Monday, January 5, 2015

Very Sad Days For Cuba

And for The United States of America
Friday, January 9th, 2015
      Jose Ramon Cabanas, the chief of Cuba's Interests Section in Washington, is Cuba's top diplomat in the United States. This week he got a special invitation from Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe and then enjoyed some very productive meetings in the capital city of Richmond. After a private session with Governor McAuliffe, Dr. Cabanas met with officials of the Virginia Farm Bureau and the Greater Richmond Chamber of Commerce as well as with leaders at Virginia Commonwealth University's School of Business. Virginia is now the third largest U. S. trade partner with Cuba, right behind Louisiana and Georgia. As Republicans in the U. S. Congress are working hard to thwart every aspect of President Obama's plans to normalize relations with Cuba, states with large ports, like Virginia, are keenly interested in increasing trade with the neighboring island. "Friendship," Dr. Cabanas said, "will help Cubans and Americans." 
     The mainstream U. S. media generally refrains from publishing anything positive related to Cuba but this week The Washington Post departed from that axiom. The Post actually featured an article written by Joshua Partlow and Nick Miroff entitled "In Fight Against Drugs, Cuba And U. S. On Same Page." After reading the article, my first impression was that the major port city of Miami should also get on that page. The photo above is a recurring event in Miami. It depicts the U. S. Coast Guard displaying $37 million worth of confiscated cocaine. Television channels in Miami, such as CBS4, regularly -- almost nightly -- show such scenes of cocaine stashes worth up to $100 million. The aforementioned Washington Post article this week stated: "The river of illegal drugs rushing north through Central America and the Caribbean tends to avoid one conspicuous hook-shaped obstacle -- Cuba. Cuba is surrounded by countries that are used as cartel way-stations. But Cuba has distinguished itself as a tough place to traffic drugs." Beyond that, the article explained that Cuba is America's best partner, by far, in the war against drugs while stating that Mexico, Jamaica, Guatemala, etc., are "major transit and source countries for illicit drugs destined for America. Cuba helps the U. S. keep a Coast Guard attache, a drug interdiction specialist, at the U. S. Interests Section in Havana." Cuba, to keep illegal drugs off the island, tightly monitors its vast coastlines and the multitude of small islands off its main island. In doing so, Cuba often captures and turns over to the U. S. drug smugglers the U. S. had been trying to capture. Cuba also regularly informs the U. S. of suspected drug-transporting ships, boats, and planes operating on the periphery of its territorial waters. The Post article also referenced Vicki Huddleston, former head of the U. S. Interests Section in Havana, to point out the incredible absurdness of America's Cuban policy that blocks positives and stresses negatives.
      Vicki Huddleston is a retired American diplomat. She was the top U. S. official at the U. S. Interests Section in Havana from June of 2009 through December of 2011. As a recent insider, she is abundantly aware of the cruelty and insanity that rules America's Cuban policy. This week she told the Washington Post an example of that undeniable fact. While she led the U. S. Section in Havana, Cuba's Coast Guard would continually alert her office about narcotic speedboats approaching or trying to circumvent U. S. Coast Guard ships, which the U. S. considered pertinent and prized information. But Ms. Huddleston told the Post that, incredibly, her office was not allowed to acknowledge receiving the data. She said: "Cuba would send radio messages about passing narcotic speedboats, but the U. S. was not allowed to answer. We were prohibited from saying in return, 'Thank you, we've got it.' So they just kept repeating it." If that sounds like a Three Stooges or Marx Brothers comedy or satire making fun of Cuba, I believe we all should agree with the informed Vicki Huddleston that, in reality, it makes fun of the United States of America and its democracy for allowing a few self-serving politicos to maintain firm grips on an American Cuban policy that adversely affects many things, including drug-trafficking pipelines that easily reach American shores. 
      The above CBS4 video shows another of the recently confiscated cocaine stashes being displayed in Miami. This week's Washington Post article pointed out that the Havana-to-Miami drug route proliferated during the Batista/Mafia dictatorship until it was totally stopped on January 1, 1959 with the triumph of the Cuban Revolution. According to these CBS4 photos and this week's Post article, Miami still has a problem with drugs while Havana is not only still drug-free but also is America's "best partner" in the War on Drugs.
CBS4 in Miami shows $26 million in drug contraband found on one boat.
       Vickie Huddleston's revelation about Cuba trying so hard to help the U. S. in the War on Drugs is a reminder of how mightily Cuba tried to help the U. S. in August of 2005 when everyone knew Hurricane Katrina was about to demolish New Orleans. It is also well known, by the U. S. Coast Guard and everyone else, that Cuba has the world's best 1500-member medical/rescue team designed to minimize hurricane damage. As Katrina bore down on New Orleans, Cuba had that team at Jose Marti Airport in Havana while it begged the George W. Bush administration to let them fly to New Orleans. That request was denied. The world watched as well-known American television anchors -- especially Anderson Cooper of CNN and Shepherd Smith of Fox News -- shouted for the U. S. government to "For God's sake! Do something to help the people that are still living!" Live video showed the world bodies floating in water while the world's most skilled Hurricane Medical/Rescue Team waited in vain in Havana. Hurricane Katrina killed 1,833 Americans. How many of those lives could have been saved? How many votes did it cost the Bush dynasty? The answers are probably: "some" and "none." A Cuban policy that hurts many to appease a few is still ongoing.
     Diana DeGette is an anomaly in the U. S. Congress where she has represented Colorado's 1st District since 1997. She has both the courage and the integrity to point out how the U. S. embargo against Cuba, designed since 1962 to appease a handful of hard-line anti-Castro zealots, harms everyone else. Concerned with the millions of Coloradans and Americans who have acute diabetes that threatens them with leg amputations, Congresswoman DeGette went to Cuba to investigate the world's most promising drug, invented by Cuba's highly regarded medical scientists, that has been shown to prevent diabetic amputations. She determined that the U. S. embargo against Cuba was preventing that help and hope from reaching diabetic patients in Colorado and America, help and hope they needed and deserved. She now stands up and says so. That makes her a rarity in the U. S. Congress, someone who will actually point out at least one of the many fallacies of an American Cuban policy crafted tightly to benefit a few and harm the many -- in Colorado and around the world.
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        The New York Times this week used this Adria Fruitos graphic to illustrate a major editorial entitled: "The Path To Closing Guantanamo: Three Misconceptions Are Holding Up The End Of This Stain On America." With all due respect to that insightful editorial, I believe just one sentence is needed to explain why Gitmo, the "Gulag of our time" according to Amnesty International, is allowed, year after year, to imprint "a stain on America." That one sentence is: A handful of self-serving Cuban-Americans and their sycophants who control America's Cuban policy could not care less about the indelible stains they leave on America.
     Cliff Sloan authored the aforementioned editorial in the New York Times. He is the Harvard-educated lawyer who was the U. S. State Department's Special Envoy in charge of reviewing the blight Guantanamo has had on the U. S. image since its dismal, idiosyncratic, mind-boggling prison was created by the Bush-Cheney administration in January of 2002. Mr. Sloan resigned that State Department post last month, apparently out of frustration that the world-famed Gitmo prison continues to exist. In his editorial, Mr. Sloan wrote: "The greatest single action the United States can take to fight terrorism is to close Guantanamo." He stressed that the reasons for closing Gitmo "are more compelling than ever." He lamented the "eye-popping cost that is draining vital resources." Mr. Sloan pointed out that it costs U. S. taxpayers $3 million per year per prisoner at Gitmo while the cost would be $75,000 per year per prisoner at the most secure federal prison in the U. S., yet right-wingers in the U. S. Congress believe it is better if such a bad thing is kept on Cuban, not American, soil. Also, as Mr. Sloan and all unbiased Guantanamo experts well know, every Caribbean and Latin American nation wants the lush Guantanamo Bay returned to its rightful owner -- Cuba. Yet, despite the multiplicity of reasons to close Gitmo, and return Guantanamo to Cuba, such things cannot be accomplished because a handful of benefactors -- motivated by revenge against Cuba as well as economic and political reasons in the U. S. -- continue to dictate America's Cuban policy. Mr. Sloan used a major swath in the New York Times to remind Americans of the "stain" that this puts "on America." But who cares? Surely not the benefactors, and apparently not enough democracy-loving Americans. But thanks anyway, Mr. Sloan, for the reminder.
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      If you study and comprehend this Reuters photo, you will begin to understand why today -- Tuesday, January 6th, 2015 -- will be a very sad day for Cuba and for the United States of America. The 535-member U. S. Congress has two branches -- A Senate and a House of Representatives. Beginning today right-wing Republicans will have control of both those branches of Congress, which already had an approval rating in the single digits because most Americans realize that vast amounts of special interest money have created a bought-and-paid-for Congress that answers only to an elitist few. Therefore, incumbency, nepotism, and other undemocratic evils infuse what the Founding Fathers intended as an essential body that would represent the interests of most of America's citizens. America's disastrous and undemocratic Cuban policy, dating back to the 1950s, epitomizes why a U. S. government dominated or greatly influenced by extremists -- right-wingers or left-wingers -- is not what the Founding Fathers envisioned. In 1952 the U. S. government teamed with the Mafia to support the brutal Batista dictatorship in Cuba. When the Cuban Revolution astoundingly overthrew the Batista dictatorship on Jan.1-1959, the Batistianos merely resurfaced on U. S. soil, turning Miami into Little Havana on the way to reshaping the U. S. Congress. Aligning with right-wing American politicos -- the Dulles brothers, the Bush dynasty, Jesse Helms, Robert Torricelli, etc. -- Cuban exile extremists have had no problem dictating America's Cuban policy since 1959. Vast amounts of money extracted from Cuba in the 1950s overwhelmed Miami and Union City in the 1960s and 1970s. By the 1980s, when the Bush dynasty designated Jorge Mas Canosa as the leader of the Cuban exiles and advised him to study and then replicate Israel's lobbying arm AIPAC, a handful of powerful Cuban exiles, after creating the Cuban lobbying arm CANF, had full control of America's Cuban policy, as reflected by the Torricelli Bill and the Helms-Burton Act that to this day greatly benefit a few Cuban-Americans and their sycophants while harming everyone else. The photo at the top of this essay shows two entrenched members of the U. S. Congress from Miami -- Representative Mario Diaz-Balart and Senator Marco Rubio. Mario's father Rafael was a key Minister in Cuba's Batista dictatorship and Rafael was one of the super-rich Cuban exiles; Marco, after aligning with the Bush dynasty, made it all the way to the U. S. Senate with his bio conveniently maintaining that his parents escaped the Castro tyranny in Cuba for the freedom of Miami, till it was saliently pointed out that his parents escaped the Batista tyranny for the freedom of Miami. This Reuters photo was taken on December 18th, the day after President Obama announced his plans to normalize relations with Cuba. Mr. Diaz-Balart and Mr. Rubio, after corralling every network camera they could find, hastened to Miami to hold this news conference. They vowed to team with other entrenched Cuban-Americans in Congress -- Bob Menendez of Union City, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Miami, etc. -- to block every effort by President Obama to normalize relations with Cuba. A U. S. ambassador to Cuba? Diaz-Balart, Rubio, etc., vowed to easily block that nomination. A U. S. embassy in Havana? Diaz-Balart, Rubio, etc., vowed to make sure there was not a penny to fund it {although, of course, they would make sure that the endless stream of tax dollars flowing to special projects in Miami and special projects to hurt Cuba would continued unabated}. Since the 1950s the Cuban Revolution has said a lot more about the United States than if has said about Cuba. One thing it says is that a handful of Cuban-Americans in Miami and Union City should not be permitted to dictate America's Cuban policy -- a policy that includes such democratic disasters as the Bay of Pigs attack, the bombing of Cubana Flight 455, and, of course, the Helms-Burton Act.
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         This Ramon Espinosa/AP photo highlighted a USA Today front-page article on January 4th. It shows a fruit vendor in Havana counting his profits from selling oranges. The article was written from Havana by USA Today's Miami-based journalist Alan Gomez. The headline was: "Thawing U. S. Relations Could Give Private Workers A Boost" and the sub-headline was "Self-Employed Cubans See Hope In Renewed Relations With The U. S." For 56 years since the triumph of the Cuban Revolution, hard-line anti-Castro Cuban exiles in Miami, Union City, and Washington have used the unmatched power and wealth of the U. S. government to regain control of Cuba, as in the Batista-Mafia era, but, failing that, have severely punished Cubans on the island in efforts to entice them to rise up and overthrow revolutionary rule on the island. That situation has drastically hurt Cubans on the island as well as America's reputation around the world, especially in its backyard -- the Caribbean and Latin America. The Presidential and Papal announcements on December 17th outlining U.S.-Cuban plans to normalize relations will continue to make headlines but don't expect major changes. Hard-liners in Miami and Union City, increasingly a minority, still have total control of all Cuban issues within the confines of the U. S. Congress, which is ruled by lobbyist-wielded special interest money. Thus, the vast majority of people, although aligned with a decent President, remain stark underdogs when it comes to bringing sanity and decency to America's flawed Cuban policy.
        Todd Haymore is Virginia's Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry. Each of the past eight years he has been to Cuba trying to legally help Virginia farmers and entrepreneurs sell their products. Within the limitations imposed by the U. S. embargo, he has been as successful as possible. Virginia is third, behind only Georgia and Louisiana, when it comes to exporting goods to Cuba. He told the Martinsville Bulletin that President Obama's penultimate efforts to normalize relations with the island will benefit Virginia and other states, especially those that have major ports not far from the island. Mr. Haymore said soybeans, poultry, and apples are prime Virginia products that needy Cubans need to be shipped from nearby ports.
       Henry Chiles owns 1,000 prime acres in Virginia's Albemarle and Nelson counties and his Crown Orchard produces some of the most delicious apples on the planet. He has sold apples to Cuba for the past decade despite a stifling amount of bureaucratic handicaps. He told the Martinsville Bulletin that the U. S. produces more apples than Americans can consume and that "Cubans love American apples."  
      Rajiv Shah, the Director of USAID, is resigning. He announced: "With mixed emotions I informed President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry that I will resign in the middle of February 2015." That resignation figures to save the U. S. taxpayers some money by at least reducing the recent series of well-funded and highly questionable USAID campaigns to undermine the Cuban government. Two U. S. Senators -- Patrick Leahy and Jeff Flake -- described Mr. Shah's USAID projects in Cuba as "irresponsible and stupid." Fernando Ravsberg, a respected Cuban expert, wrote: "Few will miss Mr. Shaw; he defrauded some for his lack of ethics and others for his clumsiness." Unfortunately, irresponsible, stupid, lack of ethics, and clumsiness are terms that aptly describe America's Cuban policy since at least the irresponsible, stupid, unethical, and clumsy Bay of Pigs attack on Cuba in April of 1961. Mr. Shah's resignation at USAID improves that situation but one thing is certain: Even if President Obama, miraculously, makes significant headway in his plans to normalize relations with Cuba in the final two years of his two-term presidency, rest assured that forces -- in politics and in the media -- will do everything in their considerable power to thwart, over-rule, and blunt any such sane ideas. There has been, since the 1950s, too much money and too much power derived from a Batista/Mafia-like U. S. policy related to Cuba to think that it will end just because a decent President, a concerned Pope, and most people in the region and the world want it to finally end. Cuba is and Cuba will remain a prime example that dictates this fact of life: Greed can overwhelm even the world's greatest democracy. President Obama's normalization plans and Mr. Shah's resignation are ephemeral little slivers of light that sometimes flicker into the darkness of America's Cuban policy, only to sadly fade away.   
        Cuba is generally portrayed by the U. S. media as a fenced-in/fenced-out island that tightly controls how it is depicted by foreign journalists. Like many other aspects of Cuban life, that is not true. Alan Gomez is USA Today's Miami-based, anti-Castro reporter/columnist. He's in Havana this week. Cuba didn't mind his visit although it was well known his next column in America's top newspaper would be viscerally anti-Castro. It was. His December 29th headline covered the whole top of a page: "Cubans Find Their Voices Of Discontent." Both the blaring headline and the only photo accompanying the column was intended to tell Americans that every Cuban on the island stringently opposes the now combined efforts of Cuba and the United States to normalize relations. Other less biased journalists have reported that, shortly after noon on December 17th when they learned of the normalization efforts, bells were ringing as Cubans rejoiced in the streets and out their windows. The mainstream largely obsequious U. S. media is generally incapable of providing balanced coverage of Cuba, either because it is intimidated, incompetent, or simply trying to be politically or socially correct. Having Alan Gomez based in Miami as their prime journalist on all things Cuban is a strong indication that USA Today is not really interested in unbiased Cuban coverage.
     Yoani Sanchez is the most famed and most powerful anti-Castro zealot on the island. Cuba allows her to fly around the world telling the planet what horrible men the Castro brothers are. In the photo at the right she is broadcasting in Miami at the state-of-the-art Radio-TV Marti boondoggle that has put a huge dent in the U. S. treasury since the 1980s although it is nothing more and nothing less than an anti-Castro propaganda machine, as all 535 members of the U. S. Congress fully realize even as they keep the cash pipeline flowing to Miami.
    Of course, as a world-traveler, Yoani Sanchez didn't pass up being fawned over in Washington by visceral anti-Castro Senators Marco Rubio and Bob Menendez. When she arrived back in Havana, she announced she had the resources to begin her own anti-Castro digital newspaper to complement her internationally acclaimed anti-Castro blog. The mainstream U. S. media that lavishly covered Ms. Sanchez's trip to America failed to mention that, by way of contrast, everyday Americans are not allowed to visit Cuba...apparently because, if so, they might be able to form their own opinions.
    CNN's coverage of Cuban issues is a biased, pusillanimous joke. Ana Navarro is CNN's primary Cuban analyst-commentator-pundit. A University of Miami graduate, she is viscerally anti-Cuban striving to promote her Miami heroes, especially Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush. CNN allows Ms. Navarro to endlessly assault Cuba without balancing out her venom with less biased opinions. Also, for every minute Ms. Navarro is on CNN promoting the presidential candidacies of Rubio and Bush, the network should provide equally free political commercials for Democratic candidates.
     Academic Director Gregory Fairchild is a Professor at the University of Virginia's Darden School of Business, one of the world's leading business schools. Mr. Fairchild is taking 28 of his top students to Cuba. He wants them to study the economic and entrepreneurial changes currently taking place on the island. If the students discover a positive, perhaps the mainstream U. S. media, even CNN and USA Today, might report it...you know, before calling on Alan Gomez and Ana Navarro to propagandize it.
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        Headlines such as this one -- "Cuba: We're Open to Every Part of Obama's Detente" -- have circled the globe since December 17-2014 when President Obama, President Castro, and intermediary Pope Francis all agreed on a concerted effort to normalize relations between the U. S. and Cuba. The above AP article featured quotes from Josefina Vidal, Cuba's Minister of North American Affairs, expressing the island's sincere desire to continue the diplomatic negotiations "until full relations are established." However, Ms. Vidal is a tough cookie. She is not a neophyte. She is well aware that, for decades, a handful of the retrenched remnants from the ousted Batista-Mafia regime in Cuba have dictated, with the help of self-serving sycophants such as the Bush dynasty, America's Cuban policy. In that undeniable process, much of the U. S. treasury, courtesy of mostly unwitting tax-payers, has been showered on such projects as the 1961 Bay of Pigs attack on Cuba, an incredible number of assassination attempts against Fidel Castro, and a myriad of other well-funded schemes to overthrow Revolutionary Cuba, which, against all odds, has survived since January of 1959. Additionally, for five decades unceasing buckets of tax dollars have filled the pipeline from Washington to Miami to boost the coffers and bank accounts of anti-Castro zealots. That spigot has not and will not be cut off, despite such recent headlines as the one above. Ms. Vidal understands that and her sincere efforts must navigate around them, probably unsuccessfully. The U. S. government -- including the military, the CIA, USAID, etc. -- have untold billions of tax dollars to hire private contractors. The recent U. S. Senate report, for example, revealed that two men considered "torture experts" were paid many millions of dollars to devise torture methods that, once revealed, caused the Senate and the world to cringe. In the never-ended and ongoing tax-funded efforts to undermine or overthrow the Cuban government, the recently freed Alan Gross was paid handsomely for breaking Cuban laws and then he got a $3.4 million U. S. check after his December-2014 return to the U. S. In recent months, tax-funded USAID projects in Cuba have included a myriad of efforts to support and/or create dissidents on the island -- such as hiring young Latin Americans to go to Cuba and inspire dissent, hiring computer experts to develop a weird Twitter-like campaign to discombobulate, destabilize, or otherwise create a Caribbean Spring to doom the Cuban government, etc. Cuba has a rather skilled intelligence apparatus that counters such things, including easily blocking the anti-Castro Radio-TV Marti broadcasts from state-of-the-art studios in Miami that have, since the 1980s, siphoned off billions of U. S. tax dollars. So today, if you are a private contractor having trouble becoming a millionaire, you might want to develop a thirst to overthrow or at least undermine the Cuban government. A lot of tax dollars will be available to sate that thirst, just as they have been available for five decades to people who hold up their hands and say, "Hey! I'll help you overthrow Castro! How much money do I get?" Well, a lot. Tracey Eaton, the excellent investigative reporter and Cuban expect {Along the Malecon} has published documents in which the U. S. government -- between now and February 5th, 2015 -- is accepting bids from private contractors who desire millions of dollar for performing some more, uh, intelligence work in Cuba. It's an open bid, so Josefina Vidal and Cuba presumably will be prepared to welcome those highly paid contractors to the island. But the bundles of tax dollars are quite spendable and, as with Mr. Gross, if you get caught in Cuba you can always sue the U. S. government for sending you on such a dangerous and dumb mission.
         Josefina Vidal, who is primarily tasked with defending the island against the unending plethora of well-funded schemes to overthrow the Cuban government, had much rather spend her time finalizing President Obama's plans to normalize relations between the two countries. But she is not a patsy. She insists that Cuba be dealt with as a sovereign nation and "not as a colony, not as a piggy-bank, and not as a punching-bag." President Obama, Pope Francis, the majority of Americans, the majority of Cuban-Americans in Miami, and the entire world in near unanimity agree with those Vidal-delineated parameters. But she is abundantly aware that a handful of Cuban-American zealots control America's Cuban policy much like one would expect from a Banana Republic but certainly not from the world's superpower democracy. Being anti-Castro in the U. S. since 1959 has been a very lucrative enterprise and you, too, can become very rich if you get your bid in to the U. S. government between now and Feb. 5-2015 offering to take part in a series of anti-Castro grants ranging from $500,000 to $2 million according to the recent documents unveiled by Tracey Eaton. Ms. Vidal, who works for a modest salary, stands between all of those highly paid agents as she tries to sustain the island's sovereignty. She has been doing that for years and usually she wins. But so do many of those private contractors. It's the U. S. taxpayers, and the American image, that lose.
       Being anti-Castro in Cuba, while not being overly effective, can make you a debonair superstar off the island. Anti-Castro blogger Yoani Sanchez in Havana is the world's most famed Cuban dissident.
       While most Americans to this very day are not allowed by the U. S. government to visit Cuba, the Cuban government allows even Yoani Sanchez, the anti-Castro zealot, to travel freely around the world and then return to resume her dissidence on the island. As the above photo indicates, at stops around the world, Ms. Sanchez is treated like a rock star -- even before she gratuitously arrived in Miami and Washington!
          In Washington, Yoani Sanchez was wined, dined, and wooed by anti-Castro zealots in the U. S. Congress. The photo above shows her and associates having a private meeting with Senator Bob Menendez, the anti-Castro zealot from Union City, and Senator Marco Rubio, the anti-Castro zealot from Miami. As a democracy-lover, I have no problem whatsoever with American lawmakers meeting privately with dissidents from any country in the world. However, I believe lawmakers such as Mr. Menendez and Mr. Rubio should be reminded that America is a democracy, not a Banana Republic, and as such -- even when it comes to Cuba -- major laws and decisions should receive input from the majority of Americans.
        This photo shows Yoani Sanchez flanked by her dear friends -- Senator Marco Rubio and Senator Bob Menendez. When she returned to Cuba in 2013 after her apparently very resourceful visits to Miami, Washington, etc., Ms. Sanchez announced that she had enough resources to begin her own slick and well-funded digital newspaper, which she did. I did not read her newspaper coverage of the December 17th announcements by President Obama, President Castro, and Pope Francis that Cuba and the U. S. would begin to normalize relations. However, I assume Ms. Sanchez's newspaper didn't exactly agree with that plan and I imagine she probably spent more time reporting on the instant, horrified reactions of Senators Rubio and Menendez. The two Senators vowed to used their supreme power in the U. S. Congress to thwart any normalization of relations with Cuba. Rubio bragged that he is about to take over as Chairman of the Senate's Western Hemisphere Committee; Menendez reminded the world that he was currently the Chairman of the Senate's Foreign Relations Committee. Cuba, of course, is in the Western Hemisphere. And Cuba is still a foreign country. Rubio and Menendez claim they can block any funds the President would need to open his planned Embassy in Washington. And they claim they can block the appointment of anyone the President names as the U. S. Ambassador to Cuba. Maybe they can do all that, and more. After all, a handful of Cuban exiles have dictated America's Cuban policy for almost six decades, so why stop now? The first issue of Time Magazine after President Obama unveiled his plans to normalize relations with Cuba included a major article written by Bryan Walsh entitled "Cuba Libre: After More Than 50 Years, The U. S. Looks To A Future 90 Miles Away." The article featured several photos, including a Cuban family clapping and cheering as they watched the televised announcement on December 17th. The Time article stated: "A 2014 Florida International University poll of Cuban Americans in the Miami area found that 68% were open to the possibility of restoring diplomatic relations between the two countries -- a figure that grows to 88% among those younger than 30." And that's in Miami. The 3-page Time article ended with this sentence: "On Dec. 17, the U. S. and Cuba made history by finally looking to the future." But, not unexpectedly, a few who still seek revenge against the Cuban Revolution and/or a few who benefit economically or politically from the continuing U. S. hostility toward Cuba believe they can keep the President, the Pope, and almost all of the rest of the world from "looking to the future" in regards to U.S.-Cuban relations. That's because, for a powerful few, the insanely cruel relationship of the past five decades has so mightily served their purposes even as it has harmed everyone else. And so, in regards to Cuba, the dominant U. S. plan is to keep a Banana Republic government in Miami, Union City, and Washington and let Senators Rubio and Menendez team with Yoani Sanchez and a few others to dictate America's Cuban laws and policies.
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