Cuban-American Advantages

That All Others Do Not Have
Tuesday, December 2,  2014
       Ernesto Londono is a very important and influential man. He was born in Bogota, Colombia, but emerged quickly as an excellent reporter for the Dallas Morning News. He had extensive overseas work in places like Baghdad and Cairo for the Washington Post where he also excelled as a Pentagon correspondent. He is now on the Editorial Board of the New York Times, America's most important and most influential newspaper. Ernesto Londono is the man behind six...yes, six!...very important, very influential, and very recent Editorials in the New York Times that urged President Barack Obama to do all in his power to ease the decades-long sanctions against Cuba that harm everyone except a few ultra-rich and ultra-powerful Cuban-Americans and their parasitic sycophants. Mr. Londono spent this past week in Cuba where he gave CNN's top international correspondent Christiane Amanpour a long interview that was aired beginning on Thursday, November 27th. Londono reminded Amanpour that even the younger generation of Cuban-Americans in Miami favor ending the "failed" Cuban policy that exists for going on six decades merely to sate the revenge, economic, and political appetites of the first generation of Cubans that fled the overthrow of the vile U.S.-backed Batista-Mafia dictatorship way, way back on January 1, 1959.
       Ernesto Longono is a very smart, democracy-loving man. As a key member of the Editorial Board at the New York Times, he believes it is time...in fact, way past time...for the U. S. democracy to reflect a sane and democratic policy towards Cuba, not one that makes laws in the U. S. Congress that favor and enrich only Cuban exiles at the expense of everyone else, angering every nation in the Caribbean and Latin America as well as all of America's best friends around the entire world, as reflected by the yearly UN vote.
        This was the front page of The Times of Havana English-language newspaper on the first day of January, 1959. It announced that Dictator Fulgencio Batista, as well as all of the top Batistiano and Mafia leaders, had fled Havana in their cash-filled...even gold-filled...ships, boats, and airplanes -- presumably to hook back up with many millions of dollars they had already sent ahead to bank accounts in Switzerland, Miami, Union City, etc. January 1, 1959, was a long, long time ago. Unfortunately, the remnants of that long-ago "Batista Flees" headline fled mostly to Miami and Union City with tentacles that soon encapsulated Washington with entrenched members of the U. S. Congress as well as legions of lobbyists. Thus, for going on six decades now the U. S. has been saddled with a bevy of laws -- Wet Foot/Dry Foot, Torricelli Bill, Helms-Burton Act, Radio-TV Marti, etc. -- that greatly favor and enrich Cuban-exiles at the expense of everyone else in the United States, the Caribbean, Latin America, and the world. An extremely smart and brave journalist and Editorialist like Ernesto Londono clearly understands how undemocratic and harmful the archaic American Cuban policy is to the image of America and to democracy. However, there are many Cuban-American journalists who disagree. Take, for example...Alicia Menendez and Jose Diaz-Balart. 
      This photo is courtesy of Stian Roenning and it was used to highlight an article in the Miami New Times on November 25, 2014. The article was entitled "Alicia Menendez: Fusion's Breakout Star." Alicia is the beautiful and talented 31-year-old daughter of U. S. Senator Robert Menendez. Fusion is the very influential media outlet that has a huge audience, especially among young adults. It is based in Doral, Florida -- a suburb of Miami. Alicia grew up rich and privileged in Union City, New Jersey. In the article, she says she loves living in Doral because it reminds her of Union City. It should. Doral-Miami and Union City were the two prime areas that leaders of the overthrown Batista dictatorship in Cuba flocked to in the early hours of January, 1959. Contrary to what Americans have been told about that flight, many of the Batista leaders did not flee to the U. S. "with only the clothes on their backs." Any diligent study of the Cuban Revolution will reveal magazine and newspaper articles from the 1950s that reported such things as, "The top 21 leaders of the Batista dictatorship in Cuba each have numbered Swiss bank accounts in excess of $1 million." Such acute revelations also indicated that the Batistianos and their Mafia co-dictators had also "practically filled the vaults of Mafia-affiliated banks in the Mafia havens of Miami and Union City." Also, famed journalists such as Herbert L. Mathews and Carlos Franqui -- both of whom were intimately involved in the Cuban Revolution before and after January 1, 1959 -- routinely suggested that one reason the Batista-Mafia leaders did not stay in Havana to fight Castro's advancing rebels in the early hours of New Year's Day in 1959 was their desire to quickly hook back up with all that money in the Swiss, Miami, and Union City banks. For sure, those two American cities were over-whelmed by the sudden influx of Cubans as a whole and especially by the few who had all that money awaiting them from the halcyon days of fleecing the island of Cuba from 1952 till 1959. It was an opportune time for the Cubans to flock to the U. S. because, by the 1960s, the sacrosanct U. S. democracy was more and more becoming susceptible to being purchased by rich people with special interests -- such as rich Cubans with a burning desire to recapture Cuba from the Castro regime. Of course, that quest has not being realized in the past 55 years despite the backing of the U. S. government and the U. S. treasury, the strongest and richest entities in the history of the world. While all that Cuban wealth in the hands of a few in Miami and Union City has not been able to purchase all presidential administrations since the 1960s, it has been able to easily obtain solid alignments with the Bush dynasty as well as the U. S. Congress. But also dramatically significant is the fact that the first generation of Cuban exiles who exited the Batista dictatorship have had the wherewithal, meaning money, to afford the second generation of post-Batista exiles advantages far exceeding that of their American peers. Alicia Menendez personifies that fact. She is Harvard-educated and, unlike many Americans, she didn't have to worry about such little tidbits as repaying student loans once she graduated. Also, right-wing news organizations -- especially Bill O'Reilly at Fox -- immediately began gifting Alicia with reams of airtime, as did less right-wing powers such as the Huffington Post. Then along came Fusion and its prized 9:00 P. M. anchor chair. To her credit, Alicia Menendez has taken full advantage of advantages available to her because she grew up very privileged in Union City where her father was a rich and politically powerful Cuban-American. Also, Cubans benefit mightily from U. S. laws that only benefit Cubans as opposed to Americans or anyone else. For example, only Cuban immigrants are home free in the U. S. merely by touching U. S. soil...you know, the sensational Wet Foot/Dry Foot rule. Recently it was revealed that the U. S. government, which must unceasingly cater to rich and powerful Cuban exiles, has an expensive tax-paid program designed to entice Cubans working as doctors in foreign countries to defect to the U. S., supposedly with a nice bonus and an easy path to benefits and citizenship. Recently it was revealed that the U. S. government, unceasingly catering to rich and powerful Cuban exiles, had an expensive program that recruited Spanish-speaking young people in Latin American countries to go to Cuba to stir up dissent against the Cuban government. And so forth and so on, endlessly and unceasingly since 1959! Despite all those anti-democracy U. S. offshoots, Fidel Castro at age 88 is still alive and, at age 55, so is his Cuban Revolution. Another salient product of the U.S.-Cuban conundrum is Alicia Menendez taking full advantage of all the advantages being a Cuban-American entails.
      The Cuban Revolution says more about the U. S. than Cuba.
       Allowing the overthrown Batista-Mafia dictatorship in Cuba to reconstitute itself stronger than ever on U. S. soil says more about the U. S. than it says about Cuba.
       This iconic photo shows three of the most powerful members of the Batista dictatorship at the height of their power. On the left is Rodolfo Masferrer. In the center is Rafael Diaz-Balart. On the right is Rolando Masferrer. All three, of course, fled the Cuban Revolution to create paramilitary units in South Florida designed to quickly regain control of Cuba. The Wikipedia and other informative accounts confirm that Rafael Diaz-Balart's "La Rosa Blanco" {"The White Rose"} was the first of many unchecked anti-Castro paramilitary groups formed in South Florida in January of 1959.
       Rafael Diaz-Balart emerged in South Florida as one of the richest and most powerful Cuban exiles {exceeded in wealth and power only by the Bush-ordained Jorge Mas Canosa}. As with Canosa and other omnipotent Cuban exiles, Rafael Diaz-Balart's children were extremely well educated and privileged. Rafael's four sons included two anti-Castro zealots from Miami elected to the U. S. Congress, Lincoln and Mario; another of Rafael's sons, Rafael Jr., is a very wealthy investment banker. And yet another of Rafael's sons, Jose Diaz-Balart, is America's most influential television anchor, a cherished position that Alicia Menendez and others can only aspire to. This attests to the unique advantages that the second generational offspring of elite Cuban exiles from the Cuban Revolution have over their American peers.
{Note: Admittedly, talent melded with opportunity helps}
      Jose Diaz-Balart, on the left above, is far more powerful that the other three sons of Rafael Diaz-Balart, who was a key Minister in the Batista dictatorship back in the 1950s. That's saying a lot considering that Rafael Jr. is a rich investment banker and both Lincoln and Mario were elected to the U. S. Congress from Miami. Jose was born in 1960 in Fort Lauderdale, the Florida city that actually has far more Cuban-American mansions than Miami has or Havana ever had. In the 1980s Jose emerged as the top news anchor at WTVJ-TV in Miami. Since then for years he has been the top anchor at Telemundo, the most powerful Spanish network in America. Since June of 2014 he has been a key anchor at NBC, the most viewed news organization in America. Speaking in Spanish on one powerful network and speaking in English on another powerful one, Jose Diaz-Balart is easily America's most powerful media superstar.
     Politically powerful Americans, like President Barack Obama above, can often just ignore anti-Castro zealots such as U. S. Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart from Miami. But neither President Obama nor anyone else can ignore Jose Diaz-Balart, the most powerful media superstar in America. Like Alicia Menendez and many, many others, Jose Diaz-Balart has taken full advantage of the many unique advantages bestowed upon him for merely being a Cuban-American in the United States of America.
     In 2016 or soon thereafter Marco Rubio or some other very privileged second generational Cuban-American may be elected President of the United States. When that happens some pundit...not me, of course!...will make the claim that the Batistianos have captured the United States before they re-captured Cuba. Of course, with a tad of punditry, I remain a bit amused that Mr. Rubio made it all the way to the U. S. Senate with his obligatory bio claiming his parents escaped the Castro tyranny in Cuba for the freedom of Miami. Considering the entrenched aspects of PAC-dominated U. S. politics, real facts really don't matter. But Senator Rubio has been gently reminded that his parents escaped the Batista tyranny in Cuba for the freedom of Miami long before Castro chased the Batistianos off the island...all the way to Miami, Doral, Fort Lauderdale, and Union City. However, truth be known, I'll probably vote for Mr. Rubio in 2016 because I've been greatly influenced by watching Alicia Menendez on Fusion and Jose Diaz-Balart on Telemundo and NBC. Of course, in America's two-party democracy these days, it is often a question of voting for the lesser of two evils.
Thus, Mr. Rubio still has a shot at my 2016 vote.


Fidel Castro and the Kennedys

Eternally Entwined by History 
***Essay updated: Friday, November 28th, 2014***
       Spain's leading newspaper, El Pais, is reporting that the United States this week asked Spain's Foreign Minister, Juan Manuel Garcia-Margallo, to deliver a special overture or message on behalf of the United States to Cuba's designated post-Castro leader Miguel Diaz-Canel. The request was reportedly made prior to Garcia-Margallo's trip to Cuba this week. Presumably, the U. S. wanted to convey to Cuba, specifically Mr. Diaz-Canel, that President Barack Obama plans to ease sanctions against the island prior to the Summit of the Americas that will be held in Panama next April. Cuban-Americans in the U. S. Congress, especially Senator Marco Rubio from Miami, have reacted viciously to mere rumors of President Obama's plans, and that was before the leading European newspaper, El Pais, indicated that the Spanish Foreign Minister, Mr. Garcia-Margallo, was delivering a very special and important U. S. message to Cuba this week.
         This AP/Ramon Espinosa photo was taken Tuesday {Nov. 25-2014} in Havana and it shows Cuba's Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez, in the white Guayabera shirt, greeting Spain's Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo, who is on a three-day visit. Garcia-Margallo is urging Cuba to accelerate its economic reforms by emphasizing private enterprise and foreign investment and he asked Cuba to allow former political prisoners to leave the island. Cuba, Garcia-Margallo noted, is paying attention to such suggestions. However, the nearby United States, still shackled by a Cuban policy dictated by a second generation of visceral Cuban-exiles, remains the one nation in the world that has no positive influence in Cuba although it is the nation that should be exercising the most influence. Garcia-Margallo this week urged Cuba to attend the Ibero-American Summit of Spanish and Portuguese-speaking nations to be held in Veracruz, Mexico in December. The AP reported that soon after Garcia-Margallo arrived in Havana Tuesday, the Spaniard understandably asked to meet with Miguel Diaz-Canel. The request was granted.
        The 54-year-old Miguel Diaz-Canel, not someone named Castro, has already been designated as Cuba's post-Castro leader. Fidel Castro turned 88 in August; Raul Castro turns 84 in June. Major countries, like Spain this week, are thus anxious to get a feel for Miguel Diaz-Canel and also judge Cuba's ongoing economic reforms. Of course, a rich and powerful contingent of Cuban-Americans will not permit the United States of America to have such freedom to check out Diaz-Canel or Cuban reforms. Sadly, it has been that way in the United States since the Kennedy administration way, way back in the early 1960s.
       The saga of America's Kennedy brothers, Robert and John, will for eternity be tightly entwined with Fidel Castro, Cuba's legendary rebel. John Kennedy is America's most famous and most beloved President. During the truncated JFK presidency (1960 till 1963}, his Attorney General and primary adviser was his younger brother Robert. John was assassinated in Dallas on November 22, 1963, barely a thousand days into what would have been two presidential terms. Robert was assassinated in Los Angeles in June, 1968 as he was waging a very serious campaign to become President of the United States. When the Kennedy brothers took over the White House in January of 1960, they inherited from the Eisenhower-Nixon administration a powerful, no-holds-barred CIA and State Department program that called for both the overthrow and the assassination of Cuba's Fidel Castro, whose Cuban Revolution had amazingly overthrown the U. S. and Mafia-backed Batista dictatorship in Cuba a year earlier. The Kennedy brothers carried through with that anti-Castro program with excessive vigor and unabashed exuberance. Robert himself directed repeated attempts to assassinate Fidel Castro, often utilizing Cuban exile-CIA agents who were, beginning in January of 1959, sent to the secretive Army of the Americas at Fort Benning, Georgia where they were explicitly trained in the use of weapons, explosives, and sabotage. Those anti-Castro Cuban exiles who graduated from the Army of the Americas as Second Lieutenants included the infamous assassin-terrorist Luis Posada Carriles who, thanks to his powerful friends in Miami and Washington, was freed from a Venezuelan prison where he was charged with blowing up the civilian Cubana Flight 455 airplane killing all 73 on board and he was later, thanks again to his powerful friends in Miami and Washington, freed from a Panamanian prison where he had been sentenced for a botched assassination attempt against Fidel Castro on Panamanian soil. Today at age 86 Posada is a very free man in Miami, much to the chagrin of all Caribbean and Latin American countries; and at age 88 Fidel Castro is still alive in Havana, much to the chagrin of two generations of visceral Cuban exiles. While Robert Kennedy was orchestrating assassination attempts against Fidel, President John Kennedy was signing off on the Bay of Pigs military attack in April of 1961, all of which turned out to be counter-intuitive because they didn't kill or overthrow Fidel and, in fact, greatly enhanced both his long life and his legacy as a revolutionary, anti-imperialist icon. The Fidel-Posada nexus is an indelible part of the history of Cuba and the United States, as is the synergy or lack thereof between Fidel and the Kennedy brothers. As you reflect on the photo at the top of this essay, perhaps the most important element in the Castro-Kennedy saga is this coda: Just days before his assassination in November of 1963 President Kennedy told several of his closest associates, including Pierre Salinger, that the biggest mistake of his life was his "treatment"  of Cuba; and just days before his assassination in June of 1968 Robert Kennedy told several of his closest associates, including his wife Ethel, that the biggest mistake of his political life was his "treatment" of Cuba. Robert Kennedy also confirmed that President Kennedy, in the first two weeks of November, 1963 just prior to his fateful trip to Dallas, had told all of his closest aides that his "top priority" was to normalize relations with Cuba. When President Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas on Nov. 22-1963 early suspicion focused on assassin Lee Harvey Oswald being an agent for Fidel Castro coupled with stark reminders that JFK had ordered Fidel's assassination and it was logical that Fidel would respond in kind. Robert, the man most intent on unraveling the intimate details of the assassination, called Havana and spoke directly to Fidel, who invited Robert to send "your best investigators to Havana to interrogate me." Robert did. Fidel provided the investigators insightful, documented evidence uncovered by Cuba's well-respected intelligence operatives who, quite naturally, had kept keen eyes on the most zealous anti-Castro Cuban exiles -- such as Posada Carriles and Orlando Bosch -- and the most zealous anti-Castro Mafia figures, such as Carlos Marcello in New Orleans and Santo Trafficante in Tampa. Additionally, as Robert's interrogators took written and audio notes, Fidel said, "If I was totally stupid I would have been eliminated long ago. I would have been totally stupid if I in any way had been involved in the assassination of John Kennedy. I never communicated with him directly but in recent weeks I had daily reports from Celia Sanchez and American newscaster Lisa Howard who had reached agreements with President Kennedy about establishing friendly relations between our two countries." Robert Kennedy himself corroborated Fidel's statements and the intelligence Fidel provided. Robert came to believe that Oswald did not act alone and Robert concluded that various elements -- the CIA, Cuban exiles, the Mafia, and even key associates of Lyndon Johnson -- had all targeted his brother, the President, for assassination. But, yes, he exonerated Fidel Castro.
       The life and death of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, America's 35th President {1960-1963}, are the two most recorded and publicized events in American history. He was born on May 29, 1917 in Brookline, Massachusetts, and was assassinated a thousand days into his presidency on November 22, 1963, in Dallas, Texas. To this day, the saga of John Kennedy is known worldwide and his initials, JFK, are America's best known initials, surpassing all others including Franklin Delano Roosevelt's FDR, America's only 4-time President. As with many other major events related to both American history and topicality since the 1950s, Cuba's Fidel Castro happens to be indelibly tied to both the life and the death of John Fitzgerald Kennedy whose assassination in 1963 still evokes massive coverage. For example, last weekend -- November 22-23, 2014 -- CNN showed worldwide a one-hour documentary entitled: "The Sixties: The Assassination of President Kennedy." As with most other accounts, the CNN documentary referenceed Revolutionary Cuba's dominance of the Kennedy presidency, including the fact that JFK authorized multiple assassination attempts against Fidel Castro and that JFK authorized the Bay of Pigs attack on Cuba in April of 1961. Also, of course, many right-wing politicians and journalists instantly blamed Fidel Castro, as a logical form of retaliation, for the assassination of John Kennedy...and many still make that claim. However, history as well as the Kennedy family itself have long-since absolved Fidel Castro of that connection to JFK, although Cuba's highly respected intelligence operatives maintained close tabs on the prime enemies of both Fidel Castro and John Kennedy. Those enemies were easily defined and interconnected, such as the Cuban exiles and Mafia kingpins from the Batista dictatorship and the CIA.
             Of course, in 1962 during the second year of the Kennedy presidency, by far the three most famous people in the world were Cuba's Fidel Castro, the Soviet Union's Nikita Khrushchev, and America's John Kennedy. Eight days in October of 1962 are still remembered as the closest the world has ever come to a total nuclear holocaust, caused when the U. S. discovered that the Soviet Union had installed deadly nuclear missiles in Cuba, barely a hundred miles from the coast of Florida. At the time Sergei Khrushchev was an aide to his father Nikita and at his side during those eight historic days. Later Sergei became an American citizen, a respected historian, and an American professor. Sergei wrote that of the three catalysts as the world held its collective breath, Fidel Castro was the most dominant. Why? Because Sergei said his father and Kennedy were "shaking in their boots" and anxious for the standoff to end while Fidel, in Havana, wanted to fight while Cuba had nuclear missiles to offset America's nuclear arsenal. Sergei, who would know, said Nikita Khrushchev ordered his commanders in Cuba not to fire on U. S. spy planes flying over the island because that might precipitate the holocaust. But, as Sergei and other historians well know, a spy plane piloted by Rudy Anderson was shot out of the sky by a SAM missile, killing Anderson. That was the moment, Sergei says, when his father and Kennedy were in contact with each other via cables and "shaking in their boots." In recent years de-classified Russian documents as well as the Russian submarine commander confirm that the submarine came within seconds of firing a nuclear missile at an American ship during a crucial day when President Kennedy was holding back war-mongers in his administration and in Congress who were insisting that he initiate a nuclear attack against Cuba. Such revelations, supported by de-classified data, still credit John Kennedy with preventing a nuclear disaster with urgent negotiations with Moscow, including the secretive promise that the U. S. would never attack Cuba and that U. S. nuclear missiles in Turkey aimed at Russia would be dismantled if the Cuban missiles were also removed. The assassination attempts against Castro, repeated coastal terrorist attacks on Cuba by Miami-based planes and speed-boats, the Bay of Pigs military attack in 1961, the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, etc., totally dominated John Kennedy's first two years as President. By his third year in office, 1963, President Kennedy had come to believe that elements inside the CIA and the Mafia, as well as Cuban exiles in Miami and their acolytes in the U. S. Congress, superseded Fidel Castro and Revolutionary Cuba as his prime enemies. It is believed those were President Kennedy's thoughts as he deplaned in Dallas.
       Photos of President Kennedy and his beautiful wife Jacqueline in Dallas on November 22, 1963 remain indelibly engraved in the psyche of Americans. Most historians agree that President Kennedy's monumental assassination was indeed tied to U.S.-Cuban relations, specifically JFK being blamed by Cuban exiles, the Mafia, and the CIA for the disastrous Bay of Pigs attack on Cuba in April of 1961, an ill-conceived and cowardly attack that, instead of killing/overthrowing Castro, greatly enhanced his statue and legacy. Famed Mafia lawyer Frank Ragano confirmed that his prime clients -- Mafia kingpins Carlos Marcello and Santo Trafficante Jr. -- had targeted both Kennedy Brothers -- John and Robert -- for assassinations and that, indeed, Jimmy Hoffa had sent $50,000 in cash from Detroit to Miami to help cover the expenses. These were the Kennedy brothers that, in the last weeks of their lives before John's assassination in 1963 and Robert's assassination in 1968, had lamented to intimates that their biggest political mistake was following up on the Eisenhower-Nixon programs designed to assassinate Castro.
          This photo is a tip-off on how the Kennedy family, the most famous and most beloved family in American history, ended up thinking about Fidel Castro and Cuba. On the left in the middle you will recognize Fidel Castro, often called the most recognizable person in the world. Sitting directly across from Fidel, and engaging in a conversation with the Cuban icon, is John Kennedy Jr., the awesomely handsome and popular son of the late President John Kennedy. John Jr. had talked on the phone several times with Fidel, assuring Fidel that no one in the Kennedy family, including his uncle Robert, blamed him "for what happened" in Dallas because "we came to realize that your association with it was crafted by more sinister people in my father's world." It was registered at this dinner table in Havana that Fidel replied with these words spoken in English: "It is so nice of you to come to my country and say those words to me, John. My admiration of your father has increased over the years and I will never forget, in the last weeks of his young life, what he was trying to do for Cuba even though he was aware of the people it would infuriate."
         On his trip to Cuba to meet Fidel Castro, John Kennedy Jr. brought along several friends, including Inigo Thomas, the Editor of John Jr.'s magazine "George" that was named after George Washington. Out in the hallway before dinner John Jr. introduced Thomas to Fidel, as depicted in the above photo. On Nov. 22-2013 {on the 50th anniversary of the JFK assassinationInigo Thomas wrote a long article that is still readily available Online with the above photo that Mr. Thomas still cherishes. Thomas began that article with these words: "From the summer of 1996 until he died in July of 1999, I worked for John Kennedy Jr. at his monthly glossy magazine George." Thomas' article led with the above photo and, decades after it was taken, he seems still mesmerized by Fidel Castro's warmth and candidness. At one point, for example, Fidel mentioned to Thomas that, "Lee Harvey Oswald tried to get to Cuba." Thomas will also always remember that, on that trip to Cuba, John Kennedy Jr. asked Fidel Castro if he would take him to the Bay of Pigs site, the place so indelible in the historic lives of both Fidel Castro and John Kennedy. Fidel readily agreed. The Bay of Pigs military attack on Cuba in April of 1961, most historians believe, figured prominently in the assassination of John Kennedy and in the longevity of Fidel Castro and the Cuban Revolution.
  This map shows the location of the Bay of Pigs, which Cuba calls Playa Giron.
Fidel, by request, took John Jr. to this very spot at the Bay of Pigs.
       This is how the Bay of Pigs {Playa Giron} looks today {Photo courtesy: www.moxon.net}. On his visit to Cuba to see Fidel Castro, John Kennedy Jr. took an invigorating half-hour swim at this very spot.
         In American history, this is one of the most memorable and saddest images that will forever be engraved in the hearts of Americans. It shows the two-year-old John Kennedy Jr. saluting the caisson-drawn casket that carried his father, President John Kennedy, to Arlington National Cemetery.
        John Kennedy Jr. is shown here with his wife Carolyn Bessette. Both of them, along with Carolyn's older sister Lauren, were killed in 1999 when the airplane John Jr. was piloting crashed off the Massachusetts coast. In Cuba, Fidel Castro often talked to the Cuban people on the island's most popular television program, "The Roundtable," which is hosted by Randy Alonso. When he got confirmation of the fatal plane crash, a distraught Fidel Castro told The Roundtable viewers: "I have sad news to tell you tonight. A fine young American, along with his wife and her sister, has died in a plane crash into the ocean above New York. His name is John Kennedy Jr., the promising son of the former President." Fidel then held a photo of him and John Jr. together in Cuba. "John Jr. was my friend, and Cuba's friend," he said. "I will miss him. And I will always wonder about what greatness we have lost but will never realize. I don't cry but I cried in 1980 and I cried today." Cubans watching that telecast in 1999 well knew that Fidel Castro's reference to "1980" pertained to the day Celia Sanchez died of cancer; but he spent the bulk of that program telling the Cubans about his friend, John Kennedy Jr. That friendship is just one of the many interesting aspects in the history of both Cuba and the United States, and it is an aspect that Americans generally do not consider. 
          John Kennedy Jr. was born on November 25, 1960 in Washington and died on July 16, 1999 in the Atlantic Ocean near the Kennedy compound at Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts. So, if he were alive today he would be 53-years-old and, perhaps, the President of the United States of America. John Kennedy Jr. was even better looking and just as charismatic as his father. He would have probably been a good, maybe great, President. But fate, specifically the crash of a small airplane, unkindly intervened.
       Kathleen Kennedy Townsend was the very first of Bobby and Ethel Kennedy's 11 children. She was born in Greenwich, Connecticut 63 years ago -- on July 4th, 1956. Kathleen Kennedy, a lawyer, was the Lt. Governor of Maryland from 1995 till 2003 and she was an unsuccessful candidate for Governor of Maryland in 2002. In 2009 she wrote an impassioned Op-Ed column in the Washington Post asking President Barack Obama to ease all of the sanctions against Cuba. Fidel Castro, a voracious newshound, was touched by the article when he read it in Mexico's La Jornada newspaper. The next day -- April 24, 2009 -- Fidel penned a long article that was published in the top two Cuban newspapers and is still available online at globalresearch.org. In that article he mentioned that other Kennedy family members, including John Kennedy Jr., had also reached out kindly to him, and he was appreciative of the Kathleen Kennedy Op-Ed in the Washington Post. Fidel added: "I confess that many times I have meditated on the dramatic story of John F. Kennedy. It was my fate to live through the era when he was the greatest and most dangerous adversary of the Revolution. He saw himself as the representative of a new generation of Americans who were confronting the old-style dirty politicians, men of the sort of Nixon whom he had defeated with a tremendous display of political talent. Because he was over-confident, he was dragged into the Bay of Pigs adventure by his predecessors." Fidel ended that article with these exact words: "A worthy article by Kathleen Kennedy."
          JFK Jr.'s father, President John Kennedy, was Fidel Castro's bitter enemy, at least until the final weeks of his life when he concluded that his and America's primary enemies were all around him in America, not on the nearby island of Cuba. President Kennedy, in fact, one day famously exclaimed: "If I could I would blow the CIA to smithereens!" Before and after the all-too-brief Kennedy presidency, it was the practice of Republican administrations to give vicious anti-Castro Cubans in Miami access to the Oval Office in the White House. One day, President Kennedy greeted and shook hands with a line of visitors. Later he was told that one of them was Rolando Masferrer, the infamously cruel enforcer for the ousted Batista dictatorship and one of many Batista leaders that regrouped in South Florida and formed anti-Castro paramilitary units. When an aide later told President Kennedy he had just shaken hands with Rolando Masferrer, he went ballistic according to several of his key aides, including famed historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr. It was around that time that President Kennedy began telling his top aides -- Pierre Salinger, Arthur Schlesinger Jr., etc. -- that, upon his return from Dallas, his and their primary goal would be to "normalize relations with Cuba." That decision was well know to his enemies -- the Cuban exiles, the Mafia, the CIA, and some of Vice President Lyndon Johnson's top aides. Also, the scheduled stops on his southern trip that culminated in Dallas were well known. Moreover, it was well known, to the FBI and others, that President Kennedy's plans to normalize relations with Cuba greatly exacerbated the plans to kill him. It is almost certain that if the Cuban issue did not directly predicate the murder of President Kennedy, it is only because killers with other motives accomplished the deed first. And perhaps most significant of all, since the assassination of President John Kennedy on November 22, 1963, no American president has had the courage to diligently try to normalize relations with Cuba in the face of the opposition that President Kennedy so bravely confronted just prior to his final trip, the one to Dallas.
Fidel Castro and John Kennedy
Entwined Titans of Cuban and American History 
By the way...............
.............................this is a recent photo of Tete Puebla, a General in the Cuban army. Sitting in the middle is Tete's best friend Nidia Sarabia, a distinguished Cuban researcher and historian. On the left is Cuba's Culture Minister Julian Gonzalez.
        By the time she was 15-years-old Tete Puebla was a superstar guerrilla fighter in the all-female "Mariana Grajales Platoon" that played a major role in Cuba's Revolutionary War against the Batista dictatorship. This book tells their story, including Tete's graphic explanation of how the extreme brutality of Batista's dreaded Masferrer Tigers turned her into a do-or-die teenage female guerrilla fighter.
Fidel Castro has always been a great admirer of General Tete Puebla.
General Tete Puebla is still revered by Cuban citizens and journalists.
       This is General Tete Puebla's favorite photo. That's her on the left the day she and other members of the Mariana Grajales Platoon arrived in Havana in the first week of January, 1959, after they helped defeat the Batista-Mafia dictatorship. Celia Sanchez, Haydee Santamaria, Vilma Espin, Melba Hernandez, Marta Rojas, Tete Puebla, Eloisa Ballester, Lilia Rielo...in all of history there has never been a female-powered revolution to match the Cuban Revolution. General Tete Puebla personifies that historic fact. General Tete Puebla said, "When this photograph was taken, my only regret was that Batista, the Mafia, and especially the Masferrer Tigers had not stayed in Havana long enough to fight us. That would have been fun, like kicking their asses in the Sierra Maestra was fun." Well, as a key Cuban General, she is still around in case they return.


Cuba Deserves A Chance

To Chart Its Own Course
Essay updated Saturday, November 22nd, 2014
Theme: It is time for democracy-loving Americans, not Batista-loving Cubans in Miami, to take charge of America's Cuban policy that the rest of the world abhors.
         Yesterday {Friday, Nov. 21-2014} Britain's top newspaper, The Guardian, used this AP photo to illustrate its latest long article about Cuba. The photo was taken in Washington in April of 1959 when Cuba's new leader, Fidel Castro, paid a 12-day visit to the United States barely three months after his Cuban Revolution had overthrown the Batista dictatorship that had been supported by the U. S. as well as the powerful U. S. Mafia. During those twelve days in the U. S. Fidel was wildly heralded as a revolutionary hero and he reveled in meeting everyday Americans, at least until Vice President Richard Nixon told him face-to-face that his revolutionary government in Cuba would be overthrown "in a few weeks." But The Guardian article this week focused not on Nixon's dire and meaningful threat but on the warm reception Fidel received from everyday Americans in April of 1959. The article liberally quoted Sheldon Shapiro who is shown in the above photo beside Fidel's right shoulder. Shapiro explained that he was with other 16-year-olds on a class trip to Washington that day when they sought out the suddenly famous Cuban rebel. Shapiro told The Guardian this week, "Fidel invited us out to Cuba. I gave him a cigar and he said, 'Thank you.'" Of course, after that visit to the U. S. in April of 1959, ever mindful of what Nixon had said, Fidel Castro returned to Cuba where, for all the 55 years since this photo was taken, Cuba and its superpower neighbor have been enemies, the governmental leaders but never the majority of Cubans and Americans.
       In other words, a handful of powerful U. S. right-wingers, like Richard Nixon, aligned with a handful of two generations of revengeful Cuban exiles, have dictated America's Cuban policy since Fidel Castro made that friendly 12-day visit to the U. S. in April of 1959. Such facts are not generally permitted in the U. S. but elsewhere, including the United Nations and its roster of foreign nations, it is permissible to present both sides of the U.S.-Cuban conundrum. For example, England's two internationally renowned media outlets -- the BBC and The Guardian -- regularly detail Cuban issues as well as U.S.-Cuban relations and they do so in a fair-minded manner whether or not the facts are pro-Cuban or anti-Cuban, pro-American or anti-American. Of course, when it comes to Cuba, the British media is on an entirely different plateau than the U. S. media. That's because Britain, despite its somewhat infamous imperialist past, never teamed with the Mafia to support a vile dictatorship in Cuba and, moreover, Britain never allowed that overthrown dictatorship to reconstitute itself, stronger than ever, on British soil. Therein lies the dichotomy.
         This week {Thursday, November 20th} Britain's top newspaper, The Guardian, used the above Reuters photo to illustrate an insightful article about Cuba written by Eugene Jarecki. He began with these words: "I had to get to Cuba, my friends urged, while Castro is still alive -- and before the whole place gets overrun by McDonald's and Starbucks. A quick trip across the island disabuses any real worry that strip malls and box stores are imminent but a certain measure of change is definitely on the way. There's something in the air -- a bit more free expression, a glimmer of innovation, a softer hand, maybe." Those were Jarecki's first three sentences in a long article that, indeed, updates the Cuban narrative fairly. His last sentence mentioned: "Cuba, left to her own devices...as it navigates into tomorrow..." As The Guardian's Eugene Jarecki and other fair-minded people around the world maintain, Cuba should be left to its own devices as it navigates into tomorrow. That means a second generation of self-serving, holier-than-thou Cuban exiles and their self-serving, parasitic sycophants should be resisted as they continue, into a sixth decade, of using Cuba to exact revenge while also continuing to view the island as a piggy-bank for rich and covetous foreigners. Such articles as Jarecki's about the island remind me that Cuba still has a fascination far out of proportion to its size, population or economy. Cuba is verily fascinating on its own but the Batistianos, the Mafiosi, and greedy U. S. businessmen made it more so. 
       A Cuban doctor working in Sierra Leone has been diagnosed with Ebola. {Photo courtesy: AP/Ladyrene Perez}. Dr. Felix Baez has been flown to Geneva by the World Health Organization for treatment. He was a part of the 165-person Cuban medical team in Sierra Leone. Cuba currently has 256 medical workers in West Africa, far more than any other nation as the fight against the dreaded Ebola epidemic continues.
         Diane Guerrero is one of America's most beautiful and most talented actresses. {This image is courtesy of www.metnights.com}. She was born 28 years ago -- on July 21, 1986 -- in New Jersey. Ms. Guerrero is also an example of why America's Cuban policy shames and mocks the U. S. democracy. 
         Diane Guerrero was interviewed this week on CNN. She cried uncontrollably during several stages of the interview. Perhaps you did too if you saw it. At age 14 she returned from school one day to find the lights on in her New Jersey home and items on the stove indicated her mother had just started to fix dinner. But neither her mother nor her father were at home. Neighbors came over to tell her they had been forcibly removed from the home by federal agents intent on deporting them back to their native Colombia. The 14-year-old Diane was terrified. She went and hid under her bed, fearing the agents would come after her. But they didn't; she was born in the U. S. and thus was a United States citizen. She survived that trauma to become a hugely successful actress. But she is still traumatized, as revealed by the CNN interview, because her parents are still in Colombia and she manages to see them only once a year. The forced separation, she said, has made her feel detached and aloof from her family, one of the reminders that produced her unabashed tears during the interview. So why is Diane Guerrero a reminder that America's Cuban policy shames and mocks the U. S. democracy? Answer: If Ms. Guerrero's parents had been Cuban they would never have been subjected to deportation. That's because the U. S. democracy is burdened by a plethora of rules and laws that pertain only to Cubans, the only people on the planet who are home free in the United States merely by touching U. S. soil. It's known as the Wet Foot/Dry Foot law that is one of the many Cuba-only features of the Cuban exile-fueled Torricelli and Helms-Burton bills that to this day make the U. S. Congress look like an undemocratic Banana Republic parliament. Diane Guerrero's parents were Colombian, making them subject to the cruelest aspects of deportation; Cubans in the U. S. are the only such immigrants not subject to such deportations. Thus, Diane Guerrero is also a reminder that no U.S.-backed dictatorship in Colombia or anywhere else other than Cuba ever got overthrown only to have that dictatorship quickly and, it seems, permanently resurrected on U. S. soil. But that, in fact, did happen to the Batista dictatorship that was overthrown in 1959 in Cuba and then allowed to reconstitute itself, stronger than ever, in nearby Miami from where, to this day, it dictates a U. S. Cuban policy that the rest of the world, including America's best friends, wholeheartedly disagrees with.
     The London-based BBC is arguably the world's most respected and most influential news organization. Last week, once again, it told its viewers and listeners how America's Cuban policy shames and mocks its democracy. The BBC report mentioned that the New York Times has in the last few weeks had no fewer than five editorials expressing the exact same viewpoint, one that is repeatedly ignored by the American people for various reasons -- most notably, stupidity, cowardice, complacency, or a lack of patriotism.
       The New York Times is arguably America's most respected and most influential news organization. The BBC mentioned five recent New York Times editorials that point out how America's Cuban policy shames and mocks its democracy. Well, BBC, make it six recent editorials. On Nov. 17-2014 the New York Times had an editorial entitled "A Cuban Brain Drain, Courtesy of the U. S." Among other points, the editorial stated: "It is hypocritical for Washington to praise Cuba's efforts in fighting Ebola while inviting Cuban doctors working abroad to defect." Yes, to appease a handful of visceral Cuban-American politicians the U. S. government, among its many other nefarious activities to hurt Cuba, is engaged in an expensive and asinine program to entice Cuban doctors serving the poorest areas of many countries to defect to the U. S. with the encouragement supposedly including cash bonuses courtesy of unwitting and uncaring U. S. taxpayers. This program referenced by the latest New York Times editorial is purely designed to punish Cubans on the island to sate the revenge and political motives of a handful of vicious, dictatorial Cuban-Americans. As the BBC, the New York Times, and other major media outlets around the world regularly lament, the U. S. Cuban policy harms the U. S. democracy far more than it harms Cuba, which...in fact...gains a lot of support and massive amounts of sympathy courtesy of the gutless, self-deprecating Cuban policy that the U. S. government, on behalf of a few self-serving Cuban exiles, began way back in 1959 and now expects the pusillanimous U. S. citizens to accept in perpetuity.  But, hey! We're gonna recapture Cuba any day now and that will end all those critical, gushing editorials in the BBC and the New York Times!
And now, the saddest of sad news...........
            .........this AFP/Yahoo News photo shows 19-year-old Maria Alvarado. She was the reigning Miss Honduras. She was scheduled to fly to London Wednesday {November 19th} to represent Honduras in the Miss World contest. But she was kidnapped and had been missing for a week as her family pleaded for her release. The very day she was to fly to London Maria's body and the body of her sister were found. They both had been murdered by their kidnappers. Honduras is a Central American country of 8 million people and it has the world's highest murder rate. It is one of many Latin American nations roiled by drug cartels, gangs, murderers, machismo, male chauvinism, and kidnappers. Throughout Latin America, including Mexico on the southern border of the U. S., drug cartels and gangs are often either aligned with or more powerful than the police and the governments. And often the victims caught in the middle, like Maria Alvarado, are the most innocent, the most beautiful and the most promising citizens of those countries.
         Miss Honduras, Maria Alvarado, was so beautiful, talented and smart that she was considered a favorite in the Miss World contest in London. A university student, the 19-year-old Maria was an excellent volleyball and soccer player. She wanted to be a diplomat representing Honduras. She almost always appeared in public wearing jeans and no make-up. But in a nation and a world riddled with crime, she is no more. Much of that crime throughout Latin America is fueled by those who consume the illegal drugs, in America and elsewhere, and by those who legally and illegally sell guns and ammunition that reach across the Mexican border down to the drug cartels and gangs. In a troubled world imperiled by thugs, terrorists, and an overflow of lethal weapons, there should be special protection for the most beautiful and most innocent among us, the women and the children. Maria Alvarado is dead. Just a teenager, she will now be Forever Young, with this photo attesting to her beauty and promise. By way of contrast, the drug users, the drug traffickers, and the gun purveyors are still alive as dominant forces. But Maria Alvarado is dead. Yes, because what her life and her death entails, the world is a less beautiful place. Thugs with guns think they rule the universe, and it might be true. At least, sadly it seems, the peace-keepers are losing.
        This AFP photo shows Honduran police questioning Plutarco Ruiz, who is second from the left. Ruiz has been charged with murdering Maria Alvarado and her sister Sofia; Maria was shot twice in the back. Ruiz took police to where Maria and Sofia were buried in shallow graves on a remote riverbank. In an earlier separate incident in murder-crazed Honduras, Ruiz's brother was killed in an AK-47 assault.
       Study this photo, taking note of the sadness in her eyes and the fear coating her face. {Photo courtesy: Beaumont Enterprise}. She needs help, at least sympathy. The number "43" painted on her cheek is in honor of the 43 Mexican students who were kidnapped and presumably murdered by a drug cartel in the southern state of Guerrero. It has been reported that six of the students were killed outright by Mexican police and the other 43 turned over to the cartel. Merely to protest shows how brave this young woman is. She feels the cartels are against her; the drug traffickers and users are against her; the gun traffickers are against her; the police are against; the government is against her; and those who don't care are against her. She has reasons to feel that way because she lives in Latin America. If we can't help her, we should at least sympathize with her and, maybe, try to improve the world she lives in and the world that Miss Honduras, Maria Alvarado, once lived in. "Miss Honduras" and the number "43" have saturated headlines this week but, soon, much of the world will forget them, making way for newer, fresher headlines.
        This couple was arrested and charged with ordering the assault against the Mexican students in Guerrero. {Photo courtesy: New York Daily News}. He was the Mayor of Guerrero and reportedly his wife was due to give a speech and he felt the students were nearby protesting the government's lack of support for their school, a protest that would have embarrassed her. The Mayor and his wife supposedly were aligned with the drug cartel that dominated the area, lending credence to what millions of Mexicans fear most -- that the government is unable or unwilling to adequately defend them against the rich and powerful drug cartels. Vigilantes, not police or soldiers, are actually fighting back in some Mexican and Honduran towns. But the odds are against both the vigilantes and many young women who are out-gunned throughout much of Latin America. This will never stop as long as there remains a vast disparity between the rich and poor as well as a lucrative market for the illegal drugs that fuel the mayhem.
Cuba, by the way, is the safest country in the Caribbean or Latin America.  
Here's a peek at Cuba today:
          Fair-minded Cuban blogger Fernando Ravsberg and the unbiased HavanaTimes.org blog this week used the above photo to illustrate an article that explains why most of the world firmly believes Cuba should be allowed to chart its own course and not have it dictated by revengeful, greedy elements in a foreign country. In the middle above is 15-year-old Rafael Botalin of Santiago de Cuba. Rafael has a very rare brain disease and urgently needed an operation. Cuba provides excellent health coverage for all its citizens but, partly due to the five-decades-old U. S. embargo against the island, Cuba does not have as much modern medical equipment as it needs. So, this week Rafael was flown to a foreign country to get the operation that hopefully will save and normalize his life. Rafael was accompanied by his mother and all the expenses are being paid by the Cuban government. Mr. Ravsberg said the family asked that the foreign country not be revealed at his time. The saga of Rafael Botalin is one that, generally speaking, Americans are not supposed to be aware of although it is typical of what happens in Revolutionary Cuba. However, to maintain its animosity against Cuba -- the embargo, labeling Cuba a "terrorist" nation, continuous expensive programs to overthrow Cuba, etc. -- the U. S. Cuban narrative has, for the most part, been dictated by two generations of Cuban exiles and their sycophants booted off the island in 1959 by the Cuban Revolution. Thus, the U. S. Cuban narrative maintains that if the U. S. allows money to reach the island it will all go into Fidel Castro's pockets or his Swiss bank accounts. {Mr. Castro has a lot of faults but greed is not one of them; he was born rich but, unlike the anti-revolutionaries, he has lived modestly all his life). Cuba spends a higher percentage of its income on free health care, free education through college, free shelter if needed, and free food if needed than perhaps any other nation, as pointed about by both the United Nations and the World Health Organization. That is done with money, or pesos, that don't go into Mr. Castro's pockets or his non-existent Swiss bank account. Cuba has the largest medical school in the world and it is famous for awarding totally free scholarships to qualified poor students, many from the United States of America. Cuba spends money on its unique Operation Miracle program whereby free eye operations have restored or greatly improved the eyesight of thousands of poor people that don't have access to such medical care in their own countries. And, yes, this week in mid-November of 2014 Cuba is spending money to make sure that Rafael Botalin has the best chance to survive a delicate brain operation in another country. As a democracy-loving American, I believe it would be alright for Americans to get their news about Cuba from sources other than a handful of self-serving, anti-revolutionary zealots. Such zealots, for example, dictate that Americans are not free to travel to one place on this planet, Cuba, to judge for themselves; such zealots, for example, dictate that only Cubans who defect from the island are home free in the U. S. merely if they touch U. S. soil. And  if those rich and powerful zealots in the U. S. had their way, Cuba would not have enough money to send young Rafael Botalin abroad for a life-saving brain operation. Such realities remind some people that the ousted Batista dictatorship in Cuba simply resurrected itself on U. S. soil, with nearby Miami -- also known as Little Havana -- as its capital.
        This is the Santa Maria Royalton Hotel in Cuba. The renowned travel site Trip Adviser has named it the #1 Hotel-Resort in the world for "all-inclusive vacations." Such accolades related to the nearby island of Cuba either surprise or shock Americans who, since 1959, have basically been told that Cuba is a "basket case that will be re-captured by nice people in a day or two." The 5-star Royalton is located in Villa Clara, Cuba, and it alone is reason enough to inspire a re-capture of the island but. somehow, the nexus between inspiration and reality has proven to be quite elusive to foreign entities that covet the island.
      Tourists to Cuba have long picked out their favorite restaurants on the island, such as Havana's La Bodeguita Del Medio. Since the first day of November, 2014,  the Cuban government has allowed residents in Miami to use their credit cards to pay for their relatives or friends on the island to feast on pre-paid and pre-ordered meals in Cuban restaurants. The new policy currently involves 43 restaurants in four provinces -- Havana {13}; Camaguey {13}; Holguin {11}; and Villa Clara {6}. Havana's La Bodeguita Del Medio is one of the world's most famous restaurants. There are replicas of the renowned Cuban restaurant today in 15 countries around the world, such as a famous one in Palo Alta, California. In 1942 a Cuban named Angel Martinez bought a small warehouse in the middle of Empedrado Street in Havana, and turned the warehouse into a restaurant he called La Bodeguita Del Medio, which means "The Little Warehouse in the Middle." It is where the famed mojita cocktail was invented. Photos today reveal that its most loyal patrons included Earnest Hemingway, Salvador Allende, Nat King Cole, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, etc. In September of 1997 a fierce bombing campaign in Havana was carried out by well-known and, to this day, well-protected  Cuban exile-Miami terrorists for the announced purpose of discouraging tourist visits to the island. Popular Cuban hotels and restaurants were bombed. One of those bombs in September-1997 went off inside La Bodeguita Del Medio. Yet, to this day it remains a prime tourist attraction in Havana.
      If you visit Cuba and dine at La Bodeguita Del Medio, you will probably want to order the restaurant's most famous invention -- a glass of mojito. I ordered it although, I swear to you, I have lived a long life without ever tasting a drop of beer, whiskey, or any other alcoholic beverage. {I don't believe in drugs}. But I purchased a mojito just to stare at it as I enjoyed my delicious meal. As I left La Bodeguita Del Medio, I gave my mojito to a Canadian patron at the next table who had noticed I had not touched the ubiquitous and rather expensive glass. She gladly accepted it after I explained that the only reason I bought it was that I was a big fan of Ernest Hemingway. She grinned and handed me a half-full glass of water. "Well then," she said, as we tapped our glasses together, "let's both toast Mr. Hemingway." She then took a hefty sip of my full glass of mojito while I obliged by imbibing her half glass of water. And that toast to Earnest Hemingway at La Bodeguita Del Medio with the Canadian lady...I never learned her name but I remember her delightful French accent...remains a fond memory of my visit to Cuba, which, by the way, was very legal and approved in 2004 by the stringently anti-Castro George W. Bush administration.
       To understand Cuba in 2014, I believe Americans need to understand this photo, which has flashed around the world this year. On the left is Yoani Sanchez, the vicious anti-Castro Cuban blogger who is the darling of anti-Castro zealots everywhere, especially in Miami and Washington where she has been greeted warmly now that Cuba allows her to leave and go around the world on anti-Castro promotional and recruiting trips.  On the right is Gordiano Lupi, a highly respected 54-year-old Italian. For six years he worked hand-in-hand with Ms. Sanchez translating her renowned blog from Spanish to Italian. Then, guess what? He had a revelation! His own website, Progreso Weekly, and other forums blared his scathing article that the international media has carried under such titles as: "Yoani Is Denounced By Her Italian Translator." Mr. Lupi is the famed translator of works by many notable Cubans, including Jose Marti, but apparently it took him six years to analyze Ms. Sanchez's motives. Now he says, "In reality, Yoani Sanchez's intention has always been to become rich and famous. The princess-blogger buzzes like a blowfly between Havana and Miami." Mr. Lupi wrote: "I confess I made a mistake, the mistake of believing in Yoani Sanchez's cause. Then I began to wonder if Yoani was not so much an agent of the CIA, as her detractors maintain." After working with her for six years, Mr. Lupi used three main adjectives to describe Yoani Sanchez: "arrogant," "mercenary," and "greedy." And you know what? I believe the same three adjectives describe most of the Cuban bloggers who operate in the United States, especially Mauricio Claver-Carone from Washington and Rob Sequin from Massachusetts. You see, the anti-Castro, anti-revolutionary cottage industry in the United States has always been drivin by two primary motivations -- Money #1 and Revenge #2. My decades-long fascination of Cuba has never been fueled by either money or revenge.  For example, I have never made a dime or a peso writing about Cuba and you'll never see an ad or a request for donations on this blog. Also, as Mr. Lupi so succinctly suggested, I don't believe Yoani Sanchez, Mauricio Claver-Carone, Rob Sequin, etc. can make similar claims. Cuba should be viewed as a country, not a piggy-bank. Holding up your hand and claiming you're anti-Castro should not automatically make you rich nor should it quickly command the undivided attention of Cuban-Americans in the U. S. Congress. 
       But it is a fact of life since 1959 that almost anyone who holds up their hand and proclaims loudly that they are "Anti-Castro!" has a good chance of becoming very rich and very famous very quickly. Ask Yoani Sanchez of Havana, Cuba. Or ask Senator Robert Menendez from Union City, New Jersey and Senator Marco Rubio from Miami. The latino.foxnews.com photo above shows Yoani Sanchez in the U. S. Congress where she was wined, dined, and celebrated by Senators Rubio and Menendez. But, tuh, far be it from me to proclaim that this trio's main claim to fame and fortune is purely because of their anti-Castro zealotry.
       This translatingcuba.com photo shows Yoani Sanchez being fawned over by a horde of male admirers on one of her anti-Castro world tours. Gordiano Lupi, the Italian translator who worked for her six years, lamented such things as the $150,000.00 she raised to start a digital newspaper in Havana because he realized that the Huffington Post and major media forces around the world were already lavishly promoting her anti-Castro blog, her anti-Castro books, her anti-Castro news conferences, and all of her other anti-Castro endeavors. Thus, Mr. Lupi wondered why she would need an anti-Castro digital newspaper that Cubans on the island would ignore? Well, I think the answer to Mr. Lupi's question is this: It's the same reason a Miami-based money-machine called Radio-TV Marti has siphoned off hundreds of millions of tax dollars every decade since the 1980s to send from Miami to Cuba radio and television broadcasts that are easily blocked by the Cuban government and thus have, for decades, been virtually unseen and indeed unwanted on the island. But, hey! Radio-TV Marti to this day continues to be the excuse to send millions upon millions of tax dollars on a greased pipeline from Washington to Miami. Mr. Lupi came to believe that his boss Yoani Sanchez readily comprehended such Cuban gravy trains. Well, Mr. Lupi, if your insightful appraisals are correct, Yoani Sanchez has merely joined an already very, very crowded club.
         Fidel Castro is now 88-years-old and unwell. The Lion In Winter will not be around forever. When he dies, how will that monumental event affect all that money all those anti-Castro zealots are making? That remains to be seen. But this much is certain: When The Lion In Winter dies, the revolution he forged will, incredibly, still be in charge of Cuba -- not Spain, not the Mafia, and not the United States. Thus, considering the billions of dollars anti-Catroism has spawned since 1959 when the Batistiano leaders fled to the U. S., it is certain that plans are already underway to determine how much money can be derived from vilifying the anti-Castro legacy. If the past five-plus decades are a clue, it will be a lot although probably not as much as when The Lion In Winter actually lived. So, stay tuned because Cuba will continue to command a fascination on the regional and world stage far out of proportion to its size, population, or wealth.
       And speaking of The Lion In Winter, back in 1963 Hurricane Flora assaulted the island and killed 1,200 Cubans. Fidel Castro responded by creating Cuba's National Forecast Center for the Institute of Meteorology. It is now recognized as one of the best in the world and hurricanes even more powerful that Flora have killed few or no Cubans. Additionally, the United States and many other nations have studied Cuba's hurricane preparedness and Cuba's highly trained 1,500-person medical unit considered the best in the world when it comes to confronting hurricanes. When Hurricane Katrina was bearing down on New Orleans, Cuba had that team of medical/hurricane experts at Jose Marti Airport begging the U. S. to allow them to go to New Orleans. The world now knows that the George W. Bush administration refused that request. The world then watched a pathetic Banana Republic-like reaction to Hurricane Katrina by the Bush government, leaving the world to wonder how many lives the Cubans could have saved in New Orleans.
       Dr. Jose Rubiera is the Director of Cuba's National Forecast Center for the Institute of Meteorology. Radio New Zealand announced this week that Dr. Rubiera has been asked by a group of Pacific islands if Cuba will assist them in preparing for hurricanes, tsunamis, and other weather-related threats. {That report indicates, unlike Radio-TV Marti in Miami, Radio New Zealand is concerned with life-saving Cuban expertise as opposed to lucrative anti-Castro endeavors that benefit a few bank accounts and political positions}.
          Margaret Chan is the Director-General of the World Health Organization. She is shown here hosting a news conference alongside Cuba's Health Director, Dr. Roberto Morales Ojeda. Ms. Chan lauded Cuba for "taking the lead in West Africa in the fight against Ebola." She added, "This is no surprise to me. Cuba has medical expertise that is the envy of far richer and far larger nations. Moreover, Cuba also stands out for devoting an exceedingly high percentage of its economy to the health needs of its own people as well as that of needy poor people in the region and the world. No, Cuba at the forefront of the Ebola crisis is no surprise."
      In the unending U.S.-Cuban conundrum, one thing is absolute: The rich and powerful Miami contingent in the U. S. Congress cannot tolerate praise for Cuba, whether it comes from the World Health Organization, Radio New Zealand, or anyplace else. For example, the Obama administration recently sent a representative to Cuba to discuss the Ebola crisis. Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart {rightfrom Miami was quick to excoriate President Obama for that gesture. The President of Panama recently asked...actually begged...Cuba to attend the Summit of the Americas that Panama will host next April. The President of Panama then received official rebukes, on U. S. Congressional stationery, from Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen {center} from Miami and Senator Marco Rubio {leftfrom Miami. The city of Miami, it seems, believes that sovereign nations like Panama do not have the right to make their own decisions when it involves Cuba. Sadly, when Miami can hide behind the skirts of the richest and strongest nation in the world, it takes rather brave nations to resist the dictates of the Cuban-Americans. However, as revealed by the yearly vote in the UN, nations all around the world believe they have the sovereign right to make their own decisions regarding Cuba without getting rebuked, or worse.
         Margaret Chan, the head of the World Health Organization, believes she has the sovereign right to express her opinions about Cuba. Therefore, in Geneva, she referenced this particular photo. It shows a Cuba doctor in Haiti in 2010 when that country was besieged by a Cholera epidemic. "Haiti and other poor areas depend on Cuban doctors and nurses because often that's the only medical attention they get and it is also of the highest quality," said Margaret Chan. My friend Tracey Eaton, a respected Cuban expert, headed the Havana bureau for the Dallas Morning News when he went to Haiti to cover the twin perils of a military conflict exacerbated by a health epidemic. Mr. Eaton reported that even the greatly admired Doctors Without Borders fled the area because of the acute danger but that the Cuban doctors and nurses miraculously and courageously stayed to take care of the wounded and/or sick Haitians. But that is exactly the type praise that infuriates a handful of the most zealous Cuban exiles who believe they alone should dictate both the Cuban narrative and America's Cuban policy. Cuba currently has over 50,000 medical personnel serving the poorest areas in about 63 countries. Recent reports have unveiled a concerted U. S. program designed to entice Cuban doctors and nurses working in foreign countries to defect to the U. S. where, unlike all non-Cuban immigrants, they are home-free when they merely touch U. S. soil. That U. S. program seems to be working because this month there are reports that 600 Cuban doctors and nurses have defected from Venezuela, presumably with lucrative "defection bonuses." The program, of course, has nothing to do with the recruitment of more Cuban immigrants nor has it anything to do with the U. S. desiring more Cuban doctors and nurses. It has only to do with the U. S. punishing and seeking revenge against Cuba on behalf of a handful of anti-revolutionary zealots. If that is not so, why not level with the American people about how their tax dollars are routinely used to hurt Cuba? For example, it was recently unveiled that a covert U. S. program hired young Spanish-speaking Latin Americans to go to Cuba to stir up descent on the island. How much did that cost and how much did it hurt the U. S. image throughout the Americas? Of course, Americans are not supposed to care and, for the most part, they haven't since 1959. Meanwhile, Americans are supposed to vilify that Cuban doctor shown above even if, as Margaret Chan so cogently pointed out, Cuban doctors like him are the only ones that seem to care about poor, sick children like these in Haiti that the World Health Organization credited Cuba with saving.
The moral of this essay:
Cuba is a sovereign nation.
Cubans in Cuba, not Miami, should chart its course.
The image of the U. S. has been hurt enough by its arrogant Cuban policy.  

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