Cuba's Indefatigable MVP

She Prefers Peace To War
But...She Thinks Cuba Is Worth Fighting For
          U. S. Secretary of State John Kerry, like his boss President Obama, knows who Cuba's Most Valuable Player is. Her name is Josefina Vidal, Cuba's Minister of North American Affairs. Mr. Kerry and his boss trust and respect her. If that were not so, Mr. Kerry last week would not have been the first Secretary of State to visit Cuba since 1945. And if that were not so, the U. S. Embassy in Havana and the Cuban Embassy in Washington would not be open, with flags flying high, for the first time since 1961. In the photo above Mr. Kerry, at the flag raising ceremony in Havana Friday, August 14th, is pointing out something to Ms. Vidal and reminding her, "You see, Josefina, the impossible can happen. A Cuban embassy can open in Washington and this U. S. embassy can open in Havana." She responded with the diplomatic smile depicted above. But Ms. Vidal, the Cuban who made it all possible, was skeptical. Truth be known, she still is.
         This New York Times photo shows Josefina Vidal being asked a question at a news conference in Washington. The question was: "Some are saying that the U. S. is giving Cuba too much without insisting that Cuba improve its human rights record?" Her answer: "For every self-serving person in Miami and the U. S. Congress who says things like that because they revel or benefit in punishing everyday Cubans, there are probably 99 who approve of President Obama's attempts to normalize relations with Cuba. But your question doesn't surprise me. The U. S. media, with few exceptions, doesn't have the courage or the decency to care about what the majority of Americans or Cubans say. Your question might be better asked of a U. S. government official instead of a Cuban official. If I were an American citizen or an American journalist, I would be outraged over endless videos of police shooting or choking unarmed citizens. I would be appalled if that happened even occasionally in Cuba. Clean up your human rights, then you can legitimately ask about ours." 
           This ABC News photo shows Josefina Vidal telling an American audience that the opening of embassies in Washington and Havana constitute a first step, not the final step, in the normalization of relations between the U. S. and Cuba. Incredibly, over the course of two years -- in delicate discussions that involved venues in Havana, Washington, Toronto, Montreal, and Rome -- Ms. Vidal accomplished the first big step, the opening of embassies, by negotiating a lot of slightly smaller steps, such as: returning Cuban prisoner Alan Gross to the U. S., returning American prisoners known as the Cuba 5 to Cuba, getting Cuba removed from the U. S. State Department's Sponsors of Terrorism list, getting Cuba removed from the U. S. trafficking list, etc. She represented Cuba brilliantly throughout those negotiations, getting concessions no pundit believed she could obtain. But now that the embassies are opened for the first time in over 54 years, rest assured that Josefina Vidal, who made it all happen with the concurrence of Presidents Obama and Castro, is the key monitor who will determine if those high-flying flags will again come down and be put back in storage. At the moment, she believes there is only a 50-50 chance they will continue waving throughout the final 17 months of President Obama's two-term presidency. She deeply admires his guts in taking on Miami extremists and Congressional hardliners. But she knows that all Republican presidents since the 1950s have taken their Cuban orders from Miami's anti-Castro zealots and she knows the next Republican president, beginning in 2017 or later, will do the same. She also knows that the three most recent Democratic presidents -- Kennedy, Carter and Clinton -- have been forced to abandon normalization plans with Cuba based on notoriety produced by provoking Cuba into defending its sovereignty. She fully knows that the same tactics are being concocted now and will be used to derail President Obama's efforts in the coming months. And beyond all that, Josefina Vidal still has three unresolved demands that she either wants met or she herself will call for the flags to be taken down.
      Although she is willing to spend "a reasonable amount of time" finalizing them, Josefina Vidal is still demanding three things of the United States or she will throw in the towel regarding newly opened embassies and further negotiations aimed at normalizing relations between the two countries. Miami and Congress will adamantly fight all those three things. They are: {1} The return of Guantanamo Bay, which the U. S. has occupied since 1903, to Cuba; {2} the end of the U. S. embargo against Cuba, which has brutally sabotaged the island's economy since 1962; and {3} she will demand that the new U. S. embassy in Havana not be what she calls "a disguised Trojan horse." Trusting U. S. negotiator Roberta Jacobson and her bosses Obama and Kerry, Vidal very reluctantly agreed that U. S. diplomats could travel around the island and mingle freely with the Cuban people, and they could bring un-inspected pouches to their embassy. However, she fears those nuances may merely turn out to be excuses to further encourage, create, and fund dissidents on the island. If so, Vidal will object strenuously, strong enough to end diplomacy altogether. The same is true with the return of Guantanamo Bay and the end of the embargo. Miami extremists still control the U. S. Congress regarding Cuban policy and they will control the White House during the next Republican presidency. Therefore, Vidal's three remaining pillars will likely be blocked, during or shortly after the Obama presidency ends. And if that is the case regarding any or all of those three things, Josefina Vidal will simply suggest that Cuba revert back to a do-or-die defensive posture.
 Josefina Vidal
Cuba's Most Valuable Player
On a slightly gentler topic:
       This is a Morning Dove taking care of her babies. The photo is courtesy of Lee Prince/shutterstack.com. This is typical of the photos regularly featured in Birds & Blooms Magazine.

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