Obama's Cuban Fasination

An Obsession Destined To Make History 
{One Way...Or The Other}
Sunday, May 31st, 2015
        Pele, the Brazilian legend and the greatest soccer player of all-time, will accompany one of his former teams, the New York Cosmos, to Havana next Tuesday to watch the Cosmos play a Cuban national team. In 1978 the Chicago Sting traveled to Cuba and played a Cuban team but that was long ago when a decent U. S. President, Jimmy Carter, was trying his best to normalize relations with Cuba. On June 2nd in this year of 2015 the New York Cosmos will play in Cuba because a decent U. S. President, Barack Obama, is trying his best to normalize relations with Cuba. The iconic Pele is now 74-years-old. Oh, my, Pele. How time flies!!
        On April 11th at the Summit of the Americas in Panama City {AP photo}, President Obama told President Castro that he was removing Cuba from the U. S. list of State Sponsors of Terrorism, a list that has so mightily pleased the most extremist Cuban exiles for three decades. That presidential promise came to fruition this week -- Friday, May 29th, 2015. As of now, Cuba is not listed as a State Sponsor of Terrorism.
      This Getty Images photo taken this week -- Thursday, May 28th -- in Miami reflects President Barack Obama's abiding and history-making fascination with Cuba. On his visit to Miami, President Obama is shown paying homage to the Shrine of Our Lady of Charity, the Catholic patron saint of Cuba. As this photo was taken, the President was discussing the massive 747-square-foot mural at the Cuban-themed site in Miami.
      In a statement heard around the world on December 17th, 2014, President Obama said: "Today the United States is taking historic steps to chart a new course in our relations with Cuba and to fraternize and empower the Cuban people." It was a brave statement, the bravest any American President has dared to make since 1959 when the U.S.-backed Batista-Mafia dictatorship was overthrown in Cuba only to resurface with its headquarters in Miami. Following up on his December 17th statement, President Obama bravely defied the powerful Miami contingent in the U. S. Congress and removed Cuba from the U. S. State Department's State Sponsors of Terrorism list. Yes, that removal became effective Friday, May 29th, 2015. It paves the way for the impending monumentally historic reopening of the U. S. Embassy in Cuba and the subsequent reopening of the Cuban Embassy in Washington. Regardless of what happens in the days and months to come {and a whole lot will happen because of the massive power of the anti-Cuban Cuban-American lobby}, President Obama has already crowned a notch on his legacy as the bravest and most effective President in U. S. history to stand up to the awesomely powerful right-wing contingent that has dictated America's disastrous Cuban policy since the 1950s, a policy that the entire world also opposes.
       Last week Cristina Escobar, Cuba's stunning 27-year-old superstar journalist, made history by becoming the first Cuban journalist to quiz a White House Press Secretary at a major news conference. She, in fact, stunned Washingtonians in speeches around town and Press Secretary Josh Earnest at the news conference with a barrage of questions that U. S. journalists simply do not have the courage or the integrity to ask: "Do you think U. S. diplomats at a Cuban embassy will be respectful instead of using the U. S. Embassy as a cesspool for dissidents?" "After a normalization or modernization of relations, will this cut down on the many regime change programs funded by the U. S. Congress?" "Does this mean that the U. S. media and the U. S. government will begin to tell the truth, not lies, about Cuba?" "Will Obama be allowed to continue peaceful overtures to Cuba?" At several standing-room-only speeches, Escobar's scathing statements and questions were well received. At the news conference, the President's Press Secretary, Josh Earnest, responded with a long litany of scripted U. S. positions on why the U. S. will continue its regime change programs "on behalf of the deserving Cubans on the island." Well, Cristina Escobar on her stunning visit to Washington made it plain that she is a deserving Cuban on the island. She is also the island's journalistic superstar as the host of the nightly must-see/must-hear Round Table in prime time on state television and radio. Escobar's final question to Josh Earnest was the easiest one: "Can we expect Obama to visit Cuba in 2016." Departing from his scripted comments to the tough earlier questions, Josh earnestly answered the last one. He replied: "The President would relish the opportunity to visit the island of Cuba."
 This image of Cristina Escobar was used by www.cibercuba.com to illustrate the incident in Washington when the gorgeous young Cuban journalist was approached and interviewed in a parking lot by an unfriendly reporter from Miami. Brilliant and feisty, she very bravely still stuck to her oft-repeated major theme in Washington: "Cuban emigrants in the United States need to dismantle the lies about Cuba that fuel the U. S. Cuban policy that hurts Cubans on the island. That is my primary message from Cuba."
    When the Miami reporter questioned that statement by Cristina Escobar, she didn't recoil from it or soften it. Instead, she repeated it a second time with stronger emphasis. Back on her own turf, she told her nationwide audience in Cuba, "As you know, you and I have criticisms of our government at times and we are not afraid to air them. But the well-known dissidents, as few as they are among us, are mostly funded by regime-change money from the U. S. Congress. In the U. S., which I just visited, I am amazed that, so long after the revolution, Americans are the ones still afraid to speak the truth about Cuba."
     Regardless of what impression  -- positive, negative, or indifferent -- Americans have regarding Cristina Escobar's ephemeral but emphatic visit to Washington, we should, I believe, come away with this impression: There are a lot of young, well-educated, patriotic Cubans on the island just like her. Sure, her stunning looks and her state-of-the-art speaking voice in either Spanish or English got her a lot of attention. But she used every opportunity to stress that her primary reason for coming to Washington was not just to cover the important 4th diplomatic session involving Cuba's Josefina Vidal and America's Roberta Jacobson. She repeatedly pointed out that, most of all, she wanted the U. S. Media to "stop telling lies about my country" because "it fuels a U. S. policy towards Cuba that harms so many of us on the island that do not deserve it." Most unbiased and unintimidated Americans would have to agree with her. On her nightly radio/television platforms in Cuba, Cristina Escobar makes those points, just as she did on her Washington visit. In the U. S., Americans are supposed to hear only the viewpoints of Cuban dissidents, especially the ones that Escobar says "are paid and encouraged by the anti-Cuban Cubans in the American Congress." Again, whether you agree with Cristina Escobar or not, it is only fair that...if you hang on every word of Cuban dissidents such as Yoani Sanchez...you at least should listen to Cristina Escobar too.
For example.............
         ..........Cristina Escobar says that "in some ways Cuba is now more democratic than the U. S., especially when one considers the way journalism has evolved in the U. S." The image above reflects what Ms. Escobar means. In this photo, that is Cuba's most famed dissident, Yoani Sanchez, meeting in the hallowed halls of the U. S. Congress with the U. S. Senate's two virulent anti-Castro Cuban-American Senators -- Bob Menendez from Union City and Marco Rubio from Miami. Forget the fact that Cuba permits dissidents like Yoani Sanchez to fly around the world and then return to Cuba while everyday Americans for decades have been denied the freedom to travel to Cuba; that's a different issue. Cristina Escobar believes that "a handful of biased individuals make the U. S. Cuban policy." She was undoubtedly referencing "a handful of biased individuals" such as the five depicted here. Back in Cuba, Cristina Escobar told her audience, "The mainstream U. S. media didn't like my visit to Washington. But if I were a Cuban dissident, the U. S. media would have wined and dined me till I was probably too dizzy to fly back to Cuba." Indeed, Cuban dissidents in the U. S. -- from Yoani Sanchez to Alina Fernandez to whomever -- merely have to hold up their hands and say they are anti-Castro and they can expect to be showered with rewards, including tax dollars. Yoani Sanchez, for example, is the darling of every anti-Cuban/anti-Castro media outlet worldwide, including the fawning Huffington Post, Fox News, etc. Sanchez already had the world's largest anti-Castro blog but she admitted, when she returned to the island after a recent world tour that included Miami and Washington, she had enough "resources" to fund a massive digital newspaper for at least a year. When that year is up, Cristina Escobar believes Sanchez's coffers will be replenished. Ms. Escobar, back in Cuba, coyly remarked, "Of course, I am convinced that those Cubans in Congress and those dissidents in Cuba don't really want the 'longed-for' regime change to really happen. It it did, their piggy-banks and political nests would dry up and then what would we have...a return of the Batista descendants and Mafia from Florida? Uh, no thank you."
           Is Cristina Escobar -- the bold, beautiful, brassy, and brilliant young Cuban journalist -- right or is she wrong? More importantly, Cristina Escobar represents a basic fact: There are two sides, not just one, to the U.S.-Cuban conundrum. Americans, as well as Cubans, need to admit such simple and basic facts. 
         President Obama's obvious fascination with Cuba is apparently because he believes it is America's decades-old Cuban policy that makes the U. S. look more like a Banana Republic than a Democracy. "If the same policy has failed for over half-a-century," he says, "perhaps it is time to try a new policy." The President surely realizes the peril of opposing a handful of right-wingers who continually defy the world, the United Nations, and democracy with their punitive actions, such as the reviled embargo, against innocent people in a foreign, smaller, and vulnerable country. But he obviously thinks such opposition on the part of democracy is worthwhile. In other words, a decent and democracy-loving President Barack Obama, in trying to defend innocent Cubans, is mostly trying to defend the image of America and democracy. If that is not so, perhaps one of the right-wing pundits on Fox "News" will explain to all of us why it is not so.
And by the way..............
         .....Olafur Ragnar Grimsson is the President of Iceland. Iceland has had only five Presidents since it gained independence from Norway in 1944 during World War II. Mr. Grimsson has been President of Iceland since 1996. One reason he keeps getting re-elected is his frankness. Also, he hates big banks.


Beauty & Brains In Cuba

Now She Conquers Washington
Updated:Tuesday, May 26th, 2015
This is Cristina Escobar, the most popular journalist on the island of Cuba.
         Cristina is the brilliant host of Cuba's most popular prime-time television program -- La Mesa Redonta {"The Round Table"}. Her journalistic skills and her uncompromising beauty meld into an irresistible lure.
         This past week the talented and enchanting Cristina Escobar arrived in Washington to cover the fourth diplomatic session that pitted Cuba's Josefina Vidal against America's Roberta Jacobson.
 As in Cuba, Cristina Escobar's mesmerizing looks turned heads in Washington.
      But so did her acute journalistic skills.
      Josh Earnest, President Obama's White House Press Secretary, held a news conference prior to the 4th Vidal-Jacobson diplomatic tussle in Washington. Soon, Earnest was smiling broadly as he was besieged by a barrage of pertinent and refreshingly uncommon questions from an uncommonly beautiful journalist speaking perfect English in a gorgeous Spanish accent. Her sighting seemed to energize Mr. Earnest. The journalist was Cuban superstar Cristina Escobar. In quick succession she asked: "First, do you think that it's possible to see the scenario in which we will open embassies in Havana and Washington? And in that future scenario, is the administration committed to be more respectful of the Vienna Convention towards the behavior of the American diplomats in Havana, for example? Do you think the programs for regime change in Cuba will go on or not? Do you have any remarks on that? And on the other things, do you think that President Obama will also continue seeing his executive prerogative to expand the links, the bonds, with Cuba? And will we see Obama in Cuba in 2016?" Josh Earnest is a married man and a new father but it was obvious he was amused by the fresh beauty in his midst as well as her excellent barrage of questions. He used typical White House rhetoric to answer the tough queries, such as the impasse about the opening of embassies and whether  the "behavior" of U. S. diplomats in Havana would be "respectful." But Josh earnestly seemed to relish her last question about "will we see Obama in Cuba in 2016?" He smiled coyly and sweetly down at her and replied, "I know he would relish the opportunity to visit the island, and Havana in particular."
       While she was in Washington last week to cover the Vidal-Jacobson diplomatic session, the 27-year-old Cristina Escobar not only became the first Cuban journalist to fire questions at the White House Press Secretary, she made the rounds with speeches at places like the sold-out Maryland House. She fiercely advocated "better treatment for my Cuban people from the United States." She freely gave interviews even to unfriendly U. S. journalists such as Carlos Rafael Dieguez of Radio Miami and Cubainformacion. She sternly  told Rafael Dieguez, "I want in Washington to spread the right information about Cuba to dismantle the lies transmitting through the international media about Cuba." When challenged by Rafael Dieguez, the feisty Cristina boldly stood her ground, repeating, "I want to change the lies about Cuba, the lies by the U. S. media manipulations that sustain the policy of the United States towards Cuba, a peaceful and safe country."
      The best and most viewed Spanish-speaking blog about Cuba is Cafefuerte.com. The image of Cristina Escobar above is taken from that website's insightful parking lot interview with Cristina. It's in Spanish but if you view that interview you will detect the brilliance of Cristina in easily answering tough questions. Her speaking voice is superb in either Spanish or English and her journalistic skills are stunning. In the U. S. there is a vast and lucrative cottage industry that solicits and beckons Cuban superstars in baseball, ballet, and medicine. Well, Cristina is a superstar broadcaster that every U. S. television network would crave because of her skills as a journalist and her Spanish-English expertise. And, uh, she's also rather telegenic. But based on her speeches and demeanor in Washington, it seems that her abiding love for Cuba might mean more to her than becoming an instant millionaire television star in the United States. On Cafefuerte.com, she said, "The socioeconomic-political reality in which I grew up in Cuba has been defined by what happens here. I want to promote a change in the U. S. policy towards Cuba." She is obviously 100% Cuban and extremely patriotic. Bold, beautiful, young, talented, and smart, she has a mission in life -- to improve America's attitude towards her island. It's a worthy mission. She is an admirable young lady.
        Cristina Escobar is now back in Havana hosting Cuba's most popular and most informative television program -- The Round Table -- nightly in prime-time. If, indeed, President Obama visits Cuba in 2016, he will be forced to meet with Cuban dissidents such as Yoani Sanchez, and that will be a price he will gladly pay to justify his appearance on The Round Table with Cristina Escobar as his host. There are rumors in Washington that President Obama requested and received a personal copy of a video tape depicting Cristina's questioning of Josh Earnest. And it is assumed the President was more interested in Cristina Escobar's Cuban ascent than he was in critiquing the performance of his highly capable Press Secretary.
   Cristina Escobar is a very accomplished and dedicated journalist. Back in early December, 2014 -- just prior to Presidents Obama and Castro announcing their plans to normalize relations -- Cristina and seven other Cuban journalists spent ten days participating in journalism seminars at California State University in Fullerton, California. Cristina's astute questions to White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest were not unlike the questions she asks nightly on her highly rated Round Table program in Cuba. She is not at all reluctant, or afraid, to take positions not advocated by the Cuban government. "If I oppose something," she says, "I will express my firm opposition. If I couldn't do that, I would not be a journalist. I like my job in Cuba. It has evolved around me. I am proud of my profession and my country."


The Vidal-Rubio Bandwagons

It Comes Down to These Two
Updated: Wednesday, May 20th, 2015
        Josefina Vidal boldly embodies both the mystique and the longevity of Revolutionary Cuba. If it survives the next Republican administration in the United States, it will be strictly because of this brilliant, pugnacious lady. Meanwhile Vidal will try to expand Cuba's sovereignty, and its statue on the world stage, in the closing months of the friendly two-term Obama administration that has, with its diplomatic overtures to Vidal, introduced her to the U. S. public although, since 2002, she has very quietly been in charge of sustaining Revolutionary Cuba against the supposedly fatal dictates of a handful of Miami-produced Cuban-American members of the dysfunctional, right-wing U. S. Congress. She has been so adamantly successful since 2002, playing the role of David vs. Goliath, that it is now obvious that, if the Miami-based Batistianos are finally able to re-capture Cuba, they will first have to capture the United States, which will come to fruition in 2016, Vidal believes, when Republicans return to the White House after already having captured the right-wing U. S. Congress. Capturing the White House will allow the new Republican Commander-in-Chief to re-capture Cuba with the connivance of an already bought-and-paid-for U. S. Congress. In the coming months Cable Television Networks in the U. S. will saturate the airways with Pundits and Polls as they vacillate back-and-forth about why Clinton or Bush or whomever will win the presidential sweepstakes.  An endless array of obnoxious Pundits and Polls will tease the U. S. voters while mostly raking in bundles of cash from self-promoting or negative political ads. But forget the Pundits and the Polls. Josefina Vidal has already decided that Marco Rubio -- the anti-Cuban Cuban-American neophyte zealot from Miami -- will emerge as the Presidential victor in the money-crazed race to the White House. Pundits and Polls merely, and cheaply, fill air space on 24-hour cable "news" programs. Vidal's task is to defend Cuba and, if she errs in judging the political nuances in the United States, her Cuba could cease to exist. So, for Cuba's sake, she has to be 100% right, and since 2002 she has been. I'll review her fixation on Rubio shortly, but first Vidal is gearing up for another Havana-to-Washington flight where she will represent Cuba this Thursday in Round Four of her diplomatic sessions with Roberta Jacobson.
        Jacobson is a skilled American diplomat but she has a key disadvantage in her head-to-head sessions with Vidal. Vidal is a decision-maker in Cuba where no one, including the elderly Castro brothers and the upcoming post-Castro President Miguel Diaz-Canel, questions her regarding the island's most important life-and-death issue -- its relations with the nearby United States. Jacobson, on the other hand, is restricted or confined to expressing only decisions already mandated by her two bosses -- President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry. The best U. S. journalists, such as the Pulitzer Prize-winning Karen DeYoung at the Washington Post, have concluded that Vidal "over-matches" U. S. diplomats in face-to-face meetings. In recent weeks Vidal has acquired concessions from the U. S. that no one thought possible -- such as getting the Cuba 5 returned to Cuba although a Miami court had powerfully sentenced them to up to life-plus-15-years in U. S. federal prisons. Also, keeping Cuba on the U. S. list as a "State Sponsor of Terrorism" has been extremely rewarding to the Miami Cubans -- revengefully, economically, and politically. Yet, Vidal -- against all odds -- has gotten Cuba removed from that diabolical list and her stunning efforts in that regard becomes official on May 29th, with the Miami members of the U. S. Congress admitting they cannot prevent that removal. In the 4th Vidal-Jacobson diplomacy Thursday in Washington, Jacobson will remind Vidal that the U. S. is eager to have embassies in Havana and Washington with these stipulations: U. S. diplomats must be allowed to bring un-searched containers to Cuba and U. S. diplomats must be allowed to travel freely around the island. Vidal, who also wants those two embassies, will reluctantly agree, but with a caveat: "You well know, Roberta, that we are not at all pleased with how the U. S. Interests Section personnel in Havana have been used to bring 'un-searched' containers into Cuba and how U. S. Interests Section personnel have funded, trained, encouraged, and created dissidents on our island. You wouldn't allow a foreign country to do that in Washington. We won't allow a foreign country to do that in Havana. Some in the U. S. believe the upcoming U. S. embassy in Havana will enhance the U. S. creation of dissidents in Cuba. But I will monitor that closely, although I am willing to give it a try. It will then be up to the United States to decide if America wants to spawn confrontations once the embassies are up and running."
              Thursday's 4th diplomatic debate in Washington pitting Cuba's Josefina Vidal against America's Roberta Jacobson will likely have historic implications -- paving the way for President Obama's desired U. S. embassy in Havana after endless decades of diplomatic estrangements between the David-vs.-Goliath adversaries. Yet, with a Republican presidency likely to replace Mr. Obama in little more than a year's time, the short-lived embassies in Havana and Washington can be expected to become battlegrounds.
        Study these images from a previous Vidal-Jacobson debate. It shows Vidal talking and Jacobson listening with a look of incredulity on her countenance. Those images will be replicated Thursday in Washington when Vidal makes a statement similar to this to Jacobson: "Roberta, I too want a U. S. embassy in Havana for the first time since forever. But please don't think it will afford the U. S. more of an opportunity to bring un-searched containers into Cuba and for U. S. diplomats to fan out over the island creating dissidents. Yes, we will respect international diplomatic protocol but the U.S.-Cuba deal is unique. I just hope you understand that a U. S. embassy in Havana will not be allowed to foment an upheaval or overthrow of our government or infringe on our sovereignty." As Jacobson listens to such words from Vidal Thursday, the biggest test of Jacobson's incredulity will come later. That's when Vidal says something similar to this: "You know, Roberta, that I am pleased that the U. S. has returned the Cuba 5 to Cuba and that the U. S. has removed Cuba from the Sponsors of Terrorism list, effective May 29th. But please understand another line in the sand that is important to me. I want the U. S. to begin serious discussions with me about the return to Cuba of the 45 square acres of Cuban soil that the U. S. stole in 1903. I know you know that I am speaking of Guantanamo Bay. We want it returned, and the whole world beyond Miami and the U. S. Congress agrees with us. Such discussions do not have to conclude prior to the opening of the U. S. embassy in Cuba. But such discussions must begin in earnest now or I will be willing to oppose a U. S. embassy in Cuba or, if it opens, to close it if I feel serious discussions about the return of Cuba's Guantanamo Bay to its rightful owner have really ended."
         Josefina Vidal is a smart, tough cookie. If you dismiss the idea of her getting Guantanamo Bay back, you probably also dismissed her getting the Cuba 5 back...or getting Cuba removed from the U. S. Sponsors of Terrorism list...or getting a Cuban embassy in Washington within spitting distance of a U. S. Congress that abhors Vidal's Cuba!! Vidal is astute enough to know that the entire Western World outside of Miami and Congress support Cuba on Guantanamo Bay because the entire world abhors the imperialist ramifications of Spanish and American occupation of Cuba, finally ended by the Cuban Revolution. Vidal is also astute enough to know that even patriotic Americans who oppose Cuba have grown very tired of anti-Americanisms revolving around such anti-democratic U. S. tactics as...the theft of Guantanamo Bay and, especially, the installation by the Bush dynasty of the horrid American prison at Guantanamo Bay.
    Highly respected journalist Nick Miroff is the Latin American expert at the Washington Post. He penned an article this week entitled "Why The U. S. Base At Cuba's Guantanamo Bay Is Probably Doomed." The article, of course, infuriated the Cuban-Americans in Miami and in the U. S. Congress, along with their entrenched sycophants such as war-mongering Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham, both of whom would chose to go to war before suffering the effrontery of giving Guantanamo Bay back to its rightful owner, Cuba. Miroff wrote, "There is no other place in the world where the U. S. military forcefully occupies foreign land on an open-ended basis against the wishes of its host nation." Of course, Cuba is also the only place in the world in which the United States teamed with the Mafia to support a vile dictatorship, which quickly, and some think permanently, reconstituted itself on United States soil when it was overthrown 56 years ago.
      Admiral James Stavridis was born 60 years ago in West Palm Beach, Florida. He knows what an international black-eye Guantanamo Bay and its Bush-installed prison presents to the image of the U. S. and democracy. Stavridis from 2006 till 2009 was in charge of the U. S. Southern Command, which put him in charge of Guantanamo Bay. He is also a former Supreme Allied Commander of NATO and is now the dean of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He told Nick Miroff this week: "Guantanamo Bay is a strategic and highly useful U. S. asset. It's hard to think of another place with the contributions of a deep-water port and decent airstrip and a lot of land. But I don't think its irreplaceable." He does think that the U. S. should either return Guantanamo Bay to Cuba or at least negotiate fairly to lease it, as opposed to simply stealing it as an imperialist prize. After gaining control of Cuba in the easy 1898 victory in the Spanish-American War, the U. S. stole Guantanamo Bay officially in 1903. Dictating the terms, it gave Cuba $2,000 a year to keep the base in perpetuity. In 1934 a slightly kinder U. S. upped the yearly payment to $4,000. Since the triumph of the Cuban Revolution in 1959 Cuba has refused to cash the yearly checks, which have piled up in a desk drawer in an office used by Fidel Castro. Decent, intelligent, and informed people like Admiral James Stavridis agree with Josefina Vidal about who rightfully should have control of Guantanamo Bay. Most Americans, however, are supposed to bow to a few Miami Cuban-Americans and their sycophants in Congress like McCain and Graham. 
             When Francois Hollande, the President of France, was visiting Cuba last week, this photo shows him being congratulated for inaugurating the plush "French Alliance Headquarters" in Havana.
        Meanwhile, Barack Obama, the President of the United States, is forced by a few right-wingers in the U. S. Congress to enforce the U. S. embargo against Cuba that he and the rest of the world so strongly oppose. Of course, the American people are supposed to be too stupid, too scared, or too unpatriotic to be embarrassed or ashamed about this fact as dramatically depicted by this embarrassing graphic.
          Hey, Americans! We and our children have suffered and been embarrassed for over 50 years by a cruel, failed Cuban policy. So let's be sure to keep it in place for another half-century or more so our grandchildren and their children can suffer.
      When New York Governor Andrew Cuomo visited Cuba back in April, he was astute enough to seek out Josefina Vidal as a top priority. In this photo, that is Governor Cuomo making a comment to Vidal that solicits a laugh from her Chief Deputy, Gustavo Machin. But the most important thing Governor Cuomo said to Vidal was: "I am excited about the dramatic changes taking place in Cuba and I know you are the architect, the engineer, of those changes. Selfishly, I want you to know that I hope a drastic increase in trade, in commerce, between Cuba and New York will be a part of the changes you are engineering on this island." And guess how the very diplomatic Vidal replied to the Governor: "Thank you, sir. Your state and New York City are the world leaders in commerce. Cuban and New York airports and water-ports, in the years to come, should be mutual partners, not competitors or enemies. And, sir, I suggest on your visit that you meet Miguel Diaz-Canel. He will be the next President of Cuba and I want you to observe how easy he is to deal with."
So, Governor Cuomo made it a point to meet Miguel Diaz-Canel.
        In fact, as this Reuters photo indicates, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo had a long discussion with Miguel Diaz-Canel, the future leader of Cuba, about future commerce between Cuba and New York.
         But most of all, on his April trip to Cuba,  Governor Cuomo displayed great respect and admiration for Josefina Vidal, whom he correctly identified as "the architect, the engineer" of the "dramatic changes" now taking place on the island of Cuba. Those changes, if they are left in the skilled and caring hands of Josefina Vidal, will benefit the vast majority of Cubans and Americans. Yet, she is still David having to take on Goliath. For six decades a handful of Cuban exiles aligned with a handful of American sycophants have dictated America's Cuban policy to solely benefit their self-serving revenge, economic, and political motives. That has eased, somewhat, in recent months solely because of a decent Democratic President named Barack Obama. But the U. S. Congress is dominated by anti-Cuban Republican right-wingers and, Vidal believes, anti-Cuban Republican right-wingers will soon replace Obama in the White House.
         After being scooped up first by the Bush dynasty, then by the Tea Party, and then by four right-wing billionaires, Marco Rubio made it all the way from Miami's Little Havana neighborhood to the U. S. Senate with his bio claiming his parents escaped the Castro tyranny in Cuba for the lush freedom of Miami. Of course, in the foggy haze of U. S. politics it really doesn't matter that, actually, his parents escaped the Batista tyranny in Cuba for the lush freedom of Miami. Proselytized Americans are simply supposed to laugh at such Rubio gaffes and flip-flops. Study the photo above and you will see that even entrenched dinosaurs in the U. S. Senate also laugh at Rubio's gaffes and flip-flops, most of which are determined by whatever poll he's studied that morning. According to Josefina Vidal, perhaps the world's best expert and prognosticator on U. S. politics, Americans and those entrenched dinosaurs in the U. S. Senate will still be laughing in 2016 when Rubio is elected President and Commander-in-Chief of the United States. Tuesday, when I continue this essay, I will explain why Josefina Vidal is not laughing at or with Mr. Rubio.
Continued Tuesday, May 19th!!!
        Paul Krugman was born 62-years-ago in Albany, New York. Today he is the top columnist at the New York Times. In the U. S., the world's most important democracy, voters are gearing up to elect a new President in 2016. Before they do so, I believe, they all should read Mr. Krugman's column on Monday, May 18th, 2015. It was entitled: "The Iraq War, Based On Lies, Was More Than A Mistake." Mr. Krugman clearly fears that one of two Republicans -- Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio -- will be elected President of the United States and that neither of them recognizes the mistakes of the Iraq War, which has cost trillions of U. S. tax dollars and ongoing buckets of blood. American voters, in addition to reading Mr. Krugman's article, should also fear the exact same thing he fears. Mr. Krugman wrote: "It turns out there is something to be said for having the brother of a failed President {and that brother's political protege} make their own runs for the White House. Thanks to Jeb Bush, we may finally have the frank discussion of the Iraq invasion we should have had a decade ago." Krugman's column this week follows countless soundbites on American newscasts of first Jeb Bush and then Marco Rubio making totally embarrassing comments about the Iraq War, namely their support of George W. Bush's decisions.
     Mr. Krugman wrote: "But many influential people...would prefer that we not have that discussion. There is a palpable sense right now of the political and media elite drawing a line under the subject. Yes, the narrative goes, we now know that invading Iraq was a terrible mistake, and it's about time that everyone admits it. Now let's move on. Well, let's not -- because that's a false narrative. The fraudulence of the case for war was actually obvious even at the time. Some of the warmongers believed that deploying shock and awe in Iraq would enhance American power and influence around the world. Yes, it was a mistake. But...it was worse than a mistake, it was a crime." I am a lifelong conservative Republican, but I am not a right-wing, war-mongering Republican. Therefore, I share Mr. Krugman's fears about the ongoing presidential bids of Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio. In the U. S. in the last few days every major national newscast has showed video of first Bush and then Rubio "fumbling and stumbling" over a simple question: If they had been President, would they have done anything differently in Iraq from President George W. Bush? The answers by Bush and Rubio alarmed not only serious potential voters in 2016 but also their highly paid armies of publicists, who quickly began saturating the airways rolling back the Bush and Rubio comments.
       It is highly likely that either Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio will be elected Commander in Chief and President of the United States in 2016. The only viable Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton, will be worn down, and justifiably so, by her and her husband's insatiable accumulation of money in the past decade, verily tons of it from Wall Street and unsavory foreigners. A Republican, including the two tarnished ones, will merely need well over a billion dollars to beat her. Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio, renowned flip-floppers supported by an array of right-wing billionaires eager to purchase the White House, will each have PACs brimming with over a billion political dollars, thanks in part to incredible anti-democracy rulings by the Supreme Court in 2010 that allows virtual unlimited donations from billionaire companies and individuals, a tragedy that eliminates the importance of individual votes from everyday Americans, effectively diminishing democracy. In that milieu, we have another Bush and now Rubio.
         Either Rubio or Bush will collect Florida's truck-load of electoral votes, the truck-load that put George W. Bush in the White House in 2000 although the Democrat, Al Gore, got more nationwide votes. Jeb Bush is a political force for two reasons: His last name and his incredible ties to the most extremists anti-Castro zealots in Miami's Little Havana neighborhood. Jeb secured his credentials in Florida by being the Campaign Manager of Havana-born, anti-Castro zealot Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who has been in the U. S. Congress since 1989 courtesy of the Bush dynasty. Jeb didn't stop there using the Bush machine to ingratiate himself with the anti-Castro Cubans in Miami. He, for example, encouraged his father, President George H. W. Bush, to pardon Orlando Bosch, considered one of the two most infamous CIA-connected, Cuban exile terrorists {Cubana Flight 455, etc.}. Of course, in his two terms as Governor of Florida, Jeb used his connections to his brother, President George W. Bush, to further ingratiate himself to his political and economic base -- Little Havana in Miami. Along the way, Jeb's major political protege, even beyond Ros-Lehtinen and others, was Marco Rubio. So now, in May of 2015, Jeb and Marco are vying against each other for the Republican nod on the money-crazed path to the White House. Marco is likely to win because Bush, like Hillary Clinton, will be tripped up by his last name and by his incredible sources of money.
     Every political journalist in Washington is abundantly aware that these two veteran Republican Senators -- John McCain and Mitch McConnell -- literally begged Marco Rubio not to run for President. They maintained that,  at age 41, he had plenty of time to be President but in 2016 it's 62-year-old Jeb Bush's turn. And they told Rubio that, if he surrendered his entrenched Senate seat, the Republican party would have to spend millions of dollars and still might not be able to retain it. But the brash Rubio believes he can win the Presidency even with those directly expressed reservations from the Republican establishment, represented by McCain and McConnell. And guess who agrees with Rubio? Cuba's highly respected American expert Josefina Vidal!! She expects a Rubio presidency.
       This AP photo of this innocent-looking house in Tallahassee, Florida's capital city, was used to illustrate a scathing article about Marco Rubio by Marc Caputo, perhaps the most respected political journalist in the United States. The article was entitled: "Marco Rubio's House of Horrors." If you Google that article, you might cringe. Caputo revealed how the house, co-owned by Rubio and his controversial friend David Rivera, demonstrates an endless litany of "lingering questions about Rubio's personal finances." Long before Rubio reached the U. S. Senate and his Political Action Committee became overflowing with cash, he had some problems with such things as credit cards and...real estate, like this house. Rubio and his close friend David Rivera got their political careers underway in Tallahassee's State House and I'll let you Google Caputo's article to discover why this Rubio-Rivera house might become "Rubio's House of Horrors." If you plan a presidential vote, you should study Caputo's article.
          This is Marco Rubio with his best friend, David Rivera. Caputo, in the aforementioned article, described Rivera as a "scandal-plagued former Congressman under investigation in a federal finance probe."
     The Havana-born Ileana Ros-Lehtinen has been entrenched in the U. S. Congress from Miami since 1989 when Jeb Bush was her Campaign Manager. She is an even more anti-Castro zealot than the other three Miami members of Congress, including Marco Rubio and even Mario Diaz-Balart. Ros-Lehtinen and Rubio, of course, are very tight and Rubio once worked for her. Yet, in the Rubio-Bush rivalry to capture the Republican presidential bid, Ros-Lehtinen favors Jeb over Rubio. So does the Miami-based CNN pundit Ana Navarro who has been a ubiquitous promoter for all of Miami's Republican politicos -- including Bush, Ros-Lehtinen, and Rubio. So, if Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen, the epitome of a Havana-born, Miami-based anti-Castro zealot, favors Bush over fellow Cuban-American Rubio, one might think it portends bad news for Rubio. It does, but only to an extent. The self-serving economic and political ties of  Jeb Bush and the Bush dynasty to the Cuban hardliners in Maimi has been so propagandized in the U. S. that Jeb Bush doesn't think it will cost him a vote in his bid for the White House. But if Ros-Lehtinen favors Bush over Rubio, it is further concrete affirmation of the incredible decades-long Bush-Batistiano connections. In fact, if I had to choose between Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio as the proverbial lesser of two evils, I would choose Rubio over a continuation of the Bush dynasty.
          The Tea Party, the right-wing organization that teamed with the Bush dynasty to send Rubio from Miami to Washington, has also soured a bit on their young flip-flopper. His flip-flopping on immigration issues alarmed Tea Party crowds, including the ones portrayed in this photo. Of course, Rubio flip-flopped back to the Tea Party position, but many of them remain concerned about his flip-flopping yet again!! 
         Study this photo of Marco Rubio making a speech on Foreign Relations. He is prominently on the Senate's Foreign Relations Committee. Cuba is a foreign country. And Rubio is the Chairman of the Senate's Committee on Western Hemisphere Affairs. Cuba is in the Western Hemisphere. His Foreign Relations speeches, like this one, are written by top aides and Rubio merely reads their words off a teleprompter. But extemporaneously Rubio is not skilled as a choreographer of ideas. When introduced as the Republican Party's rising Superstar, Rubio nervously and puerility turned from the teleprompter to reach for a glass of water. When announcing his presidential bid at the Cuban-exile Freedom Tower in Miami, he appeared quite nervous reading the TelePrompTer. When asked on network television this past Sunday about Bush's venture in Iraq, he fumbled and stumbled his reply more than you would expect from a ten-year-old would-be Presidential candidate. In his first-term as a U. S. Senator from Miami, except for threatening to "shut down" the government and "blocking" any and all positive overtures President Bush is planning for Cuba, Rubio has done little except use the U. S. Senate as a platform for his Presidential aspirations, or his aberrations as the case may be.  But, the ego-obsessed Marco Rubio is Josefina Vidal's pick to be the next Commander-in-Chief and President of the United States, and her prescient views on American politics are not only uncanny but vital to the survival of Revolutionary Cuba.
        Revolutionary Cuba depends on Josefina Vidal to properly assess the threats to the island from Miami, Union City, and Washington. Many believe that if she ever makes a major error in such judgments, the hard-earned and hard-maintained revolutionary rule of Cuba will be replaced in short order by Cuban-exile zealots in Union City and Miami who control the U. S. Congress when it comes to America's vicious anti-Cuban policy. A Rubio or Bush Presidency in 2016 will, many believe, pound the final nail in the coffin of Revolutionary Cuba. This week Josefina Vidal will be in Washington to represent Revolutionary Cuba in the ongoing diplomatic discussions with her American counterpart, Roberta Jacobson. Josefina Vidal believes that Marco Rubio will be the next President and Commander-in-Chief of the United States. She also believes that Rubio considers Cuba to be a bigger threat to the United States than ISIS, Russia, Iran, China, and North Korea combined. Thus, in addition to her ongoing diplomatic efforts to normalize relations with the United States while Barack Obama is still President, Josefina Vidal is already preparing for 2016 when she expects Rubio to replace Obama in the White House. Incredibly, playing David vs. Goliath, Josefina Vidal has sustained Revolutionary Cuba even as right-wing Republicans took over the U. S. Congress. Most likely, if Rubio {or Bush} captures the White House in 2016 it will doom Revolutionary Cuba. Josefina Vidal has long believed "the Batistianos will need to capture the United States before they re-capture Cuba." In 2016 she believes the Batistianos will capture the United States. Re-capturing Cuba will likely follow. However, that doesn't mean she will relinquish her magical David-vs.-Goliath persona. 


Cuba As America's Friend

Would Benefit Americans & Others
        Francois Hollande, the President of France, finally got his wish yesterday. For years he has expressed a desire to meet Fidel Castro. Yesterday, even before he met with Cuban President Raul Castro, President Hollande insisted on being driven to Fidel Castro's home. The French leader was giddy with delight when he was told that Dalia, the 88-year-old Fidel's wife, confirmed that "Fidel is well-rested and very anxious to see you." After spending over an hour with Cuba's revolutionary icon, President Hollande was still giddy. He tweeted in French to Laure Bretton, a journalist: "I had in front of me a man who made history!"
Francois Hollande with "the man who made history."
Francois Hollande in Fidel Castro's living room.
A close-up of Fidel Castro talking to Francois Hollande on Monday, May 11th.
Fidel's son Alex takes all the photos inside the Castro home.
{Adidas needs to sign an endorsement deal with Fidel Castro} 
      After meeting Fidel Castro, French President Francois Hollande {above} made a stirring address at the University of Havana. He said, "All the world, including France and the European Union, applauds what President Obama is trying to do against great odds to help Cuba's people. The U. S. embargo and other damaging aspects of America's Cuban policy should be relegated to the dust-bins of history. The embargo for decades has damaged everyday Cubans on the island most of all, and it has damaged democracy's reputation."
Mr. Hollande admitted he was "emotional" as he toured Havana yesterday.
Cuban President Raul Castro and French President Francois Hollande.
    Candace Johnson has made headlines this week that explain how America's Cuban policy, dictated for decades by two generations of revengeful exiles from the overthrown Batista-Mafia dictatorship, has harmed the vast majority of Cubans and Americans. Ms. Johnson is the CEO of New York's Roswell Park Cancer Institute. Typical of the headlines she is generating is: "Cuba Has A Lung Cancer Vaccine -- and America Wants It!" That revelation is one of the many positive offshoots of President Obama's efforts to normalize relations with Cuba. When New York Governor Andrew Cuomo visited Cuba last month, Ms. Johnson made sure her Institute was represented. It signed a deal with Cuba's Center for Molecular Immunology regarding the lung cancer vaccine that Cuba invented and Ms. Johnson covets. "Because of the U. S. embargo," she says, "Cuba has had to do more with less, so they've had to be more innovative." She pointed out that, in addition to the lung cancer vaccine, Cuba has developed a plethora of drugs to treat Dengue Fever, Meningitis, kidney ailments, and many other medical problems. Ms. Johnson said, "Cuba has a preeminent immunology community that is ready, willing, and able to help Americans."
      Cuba's "preeminent immunology community" has discovered not only a lung cancer vaccine but many other medical innovations that have helped millions of non-Americans. People like Candace Johnson at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute have believed for a long, long time that Americans, too, should be allowed to benefit from cooperating with Cuba, as opposed to their tax dollars continually being used to assail the nearby island. President Obama is trying to accommodate Candace Johnson and others like her but, of course, a handful of Cuban-American extremists believe they alone should dictate the American Cuban policy that the rest of the world abhors, not to mention decent Americans such as Candace Johnson. Her emphasis this week in maintaining how much Americans could be helped by Cuba's lung cancer drug is a reminder of what pusillanimous Americans, since the 1960s, have allowed a few Miami-Washington extremists to dictate even when the lives of innocent Americans are at stake -- such as the George W. Bush administration cruelly and stupidly refusing to allow Cuba's renowned 1500-person medical/rescue team to fly to New Orleans on the eve of Hurricane Katrina. However, regardless of what extremists do to Cuba, such as blowing up a child-laden civilian Cuban airplane, Americans are not supposed to have either the intelligence, the courage or the patriotism to raise a dissenting voice. Candace Johnson, at her Cancer Institute, is trying real hard to combat that blight on the U. S. democracy.
        This, I believe, is the most gripping and most important photo I've seen this week. It was taken by Wally Santana for the Associated Press. The little girl holding the baby and sipping water from a spigot is in the Nepalese city of Balva, which was near the epicenter of the earthquake that destroyed Balva and killed well over 8,000 people in Nepal two weeks ago. Many nations quickly pledged billions of dollars in aid but aide-workers say little of the money has arrived and, in any case, they mostly need medicine and other supplies. And then last night, yet another 7.4 earthquake hit Nepal. Notice the smile on the baby's face as he plays with the necklace around the little girl's neck. I hope the little girl has been able to save herself and the baby, and I hope the world conspires to help them. Natural and man-made disasters around the world particularly affect the most innocent among us, such as these two precious Nepalese children.

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

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