Miami: Still America's Bomb Capital

From January 1, 1959 Till Today
        Vivian Mannerud (above, left) is one of the Miami area's leading businesswomen. She owns Airlines Brokers Company located in the posh Miami suburb of Coral Gables. Last week her business was bombed and she told the Miami Herald it reminded her of "pictures of the atomic bomb in Hiroshima." Recently, she expanded beyond Miami and began flying hundreds of passengers, mostly Cuban-Americans, from South Florida to Cuba from airports in Fort Lauderdale and Tampa. The Archdiocese of Miami hired her airlines to transport 300 people from South Florida to Cuba during the papal visit to the island in late March. While Ms. Mannerud was providing a great service for the majority of Cuban-Americans in South Florida, the radical minority in the exile community still resort to any means, such as bombs, to discourage Cuban tourism, which is the island's prime means of income. The Miami Herald reported that the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms immediately determined that the bombing of Ms. Mannerud's business was "deliberate" and that, alas, "one of the FBI agents interviewing Mannerud was a member of a South Florida counter-terrorism force." A counter-terrorism force in South Florida? Amazing! Beyond belief! Incredible! Stunning! Incomprehensible! Unbelievable....! 
         When she read about the Feds interest in the Mannerud bombing in Miami's suburb, Edna Buchanan (above) was probably astonished and did a double-take. Back in the 1960s, 70s, and 80s Edna Buchanan wrote hundreds of award-winning articles for the Associated Press about the endless string of bombings in the Miami area, bombings that appeared not to interest the Feds because, many believed, the well-known culprits were the radical, anti-Castro Cuban exiles.
         Edna Buchanan, for example, wrote the above article about the car-bombing of Emilio Milian in Miami in 1976.
          Emilio Milian was 45-years-old and among the majority Cuban-Americans in Miami in 1975. That is to say, he was a decent, hard-working family man. As the News Director of Radio Station WQBA, Emilio became the most influential newscaster in Miami. He was shamed by the constant acts of terrorism committed by the most radical Cuban exiles, and he voiced that opinion over the airways. On May 1, 1976, Emilio left the radio station at 7:30 P. M. When he turned the ignition in his car, the bomb exploded.
        Jim DeFede was the top columnist at the Miami Herald...till he wrote a column entitled "Terror is Terror Whether It's in Miami or..." In that column DeFede excoriated Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and the Diaz-Balart brothers Lincoln and Mario, all members of the U. S. Congress from Miami, for their incredible support of Miami's most infamous terrorists, including Luis Posada Carriles. Needless to say, DeFede's days as the top columnist at the Miami Herald soon came to an end.
          Dr. Robert Ingram (above) is one of the most decent, most intelligent (Ph.D, former President of the National Conference of Black Mayors, etc.), and most famous people ever to serve on the Miami-Dade County School Board. In 2005 Dr. Ingram voted with the 6-3 majority to ban the 34 copies of an innocent little book entitled Vamos a Cuba (A Visit to Cuba) that were in Miami-Dade County libraries
      The little book (above) and 24 other unchallenged children's books about other countries from a respected publisher were meant to introduce American children ages 7 to 9 to children in foreign countries. It was non-political but apparently radical Cuban exiles objected to the cover photo because it depicted smiling Cuban children on the island, a sight that every tourist who visits the island is apt to see. Normally, of course, the banning of even extremely trashy books would find the ACLU, the U. S. government, etc., rushing forth to object. But this was Miami. No one rushed to Miami regarding Vamos a Cuba.
           Just before he died in September of 2007, Dr. Ingram released a very heart-wrenching statement explaining how ashamed he was to have voted to ban the little children's book about Cuba. But he said, had he not voted to ban the book, he feared that either he or members of his family would have been car-bombed. Of course, considering that Dr. Ingram's painfully remorseful statement came from Miami, it received little attention in the equally intimidated U. S. media.  
          Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and the Diaz-Balart brothers (above) have something very much in common with the other most powerful Cuban-Amerian politicians from Miami-Washington, such as Jorge Mas Canosa and Rafael Diaz-Balart: (1) They were all anointed by the Bush political dynasty; and (2) they are always among the most radical fringe, never the majority moderate one. Ros-Lehtinen has been in the U. S. Congress since 1989 (when Jeb Bush was her Campaign Manager) and now she is the chair-person of the Foreign Relations Committee.
        Rafael Diaz-Balart, shown above in Cuba in 1958 wearing the pistol and flanked by the notorious Masferrer brothers, became a reported billionaire in Miami after being a key minister in the Batista dictatorship. Rolando Masferrer, on the left above, was Batista's most infamous terrorist-enforcer. Both Rafael and Rolando in 1959 established paramilitary units in South Florida. Rolando died in a car bomb at his Miami home in 1976 when, it is believed, his bid to become head of the Cuban government-in-exile was ended by a rival faction. 
         Jorge Mas Canosa was among the 7,000 or so hand-picked Cuban exiles in 1959 who were either sent to the University of Miami for special instruction or to Fort Benning in Georgia where the Army School of the Americas was secretly training soldiers from U. S. - friendly dictatorships so those soldiers could be sent back to those countries to defend the dictatorships. The "2D. LT." above indicates Canosa's rank earned at Fort Benning and "Brigade 2506" was the Cuban-exile unit trained to attack Cuba at the Bay of Pigs.
        Luis Posada Carriles, well into his 80s now as a heralded and well protected citizen of Miami, bragged in a New York Times interview conducted by Ann Louise Bardach that the U. S. government trained him at Fort Benning as a world-class bomb expert. In the same interview Carriles admitted bombing Cuban hotels for the purpose of hurting the island's tourism.
        The photo above shows Luis Posada Carriles the day he graduated as a 2nd Lt. from the bomb school at Fort Benning, after which he became a member of Brigade 2506, the CIA-directed band of Cuban Americans who attacked Cuba at the Bay of Pigs. After that fiasco, Carriles worked for the CIA. Historians as well as declassified U. S. documents tie Carriles to the Oct. 6-1976 bombing of Cubana Flight 455, which occurred when George H. W. Bush was CIA Director. 
        George H. W. Bush, shown above handing the pen to Ileana Ros-Lehtinen with Jorge Mas Canosa standing just to her left, was President Reagan's Vice President when he anointed Canosa as the leader of the Cuban exiles. From then till his death in 1997 Canosa became a Miami billionaire and the unchallenged leader of the Cuban exiles. Another Bush protege, Congresswoman Ros Lehtinen, now holds that distinction and, like Canosa before her, is unchallenged.
        So, the long-standing Bush-designated Canosa rule -- which accounted for such things as the anti-Cuban Helms-Burton and Torricelli bills -- was succeeded by the current Bush-designated Ros-Lehtinen domination of all things Cuban in the U. S. government AND her rule will be succeeded by the Bush-designated Marco Rubio reign. No kidding!
         Jeb Bush has already gotten his young hand-picked Marco Rubio in the U. S. Senate from Miami and last week Jeb strongly advised Mitt Romney to select Rubio as his Republican running mate (VP) in the current presidential race, something that is also being wildly championed by Fox News and the Tea Party. Win or lose with Romney-Rubio this year, Jeb's plan in 2016 is crystal clear: Bush-Rubio winning against a non-incumbent Democrat with Vice President Rubio waiting till 2020 or 2024 to take over the Oval Office.
            Senator Rubio's claim to fame to date is his anointment by the Bush dynasty and the fact that he is a Cuban-American from Miami. His other positives, of course, include Florida's pivotal 29 electoral votes and the vast financial and political powers of both the Bush dynasty and the Cuban-American elite. His many debits include a credit card problem a few years ago and the fact that his bio that featured the majestic and obligatory claim that his parents fled the Castro tyranny in Cuba to embrace freedom in Miami....TILL the Washington Post pointed out that, uh, Rubio's parents fled the BATISTA tyranny in Cuba, NOT THE CASTRO TYRANNY. But, hey! In American politics now, money trumps everything and the Rubio forces have tons of money, more than enough to overcome any youthful indiscretions.  
        As a lifelong pro-democracy conservative Republican, I fiercely object to the U. S. supporting foreign dictators, like Batista, or a reconstituted foreign dictatorship on U. S. soil, like the Batistianos. I am also not fond of monarchies such as the Bush political monarchy, which represents something the Founding Fathers tried their best to prevent via a stellar series of checks and balances, all of which have now been thwarted by a unique democracy that is totally dominated by unchecked money. After he and Rubio leave the White House, Jeb's plan is for his lawyer-son George Prescott Bush to take over. Even before Jeb & Marco reign, the Bush clan has already produced two Congressmen too many (Prescott and his son George H. W.); one Vice President too many; two Presidents too many; and two two-term governors (in Texas and Florida) too many. 
          So, the long-ago (1959) Cuban Revolution says a lot more about the superpower United States than it says about that little island itself. What it says is...the U. S. should cease supporting foreign dictatorships. Beyond that, if such a foreign dictatorship is overthrown by a popular revolution, the U. S. should not allow that ousted dictatorship to reconstitute itself on U. S. soil. Exacerbating that cancerous problem, the Bush dynasty has been allowed to hand-pick only the most radical and self-serving (especially for the Bush clan) Cuban-Americans to dictate Cuban policy to the majority of Cuban exiles, the majority of Americans, and the majority of people all around the world. Cuban-Americans, if left alone to choose their own leaders, would undoubtedly make superb choices because they are overall a most decent and capable group. And in a democracy, that is the way it should be.
       Meanwhile, back to Vivian Mannerud, shown above outside her bombed-out business. She is the latest to fall victim to a terrorist bomb in the U. S. bomb capital of Miami, yet another terrorist act obviously designed to hurt Cuba's tourism industry. It's been a fact of life since 1959, and that's a Long Long Time. But gosh! Did the Miami Herald actually say that the FBI agent who interviewed Ms. Mannerud really expressed concern? If so, I'm sure Edna Buchanan, Jim DeFede, and a lot of other great journalists would be shocked.
     Heck! The next thing you know, the CIA will be embarrassed that the new (2012) edition of The Guinness Book of World Records has now officially recognized that Fidel Castro easily holds the world record for surviving the most assassination attempts -- a whopping 638! But, hey, it's politically incorrect to make fun of the CIA and it's a bit unhealthy to admit you "admire" the fact that Fidel Castro is nearing his 86th birthday. Ask.......
Miami Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen
      The little guy above is my favorite bird photo this week. He is a flamecrest. (El pequeno de arriba es mi foto favorita de aves de esta semana. El es un flamecrest). 




Speak Carefully in Banana Republics!

         Ozzie Guillen stepped into a whole new world when he left as manager of the Chicago White Sox to become manager of the Florida Marlins in Miami. But he didn't quite make it unscathed through the first week of the season, although the new job was not his first rodeo. An all-star shortstop, heralded coach, manager of the World Series-winning White Sox, the crudely outspoken Ozzie has survived many verbal skirmishes and gaffes. But in an interview with Time Magazine, he praised Fidel Castro with quotes such as, "I love Fidel Castro."  This time, Ozzie's assumption that in the United States the cherished First Amendment gave him the right to express admiration for someone was quite naive, ignoring the nuances of South Florida since January of 1959 when Fidel Castro overthrew the Batista-Mafia dictatorship, which quickly became reconstituted in South Florida. On the road in Philadelphia when the tsunami hit the fan, Ozzie was forced to leave his team in the middle of a six-game road trip and fly home to Miami for a Tuesday morning (April 10th) news conference where he hoped tears and apologies would allow him to keep his job. (His Marlins have a new, sumptuous, tax-paid stadium in the heart of Miami's Little Havana). But Ozzie, known for his intelligence and toughness, is neither smart enough nor strong enough to weather this particular hurricane, not in Miami where Fidel Castro long ago, and quite unintentionally, created the first and only Banana Republic on U. S. soil.
        Ozzie Guillen began his Major League career as the shortstop for the Chicago White Sox  and was named American League Rookie of the Year. Along with Chico Carrasquel, Luis Aparicio, Dave Concepcion, Omar Vizquel, etc., Ozzie joined the pantheon of truly great Venezuelan-born shortstops who have graced the American Major Leagues. He is the only Latino to manage a World Series winner and he is a millionaire many times over. But...as the new manager of the Florida Marlins in Miami he told Time Magazine that he "loved" and "admired" Fidel Castro. Thus, even before that particular magazine article was published, Ozzie has met his Waterloo for misjudging Miami as seriously as Napoleon misjudged Russia. But, Ozzie, it was nice knowing you and, as a baseball diehard, I'll always keep your initial bubblegum card.
         Andy Gomez, the assistant provost and senior fellow at the Institute of Cuban and Cuban-American Studies at the University of Miami, said, "He (Guillen) is a great manager, but he should stick to something he knows." Then Mr. Gomez volunteered to give Ozzie Guillen "a private tutorial" on Fidel Castro. It is assumed, of course, that such instruction would be unbiased, totally accurate, and eminently truthful. But it causes one to wonder if Mr. Gomez would venture from the friendly confines of Miami to travel around the world to provide private tutorials to far more famous and more important people who have praised Fidel Castro much more lavishly than Ozzie Guillen ever did -- people such as Dilma Rousseff, the President of Latin American superpower Brazil; Manmohan Singh, the highly respected Prime Minister of India; Nelson Mandela, the South African political and civil rights icon; etc.  
         Joe Martinez, Chairman of the Miami-Dade County Commission, led the parade of leading anti-Castro zealots and benefactors in South Florida demanding that Ozzie Guillen resign as the manager of the Florida Marlins in the heart of Miami's Little Havana. The Guillen "I love Fidel" comment is somewhat of a windfall for Mr. Martinez, who only last Wednesday submitted his paperwork to run for mayor of Miami. He will challenge incumbent Miami mayor Carlos Gimenez in the August election when, it appears, Martinez and Gimenez will vie to win the most anti-Castro votes.
          Meanwhile, the old revolutionary -- himself a huge baseball fan -- ponders in Havana, wondering who will succeed Ozzie Guillen as manager of the Florida Marlins in Little Havana and musing to himself how much he influences such things. For sure, Guillen's successor, like the local and national politicos, will have to divulge how much he hates Fidel even before he presents his baseball credentials. On August 13th, as the Martinez-Gimenez battle to become Miami's mayor ends, the old man hopes to be quietly celebrating his 86th birthday. At his age, the machinations of Miami's Fidel-obsessed world is of little concern to the man himself. 
Photo courtesy: Joe Cavaretta/South Florida Sun Sentinel
         A contrite, torpid Ozzie Guillen, manager of the Miami Marlins, was forced to leave his team on its six-day road trip to fly back to Miami today (April 10th) to not only palliate but to totally recant his "love" and "respect" for Fidel Castro, as expressed in an interview with Time Magazine. He temporarily saved his job for which he was guaranteed $10 million in the next four years. The club, seeking to pacify Little Havana in the heart of Miami, handed him a five-game suspension five games into his first season as manager in Miami, where the Venezuelan-born Guillen has lived for the past twelve years. The Marlins last week inaugurated their new $515 million stadium in Little Havana where the byzantine Cuban-exile hatred of Fidel Castro has ruled supreme since January-1959.
          Meanwhile, on the nearby island itself the pertinacious eastern town of Holguin dusted off its "Battling Forever" billboard that honors the revolutionary Fidel Castro while also saluting the tenaciousness that has vexed Little Havana on a daily basis since January of 1959. Considering who his most determined long-time enemies are -- the Cuban exiles, the Mafia, and the CIA -- Castro's tenacity and longevity is not only unique but understandably perplexing to some.
          The images today (April 10) of a devastated Ozzie Guillen at his mea culpa news conference in Miami flashed across the world, dominating the printed, electronic, and online news and sports worlds. America's #1 newspaper, USA Today, featured Guillen's Castro comments as its "Cover Story," with the major article written by Paul White pointing out that long before he took the managerial job in Miami Guillen had openly expressed his admiration of Fidel Castro. For example, in a 2008 article for Men's Journal Guillen, a renowned tough man,  was asked, "Who is the toughest man you know."  He readily replied, "Fidel Castro! He's a bull...everybody's against him and he still survives. I admire him." Of course, outside of Little Havana, Ozzie Guillen is not exactly a lone wolf.
        The new (2012) edition of The Guinness Book of World Records recognizes Fidel Castro for having survived more (uh, many, many more!) assassination attempts than anyone in history -- a whopping 638! That's not the only reason, of course, that both the old (now 85-year-old) revolutionary and Ozzie Guillen are now hated in Little Havana. But it is one reason.
Photo courtesy: Susan Knowles/UPI/Landov
          Hey, what's new? On April 10, 2012 Fidel Castro continued to stir vitriol in Miami and create headlines around the world, as he has done since the 1950s. The pertinent question now is...what will be more significant -- his 85-plus years on earth or his looming legacy? The answer to that question will also predicate the post-Castro rulers of Cuba, namely foreign dominance or domestic control. And that issue is far more interesting than a Latino baseball manager in the U. S. being legally mugged for the crime of admiring, like The Guinness Book of World Records and more than a few others, the old revolutionary's longevity. So, nothing is new but, I guess, April 10-2012 was a slow news day, much to the delight of Fidel watchers around the world.
          Christine Armario (above), for her reporting on the Ozzie Guillen-Fidel Castro brouhaha in Miami, should receive both the Nobel Peace Prize and the Pulitzer Literary Prize for her Associated Press article today (April 11) entitled "Ozzie Guillen's Fidel Castro Comments Open Old Wounds in Miami." It is that good, that brave, and that unique. Ms. Armario's first sentence was: "Marlins manager Ozzie Gullen's comments professing admiration for Fidel Castro caused a bigger uproar than if the Miami baseball team had spent the entire season in last place." Then -- after explaining the whos, wheres, whens, and whats -- she added this courageous paragraph: "The exile community's demographics have changed in important ways -- there is less support for the U. S. embargo against Cuba, for instance. More Cubans who come to South Florida these days are doing so for economic reasons. And younger Cuban-Americans tend to have less animosity than their parents do toward Castro and his brother Raul."
           Then the perspicacious and startlingly courageous Christine Armario wrote: "For all those softer sentiments, however, the Guillen episode this week proves that when it comes to Cuba, the rhetoric and discourse remain largely in the hands of those with the most hardline positions." Merely writing such a sentence separates Ms. Armario from the plethora of pusillanimous right-wing, left-wing, and politically/socially correct cowards and clowns that claim to be journalists. For someone in the U. S. media to have both the intelligence and the guts to state the facts regarding the Cuba-U. S. conundrum -- and do it from her base in Miami, no less -- is a truly remarkable enterprise, surely worthy of consideration from the Nobel and Pulitzer committees. "The Guillen episode this week proves that when it comes to Cuba, the rhetoric and discourse remain largely in the hands of those with the most hardline positions." Working for the world's largest wire-service (Associated Press) in America's ubiquitous plutocracy (MIAMI), Christine Armario got to the truth and the crux of what she termed "the Guillen episode." Amazing. Absolutely amazing! At the least, it represents one of the very few times since 1959 that the mainstream U. S. media has rendered a truthful sentence or an honest paragraph regarding Cuba. At the most, it should earn her Nobel and Pulitzer honors!
  This is the Cuban flag waving in Havana today.
This is the Cuban flag being waved in Little Havana today.
This is the American flag waving over Guantanamo Bay
This is two nations at war to appease a few old revengeful exiles
This is a little island with a huge (unwanted) relevance
This is a beautiful and peaceful little bird

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