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.