Topical and Iconic Snapshots of Cuba

Sunday, November 10th, 2013

  For the most part, the mainstream U. S. media reports only on negative stories emanating from Cuba. However, Sarah Rainsford of the BBC {left} covers Cuba like a blanket and her bosses in England allow her to report on positive or negative aspects of everyday life on the island. Thus, if you want a fair, unbiased view of Cuba, google "Sarah Rainsford of the BBC." If you want a warped, distorted view, google "Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, etc., or hateful, revengeful blogs like "Capital Hill Cubans."
   For example, in one of her first BBC reports from Cuba in this month of Nov.-2013, Sarah Rainsford's video included the snapshot on the right to illustrate vast changes taking place within the Cuban economy. There are now some 440,000 new small businesses operating on the island. These ladies were checking Halloween costumes at one of those stores earlier this month because Halloween in the year 2013 was widely celebrated in Cuba! Did you know that? Probably not. But if you would ignore Talking Heads on Fox and instead rely on Sarah Rainsford to tell you what is happening in Cuba with everyday Cubans, then you would know some actual facts!
  The young Cuban woman on the left was featured in Sarah Rainsford's BBC report eagerly sorting through Halloween costumes at one of the new privately owned small businesses in Cuba. This, of course, is not earth-shaking news...except for the fact that Americans are not supposed to know about anything positive that might...just might!...be happening in Cuba. So, as Sarah Rainsford reports for the BBC, an enthusiastic young Cuban woman shopping for a Halloween costume is rather earth-shattering, after all. And that's because her shopping spree was real, not staged.
     Sarah Rainsford of the BBC reports that the Cuban man on the right was anxiously blowing up Halloween balloons to sell in his new entrepreneurial enterprise. By contrast, the U. S. media would have been interested in this man only if he was a dissident engaged in some enterprise designed to undermine or overthrow the Cuban government. Since he was not, we have to rely on Sarah Rainsford of the BBC to tell us what the hell this Cuban was doing blowing up all those balloons! After all, since the overthrow of the U.S.-backed Batista-Mafia dictatorship way back in 1959, Cuba says a lot more about the U. S. than it says about Cuba itself.
  Sarah Rainsford's BBC report featured this Cuban man eagerly cutting up gourds and pumpkins for his Halloween celebration. Heck, I didn't know Cubans even celebrated Halloween. Of course, by depending on Sarah Rainsford and not Bill O'Rielly to inform me about what's happening on the island of Cuba, now I know! But, of course, if I ever want a biased and distorted view of Cuba, I can always waste my time viewing the Talking Heads on Fox, CNN, and MSNBC where their Anchors are anchored to their desks instead of going out and actually covering news like Sarah Rainsford!
          This REUTERS/Desmond Boyland photo shows the start of a typical day in Cuba this month. It's the main highway leading into Havana. The truck carries bananas. The traffic increases as the day progresses.
       This AFP/Adalberto Roque photo shows a Cuban doctor teaching an anatomy class at the Latin American School of Medicine {ELAM} this month in Havana. ELAM is the largest medical school in the world and one of the most respected. It is a beacon for aspiring doctors who otherwise are stymied by expenses.
       13,000 poor students like these from around the world, including the United States of America, attend ELAM free of charge with all expenses, including room and board, paid for by the Cuban government. When they graduate they owe Cuba nothing except to keep their promise to return to their communities and practice medicine. Most of those promises are kept, improving the communities the students left.
The campus at Cuba's Latin American School of Medicine.
      In the United States -- headquartered, of course, in Miami -- there is a very large cottage industry that makes a lot of money and exacts a lot of revenge with its well-funded, sophisticated anti-Cuban Revolution fanaticism, a project that has been in existence since January of 1959 when the ousted Batista/Mafia dictatorship in Cuba immediately reconstituted itself in the U. S. with its new capital of Miami. The above photo {taken by Chris Hinkle} highlighted a major article in the New York Times on Tuesday, November 5th, 2013. It shows 21-year-old Cuban defector Adrianni Martin in a practice session with Ballet Arizona where she is the principle dancer in its production of "Cinderella" in Phoenix. Six months ago Ms. Martin defected from the prestigious National Ballet of Cuba along with her boyfriend Randy Crespo and five other premier Cuban ballet performers. Because Cuba trains better dancers than the U. S., all seven of the defectors are already well-paid American performers. Ms. Martin told the New York Times, "We knew we were leaving everything behind, and we didn't know what awaited us." Of course, what awaits ballet, baseball, and medical defectors from Cuba to the U. S. is a lushly funded and profitable pipeline greased with powerful doses of greed and revenge designed to make money and to hurt Revolutionary Cuba. Such defectors as Adrianni Martin are well-educated and lured into that pipeline -- currently via Mexico -- with ease. U. S. laws -- engineered by visceral Cuban exiles -- such as the Helms-Burton Act -- provide vast privileges to Cuban exiles that are totally unavailable to anyone else. The Wet Foot/Dry Foot U. S. law, for example, gives Cuban defectors, and only Cuban defectors, instant entree to America if they leave Cuba and touch dry soil. The soil between the U. S. and Mexico, of course, is quite dry. Once on dry soil, the Cuban defectors are immediately a part of that well-greased, revengeful, and profitable pipeline.
       Ramona de Saa is Cuba's master ballet teacher. She diligently trained Adrianni Martin and the other recent defectors, as well as international superstars such as Carlos Acosta, Daniel and Rolando Sarabia, Jose Manuel Carreno, Yosvani Ramos, etc. For the Nov. 5-2013 article, the New York Times asked Ramona de Saa how she felt about the latest defections of her superbly trained ballet stars. She replied: "We are privileged here. The world of ballet is difficult." She understands the well-greased anti-Cuban pipeline.
Hamid Ansari, the Vice President of India, visited Cuba last week.
            On the flight back to India, Hamid Ansari was effusive about having met Cuba's 87-year-old revolutionary icon Fidel Castro, calling it "the greatest moment and privilege of my political career." News agencies covering Ansari's on-flight news conference, including ndtv.com, quoted Ansari as saying: "The old rebel is fit and in good shape. When a man talks to you for 65 minutes, obviously he is fit. His health is well compared to his 87 years. He is frail, but his mental faculty is strong. I had hoped the meeting would be 20-25 minutes. But it lasted one hour and five minutes. It shows he is in good shape and aware of what is happening around the world. His views have been the same they were for the last five decades. He was concerned about the stockpiling of weapons and dangers faced by the world due to accidents in such a situation. We also talked about other things on his mind, such as gardening and horticulture." Ansari said on the flight home that he had longed to meet Fidel Castro "one more time." He said back in 1983 when he was India's Chief of Protocol, he had met Fidel at the NAM Summit of non-aligned nations in Delhi and "I've admired his life."
     On September 18-2006 {Photo above} India's Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh flew to Cuba to be with Fidel Castro shortly after the revolutionary leader had nearly died from an intestinal problem in late July and August of that year. On his return flight to India, Prime Minister Singh famously said, "Meeting Fidel Castro is the greatest honor of my life. During my lifetime, he has been a giant and the world has few giants." 
In September-2013 Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa flew to Cuba {left} to meet Fidel Castro, whom President Correa idolizes. Between the October, 31st, 2013, visit by Vice President Ansari of India and the September 18th, 2013 visit by President Correa of Ecuador, a span of 43 days, Fidel had not entertained any important visitors nor had Cuba released any updated photos of him. Such intervals spawn rumors, especially by his legion of enemies, about Fidel being dead or on his deathbed. One day, of course, the rumor will be true. 
     This photo, taken by Fidel's son Alexander, shows Fidel welcoming President Rafael Correa of Ecuador into his Havana home on September 18, 2013. After he left, President Correa told a news conference, "I'll say two things about him. One, I was surprised how healthy he is considering what he has been through but not surprised at his mental acumen. He remains the greatest person I have known and, I believe, the greatest on this planet." When 43 days go by without proven, updated photos of Fidel, rumors are rampant outside of Cuba that he has died or is dying. Insiders, notably one of his sons, had informed friends in Paris via phone calls that his mother, Fidel's wife Dalia, had restricted visitors to their home "for several weeks" because Fidel had "a cold." Obviously the cold and Dalia's meticulous dictates fueled the rumors between President Correa's Sept. 18-2013 visit and Vice President Ansari's visit on October 31st, 2013.

        Dalia Soto del Valle married Fidel Castro in 1980 shortly after the death of his revolutionary soul-mate Celia Sanchez and the marriage fulfilled Celia's last request. The photo at the right shows Dalia dining out with her son's girlfriend. She has had five very devoted sons with Fidel. Celia and Dalia became friends when Dalia was a teacher in the south-central colonial city of Trinidad. On her deathbed Celia told Dalia to marry Fidel "and take care of him. God knows, he needs a lot of caring." Dalia never forgot those words from her best friend.
     Celia would be very proud of the job Dalia has done taking care of Fidel since 1980. She persuaded him to give up smoking his famed cigars in 1983. Since his near-fatal illness in July of 2006, she has closely monitored and supervised his health-care. At age 87, Fidel's longevity surprises everyone. For five decades Fidel has said Celia was/is Cuba's greatest revolutionary fighter and leader. He now says, "I'm alive because of Dalia Soto del Valle Castro. She hates publicity but write down all five of her names just so you will know.." Celia was Cuba's prime decision-maker. Dalia was one of Celia's best and most lasting decisions.
And by the way.......................
      ....famed journalist and America's top television personality Ed Sullivan got the first interview {abovewith Fidel Castro as the new post-Batista leader of Cuba. It took place on Jan. 4-1959 when Fidel was half-way between Santiago de Cuba, on the island's eastern end, and Havana on the western end. The journey took him seven days after the ouster of the Batista regime verily shocked the world on Jan. 1-1959.
    The triumphant, dilatory journey from Santiago to Havana was delayed by the Ed Sullivan interview and by tumultuous greetings {above} along the way. In this photo a tired Fidel was reacting to the crowd while his soul-mate, Celia Sanchez, was more concerned with getting to Havana to begin the riveting post-Batista rule of Cuba.
    This photo shows Fidel and Celia {back to the camera} finally arriving in Havana on Jan. 7, 1959. The heavily bearded man on the left is Camilo Cienfuegos, who had brilliantly led the capture of Santa Clara the week before and then stormed to Havana hoping that Fulgencio Batista, Meyer Lansky, Rolando Masferrer and the other leaders of the ousted dictatorship would stand and fight. They didn't. When the above photo was snapped, the three most important revoluionary leaders and decision-makers were: Celia Sanchez, Fidel Castro, and Camilo Cienfuegos in that exact order. Camilo, however, died in an airplane accident. If those facts don't compute with what you have been told, it's because you have been successfully and conveniently lied to.
Camilo Cienfuegos died Oct. 28-1959. He was 27-years-old.
Fidel considered Camilo his best rebel commander.
Celia Sanchez considered Camilo almost on a par with Fidel.
      After the death of Camilo Cienfuegos, Cuba's BIG FOUR (in order of importance) was: #1 Celia Sanchez {on the right in the above photo}; #2 Fidel Castro; #3 Vilma Espin; and #4 Raul Castro. Again, if that doesn't compute with what you've been told, it's because you have been successfully and conveniently lied to.
Celia {above} gave Fidel his first anti-Batista rifle when he joined her revolution in the Sierra Maestra.
Fidel had begun to worship Celia the two years in was in prison before he ever laid eyes on her.
Fidel will worship Celia Sanchez till the day he dies.
     This photo shows Celia and Fidel on a typical night in the Sierra Maestra Mountains during the war year of 1958. Celia is holding a candle so Fidel can see to read a book and she can read the latest guerrilla update on the movement of a Batista army.
The next day Celia {above} would be the one to decide what to do about that Batista army.
     In Revolutionary Cuba the prime abode for Celia and Fidel was her small, neat, modest apartment on 11th Street in Havana. In the photo above Fidel is relaxing in his rocking chair with his slippers in the foreground. The always studious and pragmatic Celia, of course, is studying material related to the governing of Cuba. This photo is quite appropriate because Celia was the decision-maker for Cuba and Fidel's primary role was to completely support her decisions, which he did whether or not he fully agreed with them. The great photographer Roberto Salas, a true Cuban insider, wrote in his superb book "A Pictorial History of the Cuban Revolution" these exact words: "Celia made all the decisions for Cuba, the big ones and small ones. When she died of cancer in 1980, we all knew no one could ever replace her." Salas is a highly respected Cuban who would know such things. The remnants of the ousted Batista regime that predicate how Cuba has been perceived in the U. S. since 1959 prefer that you not know what Salas wrote.
      Because the Batista dictatorship was transferred from Cuba to the U. S. in the wee hours of Jan.1-1959 by the hasty departures of Batista, Lansky, Trafficante, Masferrer, etc., to their getaway airplanes, ships, and boats, Americans since 1959 have been successfully proselytized and propagandized to dismiss the significance of Celia Sanchez and Vilma Espin in the Cuban Revolution and in Revolutionary Cuba. The reason for this is quite obvious: It's a lot easier to demonize and vilify macho warriors like Fidel Castro and Che Guevara than petite, beautiful females like Celia and Vilma. Both Celia and Vilma, however, were fearless guerrilla fighters during the war and unchallenged leaders after the rebel victory. Both Celia and Vilma were from rich Cuban families -- Celia's dad was a rich doctor, Vilma's dad a rich lawyer -- but Celia and Vilma waged war on behalf of the Cuban peasants who, they believed, were being raped, robbed, abused, and murdered by the Batista regime. Significantly, after 1959 Celia and Vilma could have lived lavishly but they lived modestly till the day they died of cancer. In the seminal photo above, copyrighted by the Wisconsin Historical Society, Celia and Vilma are taking a break during a lull in the fighting in the Sierra Maestra in 1958. Vilma is smiling sweetly and cheerily for the camera. Around campfires at night Vilma sang and played the guitar and all the rebels were madly in love with her; Raul Castro married her right after the war ended. Beside the frivolous Vilma, Celia meticulously studied reports, as befitted a decision-maker.
By the way, Dickey Chapelle {above} took that iconic photo of Celia Sanchez and Vilma Espin.
Dickey Chapelle was/is the greatest war photojournalist that ever lived.
 But Dickey Chapelle died {above} on Nov. 4-1965 while covering the Vietnam War.
Note that her trademark bush hat is lying near her body.
Celia Sanchez died of cancer on Jan. 11-1980.
Celia's death left Cuba with a Big Three: #1 Fidel; #2 Vilma; and #3 Raul.
Vilma Espin died of cancer on June 18, 2007.
Vilma's death left Cuba with a Big Two: #1 Fidel and #2 Raul.
Cuba still has a Big Two: #1 Commander Fidel and #2 President Raul.
To fly from Miami to Havana to Santiago de Cuba and back to Miami, how many miles would you have flown?
Study this excellent National Geographic map to determine the answer.
Next question: After flying to Cuba's two largest cities, why would you want to fly back to Miami?
{P.S.: I hope the fine folks in Miami can, uh, take a joke.}


Cuban Facts Americans Need to Know!

Especially Democracy-loving Americans
{Sunday, November 3rd, 2013}
        As a lifelong democracy-loving conservative Republican from Virginia, I have been utterly fascinated by the island of Cuba since the Cuban Revolution in January of 1959 overturned the U.S.-backed Batista-Mafia dictatorship. My fascination does not relate to the changes the Cuban Revolution brought to Cuba but, rather, to the nefarious impact it has had on the U. S. democracy. Otherwise, I would be no more fascinated with Cuba than, say, Jamaica. But, of course, neither Jamaica nor any other country ever had a U.S.-backed, brutal/thieving dictatorship overthrown and then have the richest and most powerful exiles from that dictatorship quickly, and it seems eternally, reconstitute their dictatorship on U.S. soil -- first in the Mafia havens of Miami and Union City and then, most unfortunately, in the hallowed halls of the U. S. Congress. The fact that to this day many Americans have been so proselytized and propagandized into disbelieving that obvious truth is precisely why my fascination with Cuba is continually reinforced by such topical names as, say, Marco Rubio, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Mario Diaz-Balart, and...TED CRUZ!
        CNN and other U. S. news outlets this week have featured a video of Rafael Cruz making scary comments in one of his standard and ubiquitous speeches. That's Rafael Cruz on the right with his son Ted Cruz, the Junior U. S. Senator from Texas. When I say scary, I mean that democracy-lovers should be scared if they saw the clips on CNN or elsewhere the last week of Oct.-2013 or if they view Rafael Cruz's entire 11-minute speech on YouTube. Among his milder comments was the one in which he suggested strongly that President Barack Obama should "go back to Kenya." Rafael Cruz is a Cuban who once fought for Fidel Castro in the Cuban Revolution. Later he emigrated to Canada where he worked in the oil fields. Still later he migrated to the oil fields in Texas where Rafael and Ted became...uh, shall we say...enamored and enmeshed with the Bush political dynasty. After Ted received the best education America can provide -- Princeton, Harvard Law, and Bush Politics -- last year his Bush connections got him elected to the U. S. Senate. Uh, yes, that is the same Senator Ted Cruz who last month {October, 2013} shut down the U. S. government for over two weeks -- costing the American tax-payers tens of billions of dollars, inconveniencing millions of Americans, and shaming the U. S. democracy in the eyes of the world. He then bragged about it, indicating that was a start to what he plans to do when he's President in 2016!
      Even if you read America's most respected political publications -- Time Magazine, Politico, USA Today, etc. -- you might well conclude that the above photos are showing you America's President And Vice President as early as 2016. That's Senator Ted Cruz of Texas on the left and Senator Marco Rubio of Florida on the right. Amazingly, despite their youth and inexperience these two Cuban-American Republicans have the money and the support to win the cherished Presidency and/or Vice Presidency in 2016.
      Senator Cruz and Senator Rubio both, of course, direly owe their meteoric rise to the Bush political dynasty, prerequisite #1. With the U. S. democracy more and more bought and paid for, including the U. S. Congress and the White House, billions of dollars will back the Presidential bids of Cruz and Rubio. In fact, tons of cash-laden mountains of support for Cruz and Rubio are already being made available to them by such powerful right-wing organizations as Fox News, the Tea Party, the billionaire Koch brothers, etc., etc.

        America's top political experts are also aware that two-term, lame-duck Democratic President Barack Obama's sagging approval ratings are helping the insatiable Presidential aspirations of Cruz and Rubio. At the start of November, 2013, new polls showed President Obama's Approval Rating at just 42% and his Disapproval Rating at 51%. Thus the Democratic candidate for President in 2016 will be fodder for the vast financial and propaganda machines that are backing right-wing Cuban-exile Republicans Cruz and Rubio. 
Remember, America's fragile Democracy is a two-party system and others need not apply.
        An America with Ted Cruz President and Marco Rubio Vice President would likely be the death-knell for America's democracy, at least -- as Winston Churchill would say -- the beginning of the end or at least the end of the beginning. It would be like the Cuban-exile right-wingers had captured Washington after failing for almost six decades to re-capture Havana! In the C-Span2 image above, that is Senator Rubio on the Senate floor yielding to Senator Cruz. In this instance, the two Cuban-American Senators were carrying cruel, anti-democratic buckets of water for the Tea Party, Fox News, and others of that ilk.
      In the USA Today graphic above, study those quotations by Senator Ted Cruz about his father Rafael. Since 1959 Americans have been bombarded with reminders that the Cubans "who fled Castro's tyranny" came to the United States with little more than the clothes there were wearing. And pro-exile sources such as the Miami Herald and the Capital Hill Cubans blog relentlessly tell Americans that: (1) Cuban-exile future millionaires and billionaires that "fled Castro's Cuba" --such as Jorge Mas Canosa, Rafael Diaz-Balart, the Fanjul brothers, etc. -- made their vast fortunes from scratch once they arrived in the U. S.; and (2) that Cuban-Americans per capita are far wealthier than any other American immigrants. Anyone who has studied Batista's Cuba is aware that Cuban, U. S., and Latin American magazines in the 1950s reported that the top 21 officials in the Batista/Mafia dictatorship each had Swiss bank accounts worth in excess of $1 million in 1950s money! Moreover, it is assumed they had much more than that stashed in banks in the Mafia havens of Miami and Union City -- you know, just in case they had to get in their getaway airplanes, boats, and ships to flee, which, as it turned out, they had to do (or else stand and fight) in the wee hours of Jan. 1-1959 when word came that the determined rebels who had just captured the city of Santa Clara were now charging toward Havana! The Batista-Mafia leaders chose to flee, with Batista, Lansky, Trafficante, etc., quite anxious to re-unite with the loot they had secreted out of Cuba for almost a decade. For the past two generations, such influential loot has purchased the seemingly irrevocable corruption of America's democracy.
       America's Jewish-Mafia kingpin Meyer Lansky {above} told his best pal, fellow South Florida resident Fulgencio Batista, "I've always wanted the Mob to own its own country." That quotation, of course, would later be featured in the iconic "Godfather" movies and many non-fiction books because it led to Batista's second Cuban dictatorship: Cuba's U.S.-backed Batista-Lansky dictatorship that lasted from 1952 till 1959.
      While he was co-dictator with Batista in Cuba from 1952 till 1959, Lansky was the second most powerful Mafia figure after Lucky Luciano. Luciano lived up to his nickname Lucky by being released from a New York prison by the U. S. government in time to supposedly help the Allies in World War II and then direct the mass Havana-to-Miami drug operations in Havana and Miami after World War II. The above montage depicts Luciano in the upper-left, Batista in the upper-right and Lansky in the lower-middle. In vilifying Fidel Castro and the Cuban Revolution since 1959, Cuban-exiles imply that Batista, Lansky, and Luciano were Mother Teresa-like benevolent dictators of Cuba and, after 1959, luscious contributors to America's and Israel's economies and democracies. That is debatable, to put it mildly. It would behoove American democracy-lovers to take judicious advantage of the Google search engine and decide for themselves.
   Such a search of "Meyer Lansky," for example, would show the way he looked in Havana in 1957.
1957 was the year Ted Cruz's father fled Cuba after being tortured in Batista-Lansky's Cuba!
      A diligent search would reveal this 1958 Life Magazine photo. It shows Meyer Lansky carrying a satchel reportedly stuffed with "$200,000," his one-night profits from just one of his lucrative Hotel-Casinos. By the time he was booted out of Cuba by the Cuban Revolution on the morning of Jan. 1-1959, how much money do you think Lansky and his cohorts had accumulated and how much political muscle did all that money purchase in the U.S.? Uh, just asking...not telling. But I think American democracy-lovers should both ask and answer that question by doing a little Googling research so they can independently decide.
      And speaking of Senator Ted Cruz, America's future Republican President. Before he was propelled into the U. S. Senate from Texas by the George W. Bush political machine, he fully acknowledged that his father Rafael had once fought for Fidel Castro in Cuba's Sierra Maestra Mountains. That was before, of course, Rafael ended up first in the Canadian and then the Texas oil fields. Ted, by the way, was born in Canada and till recently maintained his Canadian citizenship. Now, some democracy lovers might have the out-dated notion that being born on foreign soil precludes a Presidential bid. Don't be indescribably silly!
       And speaking of Senator Marco Rubio, America's future Vice President and (Presumably after Ted Cruz's two terms) President. Even after he was propelled to the U. S. Senate from Miami by the Jeb Bush political machine in Florida, Marco Rubio's bio conveniently claimed that his parents had fled the Castro tyranny in Cuba for the freedom of Miami!! Then, of course, the St. Petersburg Times and the Washington Post pointed out that, uh, his parents had actually fled the Batista tyranny in Cuba for the freedom of Miami long before the Castro-led Cuban Revolution miraculously overthrew Batista! Politics and lies are full partners, you see.
Cuban-American lies about Cuba take massive advantage of apathy and a lack of patriotism. 
So now you know..............
...why the Cuban Revolution fascinates democracy-loving Americans!
It says much more about the United States than it says about Cuba.
This map delineates the 14 provinces of Cuba. 


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