Why Cuba Won't Surrender

With Vidal Calling The Shots
       To comprehend the current state of U.S.-Cuban detente, you need to understand Josefina Vidal. This photo is courtesy of AP/Cliff Owen. It caught Ms. Vidal, Cuba's Minister of North American Affairs, making a definitive statement at a news conference on February 27, 2015, at the U. S. State Department in Washington. The heated words by Vidal are still deemed so important that on August 15th the Washington Times had the foresight to rehash them in a fiery article entitled: "Cuba Won't Move 'One Millimeter' To Please Enemies In The U. S." In replying to a pointed question, Vidal's exact reply, as she pointed her index finger sharply at the questioner, was: "Decisions on internal matters are not negotiable and will never be put on the negotiating agenda in conversations with the United States. Cuba will never do absolutely anything, NOT MOVE ONE MILLIMETER, to respond to foreign orders." The lady pointing that accusatory index finger at a hostile U. S. journalist on hostile U. S. territory is the primary defender of the island's sovereignty, which has a do-or-die meaning to her. Her brilliance in that regard has been on display since the start of this 21st Century when she headed the U. S. Interests Section in Washington. Now, as the prime Cuban decision-maker on all things American, forces bent on recapturing or subjugating Cuba will have to move over her.
          This New York Times photo shows that the U. S. journalist on U. S. soil pointed his index finger at Josefina Vidal while his question suggested that little Cuba was foolish to continue trying to resist visceral Miami Cubans backed by the military might of the United States and by the legislative might of the U. S. Congress. His index finger and his words were obviously meant to intimidate Ms. Vidal. That won't happen -- not on U. S. soil, not on Cuban soil, and not on diplomatic flights between the two countries. Instead of quivering, Vidal fired her index finger back at the would-be bully, along with the stinging words that were still ringing in the ears of the Washington Times seven months later on August 15th. Vidal lives modestly in Cuba. It is well known that in 2002 she was offered $3 million plus her choice of a home in South Florida if she would defect. This was after, at the invitation of Caroline Kennedy, she made a powerful speech that stunned a roomful of historians at the Kennedy Library in Boston. But money and a mansion in Florida does not mean as much to Josefina Vidal as Cuban sovereignty, which to her means independence from foreign control, which, she says, "Cuba has had far too much of." She has sternly reminded intimidating finger-pointers of this bit of Cuban history: "Jose Marti and Antonio Maceo, and others, died on Cuban battlefields in the 1890s fighting Spanish imperialism. Celia Sanchez, Fidel Castro, and others have been willing to do the same fighting American imperialism. And that's where we stand today, just defending our sovereignty." The finger-pointer above was reminded that Vidal, rather than flinching, was willing to replicate her favorite Cuban patriots...and not skedaddle to that mansion that probably still awaits her defection to Miami.
              But anyone who shows respect for Cuba as a sovereign nation will be gifted with Vidal's beautiful smile and sweet demeanor. Those two facets of her character -- toughness and sweetness -- have established her as the most important and the most effective diplomat on the North American continent.
        U. S. Secretary of State John Kerry knows all about Josefina Vidal's toughness and sweetness...and her unwavering defense of Cuba. This AP photo shows Mr. Kerry in Havana on August 14th pointing out to Vidal, "See, Josefina, I told you it would happen." What happened was the raising of the U. S. flag at its embassy in Havana for the first time since 1961. It also marked the first time a U. S. Secretary of State had visited Cuba since 1945. None of those things would have happened if it were not for Vidal's diplomatic skills in defending Cuba against a vast array of implacable and supposedly irresistible forces.
But with that being said........
       ........don't forget that Josefina Vidal is fully capable of putting that beautiful diplomatic smile and that sweet, sanguine demeanor aside if she feels Cuba is being treated unfairly. Tomorrow I will explain: {1} Why Vidal is so keenly interested in the U. S. presidential sweepstakes; {2} why she believes a Republican in the White House beginning in 2017 would put Cuba on a war-footing; and {3} why she would prefer either Marco Rubio or Ted Cruz over Jeb Bush as the next American president.
Tomorrow: "Vidal vs. The Bushes"

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