Friday, December 2, 2011

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 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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