Saturday, March 30, 2013

Latin America's Past Portends A Brighter Future

If More Females Replace More Males As Leaders
{Updated for April 2, 2013!}
    Kate Doyle {above} is a prime reason the U. S. should follow the leads of England, Germany, Australia, South Korea and other democracies and finally elect a woman as its leader.
     Claudia Paz y Paz {above} is a prime reason Guatemala should join Chile, Argentina, and Brazil as democracies in Latin America who have very wisely elected a woman as their leader.
      This photo from Latin America's past explains why Kate Doyle should be a future President of the United States and Claudia Paz y Paz should be a future President of Guatemala. Their brilliant humanitarian and prosecutorial backgrounds coupled with their gender would mean less wars as well as less disparity between the rich and the poor, the haves and the have-notes, than the leadership of men would likely render. The above Jean-Marie Simon photo shows the three military commanders who staged a bloody coup in Guatemala on March 22, 1982. At a news conference the day after the coup, that's Brigadier General Jose Efrain Rio Montt in the middle flanked by General Horacio Egberto Maldonado Schaad and Colonel Francisco Luis Gordillo Martinez at the National Palace in Guatemala City. A multitude of torture-murders and disappearances followed in their wake and for decades elitist men inside and outside of Guatemala protected the perpetrators, a common practice throughout Latin America from the 1950s deep into the 1980s. Even after that, the protective shields were in place, sending messages to other brutal and illegal leaders that they would never be held accountable for gross sins against humanity. But then along came two of the world's most brilliant and determined women -- Kate Doyle and Claudia Paz y Paz. Because of them, in this year of 2013, there are trials underway in Guatemala to finally, three decades later, hold Rio Montt and others responsible for their alleged crimes after seizing control of a sovereign country. Thus, these two women are doing what multitudes of men failed to do, which is to send proper and very stern messages to would-be totalitarian leaders that, yes, they could one day be held accountable and be punished for mass torture-murders or disappearances of innocent people.
       Kate Doyle will never remotely rival the likes of Kim Kardashian as a celebrity. And she doesn't mind that fact of life one bit because she does not want to be distracted from her life's work, which is to make Latin America a better place for women...and children...and the poor...and the oppressed. Ms. Doyle has brought a former leader of Peru to justice, among many other accomplishments. She is currently the Senior Analyst and Director of the Guatemala Documentation Project at the U. S. National Security Archive. She is a world treasure and her work is making the world a better place for generations to come.
    After a brief recess, Claudia Paz y Paz's prosecution of Guatemala's former dictator Rios Montt resumes the first week of April, 2013. It is the first time a former head of state has stood trial in his own country for genocide. Data uncovered by Kate Doyle resonates across Latin America and Claudia Paz y Paz had the courage to make use of it. Women like Doyle and Paz are spreading their wings...bravely and palpably.
    Rios Montt was born in 1926. Belatedly making him stand trial for his dictatorship's genocide in Guatemala in the 1980s is not merely to punish him but to send topical and future messages that such atrocities will not be tolerated, especially when foreign powers are involved for self-serving reasons.
      U. S. presidential administrations that supported dictators like Rios Montt in Guatemala from the 1950s deep into the 1980s can no longer get away with such flagrant, anti-democratic antics. The thanks for that throughout Latin America and the Caribbean goes to determined, courageous women like America's Kate Doyle and Guatemala's Claudia Paz y Paz. It is also the likes of Doyle and Paz -- certainly not greedy, power-hungry, war-mongering men -- that paved the way for waves of democracy to replace foreign-backed dictatorships throughout Latin American beginning in the 1970s. That's why women like Kate Doyle and Claudia Paz y Paz should not only be top prosecutors but also top leaders of their countries.
     Guatemala Indian women like the two above are closely monitoring the Rios Montt trial. Thousands of their relatives and ancestors were slaughtered in the Guatemalan genocide with bullets funded from abroad. But those two women can now actually vote in Guatemala and people like them constitute the majority in that nation as in Bolivia where a Bolivian Indian named Evo Morales is now President. Take a guess: Are these two women likely to vote for a Efrain Rios Montt-type or a Claudia Paz y Paz-type?
     On the eve of the 1970s Dilma Rousseff was a teenage rebel trying to replicate her idol Fidel Castro's overthrow of a U. S. - backed military dictatorship in her native Brazil. That's why Dilma became Prisoner #3023 and was unmercifully tortured for three years in a military prison. But she rose from that abyss and took advantage of elections in Brazil! Oh, Yes! Prisoner #3023 has come a long, long way since then!
      Today Dilma Rousseff is the democratically elected President of Brazil, making her by far the most important and most influential person throughout all of Latin America! Yes, she still idolizes Fidel Castro.
Cristina Fernandez is the President of Argentina.
President Fernandez of Argentina gets along fairly well with U. S. President Obama.
But, like President Rousseff, President Fernandez worships Fidel Castro.
      Michelle Bachelet was the democratically elected President of Chile from March of 2006 till March of 2010. Since then she has been the United Nation's "Women Leader" where she doggedly continued her life's work on behalf of women and children. But in March of 2013 she resigned that position and announced she is running for re-election as President of Chile! A pediatrician, Ms. Bachelet is a warrior against what she considers the "obscene disparity" between the rich and the poor. She speaks five languages -- Spanish, English, French, German, and Portuguese. Her father was tortured to death in a military prison during the dictatorship of the U.S.-backed Pinochet in Chile. And...she hasn't forgotten.
 President Obama deeply admires Chile's past and future President, Michelle Bachelet.
      But Michelle Bachelet worships Fidel Castro, who was extremely close to the democratically elected President of Chile, Salvador Allende, who died in the coup that made the U. S. - backed Pinochet Chile's dictator for almost two horrendous decades. So Chile's initial bid for a democracy ended with Allende's death, which was followed by many other deaths, including that of Michelle Bachelet's father, during the Pinochet genocide. Thus, Chile's progression from Allende to Pinochet to Bachelet sort of embodies the rough and bloody paths democracy has had to endure in Latin America. It is also interesting to note, I think, why the three democratically elected female Presidents in Latin America worship Fidel Castro, not the United States. That's because those females evoke a perception that Fidel Castro supports women and the poor while the United States supports the rich and the powerful. Remember, I said perception. But that's what got pro-Castro female Presidents Bachelet, Rousseff, and Fernandez elected the leaders of their countries...with more to follow now that both women and poor people can vote in Latin America. That transcendent revelation, of course, also meant that U. S. - backed dictators...Batista, Pinochet, Trujillo, etc...are no longer welcome in the Caribbean or Latin America. {If that statement is not politically or socially correct in the U. S., it sure as hell is factually correct and, perhaps, it is time Americans had the courage and/or intelligence to admit it} Meanwhile, the re-election of Michelle Bachelet as President of Chile will reflect a Latin American trend that the United States and the rest of the world should emulate -- ELECT FEMALES WHO ACTUALLY CARE ABOUT PEOPLE AND PEACE, NOT MALES WHO MOSTLY CARE ONLY ABOUT MONEY, POWER, AND WAR-MONGERING EGOS! Michelle Bachelet personifies those basic facts.
     Kathy Castor has been in the U. S. Congress since 2007 as a member of the House of Representatives from Florida's 14th District, which encompasses the Tampa-St. Petersburg region. Born 46-years ago in Miami, she should be elected President of the United States in 2016 and re-elected again in 2020!
        Congresswoman Castor is a brilliant lawyer but her energetic expertise on behalf of her constituents in the Tampa area -- especially when it comes to promoting business and health care -- has been both admirable and remarkable. Additionally, she has more courage than any politician Florida has sent to Washington since the 1950s as proven by her steadfast positions regarding U. S. - Cuban relations. With intelligence and guts normally anathema to Florida politicians, she strongly advocates sensible, not self-serving and revengeful, dealings with Cuba such as ending the embargo. Resolute and sagacious, she is not pro-Castro in the least but she is a friend of the Cuban people and she advocates what is in the best interest of most Floridians, most Cuban Americans, and most Americans. The people in Tampa were wise to send her to Washington; Americans would be very wise to send her to the Oval Office.
    And...if you'll permit me one more pontification...Josefina Vidal should be the post-Castro President of Cuba. She is currently Cuba's Minister of North American Affairs. There's no one in North America who can out-smart or out-fight her. {She reminds Fidel Castro of Celia Sanchez. 'Nuff said!}
Josefina Vidal primarily fights for women, children, and the poor as well as for a sovereign Cuba.
At long last, Latin American women are power-brokers!!!!!
{"Feliz dia Mujer" means "Happy day of the Woman."}
     There is no doubt in my mind...nor should it be in yours...that the U. S. democracy's love of right-wing killer-thief dictators, such as Augusto Pinochet {above}, throughout Latin America in the 1950s through the 1970s paved the way for waves of democratic elections that now prevail. When a right-wing U. S. President aligned with a right-wing Secretary of State and a right-wing CIA Director brutally over-turned the democratically elected President Allende to install the killer-dictator Pinochet in Chile, the U. S. democracy's vast influence in Latin America began a precipitous decline and has not recovered to this day. And that's an amazing fact considering that the U. S. remains the world's superpower still quite capable of regime changes OR lavishing FRIENDLY nations with billions of dollars in economic and military aid. So, in the year 2013, Pinochet and his ilk (Batista, Trujillo, Somoza, etc.) personify why America's democracy still suffers from the right-wing decisions decades ago of leaders like Nixon, Kissinger, and Bush -- white men in Washington who unwittingly hastened the march of democracy and WOMEN'S EMPOWERMENT across the region. Yes, that is one of history's quintessentially ironic nuances. It's also a factual one. Americans unaware of that or who deny that are, simply, anti-democracy.
Democracy's lesson to be learned and heeded: ELECT WOMEN!!!!!!! 
Soldiers once tortured Dilma Rousseff. Now they salute her around the world on red carpets!
She survived a dictator's prison to become the democratically elected President of Brazil!
Dilma Rousseff: One Woman's Majestic Journey!
    Last week President Obama named Julia Pierson America's first female leader of the Secret Service, the agency with the awesome responsibility of protecting U. S. presidents. President Obama well remembers his trip to Cartagena, Colombia, last April when the Secret Service usurped his headlines because its agents appeared more interested in lining up prostitutes than protecting President Obama. So, now that a female is in charge of the Secret Service, its priorities should make him feel better.
     It appears that 44-year-old Lisa Monaco is about to be named by President Obama as America's first female FBI Director! A great move, Mr. President, but I have a suggestion: Today only 11 females head up FBI field offices in the U. S. and there are 56 field offices, all of which should be led by females.
     President Obama recently named his Counter-Terrorism Adviser, John Brennan, as the new CIA Director. Mr. Brennan, born in 1955, follows a long line of old white men with a CIA background (Brennan is a 25-year CIA veteran) to lead that agency, which also should finally have a female in charge. I believe Mr. Brennan is too tied to the military and too drone-happy. A female head of the CIA would probably mean less wars and less conflicts so the world's democracies could concentrate on other things.
The NY Times used this photo to illustrate the protest that disrupted John Brennan's Senate confirmation.
      Brazil and Latin America improved drastically because Dilma Rousseff survived that military courtroom {aboveand then survived three years of unmerciful torture in a military prison to later be democratically elected to her present position -- President of Brazil. If American voters are diligent enough, they too could probably find some Dilma Rousseffs, which would markedly improve the political landscape.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Americans Have A Right to Know About Cuba

A Stronger Democracy Would Permit It
      Those of us who have been to Cuba and who have studied its people for decades are aware of a nearby very significant island that is quite foreign to most Americans. It is, in fact, the only place in the world that everyday Americans are not free to visit. And, yes, for the most part since the overthrow of the vile Batista-Mafia dictatorship way back in 1959, the reconstitution of that dictatorship on U. S. soil has tightly controlled or at least direly influenced what Americans are told about Cuba, both its history and its modernity. That basic fact, of course, says more about the U. S. government and the U. S. media than it says about the anachronistic Cuban government or the one-dimensional Cuban media. But there are elements of truth to the Cuban equation that even Americans can access, if they desire. For example, we who have been to Cuba and have studied its people are not surprised at the above photo taken this week in Havana by Franklin Reyes for the Associated Press. It shows a Cuban motorist with side-by-side Cuban and American flags prominently displayed in his vehicle. While the two governments have been actually or virtually at war for the past 54 years, if you could venture to Cuba and judge for yourself, you would observe a palpable fact: Everyday Cubans to this day remain very fond of everyday Americans and they still admire the U. S. democracy that, after the Spanish-American War in 1898, had a glorious opportunity to gift the island with a real nice and sweet democracy of its own but shamefully abused that opportunity. Instead of mandating democracy after the U. S. replaced Spain as the imperialist power in control of Cuba, right-wing American power-brokers and greedy capitalists decided that a democracy would not permit them to rape and rob the island at will. So, from 1898 till 1959 Cuba was beset with a harrowing series of corrupt leaders and brutal dictatorships that would, via kick-backs as well as direct unfathomable mandates from Washington, allow rich Americans to rape and rob the island at will.
       Contrary to fabrications of U. S. - Cuban history, America's dominance of the island from 1898 till 1959 provided rich Americans with a lush piggy-bank while creating cesspools of poverty for the helpless, majority Cubans. In 2013, it's time the U. S. democracy, without obfuscations or outright lies, admitted it.
     The uniqueness of the U. S. - backed Batista rule from 1952 till 1959 evolved when Cuba was subjected to what amounted to a triangular dictatorship composed of the U. S., Batista, and the Mafia. Batista had lucrative partnerships with both of his prime supporters. U. S. tax dollars kept Batista's treasury and military in excellent shape so U. S. businesses could siphon off the island's resources; the Mafia controlled the incredibly profitable gambling, drug, and prostitution rackets. The 1950s casino ad above appropriately promoted an appearance by George Raft, a reputed Mafia figure who also was famous for playing Mafia figures in major Hollywood movies! So naturally George was among the celebrities allowed to partake in the wholesale rape and robbery of the island...actually right up until the early morning hours of January 1, 1959, when getaway ships, boats, and airplanes finally took precedence over gluttony.
       The above photo was taken in Havana in 1954. It depicts a peasant family right after they had been informed that their home would be destroyed the next day to make room for the casino already going up in the background. Of course, the family was told to fend for itself. The United States, the powerful neighbor, could have prevented these things but, instead, supported such abominable behavior.
      Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr., one of America's greatest Pulitzer Prize-winning historians, died in 2007 at age 89. He wrote about "the dark, vulgar underpinnings coarsening through our Cuban relations."
    In 1957 Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. was a top presidential advisor. In that capacity, according to such sources as the Wikipedia biography of Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista, Schlesinger was asked to analyze Batista's Cuba. He provided this precise answer: "The corruption of the government, the brutality of the police, the regime's indifference to the needs of the people for education, medical care, housing, for social justice and economic justice is an open invitation to revolution." So, beyond question, the U. S. government was well aware of what the Batista-Mafia rule of Cuba was all about...and continued to support it because it didn't believe any revolution could threaten a U. S - backed dictatorship. But, beyond question, Schlesinger's insightful prophecy defined a meteoric revolution that incredibly DID EXACTLY THAT!
It's known to history as The Cuban Revolution.
      In the wee hours of Jan. 1-1959 the Batistiano and Mafia leaders frantically fled Havana. By daylight jubilant Cubans {above} were destroying the ubiquitous casinos that had helped define Batista's Cuba.
Fidel Castro and Celia Sanchez captured Santiago de Cuba and seven days later claimed Havana.
Celia and Fidel on a stopover in Cienfuegos {Jan. 4-1959on the trek to claim Havana!
       From January of 1959 till she died of cancer in January of 1980, Celia Sanchez made the decisions for Cuba -- "The big ones and the small ones," according to long-time insider Roberto Salas. Fidel Castro's prime job was to support her decisions, which he fervently did whether or not he fully agreed with her. Of course, for various self-serving reasons, that basic nuance of Revolutionary Cuba is not supposed to be shared with the American people. In the above photo, Celia appropriately is the studious one while Fidel, also appropriately, is relaxing in his rocking chair with his slippers off. But whatever decision she was concocting, he would defend...come hell or high water! To this very day, he worships her above all others.
      On another topic, today's politicians are blamed for a plethora of evil acts and, shamefully, most of the accusations are accurate. But as this Jamaica Observer cartoon gem points out, some are not.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Iconic Cuban Photos From Alberto Korda Gallery

      The great, omnipotent photographer Alberto Korda is shown above with his daughter Norda. Mr. Korda died in 2001 at age 72. For ten years he traveled everywhere with Fidel Castro as Fidel's official photographer, taking history's most famous photos of both Fidel and Che Guevara. Now Norda, who lives in Mexico, is selling the originals of many of her dad's famed photos at an auction house in England. 
Fidel Castro made only about one putt in his long life but Korda made it famous.
This Korda photo in 1963 shows Fidel photographing Nikita Khrushchev and his family in Russia.
Alberto Korda took the above photo of Fidel Castro with Celia Sanchez.
      Alberto Korda's photo of Che Guevara is one of history's all-time most famous images. It has appeared on millions of t-shirts, tattoos, blankets, pillows, buildings, coffee mugs, and dormitory walls worldwide.
Alberto Korda took this photo of Fidel Castro gazing over the Sierra Maestra.
        But Alberto Korda's all-time favorite photo was not one that featured either Fidel Castro or Che Guevara. It was the one above of a little Cuban girl lovingly clutching a block of wood. Her parents were too poor to buy her a doll so the little girl pretended the block of wood was her doll. Korda said that revelation, and that photo, is the one that crowned his life as one of the world's all-time greatest photographers. His love of this particular photo, and that precious little girl, also crowns Mr. Korda as a decent, compassionate human being. He said: "I never thought of myself as a great photographer till I looked at this image of the little Cuban girl clutching her block of wood. Her mother told me she pretended it was her doll. This is the photo that made my career, my life, worthwhile. It is the only one I stare at constantly, wondering if rich little girls have as much fun with their dolls as the little Cuban girl had with hers. Little girls are heavenly, especially unspoiled, non-rich little girls."
{Click on the above photo to see enlargement}

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