Saturday, December 1, 2012

There Is Truth About Cuba If You Want It

You Just Need to Sift Through Obfuscations to Find It
       Jeff Franks [above] is the world's best journalist when it comes to consistently excellent reporting on the topic of Cuba. He heads the Havana bureau for Reuters, which is perhaps the world's most respected news agency. But too often fair and professional journalism related to Cuba is smothered by Michelle Malkin-type distortions [as I'll explain later].
         Thus, when Jeff Franks writes or speaks about Cuba, those who honestly want to know what's happening on or about the island listen intently. That why a lot of ears and notepads open wide or, as above, a lot of microphones are shoved in his face when and if he pauses to discuss one of his latest Reuters articles related to Cuba. So, if you want the solemn truth about Cuba -- the good, the bad, the ugly, or the beautiful -- check on the regular reports from Jeff Franks as opposed to the usual litany of biased or slanted (Michelle Malkin-type) reporting.
     Nelson Bocaranda [above] is a Venezuelan investigative journalist as well as a leading radio and television commentator in Caracas. If Hugo Chavez in Venezuela, Raul Castro in Cuba, and Barack Obama in Washington all happen to vehemently agree on a particular topic concerning Cuba and Nelson Bocaranda says they are all engaging in self-serving obfuscation, then those who seek the truth believe Nelson Bocaranda. He has bravely and honestly earned that reputation and he deserves it. I am not privy to his sources in Caracas, Havana, or Washington but it is apparent that he has them and he uses them judiciously and fairly.
      Andrea Rodriguez [above] is a reporter at the Associated Press bureau in Havana. She is not only an excellent journalist but she is also a very honest, fair, and brave one. So, if you find yourself reading an AP article about Cuba written beneath her byline, trust it entirely. She is a worthy successor to the AP's Anita Snow in Havana.
      If you get your daily Cuban news Online, Tracey Eaton [above] should be your primary source if you want insightful, honest, and particularly useful investigative information. For years, till 2005, he headed the Dallas Morning News bureau in Havana and now he is an Associate Professor at Flagler College in Miami. His Along the Malecon blog is where those interested in fair-minded reporting about Cuba routinely go for expert data and analysis. He is neither pro-Cuba nor anti-Cuba but simply honest-Cuba. No one, for example, comes close to Tracey for obtaining and deciphering how much money USAID and other U. S. agencies devote to undermining and/or overthrowing the Cuban government, such as financing the unfortunate Alan Gross's adventures on the island. I met Tracey in Havana in 2004 when I was in Cuba researching my Celia Sanchez biography.
      From the time it was discovered (by Columbus in 1492), Cuba has captured the imaginations of millions on the island and many more millions off the island. Since the fifteenth century, Cuba has been one of the planet's most coveted and intriguing locales. It is the largest and most beautiful island in the ascetically gorgeous Caribbean. Such attributes have had good and bad overtones for Cuba.
     The above map shows 47 states in the continental United States, minus Florida. When it appeared in USA Today to illustrate that Florida, yet again, was acting like a Banana Republic when it came to counting votes in the 2012 Presidential election, it reminded me of something: The U. S. once offered to trade Florida to Spain in exchange for Cuba. [Spain wisely turned down that deal but, of course, later lost the island in the 1898 Spanish-American War in which the pretext was, indeed, to take Cuba from Spain.]
     Since 1898 [The Spanish-American War] and especially since 1959 [the triumph of the Cuban Revolution], the island of Cuba has been a player on the international stage far out of proportion to its size, population, or wealth. That's because -- since 1898 and especially since 1959 -- the island of Cuba says a lot more about its superpower neighbor, the United States, than it says about Cuba itself, which is saying quite a lot. 
       And primarily what it says is...only one flag, the Cuban flag, should fly over Cuba, a sovereign nation in which Cubans on the island deserve the right to chart its course...not foreign powers and not Cubans aligned with foreign powers.
     The U. S. flag [abovethat flies over the front gate at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, reminds the world -- especially everyone in the Caribbean and Latin America -- that the U. S. stole Guantanamo Bay from Cuba way back in 1903 when it could dictate Cuba's fate after defeating Spain in the 1898  Spanish-American War.
Guantanamo Bay is a part of Cuba, not the United States. 
    In recent years, Amnesty International's definition of Guantanamo Bay -- "The Gulag of our time" -- has circled the globe many times, demeaning the United States.
     U. S. warships at Guantanamo Bay, like the one above, should be there only at the invitation of Cuba or only if the U. S. has officially declared war on the island. But, in the eyes of every Caribbean and Latin American nation, the gulag and the warship are imperialistic facts of life. Cuba wins David-vs.-Goliath public relations debates.
      And so, as you view [above] the USS Saipan sailing into Guantanamo Bay, rest assured that unbiased, honest, and informed sources throughout the Caribbean and Latin America believe that the U. S. continually resembles a Big Bully because of the theft and unwanted occupation of 45 plush acres in a much smaller, helpless nation.
         Now into his second term as U. S. President, Barack Obama's most notable broken promise from his first term was his failure to shut down the terrorist prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. On Nov. 28-2012, the U. S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) once again explicitly reported that there are over 100 prisons in the United States that could safely hold the 166 detainees currently held at Guantanamo Bay. The next day, the Senate added an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that bars the U. S. Military from using any funds to transfer the Guantanamo Bay prisoners to prisons inside the United States. Such logistical roadblocks laid down by right-wing Republican congressmen prevented President Obama from keeping his promise in his first term and they are being repeated in his second term. As it now stands, he would have to veto the entire defense bill in order to circumvent that mendacious addition regarding Guantanamo Bay. Unsavory methods are routinely used so minority rule unfairly hurts Cuba.
      President Obama's Democratic Party controls the U. S. Senate but Cuban-American Bob Menendez [above] is one of those Democratic Senators and he fervently engages in any political activity designed to hurt the Cuban government. Senator Menendez was born in New York City a few months after his parents, Mario and Evangelina, had fled the Batista dictatorship in Cuba in 1953. He grew up in the Cuban-exile enclave of Union City, New Jersey, where a mayoral stint launched his political rise. Although a Democrat, Senator Menendez is President Obama's dire enemy when it comes to accomplishing anything meaningful or sensible to change the U. S. Cuban policy that angers and shames America's international friends.
      Right-wing Republican Senator Marco Rubio [above] is also now an obstacle for President Obama in the Democratically-controlled U. S. Senate, as reflected by the Nov. 29-2012 addition to the defense bill designed to thwart attempts by the President to close the Guantanamo Bay prison.
     Marco Rubio's political career in and out of Miami was anointed by Jeb Bush. It is now obligatory for the U. S. media to always refer to Senator Rubio as "the rising star of the Republican Party." With the fierce backing of the Bush political machine, the Tea Party, and Fox News, Marco Rubio is now being thrust now the throats of Americans as a 2016 Presidential candidate although even the Associated Press has pointed out that certain Rubio indiscretions in Miami -- his distorted bio, questionable real estate deals, alleged misuse of a credit card, etc. -- may be politically acceptable in Florida but "probably will not be on the national stage." On his Miami to Washington trek, for example, Senator Rubio's official biography loudly maintained that his parents, Mario Rubio and Oria Garcia, fled the Castro tyranny in Cuba for the freedom of Miami. Then in October of 2011 the St. Petersburg Times and the Washington Post both revealed that, uh, Mario Rubio and Oria Garcia actually fled the Batista tyranny in Cuba in 1956, three years prior to the Cuban Revolution that, uh, ended the Batista tyranny, which had created the need for the Cuban Revolution.
     Michelle Malkin is typical of the legions of right-wing "journalists" who make enormous amounts of money dispensing repetitious propaganda that appeals to a select but significant audience. Ms. Malkin, for example, preaches to the choir that the Guantanamo Bay prisoners shouldn't be moved to U. S. prisons because, for sure, the streets of America would soon be over-run with the world's worst terrorists. 
       Michelle Malkin and many like her spew out a plethora of such non-sense on an hourly [not just daily] basis. Of course, she is a regular contributor on Fox News but she is also a nationally syndicated columnist and has a popular Michelle blog. The fact she has a rapt audience is, frankly and softly speaking...scary.
       Like other celebrity propagandists, Michelle Malkin produces a hardback book about every few months because, of course, they can be lavishly promoted for free on such venues as Fox News. In the grievous traditions of Russ Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Ann Coulter, etc., Ms. Malkin [as in the book above] can rave about President Obama's "Culture of Corruption" powered by his "team of tax cheats, crooks, and cronies" while telling her not-too-bright disciples that all right-wing Republicans are, in startling contrast, Mother Teresa-like saints. As a lifelong conservative Republican, I understand why President Obama has not been able to keep his promise about closing the Guantanamo Bay prison. With a U. S. Senate that includes Menendez and Rubio and a U. S. media that includes Malkin, Limbaugh, Hannity, Coulter, etc., I sympathize with President Obama and with the U. S. democracy.
 On a calmer topic, the American Goldfinch is my favorite bird.


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