Still #1 and #2 on the Great Women Pantheon
A poll taken by a Spanish newspaper reports that Cuban school-children, especially uniformed first-grade girls, are the favorite subjects for foreign journalists-photographers. Little girls, like the one above, are quite accustomed to such attention although at times it becomes quite boring. [The photo was taken by the Reuters News Agency, 10:43 A.M., Sept. 4-2012] In past decades the Cuban revolutionary government has readily promoted school-children as its greatest achievement, therefore allowing foreign photographers into the classrooms. But that policy is being revised and restricted because, as the graciously posing but obviously bored little girl above indicates, it has become a distraction that interferes with the teaching process.
And, guess what? The same newspaper poll revealed that the favorite photographs of tourists in Cuba are the uniformed school-children, especially the little girls. With tourism being the most important revenue-provider on the island, the government has not openly promoted this fact of life but it also has heretofore not dissuaded it. But photos such as the one above have focused a fresh look at the ubiquitous nuance on the island. The little girls above seem both bored and confused after being stopped on a street for a photo session on their way to school. "Why," they seem to be asking, "are strangers so interested in us?" Also, invariably, little girls are usually asked to be in the forefront with little boys in the background, reversing the trend in pre-revolutionary Cuba. [Photo: Reuters]
Even first-graders in Cuba are veterans at posing for professional and amateur photographers, usually with the little girls upfront and the little boys trying not to be totally excluded. This fact of life during the new school term in Cuba dates back to January of 1959, the month the Cuban Revolution took charge of Cuba. [Photo: Reuters]
Beginning in January of 1959, long oppressed Cuban women, for the first time in history, became major forces on the island, which sharply altered how their children were treated, especially compared to the brutal Batista-Mafia years 1952-1959.
Celia Sanchez, checking on the welfare of a Cuban child above, was the overall most important figure in the Cuban Revolution, and her passion as a rebel fighter and revolutionary leader all revolved around the abysmal treatment of children during the Batista-Mafia dictatorship from 1952 till 1959. The last straw for Celia Sanchez, heretofore an angelic doctor's daughter, was the kidnapping of peasant girls as young as ten so they could be used to lure rich pedophiles to the Mafia-run gambling casinos that proliferated on the island. A ten-year-old girl that Celia loved, Maria Ochoa, succumbed to that dreadful practice.
And that's why it would not be incorrect to state that the fate of little Maria Ochoa constituted the biggest mistake Batista, the Mafia, and the United States ever made on the island of Cuba. It transformed the angelic doctor's daughter into history's all-time greatest female guerrilla fighter and revolutionary leader. She was not deterred by the well-known fact that no one had ever come close to overthrowing a U. S. - backed dictatorship. She believed love of children was a superior motivation than the love of money and, deep inside her, she believed a fiercely motivated guerrilla force could defeat a vastly stronger army motivated by greed. In the end, that belief predicated the outcome of Cuba's revolutionary war.
Years later when Celia Sanchez [supported 100% by Fidel Castro] was the top decision-maker in Revolutionary Cuba, she told Cuban historian Pedro Alvarez Tabio why the rebels won: "For us it was a do-or-die fight. I knew that the top 40 or 50 of the Batista and Mafia leaders had already stolen so much money from Cuba that they were determined to live and spend it. For them, it was do-and-run. Even as we raced from Santiago de Cuba to Santa Clara to Havana, they were stronger than we were. But, just in case, they had their airplanes and ships and boats at the ready. Batista fled first to his pal Trujillo's Dominican Republic; Lansky and the other Mafia kingpins fled mostly to Miami and Union City, where the banks were already stuffed with their loot. I still wish they had somehow mustered the guts to stay and fight us. But they didn't, and that's where it stands today. We are still here. The rich cowards and their rich children are there." [That Celia Sanchez quotation dates to Feb., 1978, but in essence it is also where Cuba and the U.S. "stand" in the closing days of 2012, except now there are six unchallenged (when it comes to Cuba) vindictive Cuban-Americans in the U. S. Congress from Miami and Union City (NJ)]
With the triumph of the Cuban Revolution in January of 1959, three exceptional female rebels -- Vilma Espin, Celia Sanchez, and Haydee Santamaria [left to right above] -- comprised a decision-making trio more powerful than the three most notable male rebels [Fidel Castro, Che Guevara, and Camilo Cienfuegos].
Thus, in January of 1959, the Federation of Cuban Women was formed and, to this day, it remains the most powerful force on the island. It quickly established block-by-block "Committees for the Defense of the Revolution" whereby each and every adult Cuban was required to defend the children on their particular blocks and, via daily fact-checking meetings, to loudly point out real or perceived threats, either domestic or foreign. Additionally, the Federation of Cuban Women proclaimed that Cuban children would be provided free educations through college and free health care all their lives, with little girls fully on a par with little boys on an island previously known for the prevalence of Latin machismo.
Because the Federation of Cuban Women remains a powerful force on the island in the year 2012, Cuban school-children are among the world's healthiest and best educated children, and among the most photographed. [Note in the above photo that, second from the left, even a little boy is included in this quartet] Cuban children in the year 2012 are not showered with luxuries but, arguably, they are perhaps the safest and best protected children on the planet.
And therefore, Celia Sanchez, were she alive today, would undoubtedly be very proud of the Cuban Revolution that she forged and of the Cuban Federation of Women that she, Vilma Espin, and Haydee Santamaria created way back in 1959.
Question: Would Celia Sanchez in September of 2012 find it ironic that the Cuban Federation of Women is concerned that little girls now take priority over little boys on the island? Answer: Probably, but I think it would also spawn a wry smile on her face.
Question: Would Celia Sanchez, were she alive today, be proud of the proclamation she first laid down in 1959: "The Batistianos will never regain control of Cuba as long as I live or as long as Fidel lives." Answer: Most certainly.
Lastly and for what it's worth, Rachel Carson is my second most admired historic figure. In the above UPI photo, Ms. Carson is testifying before a very hostile Senate subcommittee in June of 1963, as she was dying of cancer. She was defending her book Silent Spring, which was published fifty years ago this week. Saddened one spring when she discovered why birds were no longer singing because they were dying out, and worried that human children would face the same fate, Rachel Carson used the last bursts of energy in her being to fight the bought-and-paid-for politicians who supported the poison that was making millions of dollars for chemical companies, plenty of money to buy off the politicians who tried to discredit Rachel Carson and devour her like hungry [or in this case greedy] wolves devour helpless rabbits.
But because she prevailed with a successful defense of her book and the landmark environmental revelations the book exposed, Rachel Carson is perhaps the reason your children and grand-children, and mine, are alive and healthy today.
The "Pesticides Industry" and its army of bought-and-paid-for U. S. Congressmen tried mightily to destroy Rachel Carson. But, though already weakened by cancer, she won the last big battle of her life and before she died she again heard the music of her beloved songbirds as well as happy and healthy children frolicking in a park outside her hospital window.
Therefore, the best book published this month of September, and in the entire year of 2012, is William Souder's "On a Farther Shore: The Life and Legacy of Rachel Carson". If young mothers have any money and time left over after buying up all the filthy, mind-sapping "Fifty Shades of..." books, they may want to purchase "On a Farther Shore: The Life and Legacy of Rachel Carson."
Rachel Carson died of breast cancer at age 56 in 1964. But "Silent Spring" -- first published in September of 1962 -- remains a readily available best-seller to this day. And, amazingly, it has nothing to do with a billionaire pedophile who likes to bound his teenage mistress. The moral of this story: Celia Sanchez and Rachel Carson rate one-two on the pantheon of great women, well ahead of more famous [and more infamous] filth-peddlers such as E. L. James and Suzanne Collins.
...her name was Rachel Carson...and the world is a much better place because she lived.
Summation: Cuba and the United States are better places because Celia Sanchez and Rachel Carson lived such meaningful lives in environments too often dominated and controlled by greedy, power-hungry men.
Thanks to Celia Sanchez, ten-year-old Cuban girls in 2012 may need to run from prying paparazzi-type photographers...but not from pedophiles and other predators.
And thanks to Rachel Carson, songbirds are still alive to make sure there are no more silent springs in America for either bird-lovers or children-lovers.