Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Cuban Hardliners Scare Obama

Explaining Why Embargo Reigns
     The REUTERS news agency does the best, fairest and most balanced job of reporting on the U.S.-Cuban conundrum. This week Reuters journalist David Adams filed a report from Miami that revealed a salient fact of life in U.S.-Cuban relations midway through 2014: PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA IS AFRAID TO MAKE MAJOR CHANGES REGARDING CUBA BECAUSE HE IS MORTALLY AFRAID OF THE TWO CUBAN-AMERICAN HARDLINERS DEPICTED ABOVE -- SENATOR MARCO RUBIO OF MIAMI AND SENATOR ROBERT MENENDEZ OF UNION CITY, NEW JERSEY. David Adams succinctly and bravely makes that incontestable point as he reveals yet another poll -- this one by Florida International University -- that reveals that even a strong majority of Cuban Americans in Miami powerfully desire more sensible relations with Cuba AND AN END TO THE EMBARGO THAT HAS BEEN IN EXISTENCE SINCE 1960, THE LONGEST, CRUELEST AND MOST ODIFEROUS IN HISTORY.
       The Cuban embargo -- in place to appease a handful of self-serving and very revengeful Cuban Americans since 1960 -- mocks and shames the United States and President Obama, as the graphic above acutely and accurately demonstrates. 
     Thus, in the year 2014 -- for going on six rarefied decades now -- America's shameful Cuban policy has the President of the United States marching to the tunes dictated by a handful of self-aggrandizing, second generation Cuban-Americans. Each October a vote in the United Nations reveals that all of America's and all of Cuba's friends in the entire world strongly oppose the embargo, which daily embarrasses America's best friends around the world and makes the U. S. democracy look like a captive of a dictatorship that was booted out of Cuba -- all the way to Miami and Union City, as it turned out -- way back on January 1, 1959. So, hats off to David Adams of Reuters for pointing out this week that President Obama is too afraid of Senators Rubio and Menendez to do what the entire world -- INCLUDING MOST CUBAN-AMERICANS -- are waiting anxiously for him to do in regards to Cuba.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Cuba Gears Toward Oil Independence

The U. S. Continues A Failed Policy
       Sherritt International of Canada has renewed its oil and gas operations contract with Cuba until 2028. Under the terms of the deal, Sherritt has committed to drilling at least seven new wells in the next two years. Sherritt currently has operations in three fields that produce 20,000 barrels per day. Cuba covers 40 percent of its oil consumption domestically and imports the rest from Venezuela at favorable rates in exchange for sending thousands of doctors and other professionals to Venezuela. Sherritt is also involved in nickel mining in the southeast of Cuba. Nickel is a key export for Cuba, providing $1.1 billion a year even when the demand is lower than normal. To appease a handful of hardcore Cuban exiles, Sherritt executives are not allowed to visit the United States of America because of the company's relationship with Cuba. But foreign companies like Sherritt appreciate having no competition from U. S. companies, which crave the freedom to do business with the nearby island.
       This grahic shows the location of Sherritt's three current oil operations in Cuba. That is also the area where at least seven new Sherritt oil fields will be located within the next two years, based on the latest contract extension with Cuba.
      Cuba has also signed a new and important contract this month with Rosneft, the giant Russian oil company. In the middle of the photo above, that is Juan Torres, the President of Cupet, which is Cuba's oil company. Flanking Mr. Torres are two key Russian officials at the ceremony marking the signing of the contract. A new feature of the deal with Russia will include a wave of Cubans going to Gubkin Russian State University of Oil and Gas Research beginning in September of this year. Russia, like China, is quite anxious to fill the American void when it comes to dealing with Cuba, especially with Cuba's new laws that are geared to facilitating foreign investments in the Vietnamese-style market reforms the island is now embracing. Cuba has let it be known it would much prefer to deal with its nearby superpower neighbor instead of very distant foreign nations, but it feels it has no choice because of the EMBARGO.
     Katrina vanden Heuvel is one of America's best, boldest and brightest journalists. Born 54-years-ago in New York City and a Princeton graduate, she had a long article this week in the Washington Post in which she graphically pointed out the greed, cowardice and ignorance that has predicated America's Cuban policy since the 1950s, especially since the U.S.-backed Batista-Mafia dictatorship in Cuba was overthrown by the Cuban Revolution in January of 1959 only to quickly reconstitute itself on U. S. soil, namely nearby Miami where Fulgencio Batista, Meyer Lansky and Lucky Luciano had already stashed millions of dollars that, along with car bombs and other intimidations, would soon overwhelm first Miami and then Washington, D. C.
 Katrina vanden Heuvel's Washington Post article this week was so direct and incontestable that a first impression might be: How in the world could Americans allow this to happen for going on six decades without lifting a finger in defense of  the sacrosanct democracy they were bequeathed by the Founding Fathers and by the World War II sacrifices that so many brave Americans contributed to protecting it. Since 1945 two generations of Americans have been so cowardly and so dysfunctional that they allowed a few greedy politicians to use the awesome power and wealth of the world's superpower to team with the Mafia to support a brutal, thieving dictatorship on a nearby island. That was a death-knell for democracy and the coffin followed when that overthrown dictatorship merely fled back to U. S. soil where it exacerbated its anti-democracy thievery and power-grab.
     Katrina vanden Heuvel in her Washington Post article this week was expounding on one of her themes, which is that the U. S. democracy since World War II has shamed itself by picking the wrong fights -- such as by losing the bloody Vietnam War and by punishing innocent Cubans and innocent friendly nations around the world to appease the revenge-and-greed motivations of a handful of Cuban exiles and their sycophants. For those still interested in the preservation of democratic ideals and principles, here are some of the key self-destructive and incontestable points Katrina vanden Heuvel made in her Washington Post article this week:
*****"The sad irony of U.S.-Cuban relations is that Cuba is changing and the United States remains largely frozen in a self-destructive Cold War policy. The embargo isolates the United States, not Cuba. At the last Summit of the Americas in 2012, the Presidents of Brazil and even Colombia, one of the few remaining U. S. allies, joined other countries in announcing they would skip the next summit in 2015 if Cuba is not invited."
*****"Regional trading and political ties are developing with the United States, not Cuba, on the sidelines. My recent trip to Cuba reaffirmed what Josefina Vidal, head of the North American Division of the Cuban Foreign Ministry, told our education exchange delegation in a wide-ranging, 90-minute conversation: 'The U. S. is facing the risk of being irrelevant in the future of Cuba.'"
*****"The conservative Republican head of the U. S. Chamber of Commerce, Tom Donahue, while visiting Cuba last month, reiterated the chamber's call to lift the embargo in his speech at the University of Havana. Donahue realizes that the major victims of the U. S. blockade are U. S. businesses."
*****"Cuba has just passed a new law facilitating foreign investment. A new rush is on. A Brazilian firm captured the major project of modernizing the port at Mariel. A Chinese company is building 34 wind turbines. And another Chinese company sells the new cars that are starting to be seen on the streets. A British developer has just initialed a deal to build a luxury golf resort. The European Union has opened a formal dialogue with Cuba on trade, investment and human rights."
*****"Amidst all of the changes in Cuba, the U. S. is fighting yesterday's war. At present, Cubans are freer to travel to the United States than Americans are to go to Cuba. What fears or fantasies support that idiocy?"
*****"U. S. policy is frozen in time just because bureaucratic inertia is reinforced by the firm grip hardcore anti-Castro zealots have on our policy -- most notably Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who represents Miami's Little Havana neighborhood, and Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez of Union City, New Jersey. But those zealots are growing ever more isolated."
   Robert Menendez is the controversial but entrenched member of the U. S. Congress from Union City, New Jersey; Ileana Ros-Lehtinen is the controversial but entrenched Havana-born member of the U. S. Congress from Miami, Florida. As Katrina vanden Heuvel so cogently and correctly points out this week in the Washington Post, to allow a couple of "anti-Castro zealots" to maintain a dictatorial grip on America's Cuban policy makes the United States, in the eyes of the world, appear to be a menacing, corrupt bully. American eyes who deny that fact are merely blind.
    The U. S. support of the vile Batista-Mafia dictatorship in Cuba from 1952 till 1959 created Fidel Castro and the Cuban Revolution. Otherwise, in all likelihood, Fidel Castro would have been a lawyer in Santiago de Cuba, nothing more and nothing less -- certainly not the living man with the best known name in the entire world.
    While the unconscionable U. S. support of the pernicious Batista-Mafia dictatorship gave birth to Fidel Castro and the Cuban Revolution, the graphic above shows why the U. S. policy regarding Cuba -- dictated by a handful of exiles and their convenient acolytes -- has, since 1959, made the United States appear to be a weird boogeyman with yellow skin and bulging eyeballs as it stares wickedly down at the nearby island of Cuba. Thus, since the 1950s Cuba has held a position on the international stage far out of proportion to its size, population or economy. And since the 1950s, the U. S. policy regarding Cuba has forced even America's best friends around the world to cringe in embarrassment and sorrow. And as Katrina vanden Heuvel points out this week, America's Cuban policy "is frozen in time" by a handful of "anti-Castro zealots." No American can dispute those facts but, unfortunately, not enough Americans have the courage or the intelligence to do anything about them.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Cuba's Best Friend

And Why She's Vital To Cuba's Future
But first............
      This AP/Franklin Reyes photo reflects what has dominated the news in Cuba this week. Recognizing that fact, the top Associated Press correspondents in Havana -- Peter Orsi and Andrea Rodriguez -- have both written major articles about it. This photo shows students at the pre-university Jose Marti School in Old Havana diligently studying for exams. Eight people -- including five teachers and one person at the Education Center's printer's office -- have been arrested in a scandal that involves selling copies of the exams. Thus students across the island were forced to re-take the exams. The diligent 18-year-old twin sisters above -- Lili and Rocio Garcia -- had to take the exams over after Lili scored a perfect 100 and Rocio had a 99 on the first exams. The re-taking was tougher, dropping Lili to 99 and Rocio to 91. Lili told the AP, "It was right to repeat the exams, but they should have done it in the whole country. It was not something that should have gone unpunished." Rocio disagreed, telling the AP, "It was not fair to punish everyone for the transgressions of a few." The AP's Andrea Rodriguez wrote: "Education, which is universal and free including the university level, is considered sacrosanct as one of the pillars of Fidel Castro's 1959 revolution." The island is very proud of students like the twins, Lili and Rocio.

     This has been another sad week for 92-year-old Alicia Alonso, the legendary director of Cuba's National Ballet. For decades, she has selected very young Cubans and turned them into the best ballet performers in the world. Many of them have defected to become highly paid performers for top ballet troupes from San Francisco to New York to London to Paris and elsewhere. This week Alicia had her stars performing in Puerto Rico, which is legal United States territory. Eight defected, taking easy flights to Miami via the still-burgeoning anti-Cuban pipeline.
       Alicia Alonso is quite aware that, coupled with the financial motivation, in recent years a shady but lucrative cottage industry has been built in the U. S. to create pipelines for Cuban defections in ballet, baseball and even among the thousands of doctors that Cuba sends to foreign nations. And Alicia knows that, along with the lure of money, the incentive is merely to hurt Fidel Castro and revolutionary Cuba.
     Alicia Alonso is one of the prime players in the history of the Cuban Revolution. She was born 92 years ago in Havana. Like most Cubans, she was displeased with the U.S.-backed Batista-Mafia dictatorship in the 1950s. When the above photo was taken in 1955, Alicia was the top ballerina in America while living in New York. When Batista was overthrown by the Cuban Revolution in January-1959, she returned to Cuba as an admirer of Celia Sanchez, Vilma Espin and Fidel Castro. In March of 1959, Fidel Castro himself knocked on her door and offered her $200,000 upfront if she would take charge of the Cuban National Ballet. She accepted and she has held that position ever since, establishing herself as ballet's all-time greatest instructor and choreographer.
Since 1959 Alicia has remained Fidel's dear friend.
      And over the years since 1959, Fidel Castro has bestowed on Alicia Alonso all the honors and medals Cuba could provide her. She has been legally blind since her youth. But she is nonpareil as a ballerina and choreographer. However, she will be remembered most for scouring the island since 1959 in search of Cubans as young as five that she could mold into world-class performers, many of whom defected to greener pastures. The eight who defected this week in Puerto Rico continue that trend, perhaps more painful than most of the others because, for the first known time, earlier this year Alicia, with tears in her eyes, commented, "For all those years, the lure of money took my most talented children. Now the primary lure is the pipeline mostly constructed to hurt Cuba. My children were cheered for their performances. Now they are cheered by unsavory people for their defections."  
Now back to "Cuba's Best Friend":
     Considering the totalities, firepower, and determination of its nearby enemies, the island of Cuba is indeed fortunate that its best friend, Dilma Rousseff, is also the most powerful person in the history of Latin America. She is the President of Brazil, the Latin American superpower that now wields a trillion dollar economy. The above photo was used to highlight a major New York Times article this week written by Simon Romero. As he interviewed her in the spacious presidential office in Brasillia, Mr. Romero noted that Ms. Rousseff was calmly "sipping Orange Juice and nibbling cashews." The insightful article reveals precisely why she is Cuba's best friend and is so vital to the continuation of revolutionary rule on the island. Simon Romero of the New York Times pointed out that President Rousseff's recent largess included a $900 million upgrade of Cuba's Mariel port as well as a generous contract that has brought thousands of Cuban doctors and nurses to work in Brazil's poorest areas. She told Mr. Romero: "We are betting much more on a policy of investment than a blockade." Like Cuba, she calls the U. S. embargo of Cuba a "blockade" and Mr. Romero pointed out it has existed since "1960." And she told Mr. Romero, "Overhauling Cuba's economy requires the application of more market forces, not less." The New York Times and Simon Romero also astutely stated: "Helping Cuba to open its economy also reflects on Brazil's, and Ms. Rousseff's, political evolution since military rule ended in Brazil in 1985. While Brazil now has a president who was a Marxist guerrilla in her youth, it stands out among its neighbors for a law under which perpetrators of rights abuses during the dictatorship are shielded from prosecution. Brazil's highest court has upheld the amnesty law, meaning that Ms. Rousseff's torturers remain free even as a commission examines the politically motivated crimes of that era. Ms. Rousseff said that, as president, she respects the law despite her personal views. 'I don't believe in vindictiveness but I also don't believe in forgiving,' she said. 'It's extremely important for Brazilians to know what happened because that will mean it won't happen again.'"
       The BBC this week used this photo to illustrate its major article on Dilma Rousseff, Brazil's Cuban-loving President. As with the New York Times, the BBC queried Ms. Rousseff about Brazil hosting soccer's World Cup starting June 12th. Brazil has spent billions of dollars preparing to host both the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 summer Olympics. The expenditures have resulted in anti-Rousseff demonstrations fueled by Brazilians who feel the money should have been spent on the country's poor people. That anti-Rousseff sentiment has been fanned by wealthy Brazilians teaming with wealthy Americans, especially hardcore Cuban exiles in Miami who use their representatives in the U. S. Congress to assail pro-Cuban leaders throughout Latin America. Brazil has a presidential election upcoming in October and her opponents are well funded, including millions of U. S. dollars. Yet, she is expected to be re-elected. The New York Times this week pointed out that her "anti-poverty projects have pulled millions of Brazil's people into the middle class." And even in Latin America's economic superpower, there are more poor people than rich people. Moreover, unlike the era of foreign-backed military dictatorships that unmercifully tortured the young guerrilla Dilma Rousseff, now Brazil is a democracy and its poor people can actually vote! That's why Dilma Rousseff, who opposed the foreign-backed dictators, will be re-elected President of Brazil in October.
      Dilma Rousseff was born on December 14, 1947 in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. When this photo was taken, no one could have predicted that she would grow up to be the most powerful person in the history of Latin America. That incredibly audacious journey is one that Americans in particular should study as a means of understanding the vagaries of Latin America on its perilous pathway to June of 2014. As both the NY Times and the BBC pointed out this week, Dilma's remarkable journey parallels or replicates Cuba's remarkable journey from the U.S.-backed Batista dictatorship in the 1950s right up to and beyond 1959's triumph of the Cuban Revolution. Dilma entered the 1950s as a toddler {above} and thus had nothing to do with either the Batista dictatorship in Cuba, the Cuban Revolution or the U.S.-backed military dictatorship in Brazil. But she would grow up to have a profound effect on Brazil's transition to democracy and on the ongoing survival of pugnacious, revolutionary Cuba.
 As a beautiful teenager in Brazil, Dilma Rousseff was appalled that her nation was being robbed and brutalized by a foreign-backed military dictatorship. The peaceful girl shown here relaxing on the edge of a Brazilian river became a guerrilla fighter in the Palmares Armed Revolutionary Vanguard. Her inspiration had been the Cuban Revolution that had amazingly triumphed over a U.S.-backed dictatorship in 1959, and in 2014 it remains her inspiration.
      In 1970 Dilma Rousseff was arrested by Brazil's military dictatorship and became Prisoner #3023. For the next three years while at the military prison in Sao Paulo, she was unmercifully tortured on a daily basis. In 2000 the UN documented that torture and asked her for a detailed personal report, which she dutifully and painstakingly provided. But over the years she has rarely discussed her imprisonment. "Only when it is really, really necessary," she says.


   Before she was led into the courtroom for her show-trial, Dilma Rousseff was severely beaten in places -- her stomach, back, and legs -- that wouldn't show under her clothes. And her glasses, which she badly needed, were stomped on. The UN noted that "her sheer bravery infuriated her torturers even more." In this photo, without her glasses, Dilma is staring down her prosecutor as he called her "the lowest form of traitor Brazil has ever seen."
      The New York Times this week eloquently discussed "the evolution" of Dilma Rousseff and how her evolution has so profoundly impacted the world -- particularly Brazil, Cuba, and the United States. The toddler {"Dillie"became a beautiful teenager {"Dilma"who didn't like living in a foreign-backed dictatorship. As a guerrilla fighter she tried to replicate the Cuban Revolution but was brutally tortured for three years as a captive in a military prison. But she survived and today is the democratically elected President of Brazil, the Latin American superpower.
 Dilma Rousseff's mentor and predecessor as President of Brazil, Lula da Silva, calls her, "The type leader Brazil and all nations need. Wealth in the hands of a few is the biggest curse facing the world's 7 billion people. Dilma fights for and cares about poor people like no one I have ever imagined. She is a Godsend for the world's majority."
    President Dilma Rousseff's abiding affection for Cuba's guerrilla icon Fidel Castro and his watershed Cuban Revolution is something Americans are not supposed to comprehend, except in a negative manner. But she, like many other current democratically elected Latin American presidents, was inspired by the Cuban Revolution that proved that even small countries could overcome foreign-backed dictatorships, an inspiration that surely expedited the waves of democracy that eventually spread across Latin America. In the above photo, sitting in the 87-year-old Fidel Castro's living room, President Rousseff is telling him about Brazil's mammoth efforts prior to hosting first the World Cup and then the Olympics in 2014.
    All the world leaders, including United States President Barack Obama, recognize Brazil's dominance of Latin America. Thus, world leaders try to patronize President Rousseff. Last fall she canceled a return visit to the White House when she learned that America's National Security Agency was spying on her emails and phone calls. However, she told the New York Times this week that her sour reaction to the spying is "thawing" and she wants to improve relations with the United States. Next week, she told the NY Times, Vice President Joseph Biden will be in Brazil for the World Cup and she "hopes to meet with him." Indeed, she loves Cuba and tolerates America.
    Dilma Rousseff, the President of Brazil, is very close to Cristina Fernandez, the President of Argentina. Ms. Rousseff last month was irked when members of the U. S. Congress from Miami urged U. S. sanctions against Argentina, which has Latin America's third largest economy. Vividly irritated, President Rousseff said, "A U. S. government whose Latin American policy is captive to or even influenced by Miami Cubans is one that should embarrass Americans. I keep wondering why it doesn't."
       The three most powerful Presidents in Latin America today are all females. And they have something else in common: They love Fidel Castro and tolerate a hostile America. In the above photo that is Brazil's Dilma Rousseff on the right. Chile's Michelle Bachelet is in the middle. Argentina's Cristina Fernandez is on the left. Brazil is Latin America's economic superpower. Chile has Latin America's highest per capital income. And Argentina has Latin America's third largest economy. 
     Despite their presidential duties in their own countries, Michelle Bachelet, Cristina Fernandez and Dilma Rousseff -- left to right, above -- regularly make time to visit their idol, Fidel Castro, in his Havana home. More reluctantly, all three of them have also visited President Obama in the White House. The American people, as Ms. Rousseff points out, since 1959 have gotten Cuban news and opinions from anti-Castro zealots in Miami and Washington. She thinks other sources are needed.
     Perhaps it is time -- in June of 2014 -- that Americans learned the story of Dilma Rousseff. It's a rather compelling story. Inspired by the Cuban Revolution, she became a guerrilla fighter to try to overthrow a U.S.-backed military dictatorship in her country. She failed and paid dearly for the attempt. But she persevered to become the democratically elected President of Brazil and the most powerful leader in Latin America's storied history. She is aware, as she faces re-election in October, that millions of dollars will flow from Miami-to-Washington-back-to-Miami-and-then-to-Brazil to try to unseat her. She thinks such foreign interference in Brazil is wrong, just as she believed foreign support of dictators in Brazil was wrong. Today Americans need to realize that she was right in 1970 and she is also right in 2014. And the proof of all that is this: She is the democratically elected President of Brazil in 2014!

Monday, June 2, 2014

A U.S.-Friendly Latin America

It Is Achievable and Necessary
  This week 69-year-old Salvador Sanchez Ceren was inaugurated as the new President of El Salvador. He is the latest in a long line of former anti-American guerrilla fighters to be democratically elected as the leader of an important Latin American nation. That trend should not be continually ignored by Americans.
    Back in the 1980s Salvador Sanchez Ceren was a rural schoolteacher in El Salvador when he took to the mountains and became a top commander in his country's bloody Civil War, which he blamed on the imperialist designs of the United States. 
   Now as the new President of El Salvador, Mr. Salvador Sanchez Ceren wants desperately to be "friends" with the United States, recognizing that his poor country cannot battle its awesome problems -- crime and poverty -- while also battling the world's superpower. "For the vast majority of El Salvadoreans and for the vast majority of Americans," he said Monday {June 2, 2014}, "El Salvador and the United States need to be friends, not the bitter enemies like we were way back in the 1980s."
     This map shows tiny El Salvador wedged tightly between Guatemala and Honduras. It also illustrates what President Salvador Sanchez Ceren means when he says friendship with the United States is vital for both countries. The UN says El Salvador has the world's 4th highest homicide rate, behind only Honduras, Venezuela and Belize. Also, exiles from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala -- located directly southeast of Mexico -- comprise some of the most vicious gang activity that is devastating some key American cities. Crime-infested El Salvador has a population of just under six million with a $24 billion economy. El Salvador is, of course, a Spanish speaking nation but its currency is the U. S. dollar. President Salvador Sanchez Ceren, the former anti-U. S. guerrilla fighter, says his two priorities are fighting drug-fueled crime and then boosting the economy in El Salvador. "To accomplish those primary goals," he says, "I will welcome the help the United States can provide our people. And I sincerely believe that the United States owes our people and its people that help."
    The 1986 Oliver Stone movie "Salvador" got five major Academy Award nominations. It starred James Woods as war photographer Richard Boyle covering the brutal El Salvador Civil War that pitted guerrilla fighters such as Commander Salvador Sanchez Ceren against U.S.-backed right-wing insurgents. Woods/Boyle fell in love with a guerrilla fighter named Maria and refused to leave her behind when he had a chance to save himself. "Salvador" is still shown often on cable TV channels. It is a gripping, true-to-life reminder of Latin American turmoil and atrocities involving the U. S. and, moreover, it is a 2014 reminder of why so many former anti-American guerrilla fighters -- from Danny Ortega in Nicaragua to Dilma Rousseff in Brazil to Michelle Bachelet in Chile to Salvador Sanchez Ceren in El Salvador, etc. -- have, not coincidentally, become democratically elected Presidents of their nations.
      President Salvador Sanchez Ceren, the old guerrilla fighter who took over as the democratically elected President of El Salvador this week, immediately announced his desire to be "friends" with the United States. Like all Latin American nations, El Salvador can not successfully tackle its mammoth problems -- namely poverty and crime -- while also fighting against superpower America's belligerence, sanctions, or even benign indifference. And America's problems -- much of it directly related to the spillover from immense poverty and crime below its southern border -- can best be addressed by increasing "friendships" with its Latin American neighbors.
     Americans are not supposed to comprehend this recent photo of Dilma Rousseff, the democratically elected President of Latin American superpower Brazil, showing deep affection for Cuba's revolutionary icon Fidel Castro. By the same token, Americans are not supposed to comprehend the inauguration of Salvador Sanchez Ceren in El Salvador this week. Dilma Rousseff and Salvador Sanchez Ceren are among the former anti-American guerrilla fighters in Latin America who were inspired by the success of the Cuban Revolution to fight U. S. imperialism. They survived those fights and their efforts helped get them democratically elected Presidents once democracy began to replace imperialism throughout Latin America. And so, for the record, that's why President Dilma Rousseff still loves the elderly Fidel Castro and why Salvador Sanchez Ceren is the new President of El Salvador.
     This is Danny Ortega listening attentively to Fidel Castro in 1980 when Ortega was the young Sandinista guerrilla fighter against the U.S.-backed Contras in Nicaragua.
    As the democratically elected and re-elected President of Nicaragua, Danny Ortega says, "The United States, with its unmatched military and economic power, should be the unmatched dominant force in Latin America, not one man on one little island. But Fidel Castro is perceived as a fighter for the majority poor against a rich minority. So, one man on one island changed Latin America more than one superpower nation."
     Americans, including me, do not have to approve of guerrilla-fighters-turned-democratic-Presidents like Danny Ortega worshiping Fidel Castro but we should be able to comprehend why they do. This photo shows President Ortega of Nicaragua on a recent visit to Cuba to pay homage to his idol, Fidel Castro. Standing in the van keeping a close eye on Fidel is Dalia Soto del Valle, his wife since the death of Celia Sanchez in 1980. She is the mother of his last five sons and, since his near-fatal illness in 2006, even visiting Presidents need Dalia's permission before they can see Fidel. "If I didn't put my foot down," she says, "he would agree to see everybody!"
      This EPA photo was taken June 3, 2014. It shows a Cuban walking past a sign that reads, "Fidel and Raul Forever." Raul turned 83-years-old on June 3rd. Fidel turns 88 on August 13th. Their longevity continues to confound and amaze the world.
The Castro brothers are indeed very old.
In January of 1959 the Castro brothers were still young.
A beautiful American bird, the Baltimore Oriole.
{Photo courtesy: Sherry Nicholson and Birds and Blooms Magazine}

cubaninsider: "The Country That Raped Me" (A True Story)

cubaninsider: "The Country That Raped Me" (A True Story) : Note : This particular essay on  Ana Margarita Martinez  was first ...