a great journalist, is an anomaly in the U. S. today; a car bomb silenced Emilio Millan; and "mysterious deaths" ended the notable careers of Lisa Howard, Gary Webb, and many others in their journalistic prime.
      And, in their stead, the likes of Sean Hannity are now considered "journalists?" God help us newshounds. And the United States of America. And democracies all over the world. 
     So, who in the U. S. is left to weep for the little girl on Cubana Flight 455? Maybe Judy Jackson, the great journalist at the BBC in London. Anybody else?
A sister and mother were waiting in Havana for the return of Cubana Flight 455.
Declassified U. S. document first mentioning Posada Carriles and Bosch "as almost certain" masterminds of Cubana Flight 455 bombing
Eleven victims of the Cubana Flight 455 bombing.
      Memories as well as photos of Cubana Flight 455 will linger as long as generations of mourners and the history of Cuba and the United States exist. Cubana Flight 455 says more about the United States than it says about Cuba. And the prime thing it says is: The United States should support neither foreign dictatorships, like in Batista's Cuba, nor domestic dictatorships, like in Batistiano South Florida.
Special Note

Melissa Lockhart Fortner
     I consider Melissa Lockhart Fortner to be the most diligent researcher and both the fairest and best columnist regarding the U. S. relationship with Cuba. She is senior Programs Officer for the Pacific Council on International Policy in Los Angeles and her articles on Cuba can be found at http://foreignpolicyblogs.com if you hit the "Americas/Cuba" icon at the top. Because of my respect for her expertise I asked her if she agrees or disagrees with my views regarding such things as Cubana Flight 455. Her reply: "Hello Rich (if I may) for...your insightful points about the uniquely interconnected nature of the United States and Cuba, given the exile community migration to Florida. You're quite right that this makes the relationship considerably  more complex than that with a country like Burma, and complex often means tangled -- in this case in a web of outdated policies that the United States finds itself unable to sort through." Note: The reason the Cuban issue is "considerably more complex" than, say, dealing with Burma or any other country is simply this: Cuba is the only nation in America's history in which an overthrown U. S. - backed dictatorship reconstituted itself on U. S. soil, namely South Florida. Ms. Fortner is thus correct when she concludes that the unique Cuban diaspora has, for over half a century, strangled the U. S. democracy "in a web of outdated policies that the United States finds itself unable to sort through." In other words, the Batista-Mafia dictatorship in Cuba was strong and lucrative, but not as strong nor as lucrative as the Batistiano dictatorship on U. S. soil. Cubana Flight 455 will always loom as a vibrant microcosm of that salient fact.

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