Sunday, December 21, 2014

U.S. Media Coverage of Cuba

Obscures Even More Important Priorities
Wednesday, December 24th, 2014
      This beautiful, courageous lady traveled to America last week. She is a poignant reminder that it's about time, for the first time since 1959, that the U. S. government should cease having much of its oxygen, treasury, and reputation sucked away by a Cuban policy designed to benefit a few extremists and harm everyone else. This lady's name is Vian Dakhil. Her visit to America this December is extremely important but that point will mostly be lost as the largely incompetent U. S. media and the easily distracted U. S. government concentrate on other less important tangents, such as genuflecting to a few Cuban-Americans obsessed with maintaining a decades-old, failed, cruel Cuban policy. Permit me to explain why this lady, Vian Dakhil, is more important, at this point in time, than Cuba or a myriad of other more publicized issues.
       Vian Dakhil is a member of the Yazidis, a religious sect in Iraq. She is a member of the Iraqi parliament, the only Yazidi politician. The BBC, CNN, Reuters, and most other international news organizations featured the above video clip in which Vian Dakhil, with gripping emotion, beseeched the majority Iraqi parliament to do something to help her Yazidi people who were being wiped out by powerful terrorists.
      When what remained of the Yazidis sought refuge on a mountaintop, the forces bent on genocide continued to target them unmercifully. Vian Dakhil went to help her people and got severely wounded when a helicopter crashed after an attack that had killed most of those around her. From her hospital bed she again told the world that the terrorists had killed 500 males, men and boys, from her village and kidnapped the surviving women and girls to use them as sex slaves, girls as young as five.
        This photo shows some of the "lucky" Yazidis, lucky because at least they are alive. Vian Dakhil, out of the hospital but limping badly with a crutch, wanted to stay and comfort these surviving Yazidis. But she left them behind to come to the United States this week to beg the U. S. government to help her people.
       Vian Dakhil believes that little Yazidi girls, like this one, deserve the right to live, the right not to be raped or starved, the right not to be shot by masked terrorists, and even the right to have a chance at a good life. Through the ages, especially now, societies should be judged by how they treat the most innocent, the most precious, and the most vulnerable among us -- like this little Yazidi angel who is shown praying for help. A world that does not help her is a world that, perhaps, is beyond being saved.
        And that's why Vian Dakhil, injured and hobbled, is in America this week to beg the United States to help the Yazidis and to help the little Yazidis girls that were being raped even as she was speaking to Samantha Power, an American who cared. Unfortunately, President Obama is on vacation in Hawaii...the U. S. Congress primarily caters mostly to special interests such as a few Cuban-Americans determined to maintain a failed Cuban policy that benefits only them...and the U. S. media primarily devotes its time and resources to easy, well-greased "news." All too often, more important and more urgent priorities get lost in the special interest malaise fostered by rich, powerful, and very safe politicians. Vian Dakhil's cause is more important and urgent than all those things. She and and her cause should be addressed in America, even at the expense of pompous politicians ranting about their crazed, self-serving obsessions.
       This photo shows Vian Dakhil pleading her case this week at a session hosted by Samantha Power, America's very capable and concerned UN ambassador. That is Ms. Dakhil on the left and Ms. Power on the right. The photo is courtesy of Ms. Power's Twitter page. There should be many more Americans, along with Ms. Power, direly concerned about Vian Dakhil's message, which deserves more media coverage than the Cuban miasma or anything else. A photo can speak a thousand words, or more. With that in mind, please revisit the photo above of the little Yazidi girl praying for help, a prayer that should not go unanswered.
***************
           In the New Year, 2015, America's very brave, very decent, and very harassed President, Barack Obama, plans to do all he can to normalize relations with Cuba. It is, beyond question, a brilliant, brave and long overdue idea. However, three cancerous elements that have embedded themselves within the bowels of the U. S. democracy will likely blunt most, but not all, of President Obama's decent and grandiose plans related to the nearby island. Those three elements are: {1} A few extremists from two generations of self-serving exiles from the overthrown Batista-Mafia dictatorship way back in 1959; instead of just having influence in creating Cuban policy in a democracy, they have insisted on solely creating and carrying out that policy to suit their desires -- which entail revenge as well as massive economic and political advantages; {2} an intimidated or incompetent media that is unable or unwilling to provide the American people with what they need to know in order to sanely judge, with veracity and decency, the unending U.S.-Cuban conundrum; and {3} a 535-member U. S. Congress that has evolved into an assembly in which a handful of extremists outside Congress with money to pay lobbyists or money to enlarge PACs can easily purchase votes; or within Congress where an extreme member can readily say to another, "You support my Cuban policy and I'll support your Bridge to Nowhere." That's how, since the 1980s, the Miami-based Radio-TV Marti piggy-bank has been lushly funded by unwitting U. S. taxpayers. That's how, since the George W. Bush administration, millions of USAID tax dollars routinely go to hired contractors to devise weird and sometimes dangerously stupid  schemes to fund and foment uprisings or anti-government demonstrations in Cuba. And that's how the U. S. Congress passes laws such as the Torricelli Bill and the Helms-Burton Act that benefit a handful of Cuban exiles and their sycophants but harm everyone else in Cuba, America, the Caribbean, Latin America, and the world. Along comes a decent U. S., twice-elected, President, Mr. Obama, who has and will continue to discover that a few rich and powerful Cuban-Americans can over-rule him and world opinion when it comes to prolonging a nearby island as a piggy-bank and playpen for the Batista-Mafia cabal in the 1950s and the Batistiano-Mafiosi crowd today. President Obama, before he took off on a Christmas vacation in Hawaii, announced sweeping plans to normalize relations with Cuba. That was real pretty. The aftermath will be real ugly. Both history and common sense, unfortunately, tell us that is so.
            President John Kennedy, in the second week of November in 1963, had informed his top aides -- including Pierre Salinger and Arthur Schlesinger Jr. -- that his "top priority" upon his return from Dallas would be "to normalize relations with Cuba." From President Kennedy in November of 1963 till President Obama in December of 2014, no President of the United States has been able to extricate America and its democracy from the iron grip of a Cuban policy that extreme right-wingers, such as the Dulles brothers in the outgoing Eisenhower administration, turned over to the incoming President Kennedy in 1960. For the first two years of his presidency, President Kennedy and his brother Robert dutifully carried out the Cuban policy they had inherited, including the ill-fated Bay of Pigs attack in 1961 that was intended to recapture Cuba and a series of CIA-Mafia-Cuban exile attempts to kill Fidel Castro. But by his his third year in office -- 1963 -- the young, handsome, charismatic and very popular President Kennedy felt he was powerful enough to normalize relations with Cuba and then easily win a re-election as President in 1964. He was wrong in November of 1963. And so, I'm afraid, is President Obama in December of 2014. Back in 1963 there were simply too many powerful entities benefiting from a foreign domination of Cuba. On the eve of 2015, that is still true. Democracy? Democracy has inexplicably been allowed to slip through the crevasse. 
       On Dec. 17-2014, President Obama told America, Cuba, and the world about his plans to normalize relations with Cuba. He even hinted that he might visit Cuba, a place most Americans have, conveniently for the Batistianos, been unable to visit for decades. And President Obama, among other audacious plans, said he would open a U. S. embassy in Havana and Cuba would open an embassy in Washington.
        Of course, within minutes of President Obama announcing his plans regarding Cuba, the three vicious Cuban-Americans in the U. S. Senate -- as well as the usual contingent of Cuban-American politicians, lobbyists, and propagandists -- rushed before every network television camera they could find to berate and belittle President Obama's grandiose plans to normalize relations with Cuba. Senators Marco Rubio, Robert Menendez, and Ted Cruz -- left to right above -- are extremely adept at using their congressional powers to shut down the government, block legislation that doesn't correspond to their one-trick-pony agendas, and cut off any government funds that might be needed to carry out logical programs but make sure the government keeps funding piggy-bank anti-Castro schemes such as Miami's lucrative but otherwise senseless Radio-TV Marti boondoggle or USAID's endless financial assistance to Cuban dissidents. Yet, the Rubio-Menendez-Cruz triangle is not to be underestimated. Cruz, the ultimate right-wing extremist via the unusual Cuba-Canada-Texas pipeline to Congress, is extremely smart and vicious. Rubio, via the usual Miami pipeline to Congress, is the incoming Chairman of Western Hemisphere Affairs. Menendez, via the usual Union City-to-Congress pipeline, is Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee. With Congress vulnerable to being usurped by rich and powerful extremists, and with Cruz's shut-down expertise, and with the omnipotent Chairmanships in the U. S. Senate bequeathed to Rubio and Menendez, these three Senators are more powerful than one man in the White House whose Executive Powers were intended by the Founding Fathers to provide a check-and-balance against Congressional extremism. Rubio-Menendez-Cruz were quick to remind the world that, yes, the President can create an embassy in Havana but they can prevent any funding for it; and, yes, the President can appoint an ambassador to Cuba but they can block any such appointment in Congress. Rubio-Menendez-Cruz represent today what America's Founding Fathers tried their best to prevent when they couched their halcyon democracy with as many checks-and-balances as they could muster. The assaults against President Obama will continue unabated with the American people largely left out of the fray because of an incompetent and intimidated U. S. media that will favor the Rubio-Menendez-Cruz tribunal. For example, after dropping the hint that he might visit Cuba, President Obama capitulated soon thereafter with the comment that...well, uh, that may have been a bit hasty. Undoubtedly, in the days to come, other aspects of his plans will be tempered or shelved. But at least Mr. Obama's plans regarding Cuba remind us of a U. S. democracy that once was an enterprise in which the will of the majority was as persuasive as the power of money. But that was back in the good ole days, which remind me of some pertinent and historic black-and-white photos from our past.
      Only one sitting U. S. president has ever visited the island of Cuba although even America's first three presidents -- Washington, Adams, and Jefferson -- famously cast covetous eyes on the island back in the 1700s. On January 16, 1928, America's sitting President, Calvin Coolidge, took the U.S.S. battleship Texas from Key West, Florida to Cuba. The photo above shows President Coolidge, on the left with his wife, standing next to Cuban President Gerardo Machado and his wife. On Cuban soil President Coolidge's prepared speech began with these exact words: "Thirty years ago Cuba ranked as a foreign possession torn by revolution and devastation by hostile forces. Such governments as existed relied on military force. Today Cuba is her own sovereign. Her people are independent, free, and prosperous, peaceful, and enjoying the advantages of self-government." Of course, those words reflect the misinformation Americans have been saturated with since 1898, a key year that President Coolidge reference with his first three words -- "Thirty years ago." Thirty years before President Coolidge visited Cuba, the U. S. had taken over dominance of the island with its easy victory in the Spanish-American war over Spain, the fading imperialist power that had controlled Cuba -- and killed Cuba's greatest patriots such as Antonio Macea and Jose Marti -- prior to losing control of the island to the United States. President Coolidge mocked Spanish "military force" that had ruled Cuba prior to America's takeover. Of course, he didn't mention the U. S. Marines the U. S. sent to Cuba after the Spanish-America War to replace the Spanish soldiers. Then the U. S. by 1903 had secured the plus Guantanamo Bay "in perpetuity" from Cuba and, of course, the U. S. dictated who emerged as President of Cuba, such as President Machado who is hosting President Coolidge in the above photo. The last President of Cuba that the U. S. dictated was the Mafia-aligned Cuban Sergeant named Batista!
       This graphic montage accurately depicts what Americans vaguely know and don't know about the Batista dictatorship in Cuba that spawned the Cuban Revolution, which spoon-fed Americans also don't know much about. As depicted above, the Batista dictatorship was a brutal, thieving Mafia-run piggy-bank and playpen for the dictatorship's cronies, which included a small but powerful den of thieves. In the upper-left above is the #1 Italian Mafia kingpin Lucky Luciano. In the lower-center above is the #1 Jewish Mafia kingpin Meyer Lansky. In the upper-right above is the #1 Cuban Mafia kingpin Fulgencio Batista. 
       Beginning in the 1950s, after the U. S. had emerged from World War II as the richest and strongest nation in history, the U. S. democracy, correctly, was recognized as the greatest form of government the world had known. But the man above, Fulgencio Batista, reflects the fact that the U. S. democracy was/is neither impregnable nor infallible. Supporting and empowering vile dictators in helpless countries so rich Americans could partake in the rape and robbery of those nations' resources was not and is not what democracy and/or America should be all about. Yes, beginning in the 1950s the U. S., as the power of greedy right-wingers emerged in Washington, began to install and/or support vile dictators in Cuba, El Salvador, the Dominican Republic, the Congo, Nicaragua, Chile, Brazil, Argentina, and other unfortunate countries. But the Batista dictatorship in Cuba stands out in the pantheon of history for these two reasons: {1} Batista was the first U.S.-backed dictator to be overthrown by a popular revolution, and {2} the U. S. immediately allowed the fleeing leaders of the Batista dictatorship to resume the dictatorship, more powerful than ever, on U. S. soil. In the 55 years since those two seminal events, a lot of innocent blood and huge swaths of the U. S. treasure have tried to recapture Cuba -- a process that, incredibly, has been unsuccessful except for enriching and empowering a few Cuban exiles, both the generation that fled Cuba and especially their U.S.-born offspring. Also incredibly, those few enriched and empowered Cuban exiles to this day dictate America's Cuban policy, a fact that now President Obama is trying mightily to confront. That situation is propelled by an endless series of lies and distortions regarding Cuba, such as the myth that Batista spread the island's wealth around to everyday Cubans and not just his Mafia and American supporters. Repetitive lies about pre-Castro Cuba have been used since 1959 in the U. S. to justify not only such things as the embargo but such things as the 1976 terrorist bombing of the civilian Cubana Flight 455, which killed all 73 innocents on board plus the five crew members. The perpetrators wildly hailed the tragedy in the Miami media as being "THE BIGGEST BLOW YET AGAINST CASTRO!" It was and remains, of course, a huge blow against the U. S. and democracy. That same year Emilio Milian, the top Cuban-American newsman in Miami, was car-bombed for denouncing such terrorism against innocent Cubans. Decades later the top columnist for the Miami Herald, Jim DeFede, wrote a scathing column excoriating Miami's contributions to the U. S. Congress -- Iliana Ros-Lehtinen and the Diaz-Balart brothers -- for assisting the well-known primary Miami terrorist who lives to this day a free man in Miami.
Meanwhile.................
       ..................even to this day, people in Cuba, all across the Caribbean, and throughout Latin America are familiar with the faces of the victims of the Cubana Flight 455 bombing. Additionally, all of those countries are not pleased, and neither was the great journalist Jim DeFede, that the terrorist, well known to the FBI and the world and forever tied to the bombing of Cubana Flight 455, to this day has a safe, heralded harbor in Miami. After DeFede's famous column, who do you think was punished, Posada's enablers or DeFede?
      Incredibly! Luis Posada Carriles was the star attraction at an anti-Obama rally in Miami's Little Havana neighborhood last weekend! He was very talkative, telling journalists, "I felt sad, but I reacted and I saw the pictures. Cuba will not be a tourist haven. We must resist that with all that we can to the end." Posada, known as the most famous terrorist in Latin American history, has been the seminal anti-Castro Cuban exile since 1959. He is 86-year-old. He was born February 15, 1929 in Cienfuegos, Cuba. He has bragged about the terrorist bomb that downed Cubana Flight 455, but later recanted when Miami politicians and their sycophants were trying, successfully, to get Posada out of Venezuelan and Panamanian prisons. Posada also bragged about bombing Cuban hotels, including one that killed an Italian tourist, to persuade tourists not to visit Cuba. He has never recanted that claim but did say he regretted the collateral damage.
      After the overthrow of the Batista-Mafia dictatorship in Cuba in January of 1959, many of the most zealous anti-Castro Cubans -- Posada, Jorge Mas Canosa, Felix Rodriguez, etc. -- were immediately sent to the infamous Army School of the Americas at Fort Benning, Georgia. They graduated as 2nd Lieutenants. Many, including Luis Posada Carriles, worked with the CIA in the Bay of Pigs attack in April of 1961 and many other nefarious Cuban enterprises. Posada is revered to this day in Miami for his terrorist acts against Cuba and for his assassination attempts against Fidel Castro. And, yes, incredibly, Luis Posada Carriles this weekend was the star of an anti-Obama demonstration in Miami, vowing yet again to continue the goals he has had since 1959 -- to finish off the Castros and to persuade tourists not to visit the island.
            This is the last photo ever taken of Fabio di Celmo. He was born on June 1, 1965 in Genoa, Italy. As a tourist in Cuba he died in the terrorist bomb that struck Havana's Copacabana Hotel on Sept. 4, 1997.
       After the death of his beloved son, Guistino di Celmo moved permanently to Havana. The montage above shows Fabio, Guistino, and Posada. This trio with be linked forever in history, at least throughout Latin America and Italy. But one thing is for sure: No television journalist in the U. S. has the integrity or courage to ask anti-Cuban zealots from Miami -- such as Marco Rubio, the Diaz-Balarts, and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen -- how they reconcile Posada in Miami, the downing of the civilian Cubana Flight 455, the murder of Fabio di Celmo, etc.? But for sure Rubio, the Diaz-Balarts, Ros-Lehtinen, etc., can expect softball questions and no rebuttals in their almost daily rants on national television in the weak U. S. media.
This is the Copacabana Hotel in Havana right after Fabio di Celmo was killed. 
            This photo reflects the abject poverty in Batista's Cuba while the Batistianos, the Mafiosi, and rich Americans were verily robbing the island blind. Since 1959 in the U. S., there have been a lot of words about how mean Castro is, always prefaced with the expressed or implied hint that, in Batista's Cuba, the Cuban people were wonderfully cared for. The news media that broadcasts such lies should do its job and ask Batista fans if the photo shown above was typical of Batista's Cuba or not. {The answer: It was}.
       This all-too-common photo from Batista's Cuba also reflected the plight of the majority Cuban peasants. Note that just in back of this home, yet another Mafia-run casino is going up, pushing them out into an even worse situation. Cuban women, like the one holding the infant in this photo, suffered the worst in Batista's Cuba and, as the caretakers for the children, that evolved into Batista's biggest mistake. Indeed, the only everyday women in Cuba that the Batista dictatorship cared about were the ones forced into prostitution to enhance the tourist trade that enriched the Mafia-run hotel-casinos. Yet, the vast disparity of wealth, health, and educational opportunities in Batista's Cuba did not inspire the revolution that chased him and his Mafia cohorts back to Florida. It was Batista's brutal murder of Cuban children.
       Brave and massive marches like this one, arranged and carried out by outraged Cuban mothers, inspired the revolution that became the first in history to overthrow a U.S.-backed dictatorship. The words "asesinators" and "hijos" and "madres Cubanas" refer to these Cuban mothers protesting the murders of their children by Batista's murder squads, assassinations designed to quell dissent. But the murders inspired the revolution, thanks to brave women like these who greatly impressed rebels like Celia Sanchez, Haydee Santamaria, Vilma Espin, Tete Puebla, and Fidel Castro. Also, it was female marches like this one that finally began to embarrass the United States, forcing it to reconsider backing Batista.
     In Cuba today, and in the history books, the well-chronicled {except in the U. S.murders of children in Batista's Cuba are well documented. The one that resonates the most was that of little Willie Soler and his three classmates. Their mangled bodies were left in an abandoned warehouse specifically for the adults in that community to find and to heed. But Willie's mother and other mothers like her did not heed that warning. They took to the streets, starting a badly needed revolution. Today in Cuba a major hospital and other memorials are named for...little Willie Soler. Such edifices do not remind Americans of the Batista years but, for sure, they still remind Cubans on the island and citizens throughout Latin America.
          Celia Sanchez, the doctor's daughter, was the most important player in the Cuban Revolution that booted the Batistianos and the Mafiosi to South Florida and a few other safe havens. She was also the most important player in Revolutionary Cuba that laid down the parameters that have kept them out all these decades. The photo above shows what motivated Celia: her belief that little Cuban girls were the most brutalized people in Batista's Cuba. Because of Celia Sanchez, millions of little Cuban girls have had calmer, safer, healthier, and better educated lives. That means a lot. Celia Sanchez taught me a truth: A society can best be judged by how it treats its most precious and vulnerable people, its little girls.
Celia Sanchez: The quintessential protector of little Cuban girls.
        In addition to being inspired by the awesomely brave female marchers, the Cuban Revolution was fueled on the battlefields by many do-or-die female guerrilla fighters. Celia Sanchez, Haydee Santamaria, Vilma Espin, and Tete Puelba are the four most famous Cuban female guerrilla fighters, but there were many others. More than one historian has pointed out that, in order to win and to survive, Fidel Castro has had to out-smart a lot of U. S. presidents. Those historians often point to this fact: Early on and throughout his life, Fidel Castro recognized and took advantage of the outrage and determination of the female half of the Cuban population. Without that recognition and advantage, there is no possible way that Fidel Castro could have attained the age of 88 and no way the Revolution could have attained its age, 55...and counting!
          This photo, I believe, says as much about the Cuban Revolution as any photo ever taken. It shows female Cuban guerrilla fighters entering Havana after the triumph of the Cuban Revolution in the first week of January, 1959. That's Tete Puebla on the left in this photo. As a teenager, she became a legendary guerrilla fighter in the early days of the toughest battles in the Sierra Maestra Mountains. She didn't stop fighting until the rebels won. In fact, she was disappointed that the top Batistianos and Mafiosi had fled Havana before her arrival. "We kicked their asses everywhere but Havana," she said, "and we would have liked to have had that chance in Havana. But they ran. Those bastards ran, swam, and flew to Florida!" As a teenager, Tete says her inspiration to join Celia Sanchez's rebel movement came when she witnessed the Masferrer Tigers, Batista's infamous enforcer solders, come to her village and burn relatives and friends alive. Even while she was still a teenager, articles emerged from the Sierra Maestra Mountains that Batista soldiers "never killed Tete because they were shocked when she ran straight at them, shooting and screaming! By the time they realized her unconventional tactics, it was too late...for them!" Study her face {she's on the leftin the above photo taken at the end of the war. Uh, yeah, I think she was disappointed.
But by the time this photo was taken, Rolando Masferrer had skedaddled to Florida. 
                                   
        This photo probably says as much about why Revolutionary Cuba still rules the island as any other photo you might see. Tete Puebla today is a General in the Cuban Army. She is a much beloved and stabilizing figure on the island. The little Cuban boy tying her bandanna in this photo obviously admires and appreciates General Puebla. Her legend began as a teenage guerrilla against Batista.
Since the 1950s, Fidel Castro has admired and appreciated Tete Puebla.
      I am not expecting that someday Americans will admire, appreciate, understand, and fawn over General Tete Puebla. But I am suggesting that -- in order to comprehend Cuba, the Cuban Revolution, and Revolutionary Cuba -- you need to know who she was back in the 1950s and who she is today. Yes, there is a reason that Tete Puebla became the greatest teenage female guerrilla fighter in history. And today there is also a reason that she, as a General in the Cuban army, stands ready to defend the island against any foreign incursion, and that includes any Cuban installed or propped up by a foreign power. "We owe everything to Cubans who stay on the island," she says. "We owe nothing except defiance to anyone who wants to harm them, including Cubans on the island paid by or answerable to foreign nations."
Of course......................
             ....................Cuba today reverts back to Celia Sanchez. The doctor's daughter from the little rural town of Media Luna is most responsible for shaping the Cuba that we know today. To not know her is to not know Cuba. And Americans are not supposed to know her because she is a lot harder to vilify than Fidel Castro. But she was by far the most important Cuban as a guerrilla fighter, recruiter of rebels and supplies, and as the definitive decision-maker during the Revolutionary War. After the triumph of the revolution, again with the only concurrence she needed...Fidel Castro's...she was the prime decision-maker in Revolutionary Cuba. From 1959 right up until today, the U. S. government is using considerable money and schemes to foment dissent on the island. Cuba's prime defense remains the block-by-block Committees for the Defense of the Revolution that Celia Sanchez concocted way back in 1959, the same year she laid down a rather prophetic proclamation: "The Batistianos will never regain control of Cuba as long as I live or as long as Fidel lives." The powerful forces on U. S. soil that have tried and failed to regain control of Cuba since 1959 have yet to rip down that proclamation, made when Fidel was 33. He is still alive at age 88.
      Celia Sanchez died of lung cancer at age 59 on January 11, 1980; she had become a chain-smoker as a guerrilla fighter in the Sierra Maestra in 1953. In her prime she was only a 99-pounder. But her footprints in the Cuban sand today are still larger than all others, including Fidel Castro's. He understands that. Americans don't. That's why Fidel today has a better understanding than Americans about why both he and the revolution are still alive. The Bay of Pigs attack, multiple assassination attempts, the embargo, terrorism attacks such as the bombing of the civilian Cubana Flight 455, the Torricelli Bill, the Helms-Burton Act, and the plethora of anti-Castro/anti-democracy acts engineered by Cuban exiles, the CIA, and the U. S. Congress have contributed mightily to the longevity of both Fidel Castro and Revolutionary Cuba. Celia Sanchez was smart enough to comprehend all that. Cuba's enemies in Miami, Union City, and Washington appear not to be that smart. If that is not so, perhaps some self-proclaimed Cuban expert can explain why it is not so. Me?  I'm not an acclaimed or self-proclaimed Cuban expert but I have been all over Cuba tracking Celia Sanchez's footprints and I care enough about the U. S. democracy to have keenly studied her Cuba every day for the past quarter century. That's why I've determined that the 99-pound doctor's daughter was smarter, braver, and a better fighter than the combined might of Cuba's enemies. 
FYI: This was Celia Sanchez's favorite photo of her famous soul-mate.
And FYI: For unknown reasons, this is Fidel Castro's favorite photo of Celia Sanchez. That personal data is from Marta Rojas, the great Cuban author-journalist-historian-revolutionary who was an intimate of both.
       This photo, by the way, shows the three most important people high up in the Sierra Maestra Mountains during Cuba's Revolutionary War. That's Fidel Castro admiring a wad of $100 dollar bills recruited from New York and Miami by Celia Sanchez and Haydee Santamaria. Without the recruitment of rebels, money, and supplies by Celia, Haydee, and Frank Pais, there would have been no viable Cuban Revolution. The 23-year-old Frank was captured and gruesomely murdered on the streets of Santiago de Cuba. These three survived the war, and beyond. These two women achieved the un-achievable.
        The two incomparable female warriors -- Haydee Santamaria and Celia Sanchez -- led this guerrilla detail against Batista's soldiers in the foothills of the Sierra Maestra Mountains. Note their expressions.
           Guerrilla fighters Celia and Haydee had bedeviled, defeated, or kept at bay Batista soldiers for two crucial years before Fidel Castro got out of a Batista prison, returned from Mexico, and joined them in the Sierra Maestra Mountains. In this photo, that is Fidel checking out a rifle Celia and Haydee gave him.  
         This photo shows the three most important Cubans in Revolutionary Cuba after the triumph of the revolution. That's Fidel Castro in the middle flanked by his two favorite people -- Celia Sanchez on his right and Haydee Santamaria on his left. To this day Fidel believes Celia and Haydee were the two most important people in the Revolutionary War and Celia was "far and away" the most important person in shaping Revolutionary Cuba. Americans are not supposed to know that because the angelic Celia and the sweet Haydee are not easily vilified, not even by the anti-Castro, anti-revolutionary super propagandists.
       With all due respect to Jose Marti, the great Cuban poet who died on a Cuban battlefield fighting the Spanish, my two all-time favorite Cuban quotes are by Celia Sanchez. #1, of course, is: "The Batistianos will never regain control of Cuba as long as I live or as long as Fidel lives. #2, of course, is the one listed in the graphic above: "We rebels...get far too much credit for winning the revolution. Our enemies deserve most of the credit, for being greedy cowards and idiots." Celia, you might agree, knew her revolution well.
"Absolutely ridiculous"
Jimmy Carter; Wednesday, December 17, 2014.
      More than once the now 90-year-old Jimmy Carter has visited the now 88-year-old Fidel Castro in the Cuban's modest home in Havana. Mr. Carter's altruistic aims regarding Cuba are to improve the U. S. democracy and help democratize the island.  Speaking of quotations, the best one I heard in the saturation of coverage on the day that President Obama made his proposal to normalize relations with Cuba was the one listed above by Jimmy Carter. Marco Rubio and a whole parade of anti-Castro congressional right-wingers and lobbyists from Miami and Union City filled the airways all day with bitter denunciations of not only the Obama plan to normalize relations with Cuba but also denunciations and a lack of respect for the office of President and for Democracy. In one two-hour span watching cable "news," I heard Senator Rubio lead the expected barrage, ranting and raving about distortions he expected ignorant or intimidated Americans to not question. But, lo 'n behold!, Anderson Cooper on CNN interviewed a democracy-loving, brilliant, well-informed man with an unbiased view of Cuba. The man was Jimmy Carter, the former President who is now 90-years-old but still brave, still with an off-the-charts IQ, and still America's most productive and decent former President. After discussing and showing some of the Rubio rants...such as the claim that Cuba routinely cages people and routinely shoots out of the air innocent little American planes that are only trying to rescue Cubans stranded in the ocean...Anderson Cooper actually gave Mr. Carter a chance to respond. Mr. Carter, without hesitation, indeed responded with these exact words: "I heard Marco Rubio on television and what he said was absolutely ridiculous."
               "Absolutely ridiculous" extremist views can exploit weaknesses in the U. S. democracy, a situation exacerbated by increasingly amounts of political money and an increasingly ineffective news media. Even back in 1776 the Founding Fathers, merely judging  the advent of the printing press, knew the media -- pamphlets, newspapers -- needed to be vibrant and vital as a pillar of democracy. Jimmy Carter, at age 90, has lived long enough to witness a gigantic failure on the part of the U. S. media -- printed, electronic and digital -- in fulfilling the role the Founding Fathers, in their wisdom, envisioned for it.
            Yes, U.S.-Cuban relations are important, very important. But not as important as the message spotlighted at the top of this essay, the one that a Yazidi woman named Vian Dakhil brought to the United States last week. Her message puts US-Cuba relations in a proper perspective beneath hers. 
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