The Significance of Celia Sanchez & Rachel Carson

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 infamousfilth-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.


Cuba Inspired Empowerment of Latino Women

The Cuban Revolution's Primary Success
           Dr. Vanda Pignato [above left] was a very important visitor in Havana today.
         Dr. Vanda Pignato, to put it mildly, is a very interesting lady. For one thing, she is one of the planets most vociferous proponents of the Cuban Revolution, which she credits with inspiring two generations of Latin American women to "fully realize that we have enormous power far beyond the bedroom. So, it is up to us to use it or abuse it." Dr. Pignato, as you might imagine, has chosen to use it, not abuse it. She is today the powerful and very energetic First Lady of El Salvador.
       Dr. Pignato's husband, 52-year-old Mauricio Funes, was inaugurated as the democratically elected President of El Salvador on June 1, 2009. On that very day, in keeping a promise he had made to his rather influential wife, President Fumes signed an order that resumed full diplomatic relations with Cuba. For the previous five [often very bloody] decades, El Salvador's right-wing leaders had followed U. S. dictates, refusing to have official relations with Cuba. So today [Sept. 19, 2012] in Havana, Dr. Pignato not only represented El Salvador as First Lady but also as her country's very friendly diplomat. She also represents a regional transformation. 
        Dr. Vanda Pignato, shown above with four other prominent female wheelers-and-dealers in Latin America, has honored the Cuban Revolution and her gender as El Salvador's First Lady. Her prime focus has been fiercely devoted to improving the lives of the poor, especially the women and children in her country and the region. 
         Dr. Vanda Pignato of El Salvador [abovewas presented the 2011 Americas Award at the Renaissance Jaragua Hotel in Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic. It was in recognition of her stellar work on behalf of women and children in Latin America, with the voting conducted by the United Nations Institute for Training and Research. 
Dr. Vanda Pignato above is kissing her son Gabriel.
         America's First lady, Michelle Obama, is a great admirer of El Salvador's first lady, Dr. Vanda Pignato.
        Dr. Vando Pignato's inspiration to make a difference in the world came from Cuba's three incomparable female revolutionaries -- Vilma Espin, Celia Sanchez, and Haydee Santamaria [left to right above].
        Three exceedingly important Latin American nations -- Brazil, Argentina, and Chile -- have recently democratically elected female Presidents, and all three have acknowledged that they were inspired by Cuba's three famed female fighters and revolutionary leaders. Hopefully, more nations will continue the trend because female leaders are generally less greedy than men and far less inclined to send young people to fight endless wars, and thus progressive Western nations like Germany and Australia have better leaders today than the males that dominated their past. Dr. Vanda Pignato herself is prime presidential material and if she reaches that plateau she will continue to thank Cuban women who, beginning in 1952, began the toppling not only of the brutal Batista/Mafia dictatorship in Cuba but also the puncturing of the long-held machismo dominance throughout the Caribbean and Latin America.
      Women guerrilla fighters, as shown above, deserved to be the first rebel soldiers to take control of Havana in the first week of January, 1959, because these same women and their daughters were the first to take to the streets and denounce the brutality of the Batista/Mafia regime that particularly preyed on their children.
        The Cuban Revolution was the first in history to create all-female fighting units and a half century later they are still prime defenders of Revolutionary Cuba.
        The origin of the Cuban Revolution was stamped by Cuban women who took to the streets to denounce the Batista-Mafia dictatorship that, at the time, was considered invincible because it was supported by the world's superpower, the United States. The above march, in fact, emboldened and educated a young lawyer named Fidel Castro regarding the power, the bravery, and the fury of Cuban women.
       The most emphatic and the less surreptitious revolts in Latin America have been led by brave, outraged, upfront, unmasked women, with the precedent-setting 1950s Cuban Revolution at the forefront. If not for Cuban women, the Batistiano-Mafia control of Cuba would undoubtedly still exist to this day and, moreover, without them there would have been no model for other women to follow. Most male-oriented revolts hid behind ribbons of lies, such as, "We killed all those peasants because they threatened the region," instead of the truth, which usually was, "We killed all those peasants so we could steal their resources." Latin American female revolts were more honest and unflinchingly precise: "We will fight to the death to protect or to avenge our children." Ninos and bebes, not money and power, fueled female revolts.
        The biggest mistakes the Batista regime made in Cuba were infamous murders of Cuban children and then underestimating the reaction of their mothers.
       That's why females, like Celia Sanchez [above], were the best guerrilla fighters in Cuba's Revolutionary War, although that fact is dismissed by the machismo-leaning losers who find it preferable to blame their defeat on the more macho, and more easily pilloried, Fidel Castro.
          And that's why females, like Celia Sanchez [above], were the bravest and the most level-headed decision-makers in Cuba's Revolutionary War, although that fact, too, is dismissed by the machismo-leaning losers.
       The biggest and most decisive contribution Fidel Castro made to the Cuban Revolution was his recognition that Cuban women, half of the island's population, were the prime victims of the Batista-Mafia dictatorship. Moreover, he believed, if afforded the opportunity, that feminine half of the population could turn the tide in the revolutionary war. That judgment was both unique and astute, and it will stand as the cornerstone of the Fidel Castro legacy. A young Fidel is shown above consoling two of those brutalized Cuban women -- Melba Hernandez and Haydee Santamaria. Melba and Haydee, of course, would later become fierce guerrilla fighters in the Revolutionary War.
      Melba Hernandez [above] to this day remains a staunch supporter of Revolutionary Cuba. If you ask her why, her reply will be, "If the alternative is Batista and the Mafia, there is, you know, no alternative." Ask her how, against all odds, she and the other rebels won, she will say, "We were the most motivated. That  proves, I guess, that money is not in all cases the greatest motivator."  Ask her how, against all odds, Revolutionary Cuba has survived all these decades and her answer will be, "Cubana Flight 455 and all the other motivations Miami has provided us."
        Indeed, two generations of Cubans on the island, beginning on Oct. 6, 1976 [above], have been motivated by the terrorist bombing of Cubana Flight 455.
        Liaena Hernandez, once all the nuances of Revolutionary Cuba are analyzed and then sifted through multiple lenses [including Marco Rubio's], is a fairly good bet to one day become the democractically elected President of Cuba. That's her goal and back in June a real Cuban insider, Fidel Castro, told his son Alex: "Let her know she has my blessing and my hope." That blessing and that hope, as well as that speck of clairvoyance, still has meaning on the island of Cuba.
       At age twenty-two, Liaena Hernandez already has a strong political voice in Cuba as an elected member of the National Assembly. Her influence among the island's youth seems to grow with each passing day. And that's the faction that will predicate Cuba's future path. If it's a peaceful march to democracy, Liaena will be content to wear pretty dresses, like the one above. But if it's a revolutionary path that would be necessary to defend the island against outside forces, Liaena still keeps her uniform handy, like in the photo above the podium photo. It's that spirit, rationale, and determination that makes her attractive to growing legions of youthful followers, and also attracted the attention and approval of the island's most famous old rebel who -- long, long ago -- took full advantage of Batista's most glaring mistake. And so, that's where we are today: The old rebel is very sick and 86-years-old; Liaena Hernandez is very healthy and 22-years-old. The torch will soon be passed...to her or someone like her if the much-maligned island is fortunate.   


Photos That Define Today's Cuba

And, of course, America Too
         The island of Cuba is a prime location for bird watchers. The little guy above is a Cuban tody. The adults are always red, white, green, and yellow. The current edition of Birds and Blooms magazine raves about the tiny tody's vocarious appetite. An expert team of birders tallied between 924 and 1,596 insects one tody ate in one day!
     England's major newspaper, The Guardian, this week featured a huge pictorial highlighting the first day of the new school term for Cuban children. The photographer was Ramon Espinosa. In the photo above a mother watches her little girl exuding a huge yawn as they await entry into the school.
       As their mothers anxiously observe, the two little girls above are mounting the stairs leading to their classroom.
        In the above photo, a mother and aunt console a little boy who is not quite ready to venture all alone into the vast unknown -- his first day in the first grade.
        The third-grader above is all dressed for his first day back at school as his dutiful Cuban father makes sure his son brushes his teeth before embarking on the big day. All of which, unfortunately, is a reminder of the huge (and unnecessary) divide between Cubans on the island and Cuban exiles in Miami..........................
         "Vamos a Cuba," the children's book depicted above, was banned [and removed from 34 schools) by the Miami-Dade County School Board, apparently because it showed Cuban children on the island actually smiling.  Americans, it seems, are not supposed to know that children on the island actually smile and, in fact, are actually loved. Of course, neither the ACLU nor the U. S. government mounted a defense of the little book, which is nothing more than one in a respected series of non-political children's books that introduce children in one country to those in a foreign country.
          The London-based BBC, the world's most renowned news organization, this week used the above photo to illustrate a long article-and-video presentation stressing that Cuba is the one nation in the Caribbean with a "zero tolerance" for illegal drugs. Sara Rainsford was the reporter and producer. The BBC video revealed how the Cuban Coast Guard is the world's most diligent at both capturing drug-runners and then disposing of the drugs in furnaces while also taking possession of some really nice speed boats that then become efficient anti-drug tools.
       Sara Rainsford and her BBC cameramen followed Yoandrys Gonzalez Garcia [above] on one of his typical days of battling illegal drug activity in Cuban waters. She began the article and video with these words: "The golden beaches of Cayo Cruz lie at the long path through a nature reserve. It is an idyllic stretch of Cuba's northern coast but this is key territory in the fight against international drug trafficking. Cuba sits between the world's major narcotics producers in South America and the biggest market for those drugs, the United States." [The report can be found at www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-19538588]
       The BBC's Sara Rainsford visited notorious drug-trafficker Boris Adolfo Busto [above] at Havana's Condesa Prison where he and dozens of other renowned traffickers are serving long prison sentences. Busto admitted that Cuban waters should be avoided by his compatriots still plying the drug trade.
        In a region notorious for drug-trafficking and the resultant plague of vicious criminals, Cuba stands out as a success story. Rainsford explained that Cuba routinely cooperates with the U. S. Coast Guard in its efforts to deter the drug cartels that have discovered the perils of using Cuban waters to transit their illegal drugs to their huge customer-base in the United States. The BBC report revealed why Cuba has virtually no drug or crime problem, something that the U. S. and its territories (Puerto Rico, for example) should, perhaps, aspire to. If Cuban forces don't catch traffickers in its own waters, it quickly alerts the U. S. Coast Guard to commence the chase. Such revelations regularly appear in the BBC but rarely in the U. S. news media because the BBC exercises its freedom to present positive as well as negative views of the island, whichever is considered both warranted and newsworthy. The BBC report stated: "Cuba has called for a formal co-operation agreement with the U. S. to help stamp out smuggling in both directions." Unofficially, the U. S. lauds Cuba for its cooperation in fighting drug trafficking but, in deference to radical Cuban exiles, refrains from publicly making such declarations. The BBC report also stated that European nations, recognizing Cuba's anti-drug diligence, not only help fund it but try to learn from it. The U. S. news media simply does not report such Cuban positives.
           Meanwhile, here's another view of the Cuban tody, one of the world's most beautiful and most useful little birds. He is a mortal enemy of mosquitoes and other harmful insects while possessing looks, expertise, and grace that fascinates bird watchers. The tody is found only in Cuba and has never considered fleeing to South Florida. Yet, even the U. S. media gives him positive coverage.

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