The Ungodly Punishment of Cuban Children

Just To Sate A Few Unsavory Appetites!
      Carter Mountain Orchard in Central Virginia was featured in a major article in the Washington Post entitled "Virginia  Farmers Find Eager Trade Partner: Cuba." 
The article appeared in the Washington Post on Nov. 25-2012 and was written by Laura Vozzela.
    Carter Mountain Orchard is a famous landmark in Virginia, within walking distance of other historic landmarks such as Thomas Jefferson's Monticello. I happen to live almost within sight of Carter Mountain Orchard. Its delicious apples are always in my Virginia home.
       Apples from Carter Mountain Orchard have been exported for decades all over Europe, Mexico, and Central America. Henry Chiles, the current 77-year-old patriarch of the family-owned orchard, bravely and valiantly also legally exports his apples to Cuba against the wishes of a rich and powerful handful of Cuban exiles in the United States who control the U. S. Cuban policy. Those few revengeful exiles insist that school-children on the island do not deserve to eat healthful, delicious apples from Virginia. Even in the world's most famed democracy, those viewpoints usually prevail because the majority of Americans cowardly and ignorantly allow it to go forward decade after decade. Mr. Chiles battles endless obstacles and red tape to sell his apples to Cuba. 
    But strongly supported by Todd Haymore, Virginia's Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry, Henry Chiles' Virginia apples are reaching Cuba's school-children. Despite the economic slowdown, Virginia exports -- especially apples -- have increased from $30 million to $65 million in the past year. This means Virginia is Cuba's 7th largest export market, more than twice as much as 20th ranked Britain. In other words, the state of Virginia has decent, courageous, and compassionate  people like Henry Chiles and Todd Haymore. The nation of Britain, like a lot of other self-anointed democracy lovers around the world, obviously needs a few men like those two superb Virginians.
     Henry Chiles [above] has long been an outstanding Virginian. His Carter Mountain Orchard was started as a collaborative effort by both of his great-grandparents. In a recession-fueled slow economy, he would like to be able to sell his apples to an eager market -- Cuba. And he does. But it's tiresome, burdensome, and costly because of the Cuban exile-powered Cuban embargo, which has been in effect since 1962 for the long-stated purpose of overthrowing the still viable and now 86-year-old Fidel Castro. Mr. Chiles told the Washington Post's Laura Vozzela how hard it is for him to sell apples to Cuba: "Always a lot of challenges, a lot of paperwork, holdups. It's difficult." For a half century, the Cuban embargo that stifles Mr. Chiles and many others has been designed to hurt everyone except a handful of powerful, revengeful, rich Cuban exiles and their self-serving sycophants.   
      Would it be a shame for Cuban school-children, like the ones being photographed above, to each be given an apple a day from Virginia? Or should the shame be showered upon the tiny but powerful minority of Cuban exiles and their sycophants who have, since 1959, punished Cuban children in the name of punishing the now 86-year-old Fidel Castro? It is also shameful, I believe, that many people in America and in Britain have neither the guts nor the compassion to even answer those two pertinent  questions. Instead, it seems easier to plead ignorance. 
"Castro and his elite friends will eat all those apples! Uh, won't they?" Yeah, sure. 
        The Cuban-exile anti-Castro extremists claim that if such imports as apples and baby food reach Cuba it will all be consumed by the voracious Fidel or add to his bank account. The rest of the world, as indicated each year by the UN vote on the Cuban embargo, consider us Americans either cowards or idiots for accepting such frayed logic. For one thing, Fidel does not like apples or baby food. But he loves Chinese food washed down with the iconic American product Coca-Cola [see above]. So, the Cuban-exile anti-Castro extremists would probably be right in maintaining that when cartons of Coca-Cola reach the island, a few bottles would likely end up in Fidel's refrigerator. As for Fidel's bank account, supposedly overflowing according to the anti-Castro extremists, he doesn't have one. Anyone who has ever studied Fidel Castro, and millions have done so, well know he was born rich and has zero regard for money. He quickly, for example, gave away his first two inheritances to peasant women on the streets of Havana.
         When Fidel and Mirta Diaz-Balart honeymooned in the U. S. in 1948, the also rich Mirta was the only one who took along any money. When she ran out, Fidel had to borrow money from friends in Miami so they could get back to Cuba. The Batistianos and Mafiosos he kicked off the island, on the other hand, had huge bank accounts in Switzerland, Miami, and Union City (NJ) and they left a plethora of luxurious mansions on the island when they hastily vacated in the early hours of January 1, 1959. Cuban peasants were put in those mansions. Fidel Castro has a lot of well-known faults. Greed is not one of them.
        A lack of courage was also not one of Fidel Castro's faults. Above he and the incomparable Celia Sanchez were marching to face a vastly superior Batista army that was supported with U. S. - provided warplanes and tanks. It would become known as the Battle of Jigue in July of 1958. Fidel and Celia won that battle. It sent a message to Washington that maybe the U. S. was backing the wrong horse in Cuba. It also sent the not-very-courageous Batista a palpable message: "Loot the treasury; keep the getaway planes ready!"
        After his most powerful army lost the ten-day Battle of Jigue in July of 1958, Batista and Mafia kingpin Meyer Lansky loaded the above airplanes at Camp Colombia on the edge of Havana with the last of the loot in the Cuban treasury. The getaway airplanes were kept fueled and ready -- just in case. In the last week of December in 1958 Fidel Castro and Celia Sanchez had secured Santiago de Cuba, the island's second largest city located in the area that had seen the most bitter fighting. The key city of Santa Clara, the final bastion leading to Havana, was taken by a rebel unit led by Che Guevara and Camilo Cienfuegos. Bingo! At 3:00 A. M. on the morning of January 1, 1959, five of the above planes began hastily taking to the air headed for safer havens, along with hundreds of getaway boats and ships. The Revolutionary War was over. Attacks, assaults, and assassination attempts from military bases in Florida then dominated the decades that followed. Interestingly enough, prior to the fierce bombing attacks that prefaced the ground invasion at the Bay of Pigs in April of 1961, the CIA famously assured President John Kennedy that "Fidel Castro will run for his getaway airplanes once he hears the bombers attacking Camp Colombia!" Of course, Fidel Castro has never had "getaway airplanes." The CIA had massive power but little Cuban intelligence.
         Life Magazine [above] was among the first to tell the world of that famous CIA "guarantee" to Kennedy and the first to register fully the "U. S. miscalculations" that included Fidel Castro's tendency to race to the front lines, not to getaway airplanes, even when attacked by far superior forces. CIA "miscalculations," along with false and self-serving Cuban-exile depictions, have served to enshrine, not eliminate, one man on one nearby little island. Rich and safe Cuban exiles often scream about Fidel Castro's "greed" or "cowardice." As usual, even Life Magazine let the losers, not the winners, register the news and history of the Bay of Pigs attack. That, of course, has laid the groundwork for decades of distortions regarding a two-sided event. Usually winners, not losers, register an event's primary topical news and its history. 
        From 1959 till Celia Sanchez's death on January 11, 1980, Fidel's main abode was her modest apartment on 11th Street in Havana. To this day Fidel lives in a modest home with his wife Dalia and son Alexander. It's furnishings include only one item that could be considered luxurious -- a big, modern television. Maybe he deserves a good TV...and a little privacy behind all those pine trees. 
      Fidel Castro's childhood home [above] in Biran, Cuba, was more luxurious than the homes he has lived in as an adult. Luxury items, so important to Batista and the Mafia, do not seem to interest him at all. 
     And remember, when Fidel sold the Bay of Pigs prisoners back to the U. S., he insisted on Gerber Baby Food, not cash, as the main payment. Cuban babies consumed that largess just as those apples from Carter Mountain Orchard in Virginia are primarily consumed by Cuban school-children. Facts, even about Cuba, are...facts.
     Since 1959, children on the island of Cuba have been better taken care of than they were prior to 1959. That's a fact and it separates Revolutionary Cuba from Batistiano/Mafioso Cuba.
     Babies and children, such as the three young birds in the brilliant Michelle Holland photograph above, all have a right to decent food. That includes babies and children on the island of Cuba even if the cozy former Cuban leaders in Miami and Union City disagree.  


Fidel Castro Finds Comfort During His Final Days

It Comes From A Country Singer
     Heidi Hauge [abovewas born in Skien, Norway on October 14, 1967. A mother of four, she is by far the best-selling Scandinavian country singer. All of her albums have become gold records. Her superb talent in perfect English comforts the final days of a legendary man. How that evolved is fascinating to me and will be to you.
       At age 86 and terminally ill, Fidel Castro is not suffering but he is quite weak. He does not believe he will be alive on New Year's Day, 2013. Many things these days clutter his effusive mind, with his most pleasant and most pertinent memories relating to the years 1957 - 1980 when he had Celia Sanchez by his side, first as a guerrilla fighter and then as the co-leader of Cuba from 1959 till her death from cancer on January 11, 1980. He remembers the decisive ten-day Battle of Jigue in July of 1958, the battle that finally convinced Dictator Batista and the United States that the revolution was indeed a serious threat. On the eve of that battle a Batista soldier, sent out as a sniper, fired a shot that grazed the rebel uniform of Celia Sanchez. She survived and the sniper did not but the thought of losing Celia Sanchez to that sniper bullet haunted Fidel Castro for the rest of the revolutionary war and, in the 1980s after her death from natural causes, that memory poignantly and everlastingly returned.
      Juan Almeida, the black Cuban second from the left between the Castro brothers in the above 1958 photo, was a top rebel Commander during the Revolutionary War. Prior to that he was a musician and would remain a lifelong song-writer. Even as a key leader, he devoted hours each day to music.
         From 1959 till his death on Sept. 11-2009 at age 82, General Juan Almeida was always one of the five most powerful men in Revolutionary Cuba. In the late 1980s Juan heard and loved the Willie Nelson-Ray Charles duet on a song entitled "Seven Spanish Angels." He played it for his friend Fidel Castro, believing it would soothe Fidel's continuing sorrow over the death of Celia Sanchez. Juan played the song three times that first day for Fidel and all three times, Juan would later recall, one particular chorus brought unabashed tears to Fidel's eyes. In the song written in 1984 by two great American song-writers, Troy Seals and Eddie Setser, the chorus that made Fidel cry was:
"There were seven Spanish Angels
At the alter of the sun.
They were praying for the lovers
In the valley of the gun.
And when the battle stopped,
And the smoke cleared, 
There was thunder from the throne.
And seven Spanish Angels
Took another angel home."
        In the years that followed, Juan Almeida and other Fidel Castro intimates were aware that the song "The Seven Spanish Angels" meant a lot to the Cuban leader, both in its English and Spanish versions. And all those intimates knew the song, especially that chorus, consumed Fidel Castro because it reminded him of Celia Sanchez and the decisive Battle of Jigue in July of 1958.
        Even American experts on Fidel Castro, like the conservative nationally syndicated columnist Georgie Anne Geyer [above], would understand how Fidel Castro could so easily become consumed by anything that reminded him of Celia Sanchez, including the memories that made him suicidal when she died.
        In her seminal biography of Fidel Castro, Georgie Anne Geyer devotes two gripping pages to Fidel's almost suicidal reaction to the death of Celia Sanchez on Jan. 11-1980, easily the saddest day of his life.
        The three prime guerrilla warriors [Haydee Santamaria, Celia Sanchez, and Fidel Castro from left to right above] formed such an incredible bond during the fighting in 1957 and 1958 that they came to idolize each other. And that would be so till the end of all their lives -- Celia's, then Haydee's, and soon Fidel's.
      And, indeed, in 1980 Haydee Santamaria committed suicide because of the death of Celia Sanchez. Cuban insiders, as hinted by Georgie Anne Geyer, well know that Fidel Castro in 1980 almost did what Haydee Santamaria did, and for the same reason. Fidel also remembered that on her deathbed Celia Sanchez had told him to "Live long, be brave, and marry Dalia."
      Dalia Soto del Valle [above] married Fidel Castro in 1980 and is the mother of five of his eight sons. Dalia -- who had been a teacher and secretary in Trinidad, Cuba -- also had been Celia Sanchez's dear friend. Neither Dalia nor Fidel would ever fail to heed any request Celia left behind. Celia's request that they marry was no exception.
        From 1980 till today Dalia has been a loving wife to Fidel, and particularly devoted to him [as indicated by the above photo] as he has aged. Dalia still caresses his memory of Celia Sanchez. She confided to an American female friend about Fidel's love of "Seven Spanish Angels," equating it to Celia Sanchez and the Battle of Jigue. Later, from the U. S., Dalia received a package from her American friend. A note inside said: "This is the best copy of an album that features the best version of Seven Spanish Angels. It's by a Norwegian lady named Heidi Hauge. If you let Fidel hear her sing Seven Spanish Angels, I believe he will give the Willie Nelson version a rest. Thank him for the puppy. Hug him for me. Love, Lucille."
       Above is the album that Lucille so thoughtfully sent Dalia. Song #6 is Heidi Hauge's version of "Seven Spanish Angels." Fidel was indeed blown away after he heard it. Thus Dalia transferred "Seven Spanish Angels" to an iPhone recorder that, complete with earphones, she gave Fidel. He now listens to Heidi Hauge sing "Seven Spanish Angels" every day. [P.S.: Prior to getting that interesting data from a Facebook "friend," I had never heard of Heidi Hauge. But I googled "Seven Spanish Angels by Heidi Hauge" and was listening to it five seconds later on You Tube. And yes, I discovered that Lucille and Fidel are right. Heidi Hauge has the greatest version of a great song -- "Seven Spanish Angels." And each day now it's the version that comforts an old man in Havana, Cuba.]
*The End*



Two Guerrilla Fighters Named Tania and Tanja

And How They Ended Up In Havana
     Tanja Nijimeijer [above] is in Havana this week. She is a fearless guerrilla fighter and she is representing The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in its negotiations with the Colombian government. Cuba, at the request of Colombia and the UN, is hosting the session that seeks to end a bloody half-century of Civil War in that important Latin American nation. Tanya is an amazing lady, now 29-years-old. Since the age of 20 she has been a daunting guerrilla fighter for FARC in the jungles of Colombia, earning fame from both sides for her fierce skills and leadership. Leon Valencia, an analyst and former guerrilla, wrote a book about her, stating "she has no limits" and repeatedly proclaiming how "fearless" she is. Her legend was embellished by a 2010 documentary that she agreed to do only so her parents in Holland could see her for the first time in years. In the documentary, Tanja expertly played a guitar and sang the song "Don't Cry For Me Argentina" for her parents.
      Tanja was raised by a close-knit, well-to-do family in a small Dutch town. Smart and well educated, she was in Colombia to teach English when she was shocked to observe the disparity between the rich and the poor. That revelation transformed her into a guerrilla fighter with the FARC, which she believes for a half century has been fighting for social justice, agrarian reform, and the poor. She has participated in fierce battles and extreme jungle hardship. Filmmaker and writer Jorge Enrique Botero spent time with her in the jungle. She told Botero, "I am consumed with the fever of the revolution." Despite her fame, many will be shocked in Havana this week to see Tanja representing FARC in these crucial negotiations. But for sure...along with her gender and her beauty...it is her passion for the poor that will be on display. Deep in the heart of the Colombian jungle, Botero says he is still awed by how "beautifully" she played the guitar and "so soulfully" sang "Don't Cry For Me Argentina." [On You Tube you can hear Tanja sing "Don't Cry For Me Argentina" by typing in "Tanja Niyimeijer zingt lied voor haar ouders." Another You Tube video of Tanja singing and playing the guitar in the jungle when she is backed up by another woman and two men is very professionally performed. Tanja -- an amazing, ongoing odyssey!]
      Tanja's appearance in Havana for the session due to start Nov. 15-2012 will remind Cubans of Haydee Tamara Bunke Bider [above]. Better known as Tania, Ms. Bunke is the famed guerrilla fighter who was ambushed and killed in Bolivia on August 31, 1967, while fighting for her beloved but doomed Che Guevara. Tania was born on Nov. 19-1937 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Her parents, Erich and Nadia Bider, had escaped Hitler's Germany when the Nazis came to power in 1933. They returned to Germany in 1952. A brilliant student, Tania became fluent in four very pertinent languages. Like Tanja, Tania was appalled over the disparity between the rich and the poor. The victorious Cuban Revolution in January of 1959 caught her eye. Soon her fluency in the four languages opened numerous doors...including an adventurous trip to Havana where she expertly translated Spanish, English, German, and Russian.
      Awed by what Revolutionary Cuba was doing for the Cuban peasants, especially the women and children, Tania joined the Cuban Defense Militia. The above black-and-white photo shows Tania in 1962 wearing the beret that signified her eagerness to fight for Revolutionary Cuba. She did some translating for famed Cuban rebel Che Guevara, the Argentine doctor. She fell madly in love with both Che and his wife Aleida March, particularly admiring how they both seemed to give all of their personal wealth, which wasn't much, to poor Cubans.
    Tania [above] soon became more than just a translator on behalf of Revolutionary Cuba. She was willing and eager to fight to the death for its ideals, especially as personified by Che. The sheer brilliance of her mind and character had found its outlet.  
       Tania evolved not only as a leader in Havana but also spied for Cuba on dangerous missions under various disguises and aliases such as those depicted above [left to right]: As a Czech woman Marta Iriarte; as a Spanish woman Haydee Gonzalez; and as an Italian citizen traveling throughout Europe using multiple aliases.
        In October of 1964 Che sent her to Bolivia under the name Laura Gutierrez Bauer. In La Paz, she became friends with Bolivian President Rene Barrientos and even accompanied him on a trip to Peru. From an apartment in La Paz, she created a rebel cell and radioed coded messages to Che, Celia Sanchez, and Fidel Castro in Havana. When Che famously left Cuba for the last time in 1966 on his ill-fated attempt to replicate the Cuban Revolution in Bolivia, Tania joined his tiny guerrilla campaign in the Bolivian mountains. She was a brilliant fighter and she and Che became lovers. But the CIA-directed Bolivian army monitored their every trail. In late August of 1967 Tania was pregnant with Che's child and fierce defensive fighting and short rations had left her with a high fever, a leg wound, and painful effects of the Chigoe flea parasite. With Che seeking food and medicine near an alpine village, Tania tried to lead fifteen other guerrillas across the Rio Grande River near the town of Vado del Yeso in hopes of evading a pursuing Bolivian army unit. At 5:20 P. M. on August 31, 1967, she was wading the river holding her rifle, ammunition belt, and a bag of biscuits  above her head. A bullet from across the river ripped through her left arm, piercing her lung. Then two more bullets hit her. She and eight other rebels were killed in the river. Her body floated downstream and was recovered on Sept. 6-1967. The plan was to dump her body in a pit with the other slain guerrillas but local campesino women demanded that Tania's body be given a Christian burial. When Che heard about her death, he refused to believe it but soon Fidel Castro and Celia Sanchez in Havana confirmed it and declared Tania "A Hero of the Cuban Revolution."
      Even during the seven dangerous years she lived as a spy and a guerrilla fighter, Tania had a playful nature and made friends easily. Above she was taking a photo of someone who was taking a photo of her. She much preferred anonymity to celebrity.
     Marta Rojas, my friend who is the legendary Cuban journalist-historian, has written perhaps the best book and the best essays about Tania.
       Like the present-day guerrilla fighter Tanya, Tania was also an expert guitar player and singer. And she wrote poems after battles. Her very last poem included these sad words: 
"Will my name one day be forgotten
and nothing of me remain on the Earth?"
      Today her name has not been forgotten. Her real name Tamara,  her nickname Tania, and many of her aliases are enshrined in history books such as "Tania: The Unforgettable Guerrilla" published in 1973 by Random House and written by the aforementioned Marta Rojas; "Tania, the Woman Che Guevara Loved" by Uruguay author Jose A. Friedl; and many others. The CIA, as part of its disinformation campaign against Che Guevara, painted Tania as "a latter-day Mata Hari." During her celebrated involvement with the Symbionese Liberation Army in 1974, Patty Hearst famously took on the alias "Tania." In 1974 a planet discovered by astronomer Lyudmila Zhuravlyova was named "2283 Bunke" after her. In the 2008 Steven Soderbergh movie "Che" Tania was portrayed by the actress Franka Potente. In Germany Tania is such a folk legend that 200 youth clubs were named after her. So her fear in her last poem that her name would be "forgotten" did not come to fruition. And her fear that "nothing of me" would "remain on the earth" also has not been realized. 
       The great journalist/historian Jon Lee Anderson [aboveis the most notable expert regarding Che Guevara and thus Tania.
        Research related to Jon Lee Anderson's seminal biography "Che Guevara: A Revolutionary Life" in 1997 finally uncovered the remains of Che Guevara and Tania in an obscure, unmarked grave in a small pit on the periphery of the Vallegrande Army Base in Bolivia. Once the bones were identified via DNA, they were transferred to Cuba and are now interred in the Che Guevara Mausoleum in Santa Clara, the Cuban city where a rebel unit led by Che Guevara won the last battle of the Cuban Revolution, the victory that predicated dictator Fulgencio Batista's flight to the Dominican Republic and co-dictator Meyer Lansky's flight to Miami, along with five planeloads and at least eight shiploads of their friends and countless tons of loot to join millions of dollars known to have been already wired to banks in Switzerland, Miami, and Union City (New Jersey). That money, of course, in the decades to come would purchase a lot of college degrees as well as massive political influence in Miami, Union City, and Washington.
      Aleida March, a Cuban born in 1937 in Santa Clara, was a female guerrilla fighter with Che Guevara in the Sierra Maestra Mountains of eastern Cuba.
       In June-1959, after the victorious revolution, Aleida and Che got married.
In quick succession, Aleida and Che had four children.
    In April of 2012 the now 75-year-old Aleida March's outstanding book -- REMEMBERING CHE:My Life With Che Guevara -- was published and it remains a best-seller on Amazon. A renowned guerrilla fighter in her own right, Aleida and her four children still live in Cuba. Aleida says that Che would have been an Argentine doctor and not a revolutionary if he had not witnessed the CIA overthrow of the Guatemalan government in 1954. In 1998 Fidel Castro asked Aleida if Tania's bones could be buried with Che's in Santa Clara. She replied, "Yes. She became one of us."
       Above is the Che Guevara Monument and Mausoleum in Santa Clara, Cuba, where Tania's remains also reside.
     Aleida and Che's oldest child [above], also named Aleida Guevara, is today a leading medical doctor in Cuba. From Sept 9-19 in 2012 Dr. Aleida Guevara toured the UK on a "Remembering Che" tour and received standing ovations at all five events held in Brighton, Nottingham, Newcastle, Scotland, and Oxford.
   Which brings us back around to Tanja Nijmeijer, the extraordinary Dutch guitar-playing, folk-singing legendary FARC guerrilla fighter in Havana this week trying to negotiate an end to the bloody half-century of Civil War in Colombia. She is a reminder that the Cuban Revolution -- whether you love it, hate it, or don't care about it -- has had more of an influence on women than just about any revolution in history, bar none!
    For example, the first three democratically elected female Presidents in Latin America -- in the starkly important countries of Brazil, Argentina, and Chile -- all were inspired by and remain supreme admirers of the Cuban Revolution.
      For sure, women like Haydee Santamaria and Celia Sanchez were the most fierce guerrilla fighters against Dictator Batista.
   From 1959 till their deaths in 1980, Celia Sanchez and Haydee Santamaria had Fidel Castro's backing as the prime decision-makers in Cuba, with Celia, beyond question, exercising that prerogative on the top issues involving Revolutionary Cuba.
   As a teenage girl in the Sierra Maestra in 1957-58, Tete Puebla [abovewas such a ferociously effective guerrilla fighter that she is still a legend and...oh, yes...she is today a very active General in the Cuban army.
     Fidel Castro is the first to admit that he owes his success and his longevity to the fact that he has always mostly surrounded himself with Cuban women, "the half of the Cuban population that my enemies bequeathed to me because of the way they treated them. I accepted that gift and if I had not no one off this island would ever have heard of me."
     There are no statues of Fidel Castro in Cuba today but there are many of Celia Sanchez.
      Constant street marches by incredibly brave Cuban women inspired the revolutionary zeal in Fidel Castro as well as the backing of vital sources such as Herbert Mathews, the very influential writer for the New York Times who famously championed the Cuban Revolution before and after the Batistianos were long gone.
Today young women are included in all Cuban army units.
     In the Cuban Revolutionary War, all-female rebel units fought fiercely.
Today, all-female fighting units protect Revolutionary Cuba.
      The above photo shows one of Cuba's most famous beaches as it looks today. Cubans call it "Playa Largo." Americans call it "The Bay of Pigs."
      In April of 1961 Playa Largo/The Bay of Pigs was where Fidel Castro and the Cuban Revolution made an indelible impression on both the world and on history. That defensive victory, over the CIA-directed U. S./Cuban-exile offensive attack, forever embellished the legend and the legacy of Fidel Castro, above and beyond the legendary legacy the flight of the Batista-Mafia dictatorship had already gifted him with. Such legends as Fidel Castro are not born. They are the result of events. The Batista-Mafia dictatorship was an event. So, in April of 1961, was a lonely beach named Playa Largo, otherwise known as the Bay of Pigs.
   Incredibly, the 1200 or so CIA/Cuban-exile prisoners captured at the Bay of Pigs were not shot. They were traded back to the U. S. for $53 million, most of it in the form of baby food and children's medicine.
     Gerber Baby Food accounted for much of the payment Cuba received in exchange for those Bay of Pigs prisoners, many of whom returned to the CIA and South Florida and then spent decades trying to overthrow or assassinate Fidel Castro.
     Josefina Vidal [abovetoday is Cuba's very significant Minister of North American Affairs. Back on October 20th in 2002 Ms. Vidal turned out to be the most heralded speaker at a star-studded historical affair at the Kennedy Library in Boston that also featured famed historians Arthur M. Schlesinger, Theodore Sorensen, and Sergei Khrushchev as well as President Kennedy's only daughter Caroline. The moderator, historian James G. Blight, introduced Josefina Vidal as one of Cuba's "Gerber Babies," pointing out that she was one of the Cuban babies who grew up eating Gerber Baby Food products that Cuba had received for so kindly and incredibly returning the Bay of Pigs prisoners to the United States. Did I say kindly? Yes, Celia Sanchez at the time thought the kind gesture would encourage the U. S. to become Cuba's friend. And did I say incredibly? Yes, incredible but true. And so are many aspects of the Cuban Revolution...from the 1950s till this very day.
       As the spirit of Tania the Guerrilla Fighter would know, Bolivia is today still a very poor but very important land-locked nation in Latin America, bordered by Brazil, Paraguay, Argentina, Chile, and Peru.
      When Tania fought and died in Bolivia, the majority poor Aymara Indians were not allowed to vote. But today, as indicated above, even the Aymaras can democratically vote in Bolivia where for decades they were maligned outcasts.
      Thus an Aymara Indian named Evo Morales [above] has been the President of Bolivia since January 22, 2006. He won his first election with 53.7% of the vote; he won his second presidency with 63.0%. The now 53-year-old Evo Morales has never graduated from high school. When he should have been in high school he was in the jungles of Bolivia as a guerrilla fighter on behalf of his Aymaran people. Evo Morales worships Fidel Castro and got his inspiration as a rebel and as a politician from "The Cuban Revolution's do-or-die fight for sovereignty."  Unlike Tania, Evo Morales fought and lived.
     President Evo Morales in Bolivia idolizes Fidel Castro because, to him, Fidel Castro represented the antithesis to foreign-backed dictatorships that dominated [a euphemism for "plundered" and 'brutalized"Latin America and the Caribbean for generations -- until first the Cuban Revolutionary victory in 1959 and then, beginning in the 1980s, sovereignty-inspired waves of successful democratic elections washed over the region like a long-awaited giant tsunami. Just as right-wing imperialism gave birth to a dynamic Fidel Castro and later to democratic Presidents like Evo Morales, the Castro legacy will likely be buttressed and enhanced by right-wing Republicans in the U. S. who have taken over control of their party and seek to take over control of their country. Neither Fidel Castro nor Evo Morales were born leaders; they were created by right-wing imperialism. Those who fail to learn from history may well suffer the consequences in future generations. As long as the world's superpower produces vibrant right-wing entities such as Fox News, the Tea Party, and Karl Rove, there will always be a Fidel Castro ready to be born, and an Evo Morales waiting to be created, and do-or-die female guerrilla fighters like Tania  and Tanya ready to join the fray. 

cubaninsider: "The Country That Raped Me" (A True Story)

cubaninsider: "The Country That Raped Me" (A True Story) : Note : This particular essay on  Ana Margarita Martinez  was first ...