Friday, May 29, 2015

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 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 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.

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