Friday, February 28, 2014

Cuban Influence on Latin America

Or...How Can An Island Be So Influential?
{Tuesday, March 4th, 2014} 
    Thursday -- February 27, 2014 -- Enrique Krause {left} wrote a major editorial in the New York Times entitled "Venezuela's Angry Students." Mr. Krause is anti-Castro and anti-Cuban but he quite fairly and accurately explained how the 87-year-old Fidel Castro and his Cuban Revolution direly influences topical events across Latin America -- such as the ongoing demonstrations and protests designed to overthrow the democratically elected government of President Nicolas Maduro, a Castro disciple. Mr. Krause believes, correctly, that well-organized protests of "angry" students represent a dire threat to President Maduro. He wrote: "The students have the support of many of their parents and teachers, and of at least the nearly half of the population that voted against Mr. Maduro in the 2013 election." There are, indeed, many problems for Venezuela, which has off-the-chart inflation and crime rates. But Mr. Krause also opined that Maduro's government might survive because of: "The enduring prestige of the Cuban Revolution." He added: "In fact, Cuba continues to be the nerve center of progressive ideology in Latin America. As a testiment to its weight, almost every Latin American president attended the summit late last month in Havana of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, at which Fidel Castro was hailed as the 'political and moral guide.'" Mr. Krause also understands that Dilma Rousseff, the democratically elected President of Latin America's superpower Brazil, is also a Fidel Castro disciple. Krause wrote: "Hence Brazil's support for stability in Cuba but also for safeguarding ties between Havana and Caracas (Venezuela supplies Cuba with oil). Thus we have the odd situation of President Dilma Rousseff of Brazil, who was tortured as a student by the Brazilian military, defending, or at least tolerating, the armed repression of students in Venezuela." Armed repression? That, of course, is an unfair characterization of what's happening in Venezuela because there are two sides, not just one, fueling the conflict, which is most of all a clash between the minority rich and the majority poor. But Mr. Krause was at least fair to conclude that "the enduring prestige of the Cuban Revolution" is and will continue to be a dominant influence across the width and breadth of Latin America. Also Mr. Krause accurately pointed out that Latin America's most important President, Brazil's Dilma Rousseff, evolved from being "tortured as a student by the Brazilian military." If he had expounded on that fact, Mr. Krause would have explained that the Brazilian military thugs who tortured the young Dilma Rousseff were supported by a foreign power, the U. S., and today many Latin Americans -- including Brazilians, Venezuelans, Nicaraguans, Bolivians, etc., remember such things even if it is politically correct for others not to.

    Mr. Krause mentioned Dilma Rousseff "who was tortured as a student by the Brazilian military."  The photo on the right shows Dilma as a student sitting peacefully by a stream just before she became a street protester and guerrilla fighter against her country's foreign-backed military dictatorship. To equate Dilma the protester-guerrilla fighter with "Venezuela's Angry Students" is not a fair comparison. Dilma rebelled against a foreign-backed dictatorship; the Venezuelan students are rebelling against a democratically elected government and many, perhaps enough, Venezuelans believe that "the angry students" are being supported and encouraged by elements in Miami and Washington. That belief alone gives President Maduro a fighting chance to survive in Venezuela, which is a sovereign nation.
    As a student in Brazil, Dilma Rousseff became Prisoner #3023 and then, for the next three years, she was unmercifully tortured in a military prison by U.S.-backed dictators. From that background, she today is the democratically elected President of Brazil, Latin America's superpower. As a student, she was inspired by the Cuban Revolution whose leader, Fidel Castro, survived two years in a military prison for rebelling against a U.S.-backed dictatorship. Today the American people do not comprehend the Rousseff-Fidel or the Maduro-Fidel nexus and thus Americans do not comprehend today's Latin America. Therefore, on February 27th, 2014 a major editorial in the New York Times concluded that topical events in Latin America, such as the Venezuelan protests, are primarily influenced by "the enduring prestige of the Cuban Revolution." If you know an everyday American that understands that fact as expertly espoused by Enrique Krause, let me know.
    President Dilma Rousseff of Brazil understands that the 87-year-old Fidel Castro will not see many more Cuban sunrises. She also understands that, after he has seen his last sunset, his legacy will continue to influence Latin America for decades to come. Yes, few Americans understand "the enduring prestige of the Cuban Revolution." But Dilma Rousseff, a very brave and smart lady, understands that it has something to do with opposing foreign-backed, brutal, thieving dictatorships.
   Eva Golinger is a very interesting lawyer-author-journalist with strong ties to both the United States and Venezuela. She graduated from prestigious Sarah Lawrence College in 1994 and then breezed through Law School at City University of New York. Today she is a well respected and, actually, a very brilliant author, journalist, and speaker. After law school she lived for five years in Merida, Venezuela to gain fluency in Spanish and to reconnect with her Venezuelan roots. And, yes, she has very strong opinions on what is happening now in Latin America, especially her beloved Venezuela. Americans need to consider her viewpoints.
    Americans, however, are not supposed to hear or to read Eva Golinger's acknowledged expertise related to her lifelong obsessions with Latin America and Venezuela. You see, Eva is a strong supporter of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and, moreover, she...uh...admires his mentor Fidel Castro. As an orator and as a writer, she is absolutely prolific in expressing her views. She admired Hugo Chavez's 14-year reign as Venezuelan President because he "at least showed respect for the poor and not just the rich elite." She also admires current Venezuelan President Maduro because "at least he shows respect for the poor and not just the rich elite." And her admiration for Fidel Castro relates to her perception of Cuba's revolutionary icon as "the brave leader who fought for the poor against the brutality and thievery of foreign-backed thugs." As a journalist and writer, she has worked for both Chavez and Maduro. She has written and spoken in depth about how first Chavez and now Maduro "transformed" Venezuela from a nation that was a "playpen for the foreign and domestic very rich 1% at the expense of the more decent and deserving very poor indigenous 99%." Thus, in a long essay this week Eva wrote: "The demonstrations taking place over the past few days in Venezuela are attempts to undermine and destroy that transformation in order to return power to the hands of the elite who ruled previously for more than 40 years." Throughout her latest essay, Eva repeatedly referenced the struggle between the greedy "1% rich" and the "deserving 99% poor." In other words, Eva understands Latin America!
    Eva Golinger says that the anti-government protests in Venezuela are being fueled by three extremely rich and extremely ambitious politicians who are "extremely" supported by "the Miami-based and Bush-fueled Cuban-exile Mafia that briefly mounted a coup that overthrew the democratically elected Chavez government in 2002." She believes the Maduro government is facing the same threat. Eva wrote: "Led by hard-line neo-conservatives -- Leopoldo Lopez, Henrique Capriles, and Maria Corina Machado -- who come from three of the wealthiest families in Venezuela, the 1% of the 1% -- the protesters seek not to re-vindicate their basic fundamental rights, or gain access to free health care or education, all of which are guaranteed by the state. But rather they are attempting to spiral the country into a state of ungovernability that would justify an international intervention leading to regime change." Eva firmly believes that the two-term Jeb Bush governorship of Florida and the two-term George W. Bush presidential administrations fueled the attempted coup against Chavez in 2002 and "that same Bush connection to the Miami Cubans is attempting a coup against Maduro." Even Latin American experts who disagree with Eva Golinger admit that she has used her lawyer and journalistic skills to secure a plethora of U. S. documents under the Freedom of Information Act that support her claims related to the Bush dynasty's connections to the Chavez coup in 2002 and to what she considers the attempted coup now against Maduro. Eva wrote: "The U. S. support of Batista and the ongoing Bush support of Miami's Batistianos relate to today's problems throughout Latin America but especially in nations like Venezuela and Brazil that support Cuba. It is up to Venezuelans, Brazilians and enough Latin Americans to resist that treatable cancer." Eva Golinger, the diligent researcher, says that in March of 2002, when President George W. Bush put anti-Castro zealot Otto Reich in charge of Latin American affairs, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez was advised to expect a U.S.-backed coup, which indeed happened in April of 2002. But Eva was not alone in that judgment as most Western investigative reports solidly agree with her. Immediately after the coup, for example, two top British newspapers -- the London Observer and the Guardian -- both screamed the headline: "Venezuela Coup Linked to Bush Team." A few days later the New York Times headlined this fact: "Documents Show CIA Knew of A Coup Plot in Venezuela." Eva Golinger says that since the 1980s "the George H. W. Bush, George W. Bush, and Jeb Bush dynasty has kept Cuban-born anti-Castro zealots like Otto Reich in charge of America's Latin American policy that always starts with trying to re-capture Cuba. If they win, the simple fact is...everyone else loses."
    Otto Reich was born in Havana, Cuba on October 16, 1945. His extremists views against Fidel Castro were readily recognized and empowered by Vice President George H. W. Bush in the early 1980s. They were greatly expanded during George H. W. Bush's one-term presidency and George W. Bush's two-terms as President. From January of 2002 till November of 2002 President George W. Bush had Otto Reich as his "Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs," making Reich America's most powerful person when it came to Latin America...and Cuba. Because of his extremism, there was no way Reich could have received Senate approval for such an important position so President Bush evaded that little problem with a brief "recess appointment" of Reich that didn't need Senate approval.
     As the Bush dynasty's "Point Man" for Latin America and Cuba, no knowledgeable source was surprised that the coup against Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez occurred during Reich's few months in charge of America's "Western Hemisphere Affairs." After all, the anti-Castro zealots in the U. S. believed that Chavez was the only thing keeping Castro's revolutionary government in Cuba alive. Eliminate Chavez and we get Cuba back. Reich's myriad anti-Castro power-strokes had included his strong participation in such things as the Bacardi Rum trademark dispute, the Helms-Burton Act that hurts everyone except the Cuban-exile elite, etc. The Bush dynasty once had Reich the U. S. Ambassador to Venezuela. Reich had well-known contacts with a very rich Venezuelan named Pedro Carmona. The 2002 coup that captured, imprisoned, and apparently intended to kill Chavez only lasted for 47 hours before firebrand Lina Ron put on her baseball hat and led massive street protests "to restore my President!" But during those 47 hours just before Lina Ron scared Washington, the U. S. government was made to look like a Banana Republic when it quickly "recognized" Reich's friend Pedro Carmona as the "legitimate new President of Venezuela." WOW!!
    When Otto Reich was the Bush dynasty's Latin American "Point Man," his immediate boss was the Bush dynasty's National Security Adviser and later Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. She and her boss, President Bush, were quick to defend Mr. Reich even as less biased sources were unveiling the true and now historic facts about the 2002 coup that has greatly weakened and shamed America's influence in Latin America to this day. It is understandable that the meek and weak U. S. media gives officials like Ms. Rice free celebrity passes for even anti-democratic tactics but it is even more of a problem when the American citizens, by and large, are not concerned enough about their democracy to even offer opinions, or in the digital age to simply Google pertinent data regarding such things as the 2002 Venezuelan coup, which seems to be playing out again in 2014. In other words, not knowing who "Otto Reich" is means you have no idea about Cuba, Venezuela or the Cuban Revolution. And should surely know the names "Pedro Carmona" and "Lina Ron."
   That's the ultra-rich Pedro Carmona on the left declaring himself President of Venezuela after the coup that had the democratically elected President, Hugo Chavez, naked and tied to a chair in a military cell. After this declaration by Carmona, President Bush's administration hastily announced its official recognition of Carmona as the legitimate President of Venezuela while everyone wondered if Chavez had already been assassinated. Carmona was born on July 6, 1941 in Barquisimeto and his ties to Reich and Bush were well known. As it turned out, his Presidency lasted just a few hours -- from late night April 12-2002 till early morning April 13-2002.
   A feisty Venezuelan woman named Lina Ron slapped on her baseball hat, grabbed a bullhorn, mounted the back of a pick-up truck and drove around Caracas bellowing: "All poor people of Venezuela follow me! I have a message for Miami and Washington. You either restore my President to power within 24 hours or I will lead a scorched-earth policy from Caracas to Miami to Washington!" The media quickly carried Lina's words to Miami and Washington, with video showing her pick-up truck surrounded by a sea of chanting Venezuelans. Carmona hastily fled to a sanctuary in Colombia. The soldiers, apparently waiting for word about when to kill Chavez, were told to free him. The coup had lasted 47 hours but its aftermath still resonates around Latin America although, till this day, Americans are not supposed to comprehend its lingering effects throughout the region and the world.
    Lina Ron, after she had scared Carmona and his backers in Miami and Washington, then got to kiss her restored President, Hugo Chavez. At a news conference later that day {April 13-2002}, Chavez was asked: "How can a lady wearing a baseball hat alter history in a matter of a few hours?" Chavez replied: "By scaring the hell out of those criminal cowards in Miami and Washington." Then he laughed and famously said, "Truth be known, Lina Ron sometimes scares the hell out of me! When I see her coming, I throw up my hands and shout, 'Lina, I just signed a bill to help every poor person in Venezuela! I SWEAR I DID.'"
    Lina Ron made Latin American history by pointing directly at the coup perpetrators {as registered on video tapeand loudly proclaiming "a scorched earth policy from Caracas to Miami to Washington if my President is not restored to office within 24 hours." Incredibly, her President was restored to office within her allotted time. {Lina Ron died unexpectedly and a bit mysteriously at age 51 on March 5, 2011. She is remembered as a heroine}.
      This is a very powerful anti-Maduro Venezuelan named Maria Corina Machado. She is a rich, ambitious politician that Lina Ron didn't like because Lina and many other poor Venezuelans considered Machado a backer of the 2002 coup. Eva Golinger -- the aforementioned Venezuelan expert and insider -- believes Ms. Corina Machado will beat out two other wealthy U.S.-connected Venezuelan politicians, Leopoldo Lopez and Henrique Capriles, and become Venezuela's next President if President Maduro is overthrown.
     This photo shows Maria Corina Machado with President George W. Bush. Eva Golinger believes Ms. Corina Machado has the edge over Lopez and Capriles because of her closer ties to both the Bush dynasty and Miami. It has been widely reported that when Pedro Carmona held up that paper proclaiming his brief...uh, very brief..."Presidency," he flashed the names of 395 wealthy Venezuelans who had signed a "Degree of Manifesto" supporting the coup that made Lina Ron and other democracy-lovers very mad. It has been widely reported that one of the 395 signers was Maria Corina Machado. If President Maduro is ousted in 2014, Maria Corina Machado and her Bush-connected supporters probably expect it to last a lot longer than 47 hours. After all, Lina Ron died three years ago and she was one of a kind. She believed the majority poor and not just the "richest of the rich" should have representation in a democracy. Eva Golinger says that the three prime pretenders to President Maduro's throne -- Machado, Capriles, and Lopez -- are among the "richest of the rich" in Venezuela backed by the "richest of the rich" in the United States. And Eva Golinger knows full well that Lina Ron is no longer around to react to a coup that would surely help the very rich and hurt the very poor.
       Huber Matos died February 27th in Miami at age 95. Of the original primary leaders and commanders of Fidel Castro's Cuban Revolution, Huber Matos was the only dissident. On March 31, 1958 the 39-year-old Matos flew a cargo plane loaded with five tons of badly needed ammunition and weapons to the Sierra Maestra battle zone to assist the Fidel Castro-Celia Sanchez guerrilla war against Dictator Batista. On August 8, 1958, while helping to win the war, Matos became a top rebel commander who won major victories leading up to the Jan. 1-1959 ouster of Batista. But within months after the triumph Matos scolded Fidel for not squashing "the Marxist leanings of Che and Raul." Believing Matos was turning against the revolution, Fidel sent his top Commander, Camilo Cienfuegos, to arrest Matos in Camaguey, Cuba.
    This remarkable photo shows Camilo Cienfuegos arresting Huber Matos on October 21, 1959. That's Matos on the right staring at his former friend Camilo, who is staring back. This was a key moment in the history of Revolutionary Cuba. Huber was Fidel's favorite Commander; Camilo was Celia Sanchez's favorite Commander. Some in the rebel inner-circle were surprised Camilo was the one who arrested Matos because Fidel would not have sent Camilo to Camaguey without the approval of Celia, whom Fidel would not have disobeyed. After this arrest on Oct. 21-1959 Matos was sentenced to 20 years in prison for "treason." At the trial, onlookers shouted "Paredon" {"To the wall"} because in the early euphoric days of Revolutionary Cuba much of the populace demanded the harshest treatment for "enemies" of the revolution. Many historians believe Fidel alone spared Huber's life but he was sentenced to 20 years in prison. He served every day of those 20 years, being released on Oct. 21-1979. Till he died at age 95 on Feb. 27-2014 Mr. Matos had divided his time between Miami and Costa Rica. At his request he will be buried in Costa Rica. He was born in Yara, Cuba in 1918 and was 8 years older than Fidel and he devoted his life to ousting Batista in 1952, one year before Fidel made the same life-or-death decision. 

      This photo shows three of the primary rebel commanders that defeated the Batista-Mafia dictatorship in Cuba on January 1, 1959. That's Camilo Cienfuegos on the left, Fidel Castro in the center, and Huber Matos on the right {staring at Fidel}. Camilo died on October 28, 1959 at age 26 when his airplane crashed into the ocean during a storm, so Camilo died just one week after he had arrested Huber Matos. Mr. Matos died Thursday in Miami at age 95 as the only major rebel leader to seriously challenge Fidel. Fidel is 87 and still alive in Havana with memories of Camilo and Huber. Next to Celia Sanchez, Fidel has always considered Camilo to be the top rebel leader. Next to Fidel, Camilo was also the most popular Cuban on the island after the ouster of Batista. Had he not died at the tender age of 26, some believe Camilo's power in Revolutionary Cuba would have eventually equaled or surpassed Fidel's, but that's pure speculation.
This photo shows a disillusioned Huber Matos in September, 1959 -- the month before his arrest.
This is Huber Matos at age 95. He was a good and brave man.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Dr. Ingram vs. Senator Rubio

An Ongoing Battle for Democracy's Soul
{Thursday, February 27th, 2014th}
      Dr. Robert B. Ingram {left} was, beyond doubt, one of the most decent and most respected citizens in the history of South Florida, namely Miami. He pulled himself up by his own bootstraps and attained a brilliant education, including a Ph.D. He became a world-class educator and served honorably as President of the National Conference of Black Mayors. All his adult life, America had no finer champion of children's rights, including the right to superb educations, than Dr. Ingram. He discriminated against no one -- not black children, nor white children, nor Haitian children, nor Cuban children. In the latter part of his life Dr. Ingram was easily the most respected person on the Miami-Dade County School Board and his goal, commensurate with his mission in life, was to enhance the lives of the children in Miami-Dade County and everywhere else.
     Dr. Ingram's love of children, all children, was spread around South Florida -- especially throughout the Miami-Dade County area. And the children, as well as their parents and teachers, all loved him back as the little girl in this photo is doing. In the Miami area and nationwide Dr. Ingram had no enemies, except among Cuban exiles. Apparently his concern for Haitian and Cuban children, including those back in their native countries, didn't sit well with the Cuban-exile elites who had dominated Miami economically and politically since January of 1959 when the Batista-Mafia dictatorship in Cuba was overthrown by the Cuban Revolution, which in turn sent many of the elites in the Batista-Mafia dictatorship fleeing back to South Florida to hook back up with the Cuban wealth they had spent a decade extracting from the island. Dr. Ingram was the antithesis to that historic fact. Sadly, Dr. Ingram and many other democracy-loving Americans fell victim to all those ex-Cuban elites and their bushels of money that quickly, beginning in 1959, overwhelmed all economic and political opposition first in Miami and then in Washington, D. C.
     Throughout his adult life, Dr. Ingram received a multitude of awards and commendations for his unparalleled work on behalf of children -- all children. The Haitian community in Miami, for example, presented Dr. Ingram the plaque on the left for all he had done for Haitian children. Of course, he did just as much for Cuban children but the Cuban community couldn't freely express its appreciation because they feared retribution. As it turned out, Dr. Ingram himself was fearful of Cuban extremists.

    Dr. Ingram wrote children's books such as "Mack and the Turtle" and gave the profits to elementary schools. He also crafted highly respected educational programs {as depicted on the right}. Dr. Ingram's brilliance, diligence, and innovative ideas benefited Miami-Dade County elementary schools and are copied to this day by other educational systems nationwide. 
   One innocent little children's book that Dr. Ingram admired was Vamos a Cuba {A Visit to Cuba}. It was among a series of twenty-four books by a very respected publisher that aimed to teach American children ages 7 to 9 about children in those other 24 countries. There were 34 copies of Vamos a Cuba in school libraries in Miami-Dade County. But the Cuban-exile elites that ruled Miami-Dade County objected to Vamos a Cuba, apparently because they resented the fact that the cover {left} depicted laughing, happy Cuban children on the island. Thus, the Miami-Dade County School Board, which included Dr. Ingram, voted 6-to-3 to remove Vamos a Cuba from all Miami-Dade County schools. To the surprise of many, Dr. Ingram voted with the majority. The books were removed, totally banned. Neither the ACLU nor the U. S. government, both of whom have adamantly defended many harmful and dirty books under Freedom of the Press regulations, mounted a defense of Vamos a Cuba -- all of which surprised no one because, since 1959, Cuban-exile elites have conducted themselves as a monolithic, unchecked, self-aggrandizing element within the U. S. democracy. But Dr. Ingram's vote to ban Vamos a Cuba was indeed surprising, even shocking to many. It seemed to defy all the great things he stood for. Plus, he had always conducted his life with immense bravery and unquestioned integrity, especially when issues involved children. But just before he died in September of 2007 Dr. Ingram revealed to the world why he had voted to ban Vamos a Cuba. He stated simply but poignantly that he was afraid not to vote for the ban because he feared either he or members of his family would be car-bombed if he had not voted to ban the little book. And once again no one -- including the U. S. government, the U. S. media, and the U. S. citizens -- reacted with shock at the great man's revelations about fearing car bombs if he didn't follow the dictates or presumed wishes of the Cuban-exile elites in Miami. Thus, like so many other events since 1959, the end of Dr. Ingram's life reflected a downward spiral for the American democracy whose first misstep was supporting the brutal Batista-Mafia dictatorship in Cuba and whose second even more grievous error was supporting the transplanted Batista-Mafia exiles on U. S. soil in Miami. 
      Dr. Robert B. Ingram was indeed a great man, and a very brave one. His illimitable goodness also made him a very powerful force in Miami-Dade County, as evidenced by his bio on the right. But not even Dr. Ingram, during his lifetime, was great enough, or brave enough, or good enough to challenge the Cuban-exile elite that has ruled Miami-Dade County since 1959. That's when car bombs and other unchecked mayhem began to earnestly threaten and silence anyone who opposed them, as if on U. S. soil a Banana Republic-style regime had so easily supplanted democracy. Dr. Ingram specifically remembered car-bombs that had silenced the anti-terrorist Cuban-American newsman Emilio Milian and so many others. Thus, we can imagine his torment over being afraid to not follow his conscience when it came to Vamos a Cuba. But the great and decent Dr. Ingram, just before he died, let the world know the torment he had suffered because of his vote to ban Vamos a Cuba, a vote he felt compelled to cast to avoid a car-bomb. The death of a great man, Dr. Ingram, also signaled the death of democracy as generations of Americans had come to know it and as the Founding Fathers had envisioned it. Just before he died, Dr. Ingram showed his love of democracy by making it a point to reveal why he had voted to ban Vamos a Cuba. The everlasting shame is that the U. S. government, the U. S. media, and the U. S. citizens -- out of sheer cowardice or simple disrespect for democracy -- ignored the last great and brave act of Dr. Ingram's remarkably worthwhile life.
     Ted Turner was born in Cincinnati in 1938 and proved to be an American visionary. In 1980 he founded CNN as a 24-hour Cable News Network. He envisioned around-the-clock television news and he provided CNN with the talent and wherewithal to gather and report that news. His ideas pertaining to news were so innovative that he soon had a multi-billion-dollar enterprise that many others, such as Fox and MSNBC, would attempt to emulate. But, thanks to Mr. Turner, no one could either challenge or replicate CNN...that is till 1996 when Time-Warner purchased CNN for $7.5 billion. The first thing Time-Warner did was to fire Ted Turner because Ted's vision focused on news while Time-Warner's only interest was making money.
   Thus Ted Turner's CNN gamble made him a multi-billionaire but by selling his pride-and-joy to Time-Warner he also paved the way for the over-all failure of his brainchild. CNN as well as copy-cats like Fox News and MSNBC are today all money-makers while, at the same time, they are journalistic jokes. Unlike Turner's emphasis on actually going out and gathering news, the cable news organizations realize they can maximize their profits by focusing on talking-head pundits and celebrities who will readily flock to the studios to assuage their egos or promote their latest books, movies, or political ambitions. By tying their anchors down to their desks to engage with the talking-heads, the networks don't have to waste money by actually going out and covering news.
    For example, one should hope that Ted Turner was not watching CNN Monday. CNN's best anchor, Wolf Blitzer, spent the majority of his time providing Senator Marco Rubio with a totally free and totally biased half-hour political ad to further Rubio's presidential bid in 2016. In the 24-hours leading up to that farce, CNN pummeled its meager audience with barrages of promos that never failed to advertise Rubio as "the rising star" and the prime "presidential candidate." If Ted Turner had witnessed all those Rubio promos that led up to the half-hour political ad disguised as a news interview, I believe a shamed Mr. Turner would have and should have cried.
    Marco Rubio is nothing more and nothing less than a political creation of wealthy right-wing power-brokers like the Bush dynasty, Fox News, and the Tea Party. But he is, in fact, a serious possibility to be the Republican presidential candidate in 2016. That reflects the precarious and tragic state of America's democracy that has become so susceptible to money and special interests. It also, of course, reflects the fact that Americans, if they are even concerned with such things as news and democracy, are daily propagandized by right-wing propaganda machines like Fox News, left-wing propaganda machines like MSNBC, and politically correct propaganda machines like CNN. In the digital age, the era of reading newspapers is over and the electronic "news" Americans are bombarded with is self-serving, biased, slanted, and puerile. But that's how a Marco Rubio is created. And that's how a democracy gets eroded and grossly distorted.
Once created, money-making celebrities like Marco Rubio are money-making media darlings.
   Of course, political celebrities are immune from making "career-ending" gaffes such as when Marco Rubio slyly reached way over to fetch a bottle of water in the midst of a major prime-time political speech. As a second generation anti-Castro zealot from Miami, Rubio made it all the way to the U. S. Senate with his official biography loudly proclaiming the obligatory "fact" that his parents had fled the Castro tyranny in Cuba for the "freedom of Miami." Later, of course, the St. Petersburg Times and Washington Post pointed out that...tuh...Rubio's family had actually fled the Batista tyranny in Cuba long before Castro's Cuban Revolution chased the Batistianos to Miami.
      Yet, as CNN promoted so profusely Monday, young political celebrity and rising star Marco Rubio is a prime presidential candidate in 2016. On the campaign trail in the past week Rubio has headlined a massive monument dedication in Miami honoring the thousands of Cubans who have died "fighting" or "fleeing" the Castro tyranny in Cuba. He has also {on his free political ads on CNN and elsewhere} fanned the flames of the ongoing anti-government street demonstrations taking place in Venezuela. And he has loudly assailed the government of Argentina as one that the U. S. government should harshly sanction...or worse. Of course, Mr. Rubio's diatribes against the Venezuelan and Argentine governments this week have nothing at all to do with the fact that the democratically elected Presidents of those two important Latin American nations have pro-Castro governments. It is expected that, when he sees openings, Mr. Rubio will target the pro-Castro Presidents in nations such as Brazil, Chile, Nicaragua, Bolivia, etc. After all, two generations of Cuban-Americans in Miami have become rich and powerful as anti-Castro zealots who hope Americans continue to believe that the mean, vile, despicable Mr. Castro chased all of the good Cubans off the island to Miami where they have flourished despite arriving in Miami without a penny or a peso to their names! {What happened to all that money the Batista-Mafia dictatorship siphoned from Cuba? Wolf Blitzer, of course, wasn't allowed to ask Mr. Rubio any tough questions because to do so would encourage other celebrities not to appear as free pundits, meaning the "news" shows might have to actually go out and cover the news}.
      The U. S. democracy has evolved into a two-party political system in which both parties are bought-and-paid for by special interests. Tragically, it now takes at least a billion dollars of special interest {anti-democracy} money to be a serious presidential contender. Marco Rubio meets that most critical criteria heading into the presidential campaign of 2016. Were he still alive, I wonder what Dr. Robert B. Ingram would think about Marco Rubio being a "serious" presidential contender? Ted Turner is still alive and I wonder what he would be thinking if he watched CNN provide Marco Rubio with his free day-long political ad? I'm a life-long, democracy-loving Conservative Republican and I believe you know what I think. {I would like to see both democracy and passenger pigeons return because their losses were very sad, dark days for America}.
If these two gentlemen are the best the Republicans can muster, our two-party system has failed.
On a more gentle topic......
    ......this AP/Franklin Reyes photo shows the refurbished Capri Hotel at the break of dawn in central Havana's Vedado district. The Capri was originally built in 1955 by famed mobster Meyer Lansky during the Batista-Mafia dictatorship. Jack Lansky, Meyer's brother, managed the Capri. After the Mob was booted off the island by the Cuban Revolution in January of 1959, the Capri was no longer a gambling and prostitution mecca and was actually closed for many years. Now a $6 million re-modeling project has reopened it, signaling an improved Cuban economy.
     Just two blocks from the Capri is the famed National Hotel of Cuba. During the Batista dictatorship the National was owned by another of Batista's closest Mafia friends, Santo Trafficante Jr. of Tampa, Florida.
The Capri and the National today stand as monuments to the Mafia's demise in Cuba.
They also stand as testimony to how badly the Batistianos want to reclaim the island.
Batista in 1952 began selling the island to the Mafiosi and American businesses.
Major newspaper articles like this kept the American people fully informed. 


Sunday, February 16, 2014

An Antidote to Cuban-exile Extremists

A True Defender of Democracy
{Friday, February 21st, 2014}
     Kathy Castor should be elected President of the United States in 2016. It won't happen, of course, because it now takes upwards of a billion dollars to be a serious candidate. Aspiring contenders such as Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Marco Rubio will readily sell their political souls to special interests such as the billionaire Koch brothers or the billionaire Fanjul brothers. But Kathy Castor's politics are not for sale, so she'll continue as a very decent and brilliant member of the U. S. Congress from Tampa, Florida -- and an antidote to anti-democracy cretins.
     Kathy Castor is quite unique among the 535 members of the U. S. Congress. She actually believes her job is to represent the best interests of her constituents in the cities of Tampa and St. Petersburg as well as the counties of Hillsborough and Pinellas while also steadfastly defending the constitutional rights of all U. S. citizens. She does that on a daily basis in a Congress that, according to polls, about 90% of Americans disapprove of and that's quite understandable because the majority of politicians are money-crazed stooges for Special Interests. Such basic facts and realism make Kathy Castor that much more precious.
     In the U. S. Congress Kathy Castor represents the Tampa area that for decades, before and after the Cuban Revolution, was dominated by the Mafia monarchy of Santo Trafficante Sr. and Jr. During the U.S.-backed Batista-Mafia dictatorship in Cuba in the 1950s, Trafficante Jr. moved to Havana to oversee a considerable portion of the blatant rape and robbery of the island. Then in January of 1959, after the triumph of the Cuban Revolution, the Batista and Mafia thugs, including Trafficante Jr., fled back to their sanctuaries in South Florida. Thus the Trafficante monarchy in Tampa simply resumed operations, this time with the added bonus of millions of dollars siphoned from Cuba during the Batista-Mafia reign. Then, beginning in 1959, Trafficante Jr. and a host of other exiled benefactors concentrated not just on fleecing South Florida but also on using their economic and political muscle to buy up congressional support for the purpose of once again re-capturing Cuba and re-making it their piggy-bank. In stark contrast to all that, Kathy Castor stands out like a lighthouse beacon as a prime architect of restoring democracy to an area long controlled by Batistiano-Mafia thugs and usurpers like the Trafficante monarchy.
    The Center for Democracy in the Americas recently pointed out what Kathy Castor is up against in South Florida as she doggedly tries to represent her constituents and not just a few Special Interest elites. Everyone except uninformed or intimidated Americans understands that Special Interest piggy-bank pipelines such as Radio-TV Marti are designed primarily to siphon bushels of tax dollars from Washington to Miami. Funded since the 1980s by hundreds of millions of tax dollars, Radio-TV Marti supposedly will eliminate Fidel Castro any day now by targeting the island with anti-Castro propaganda from Miami. Congresswoman Kathy Castor believes such tax dollars should be used for decent, sensible projects that benefit everyday Americans, including Cuban-Americans. Such democracy-promoting ideas, of course, makes Kathy Castor a prime target of the rich and powerful Cuban-exile elite. The Center for Democracy in the Americas, stated: "A report broadcast by taxpayer-funded TV and Radio Marti criticized Representative Kathy Castor after she attended a recent Tampa Chamber of Commerce meeting, along with Jose R. Cabanas Rodriguez, Chief of Mission of the Cuban Interests Section in Washington. In the segment, Ralph Fernandez, a Tampa attorney, suggests without evidence the visit had an ulterior motive, and the TV Marti reporter, Jorge Riopedre, directly states that the meeting was a 'continuation' of Castor's relationship with the Cuban government." Everyone aware of and concerned about Radio TV-Marti, including America's best foreign friends, are embarrassed that a great democracy can so easily be ripped off, decade after decade, by such contrived, self-serving schemes. So is the Center for Democracy in the Americas. So is Tampa's Congresswoman Kathy Castor. The sheer anti-Castor rhetoric and venom directed at the courageous Congresswoman from Tampa by Cuban-exile extremists testify to her extraordinary zealotry for democracy.
       To understand how badly the U. S. democracy needs democracy-loving politicians like Tampa's Kathy Castor, Americans should study and then comprehend the above photo, which I use courtesy of The photo shows Tampa's Mafia kingpin Santo Trafficante Jr. gaily being led onto a Tampa street by his lawyer Frank Ragano, the one with the big satchel. It was Ragano's job to make sure that rich and powerful Mafia thugs like prime Cuban thieves Trafficante Jr. and Carlos Marcello, the Mafia master of Dallas and New Orleans, never spent a day in a U. S. prison. And Ragano earned every Mafia dime he was paid. Trafficante Jr. -- along with America's top two mobsters Lucky Luciano and Meyer Lansky -- directed the Mafia's criminal enterprises in Cuba during the U.S.-backed Batista dictatorship from 1952 till 1959. After the triumph of the Cuban Revolution on January 1, 1959, all the Batista-Mafia leaders fled the island for safer havens, making sure that their get-away planes, boats, and ships had the last of the loot stolen from Cuba. {Most of the Cuban loot had already been sent to banks in Miami, Union City, and SwitzerlandBut Trafficante Jr. stayed in Havana after the overthrow of Batista. He believed he could keep the Mafia in Cuba by offering Fidel Castro larger financial kick-backs than they had been paying Batista. Fidel, however, had Trafficante Jr. arrested. But Trafficante Jr. -- like Luciano and Lansky -- had important friends in Washington. Against the advice of Celia Sanchez, whom Fidel almost never talked out of anything, Fidel decided after a couple of weeks to free Trafficante Jr., who then quickly returned as the Mafia kingpin in Tampa. Fidel's rationale in freeing Trafficante Jr. was based on his belief that Revolutionary Cuba needed good relations with the U. S. and freeing Trafficante Jr. was one of several olive branches he, unfortunately and uselessly, extended to Trafficante's friends in Washington.
        Like his father Santo Trafficante Sr., Santo Trafficante Jr. never had to worry about imprisonment in the U. S.; thus Trafficante Jr., like Trafficante Sr., died a very free and very rich man on March 17, 1987.
      Frank Ragano is famed as the brilliant "Mob Lawyer" for Trafficante Sr., Trafficante Jr., Carlos Marcello, and Jimmy Hoffa. Ragano was born in Tampa to Sicilian parents. The Trafficantes, Marcello and Hoffa had all died by the time Ragano died in 1998 at age 75. Before dying, Ragano -- in official statements and in books like the one above -- revealed and documented major criminal acts and intentions by his primary Mafia clients. Those revelations included how much money and effort Trafficante Jr., Marcello, and Hoffa devoted to assassination attempts against Fidel Castro, President John Kennedy, and Presidential candidate Robert Kennedy. According to Ragano, a man who would know, his clients either participated in the actual assassinations of the Kennedy brothers or someone beat them to it. As for the Mafia, Cuban exiles, and the CIA individually and collectively being "unable to kill Castro," Frank Ragano stated, "Castro's out-living all those world-class assassins...not to mention their lawyers like me...boggles my mind to this day. Millions of Mob and CIA dollars to finance the best assassins in the world and Castro was the one man we couldn't kill. Amazing! People like Hoffa kept sending me $50,000 in cash to help kill Castro. But it didn't help!"
The history of Tampa includes the decades when it was dominated by the Trafficante-led Mafia. 
     But today the Mafia does not control Tampa. It is a flourishing city in which Congresswoman Kathy Castor is a gigantic heroine trying really hard to successfully combat a still-powerful second generation of exiles from the long-ago Batista-Mafia reign in Cuba. Of course, she needs and deserves help.
      The tiny Little Havana section of Miami still dominates America's anti-Cuban, anti-American, and anti-democracy Cuban policy. This is an area in need of democracy-loving politicians like Tampa's Kathy Castor. 
This map shows Tampa on Florida's southwest coast and Miami on its southeast coast.  
        The Batista dictatorship in Cuba from 1952 till 1959 was led by Fulgencio Batista {upper right} and his two primary pals -- #1 Mafia kingpin Lucky Luciano {upper left} and #2 Mafia kingpin Meyer Lansky {center}. Batista, from his earlier Cuban dictatorship, had fleeced enough money from the island to buy up much of South Florida and Lansky, as Luciano's top aide, had squired away enough mob money to retire comfortably in South Florida and still contribute to his pet projects such as Israel. But Lansky told his Florida friend Batista that his final wish as a legendary Mafia figure was "for the mob to own its own country." Batista obliged, opting for his second Cuban dictatorship, which was much more brutal than the first.
 Luciano, Lansky, and Batista were surprised in Cuba to have the backing of the U. S. government.
But foreshadowing all that, the U. S. government freed Luciano from a 55-year prison sentence.
That was after authorities in New York thought they had imprisoned Luciano for good!
By 1946 Luciano had secretly moved to Cuba. This was his headquarters in Cuba.
This was Lucky Luciano relaxing in 1948 -- the world's greatest criminal mastermind.
And the U. S. government's favorite Mafia kingpin!
Luciano died of a heart attack on Jan. 26-1962 at the airport in Naples, Italy.
He was at the airport discussing a movie about his life with producer Martin Gosch.
Needless to say, America's love affair with the Mafia has impacted Cuba harshly.
Batista, Luciano, and the U. S. allowed Meyer Lansky to dictate the Batistisano rule of Cuba.
{But, tuh, hush! Americans are not supposed to know such things about Cuba. It's a secret.}
      It spawned Fidel Castro's Cuban Revolution. But he was faced with the task of overthrowing the powerful Batista dictatorship that was supported by the strongest nation in the world, the United States, and by the strongest criminal organization in the world, the Mafia. Yet, he managed to accomplish the feat by taking full advantage of what he perceived as their biggest mistake -- the gross treatment of the female half of the island's population. To defeat his omnipotent enemies, Fidel simply had to out-smart them. 
     Meanwhile, beginning in 1952 during the Eisenhower administration, Batista, a military thug, wore white suits when he was wined and dined at the White House. This was in keeping with right-wingers in Washington desiring to partake in the rape and robbery of Cuba. Thus, Batista was backed with tax dollars as well as military equipment for accepting kick-backs so U. S. businesses could own most of the island while the Mafia, also with kickbacks, controlled the lucrative gambling, prostitution, and drug operations. Additionally, the U. S. government at Fort Benning in Georgia meticulously trained selected Batista and Mafia goons who were then dispatched back to the island to protect the Batista-Mafia dictatorship.
The Batistianos didn't bother to even toss bread crumbs to the majority on the island of Cuba.
That was a mistake, but not Batista's biggest mistake.
      The unconscionable mistreatment of Cuba's women spelled Batista's downfall. The female half of the Cuban population began bravely taking to the streets to protest what turned out to be Batista's biggest mistake -- the "asesinatos" or murders of Cuban children apparently as a means of warning against dissent.
     These marches were photographed and publicized by leading Latin America newspapers and magazines as well as the New York Times whose top correspondent, Herbert L. Mathews, made it a point to tell Americans about atrocities on the island. But Batista and the Mafia were not concerned. And neither was the U. S. government nor U. S. citizens. After all, no dictatorship backed by the U. S. had to worry about popular dissent in little foreign countries, did it? But a young anti-Batista lawyer named Fidel Castro was much more impressed with those marches than Batista, the Mafia or their supporters in Washington. The audacious young Castro believed he could make history if he could harness the outrage being manifested by the female half of the island -- the mothers who objected to the murders of their children! The gruesome murders of four schoolboys inspired one of the mothers -- William Soler's mother -- famously and repeatedly to lead very brave anti-Batista marches in Havana and Santiago de Cuba.
Today this is the William Soler Pediatric Hospital, one of the best hospitals in Cuba.
 These three children received liver transplants by these doctors at William Soler Hospital.
    Cuban women like -- left to right -- Vilma Espin, Celia Sanchez, and Haydee Santamaria -- predicated the outcome of the Cuban Revolution. They were inspired by what happened to children like William Soler. The legend attached to Fidel Castro is legitimate but it is based on his simply out-smarting the Batistianos, the Mafia, and the U. S. by {1} recognizing the outrage of the Cuban women; and {2} breaking free of the machismo mold to comprehend the awesome power, courage, and motivation of the female half of the island's population. It should also be noted that neither Fidel nor these three most important revolutionary women were ever peasants. They were all from well-to-do Cuban families but they rebelled against the dastardly manner in which the gluttonous Batista dictatorship treated the island's majority poor. The mansions left behind by the fleeing Batistianos and Mafiosi were turned over to multiple peasant families and, despite their control of the island, the most influential rebels lived modestly in Revolutionary Cuba. Of course, the fleeing Batistianos and Mafiosi through two generations have told the American people that Castro's thirst for wealth is why they were chased off the island. While painting Castro as the villain, the Batista-Mafia exiles portrayed themselves as Mother Teresa-types. That's an insult to women like Vilma, Celia, and Haydee who were primarily responsible for booting the Batistianos and Mafiosi off the island.
This photo in January of 1959 shows a Cuban girl thanking a Cuban rebel for overthrowing Batista.
This photo in 1976 shows a Cuban girl and her mother distraught at Havana's airport.
They had waited for their brother/son to return on Cubana Flight 455 from Venezuela.
They had just learned a bomb had blown Cubana Flight 455 into the ocean.
And they had just been told that all 73 people aboard Cubana Flight 455 were dead.
Throughout the Caribbean and Latin America the victims of Cubana Flight 455 are still mourned.
In 2014 very few Americans have ever heard of little William Soler or...of Cubana Flight 455.
And that's because the Cuban narrative since the 1950s has been controlled by Cuban exiles.
Emilio Milian was the top Cuban-American newscaster in Miami in the 1970s.
Emilio was silenced by a car-bomb. He had voiced shame at "Cubans killing innocent Cubans."
Jim DeFede was the best and the most courageous columnist at the Miami Herald.
Realizing it would cost him his job, Jim wrote a column denouncing Miami-based Cuban terrorism.
He excoriated Miami's members of the U. S. Congress for supporting/protecting Miami terrorists.
He asked Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and the Diaz-Balart brothers to respond to his column.
The Diaz-Balart brothers and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen didn't answer Jim DeFede's questions on terrorism.
Yet, they remain prime reasons Cuba today is listed by the U. S. as a "Sponsor of Terrorism."
And they flock to the mainstream media to denounce superb politicians like Kathy Castor.
All Miami members of the U. S. Congress are tightly aligned with the Bush dynasty.
Many believe that alignment benefits them at the expense of everyone else.
      Key members of the Batista dictatorship, such as the three men above, quickly became powerful anti-Castro zealots in South Florida after the triumph of the Cuban Revolution. In this 1958 photo, that's Batista minister Rafael Diaz-Balart in the center flanked by the infamous Masferrer brothers, renowned as brutal Batista enforcers. After fleeing the Cuban Revolution, Rafael Diaz-Balart became a very rich man and so are four of his sons, two of whom have been elected to the United States Congress from Miami.
Rafael Diaz-Balart's beautiful sister, Mirta, was married to Fidel Castro from 1948 till 1955.
Fidel and Mirta honeymooned in Miami and New York City.
Back in Havana they welcomed a baby boy, Fidelito, into their family.
But Fidel was imprisoned after the failed attack on Batista's Moncada garrison on July 26, 1953.
Fidel got out of prison in 1955. In prison he had learned the Diaz-Balarts worked for Batista.
While in Mexico Fidel divorced Mirta and won custody of Fidelito.
Then he returned to Cuba at the end of 1956 and hooked up with Celia Sanchez's guerrilla army.
Fidel Castro and Celia Sanchez celebrating the victorious Cuban Revolution.
As you can see, Celia, history's greatest female revolutionary, was very tired.
Female guerrilla fighters like Haydee Santamaria and Celia Sanchez led the rebel fighting.
During and after the Revolutionary War, Celia and Haydee were Fidel's primary supporters.
To this day both Fidelito and Mirta are very fond of and loyal to Fidel Castro.
At age 87, Fidel has wondered for years how much time he has left. 
But he has survived an amazing array of adversaries, including Mirta's four nephews.
In Cuba he beat the unbeatable U.S./Mafia-backed Batista dictatorship.
For 54 years he has survived U.S./Mafia/Batistiano attempts to kill and/or overthrow him.
But the Batistianos and Mafiosi are far richer in the U. S. than they ever were in Cuba. 
Now it's up to the U. S. democracy to survive the challenge presented by Cuban-exile extremists.
Electing Kathy Castor as President of the United States in 2016 would be a good start.
This photo was taken in Fidel Castro's Havana home Sunday, February 16, 2014.
The visitor is Brazilian theologian, philosopher and author Frei Betta.

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