Today Is A New Day For Cuba

As U. S. Tries A Fresh Approach
      A new day dawned today -- January 16, 2015 -- for the United States and Cuba. For the first time in over half a century, a brave new attempt initiated by President Barack Obama, and encouraged by Cuban President Raul Castro and Pope Francis, has drastically changed relations between the two neighboring nations. Beginning today, some of the initiatives come to fruition and begin taking effect. Yes, they include the world's most famed cigars, which Americans can now purchase on the island and bring up to $100 of them home. That's significant because in 1962 President John Kennedy told Press Secretary Pierre Salinger not to announce the strict embargo against Cuba till he, the President, had received one thousand of the Cohiba cigars.
       Only after he received the 1,000 Cuban cigars did President Kennedy officially sign into effect an embargo against Cuba in 1962 that, according to de-classified U. S. documents, was intended to starve and deprive Cubans on the island to rise and overthrow Cuba's revolutionary government, which the U.S.-Cuban exile attack at the Bay of Pigs in 1961 had failed to do as have terrorist acts such as bombing Cubana Flight 455 and many failed attempts to assassinate Fidel Castro. Since 1962, the year President Kennedy got his cigars, the embargo against Cuba has been greatly enhanced, especially since the 1980s when the Bush dynasty began to empower and advise Cuban-exile zealots how to take control of the U. S. Congress in order to dictate America's Cuban policy. {Julia E. Sweig on Pages 101-102 of the Second Edition of her seminal book "What Everyone Needs to Know About Cuba" explains how Miami's most zealous Cuban exiles, with help from the Bush dynasty, slyly pulled off that still-mitigating caper}. But now back to those cigars, the ones President Kennedy enjoyed in 1962 and the celebratory one the young lady is enjoying today.
      Last month, on Dec. 17-2014, President Barack Obama quite bravely announced his intentions to normalize relations with Cuba although he well knows, to this very day, a handful of Cuban-Americans maintain a tight grip on the U. S. Congress on all matters related to Cuba. But as President he has executive powers and a veto privilege that, combined with a dose of courage, can at long last bring a measure of decency and sanity to U.S.-Cuban relations. Thus, beginning today there are a dozen new avenues for Americans to travel to Cuba. Airlines and travel agents will be able to provide services to Cuba without a specific license. U. S. travelers to Cuba will be able to use credit cards and spend more money while on the island. U. S. tourists can bring back up to $100 in alcohol and tobacco products. Americans will be able to send $2,000 every three months to the island instead of the current $500 limit. And, starting today, Americans can bring back $400 worth of souvenirs from the island.
   To be sure, the Herculean efforts of President Obama -- including and beyond what he authorized and put into effect beginning today -- will face omnipotent opposition from a second generation of Cuban exiles and their sycophants who have -- revengefully, economically, and politically -- gained mightily from the embargo and other massive hostilities that have embroiled U.S.-Cuban relations since 1959, when the Cuban Revolution overthrew the not-too-saintly Batista-Mafia dictatorship on the island, only to see the leadership flee and resurface, more powerful than ever, on U. S. soil. For sure, in a U. S. Congress in which both components -- the Senate and the House -- are now dominated by Republicans, a handful of Cuban-American politicians have huge advantages over a Democratic President such as Mr. Obama when he tries to promote democratic principles. But with the actions implemented today, President Obama has far exceeded the decent but easily crushed efforts of Presidents like Kennedy in 1963, Carter in the 1970s, and Clinton in the 1990s. Therefore, President Obama proved today that the United States democracy has not yet totally evolved into a Banana Republic that blissfully ignores what the majority of its citizens desire and deserve.
            This photo was taken by Andrea Bruce for the New York Times. It shows a young Cuban playing baseball on a street in Santiago de Cuba, the former capital and second largest city located on the island's eastern tip. It was one of several photos that illustrated an insightful article written by William Neuman and entitled: "On the Open Road, Signs of a Changing Cuba." Cuba has indeed changed merely by surviving, evolving, and learning to exist in a world in which its neighbor, the strongest nation in the world, has tried, for 56 years, to regain control of it, reminiscent of the 1950s when the U. S., the world's most famed democracy, teamed with the Mafia to support the vile Batista dictatorship. Cuba's survival has included the 1961 Bay of Pigs attack, numerous assassination attempts, the 1976 bombing of the civilian Cubana Flight 455, and a cruel embargo that now is closing in on six decades -- all to appease a handful of two generations of the most extremists Cuban-exile benefactors. The young baseball player above, like most of the adults on the island, have been punished all their lives because of a gigantic, imperialist mistake that had its origin way back in 1952 when a few right-wingers high up in the U. S. government, such as the Dulles brothers, decided to align with the Mafia to support a Cuban dictatorship that, with kick-backs, allowed U. S. businesses, such as the Dulles-related United Fruit Company, to rob the island blind. The fact that the U. S. democracy, in all the decades since 1952, has been unable to correct this injustice to this day baffles America's best democracy-loving friends around the world. The photo above of the young Cuban baseball player, taken in the first week of January-2015, reflects hope that this young boy will grow up in a sovereign nation, hopefully a democratic one, that is not plagued by the avaricious designs of revengeful usurpers in a foreign nation nor oppressive forces on the island. The hope evolves around the Dec. 17th-2014 announcement that President Obama plans to normalize relations with Cuba. Sadly, despite the strides implemented today, those plans will likely fail -- just as President Kennedy's in 1963 and President Clinton's in 1996 failed. Like in 1952, 1963, and 1996, in 2015 America's Cuban policy is dictated by a U. S. Congress that continues to view the lush island of Cuba as a piggy-bank, a cash cow, and a punching bag. This young baseball player merely represents a third generation of Cubans being used as pawns in a grossly flawed, undemocratic Cuban policy that, in 2015, is far more harmful to America's image than it is to Cuba's.
        This photo was taken a few days ago by Andrea Bruce for the New York Times. It shows a Cuban grandmother {on the second floor} and mother {on the first floorcarefully watching their grandchild as the girl leaves for school. The little girl is very clean and neatly dressed. She is also being well-educated totally free and has excellent health care totally free. And Cuban children like her are among the safest on the planet, well protected by their families and also watched over by the block-by-block Committees for the Defense of the Revolution. But this little girl and her mother have been punished all their lives by an American Cuban policy dictated for decades by two generations of revengeful, greedy, and power-hungry Cuban exiles and their easily acquired acolytes who partake of the homogenized spoils. Since 1959 the revolutionary Cuban government has made many mistakes, especially from an economic standpoint, but excruciating threats and pressure from nearby foreign soil provides much of the deprivation for this beautiful little Cuban girl. Some may think that mansions and other gluttonous possessions in Miami or exultant political power in Washington is worth persecuting this little girl in future decades just as her mother has been persecuted in past decades. But there are some, such as President Obama, who disagree. This little girl is worth more than those mansions in Miami and all that power in Washington.
      Enrique Krauze is surely one of the world's greatest democracy-loving Cuban and Latin American experts. As a New York Times editorialist, Mr. Krauze has a powerful forum to inform the world how harmful to America and to democracy the U. S. policy regarding Cuba really is. Yet, in propagandized America, a Fox News connoisseur with a 5th grade education and no knowledge of the Cuban conundrum is more significant when it comes to Cuban issues than the brilliant, well-educated, and well-informed Mr. Krauze. In the first week of January-2015 Mr. Krauze wrote the New York Times' editorial entitled "End of Anti-Americanism?" The question mark was his, not mine. He wrote: "Cuba has been the epicenter of anti-Americanism in modern America. As a political ideology it was born during the Spanish-American War of 1898, the Cuban Revolution in 1959, and may now, through a singularly courageous move by President Obama, have begun its final decline. The agreement to re-establish diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba will face serious problems..." Mr. Krauze, of course, was aware of the "serious problems" a handful of self-serving pro-embargo zealots and benefactors can exact on a democracy in which money, intimidation, and propaganda can out-weigh even a significant majority of people. He then detailed a few historic facts that Americans are not supposed to consider: "The Spanish-American War of 1898 united the countries of Hispanic America against the United States and basically reconciled them with Spain...the United States continued to support authoritarian dictatorships like the Somoza family business in Nicaragua. America's claim to be a fountain of democratic values lost its credibility. In 1947 Mexican historian Daniel Casio Villegas predicted: 'Latin America will seethe with unrest...capable of anything.' The Cuban Revolution fulfilled that prophecy. The American boycott of Cuba has remained as an outmoded and divisive force. In reestablishing relations with Cuba, the United States renounces its 'imperial destiny' and recovers much of its moral legitimacy needed to uphold its democratic values." In other words, an intelligent, informed person, such as Enrique Krauze, is 100% correct in pointing out how America's Cuban policy, decade after decade, has so greatly harmed the United States and democracy merely to appease a few self-serving American right-wingers and a few self-serving Cuban-Americans. The fact that most Cuban-Americans and the entire world desire more normal relations with Cuba matters little. Thus, the words by Mr. Krauze will be out-gunned because the mainstream media has primarily evolved into an incompetent, intimidated instrument susceptible to promoting a propagandistic web of lies. The dominant factor, and what has extended America's dismal Cuban policy for decades, is a proselytized America that accepts an extremist stranglehold on its democracy.

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