Cuba Is A BIG Island

And A BIG Player On The World Stage
         It's becoming a habit. Like old...or at least new...friends, Cuban President Raul Castro and U. S. President Barack Obama had another friendly, private meeting Tuesday -- September 29th -- at the United Nations in New York. The photo above is courtesy of Doug Mills/New York Times. When this photo was snapped, Castro is telling Obama he is surprised "How tall you are," flummoxing Obama for a moment.
        In the last week of September, 2015, this and similar photos flashed around the world many times, and rightly so considering the dangers to humanity around the world. In recent days almost all of the world leaders -- from the Pope to Vladimir Putin to Raul Castro -- have converged on U. S. soil, especially the United Nations in New York. Among the vital issues discussed in UN speeches and in private meetings by American President Obama and Russian President Putin are cataclysmic military operations in nations such as Ukraine and Syria as well as the contaminant international threats from militarily powerful terrorist groups. The situation is becoming more and more reminiscent of World War II when great leaders -- Roosevelt in the U. S. and Churchill in England -- made the crucial decision to align with the Soviet Union's cruel dictator, Stalin, to save the world from the dire threat represented by the German-Japan-Italian alliance. The Soviet Union collapsed economically because of the post-World War II Cold War, but Russia remains a gigantic military nuclear power, one that President Obama may have to align with to confront what may be an even more dire threat than Hitler to Western civilization. In that milieu, President Obama had his hands and mind full of Putin and Russia this week, not to mention the 21-gun salute and the massively flattering White House dinner showered on Communist China's President Zi. But still President Obama took time to pay homage to Cuba, including in his major speech September 28th at the UN and in a private meeting at the UN with Cuban President Castro. Yes, Cuba is the largest island in the Caribbean, right next door to the U. S. But it is still just an island with a very small economy and a very weak military. So why in a big, wide, eclectic, and troubled world is Cuba such a big player on the international stageThe answer is a fait accompli that proselytized Americans are not supposed to have either the courage or the intelligence to consider, resembling a Batista/Mafia-style Banana Republic where overwhelmed citizens are told how, when and what to think.
         During his speech at the UN Monday, September 28th, President Obama had a lot on his plate -- Russia, China, Iran, powerful terrorist groups, etc. -- but he did not neglect Cuba as he tried to assure the world that his efforts to normalize relations with the nearby island is one of the good things the U. S. is trying to accomplish. He let the world know that the U. S. and Cuba have opened embassies in Havana and Washington for the first time since 1961, as the world has urged the U. S. to do. He also let the world know that he is trying to further appease the world by ending the embargo against Cuba that has hurt Cubans since 1962 and severely harmed the U. S. image around the world. In the above speech Monday, President Obama said: "I'm sure Congress will inevitably lift an embargo which should no longer be there." The whole world agrees with that sentiment but a handful of revengeful Miami members of the U. S. Congress, along with a handful of easily acquired sycophants, can continue to dictate America's Cuban policy, and President Obama, deep into his second term as President, probably knows that but just didn't want to share it.
        Cuban President Raul Castro this week made his first two speeches at the United Nations. He richly praised President Obama for the "positive progress" he has "bravely constructed" to improve U.S.-Cuban relations. But Raul Castro has also used the UN to point out "an apparently engraved" weakness in the U. S. democracy that permits "a few" to establish "legal legislation" that harms most Cubans, most Americans, most Cuban-Americans, and most citizens of the world because of America's "intra-international" role.
          This week at the UN President Obama requested and got yet another private meeting with Raul Castro. They had astonished the world by simply greeting each other at the Mandela Memorial in South Africa and then Obama followed that up by having very friendly public and private meetings with Raul Castro at the Summit of the Americas in Panana in April. Prior to Pope Francis' visits to Cuba and the U. S. this month, Obama telephoned Castro to let him know he was continuing to use his executive authority to chip away at the Congress-mandated embargo. For decades Raul Castro has often been simply labeled "Fidel's little brother" although since the 1950s they both have been larger-than-life revolutionary figures. Fidel is now 89-years-old and still recovering from an intestinal illness that almost killed him in July of 2006. The 84-year-old Raul has been Cuba's President since 2008 when Fidel realized he would never again be physically able to fulfill the job. Since then, Raul has not only worked with President Obama in trying to improve U.S.-Cuban relations, he has sought to inject Vietnamese/Chinese-style capitalism into an entrepreneur-focused Cuban economy. But his relationship with President Obama in recent months has done more than anything else to elevate the images of himself, the island, and the Cuban Revolution.
        In fact, one of the hot items at the United Nations in New York this week has been a new biography entitled: "RAUL CASTRO: A Man In Revolution." At age 84 the "little brother" is portrayed as a "big hombre."
         At recent international forums, including the United Nations this week, it seems that a lot of inquisitive people are interested in reading about how Raul Castro has emerged on the world stage.
        But having said all that, this is the profile of Cuba that is far more important than all others when it comes to Cuba's future, and that includes the ubiquitous profiles of the Castro brothers, President Obama, and Pope Francis. The profile above is gazing in wonderment out from Havana's famed Malecon seawall. She is wondering if, during her lifetime, Cubans on the island -- not in Miami and Washington -- will chart the course that her life will take. She knows what Batista, the Mafia, and U. S. businessmen did to the island in the 1950s; she knows the defensive posture Revolutionary Cuba has been forced to take since 1959. She knows that a few revengeful but now ultra-powerful Cuban-Americans can still punish innocent Cubans in the mostly unchallenged guise of hurting the sufficiently vilified Castro brothers, such as the wildly euphoric and unchallenged shouts in the Miami media -- "It's the biggest blow yet against Castro!" -- when the most celebrated and most protected Cuban-exile terrorists bombed the child-laden Cubana Flight 455 into the ocean on October 6, 1976. The profile above wonders if this current generation of Americans still considers Cubana Flight 455 "the biggest blow yet against Castro." And most of all, the profile above gazes across the Florida Straits and wonders whether a handful of benefactors in Miami will forever over-rule the majority of Americans and Cuban-Americans in setting a U. S. Cuban policy that the rest of the world, as epitomized by the unanimity in the United Nations, considers beneath the principles of a great democracy. The profile above has had a lifetime of foreign greed, revenge, and imperialism. She now wants a chance to have real input in her future, and her children's future. And she deserves that chance, over and above the dictates of a vicious minority in a dysfunctional U. S. Congress that she doesn't understand.
caused this,
which caused this,

which caused havoc like this.
          Americans who do not factor the fate as well as the aftermath of events such as Cubana Flight 455 into the U.S.-Cuban equation are totally disregarding why Cuba is a BIG island on the international stage. No, Cubana Flight 455 was not "the biggest blow yet against Castro," the mantra that pusillanimously unpatriotic Americans were told to accept. {"We, NOT CASTRO, are the good guys!"}. Cubana Flight 455 could better be depicted as "the biggest boost" of the Castro brothers and their revolution, which got its original "big boost" from the excessive greed and obsessive brutality of the U.S.-backed Batista-Mafia dictatorship. To critique the Cuban Revolution, start by critiquing the above graphic. Either it was one of "the biggest blows" against Castro or it was one of "the biggest boosts" for Castro. Study its cause and its perpetrators, and the high-profile politicians -- including current presidential contenders -- who have defended it and them. Then factor it into such phenomenons as the longevity of the Cuban Revolution and why Cuba today is a BIG island. It takes many intricate pieces to make a challenging puzzle. And Cuba is a challenging puzzle with many intricate pieces, many of which are supposed to be unknown so as to make the vast Castro industry in the United States more and more lucrative and powerful, lucrative enough to make you a rich hombre in Miami and, maybe, a big hombre in the White House.


Embargo Looms Large At UN

Embarrassing President Obama
And Democracy-Lovers Everywhere
          On Saturday, September 26th, Cuban President Raul Castro made his first speech at the United Nations in New York. {Photo courtesy: Reuters/Carlo Allegri}. The U. S. embargo against Cuba dominated his speech and the thoughts of the appreciative audience. President Castro hailed President Obama's efforts at trying to normalize relations between the two nations, calling it "major progress." Then he slammed the embargo, which Cuba calls a blockade, with words such as these: "The blockade is the main obstacle to our country's economic development, while affecting other nations due to its extra-international scope, and hurting the interests of American citizens and companies. Such a policy is rejected by 188 of 190 UN member states that seek its removal." Every year since 1982 the UN has denounced the embargo in near unanimity. Last October the vote was 188-to-2 with only Israel supporting the U. S. policy, a truly amazing statistic considering that the U. S. is by far the most influential economic and military power in the world, and considering the fact that many United Nations members are very close friends of the United States.
            U. S. President Barack Obama also spoke at the UN Saturday, September 27th. {Photo courtesy: Mandel Rgan/AFP/Getty Images}. His main theme was to call for "the eradication of poverty." Echoing the admonitions of Pope Francis on his trips last week to both Cuba and the United States, President Obama in the above speech pleaded with the leaders of other nations to help him, and the Pope, to try to curb the vast and growing disparity between the rich and the poor. Also, President Obama obviously was influenced by President Raul Castro's earlier UN speech calling for an end to the embargo. After President Obama's address to the UN Saturday, the White House confirmed that Mr. Obama and Mr. Castro will have a private meeting at the UN tomorrow -- Tuesday, September 29th. The meeting apparently was requested by President Obama. The 170 or so world leaders congregated at the UN are being informed that the U. S. will "abstain" from supporting its own embargo against Cuba when the UN votes on the issue next month. Such an abstention would reflect Obama's embarrassment and send a rebuke to the obstinate U. S. Congress.
        Back in April at the Summit of the Americas in Panama, the two Presidents not only had this friendly handshake but also engaged in a private meeting. Since then they have talked on the telephone, including last week when Mr. Obama phoned Mr. Castro -- just prior to the arrival of Pope Francis in Cuba -- to tell the Cuban leader of further executive orders aimed at normalizing relations between their two countries.
        Barack Obama has been President of the United States for almost seven years now. During all that time he has been grossly embarrassed by the U. S. embargo of Cuba -- mandated by and maintained by revengeful right-wingers in the U. S. Congress that, unlike Mr. Obama, could care less about how much the embargo harms everyday Cubans and everyday Americans, not to mention the dastardly hurtful image of America and Democracy that it presents to the entire world. Inspired by Pope Francis, Mr. Obama has worked tirelessly in the past two years to normalize relations with Cuba and the fruition has resulted in many advances, including the opening of embassies in Havana and Washington for the first time since 1961. But only the U. S. Congress can officially end the embargo and it is quite apparent that the congressional Republican right-wingers will not do that, again reminding the world, including the Pope and all of America's best friends around the world, that the U. S. democracy is no longer strong enough to deal sanely with a handful of thuggish right-wingers who are unconcerned with true democratic principles.
       Sarah Stephens is one of America's greatest experts on U.S.-Cuban relations. She is also the founder and leader of the Washington-based Center for Democracy in the Americas. Ms. Stephens believes there is a chance that immense pressure will soon persuade the U. S. Congress to end the embargo against Cuba. In her last CDA "Cuba Central" posting, Ms. Stephens wrote: "The cat has scampered out of the bag. The U. S. policy transition to a post-embargo world is underway, and the forces to make the new policy irreversible are getting stronger." The forces she alludes to are world opinion, the Pope, the Presidents of the U. S. and Cuba, and the strong desire of American businesses and ports to engage in free commerce with Cuba. Normally I believe in and adhere to every word Ms. Stephens emits regarding Cuba. But not this time. I regretfully disagree with the 32 words in her above quotation. I believe, when it comes to Cuba, the cat is still in the bag and the U. S. democracy is incapable of letting it have the freedom to scamper out.
        Jeffrey Koterba is the exception to the rule when it comes to the sorry state of mainstream journalism in the U. S. Mr. Koterba since 1989 has been America's best political cartoonist. His gems originate in the Omaha World Herald and are distributed by King Features Syndicate to well over 400 U. S. newspapers.
       This week Jeffrey Koterba's gem reminded Americans that their two-party political system is no longer the functional democracy that was so majestically crafted by the Founding Fathers in 1776. The U. S. Congress is so out-of-touch with most Americans that its approval rating is in the single digits, yet Americans are helpless to ameliorate the problem. Too many of the 535 members of Congress are right-wing incumbents from specific areas and those miscreants can make or influence legislation that adversely affects the majority of Americans who have no input when it comes to voting such miscreants out of office. Therefore a handful of revengeful Cuban-Americans in Miami aligned with a handful of self-serving politicians -- Jesse Helms, Dan Burton, Robert Torricelli, the Bush dynasty, etc. -- can dictate a Cuban policy that the vast majority of the world's citizens stringently oppose. One of those majority citizens is Pope Francis and another is President Obama. As much {or more} than anything else, America's Cuban policy reminds the world that the U. S. democracy has been usurped and this generation of Americans seems unwilling or incapable of doing anything about it. Jeffrey Koterba, with the above gem, is reminding us that Pope Francis engineered a miracle when he inspired Presidents Obama and Castro to normalize relations between the two neighboring nations. But Jeffrey Koterba also reminds us that not even Pope Francis can inspire Americans to do something about their incredibly dysfunctional U. S. Congress.
       Sunday night, September 27th, CNN premiered the latest "Parts Unknown" documentary hosted by Anthony Bourdain. This one found him in Cuba {Photo courtesy: CNN}. Bourdain's adventurous travels are very popular and if you missed the premier showing from Cuba it will be replayed or you can view it online. It's worth your time and effort. Bourdain spent most of his time with everyday Cubans but also was shown around Havana by a Cuban-American businessman who divides his time between Havana and Miami. Also, Bourdain and his viewers got much insight about Cuba from famed journalist/author Jon Lee Anderson who has lived on the island. Unlike most U. S. journalists or broadcasters when it relates to Cuba, Bourdain is not intimidated by pressure or biased by politically correct protocol. The audacious Bourdain unleashed a myriad of quips from Cuba, including, "Cuba's been sitting here for what, 55 years, basically giving the biggest superpower in the world the stiff middle finger." Bourdain's program from Cuba is worth viewing because he allows everyday Cubans on the island, not provocateurs off the island, to portray the island.
        This photo shows a group of young Cubans enthusiastically welcoming Pope Francis to their island last week. Young Cubans like these were described by the aforementioned Anthony Bourdain as "among the most literate, the best educated people in the world." They also crave sovereignty. Left to their own devices, young Cubans like these will chart the post-Castro transition on the island. The U. S. Congress...to the chagrin of President Obama, Pope Francis, and the vast majority of democracy-lovers worldwide...believes that it, not these young Cubans, should dictate Cuba's future just as it has dictated Cuba's past for over five decades. How that dichotomy evolves will mean a lot to Cuba, America, and the world. In a fast-changing and newly reconfigured world, foreign nations should not dictate obscenities to weaker nations. In the views of most nations of the world, that is what the U. S. is doing in regards to Cuba. The extremists in the U. S. Congress will deny that fact, just as they deny the 188-to-2 vote in the UN. 


U. S. Businesses Covet Cuba

And Wage War Against Embargo
Updated: Sunday, September 27th, 2015
        Cuban President Raul Castro arrived in New York City this week -- Friday, September 25th. No sooner had he settled comfortably in at Cuba's United Nations mission than he had a bevy of visitors -- such as {aboveNew York Governor Andrew Cuomo and top business executives from his commercially minded state. This photo is courtesy of Kevin P. Couglin/Office of the Governor. The 84-year-old Cuban President will make an important speech at the UN tomorrow, September 28th. Meanwhile, the eclectic multitude of American businesses desiring to make money in Cuba is suddenly becoming a bit overwhelming for Cuba.
         Back in April, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo led a large group of business leaders to Cuba hoping to line up commercial opportunities. He was warmly welcomed by Josefina Vidal, Cuba's Minister of North American Affairs. She told Governor Cuomo, "We welcome your interests. I hope you will now work with President Obama and try to end the embargo, which you agree hurts good Cubans and good Americans."
        Tom Donahue is President of the United States Chamber of Commerce. On Friday, September 25th, Mr. Donahue announced the creation of the U.S.-Cuba Business Council that will be tasked with battling the Republican-dominated U. S. Congress to end the U. S. embargo against Cuba, which has been in place since 1962. Mr. Donahue stated Friday: "We've facing a historic opportunity to support a vital and growing Cuban private sector, one that is defined by entrepreneurs whose expanding efforts show that the spirit of free enterprise is already taking hold in the country." Donahue vs. Congress will be very interesting.
        As President of the U. S. Chamber of Commerce, Tom Donahue has also explained to Cuban President Raul Castro about how "eager" American businesses are to have a relationship with Cuba. In the above hallway, President Castro told Mr. Donahue, "The feeling is mutual. Cuba is eager for your business."
         Todd Haymore is Virginia's Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry. He spent most of this past week shepherding a top-level trade delegation from Cuba all around his ambitious state, including the Port of Virginia that is competing with other eastern ports to greatly expand commerce with the nearby island. Haymore this weekend told the Washington Post that his excitement over President Obama's detente with Cuba is euphoric. He said, "We're finally starting to see a move toward normalization after decades of strained relations, and Virginia is standing right at the front of the line to take advantage of the new opportunities." Virginia is already third among U. S. States, behind only Louisiana and Georgia, in doing business with Cuba. Soybean, pork, apples, and poultry are currently products Virginia sells to Cuba but Haymore says that just skims the surface of its planned agricultural relations with the island. He also plans to sharply increase Virginia's commerce with Cuba in other areas such as technology, tourism, and health care.  
        This AFP/Getty Images photo was taken at the Vatican in Rome in March of 2014. By then, Pope Francis was the dynamo inspiring U. S. President Barack Obama with these holy words: "Do me a favor. Do Americans and Cubans a favor. Have the courage to normalize relations with Cuba." President Obama replied, "I will do my best." In the ensuing months, he has kept that promise. Last year in Rome the President assured Pope Francis he could reopen embassies in Havana and Washington for the first time since 1961, and he has accomplished that thanks to the influence the Pope has also exercised with Cuban President Raul Castro. And this week in Washington the President indicated to Pope Francis that the U. S. will abstain in the UN next month and not even vote to support its own embargo against Cuba. Last year the UN vote was 188-to-2 against the embargo with Israel being the only nation persuaded to support it. 
           Of course, the three Cuban-American members of the U. S. House of Representatives from Miami are outraged and vowing to "STOP" and "ROLL-BACK" all of the positive advancements in U.S.-Cuban relations forged recently by Presidents Obama and Castro with the strong support of most people in the world.
          Marco Rubio, Miami's Cuban-American contribution to the U. S. Senate and the Republican presidential field, has been advised to "tone down" his visceral rhetoric against normalizing relations with Cuba because polls show the majority of Cuban Americans in his Miami area favor the normalization.
        This Reuters photo shows a Cuban vendor this week trying to sell some of his prints to tourists. A proliferation of entrepreneurship on the island, coupled with the strong desires of Americans such as Governor Cuomo and Tom Donahue to do business in Cuba, is being opposed by the same revengeful and right-wing attitudes that initiated the embargo way back in 1962 soon after both the Bay of Pigs attack and about twelve assassination attempts against Fidel Castro had failed to regain control of the island. Pope Francis and most other people around the world believe that the young artist trying to sell his paintings above should not forever be punished by a handful of revengeful right-wingers in another country.
The American flag at the U. S. embassy in Havana.


Anxious Young Cubans

A Brighter Future Beckons
Friday, September 25th, 2015
         Today -- Friday, September 25th -- Pope Francis made history by speaking to the largest gathering of world leaders, 170 of them including Cuba's Raul Castro, at the United Nations in New York. The day before he made history in Washington by speaking {AP photo above} before a joint session of the U. S. Congress. Pope Francis, behind the scenes, was the key instigator in encouraging Presidents Barack Obama and Raul Castro to begin the process of normalizing the long-abnormal U.S.-Cuban relations. Even after leaving the island for the U. S., Cuba remains very much on the Pope's mind. In the above address to Congress, he devoted a key paragraph to Cuba, saying, in part: "I would like to recognize the effects made in recent months to help overcome historic differences linked to painful episodes of the past...This has required, and requires, courage and daring, which is not the same as irresponsibility." RESPONSIBLE WORDS!!
        Within moments after welcoming Pope Francis to the United States this week, President Obama thanked him for brokering the detente with Cuba. According to voanews.com {Voice of America}, President Obama told Pope Francis: "Holy Father, thank you for your valuable support in our new beginning with the Cuban people, which gives us hope for better relations between our countries, greater cooperation in the hemisphere, and a better life for the Cuban people." Indeed, the convergence of two great men created the "new beginning." Pope Francis visited the island this monthPresident Obama likely will visit in 2016.
        This week, especially after Pope Francis left the island for his trip to the United States, young Cubans in Havana continued to envision a brighter future with their rejuvenated aspirations buoyed sharply by their government's positive reactions to changes proffered by two important men they respect -- President Barack Obama and Pope Francis. This Reuters/Alexandre Meneghini photo shows young adult Cubans absorbed with some new toys -- Smart Phones. Since July, thanks to overtures inspired by the U. S. President and the Pope, the Cuban government has opened 35 Wi-Fi outlets, with more on the way.
           This photo shows Daniel Llerandis, a 31-year-old artist working in Havana. He is talking to and viewing his wife and 6-month-old daughter in Miami. Havana-Miami separations are now more palatable.
Daniel enjoying his wife and baby in Miami while sitting on the Malecon seawall.
        This Reuters photo was taken this week, September 22nd, by Alexandre Meneghini. The young lady sitting on the famed Malecon seawall is Yasemin Lawson from Washington. She is an American taking advantage of the famed medical education Cuba provides her free of charge at its famed and welcoming Latin American School of Medicine. Ms. Lawson, while in Havana, now has easier and cheaper access to telecommunication services as well as daily connections to her relatives and friends in the United States.
       Mayra Arevich Marin is the President of ETECSA, which puts her in charge of Cuba's telecommunication advances. In the above photo she is on Cuba's Round Table television program explaining the Wi-Fi outlets she is opening around the island. "We have opened 35 Wi-Fi outlets now," she said. "and that's just a start." Partly because of the decades-old U. S. embargo against Cuba, the island still has one of the world's lowest internet penetrations. That is changing because of the positive effects of President Barack Obama's executive decisions that have chipped away at the pernicious embargo, which has stifled Cuba's economy since 1962. Cuba has only one underground fiber optic cable and it extends from Venezuela. But President Obama has dispatched the State Department's Daniel Sepulveda to Havana to talk with Mayra about an underground cable from Miami to Havana. She is very receptive: "Our people on this beautiful island, especially our young people, deserve what the modern world has to offer. If we are not restricted by outside forces, we in the Cuban government will do all in our power to make that happen."
 Mayra Arevich Marin, Cuba's telecommunications chief.
Photo courtesy: Jonathan Leibson/Getty Images
      America's A-list entertainer known by just one famous name, Usher, appreciates Cuba's advancements in telecommunications. The 36-year-old superstar just spent his honeymoon on the island after marrying his longtime girlfriend Grace Miguel.
       Thanks to some good and audacious people...such as President Obama and Pope Francis...U.S.-Cuba Relations have improved drastically in recent months. To be sure, there are some not-so-good people who are working hard to roll back those gains, but the momentum is already benefiting Cubans like Daniel Llerandis and Americans like Yasemin Lawson. Daniel is the Cuban in the photo above using his Smart Phone to talk to his wife and little girl in Miami. Yasemin is the American medical student in Havana in the photo above using her Smart Phone as she sits on the Malecon seawall. Peaceful and sane relations are always preferable to unfriendly and greedy relations.


Rubio, Commander-in-Chief

Cuba Is Preparing For It
        Weeks ago I posted two essays because I was impressed that Josefina Vidal, Cuba's preeminent expert on all things American, indicated that Cuba was gearing up to deal with U. S. President Marco Rubio beginning on January 20th, 2017. That surprised me. Rubio at the time, in composite poll numbers, was lulling at 5%, far behind even non-politicians such as Donald Trump and Dr. Ben Carson in the crowded Republican presidential sweepstakes. Yet, anyone concerned with the U.S.-Cuban conundrum should be smart enough and concerned enough to respect whatever opinion Vidal espouses regarding U.S.-Cuban relations. Yes, she believes Rubio -- a first-term U. S. Senator and a visceral anti-Castro Cuban-American from Miami -- will win the Republican presidential nod and then defeat Democrat Hillary Clinton to take the White House. Thus, Vidal believes that a Rubio administration aligned with a Republican Congress will quickly roll back President Obama's advances in trying to normalize relations with the nearby island. Moreover, Vidal believes that Rubio -- or any other Republican President in 2017 -- will force Cuba to make "another Bay of Pigs-type defense, with the U. S. having learned from its mistakes during the 1961 attack."
         No one in the U. S. media or the U. S. government knows as much about the U.S.-Cuban diaspora as Josefina Vidal, but Eugene Robinson is probably the most astute American political journalist on the current media landscape. Robinson, 61, is Harvard-educated, a Pulitzer Prize-winner, etc., etc. He writes two closely monitored columns each week for The Washington Post and he is ubiquitous as a television analyst on NBC/MSNBC and other venues. In a recent column, Mr. Robinson described Rubio as "stridently, alarmingly hawkish. Where doesn't he want to use military force?" As a liberal analyst of the Republican contenders, Mr. Robinson is pro-Rubio. But his view of Rubio as "alarmingly hawkish" coincides with Vidal's expectations that Rubio, as Commander-in-Chief, would mean either war or capitulation for Cuba within the first six months of 2017. And Vidal does not plan to capitulate. In simple terms, she plans to fight. Mr. Robinson appears to be the only high-profile American pundit or journalist who has an inkling as to how Cuba, meaning Vidal, would react to a Rubio as U. S. Commander-in-Chief.
        This photo, courtesy of Reuters/Thompson, captured Josefina Vidal's very pertinent "ONE MILLIMETER" proclamation hurled back at a U. S. journalist at a news conference in Washington in August. She was irked that the questioner presumed little Cuba is in no position to resist whatever plans the U. S. has for it. She replied curtly and now famously: "Decisions on internal matters in Cuba are not negotiable and will never be put on the negotiating agenda with the United States. Cuba will never do absolutely anything, not move ONE MILLIMETER, to try to respond to pressure that disrespects our sovereignty."
          Since 2000, the turn of this 21st Century, Josefina Vidal has been arguably the most skilled and the toughest negotiator and diplomat on the North American continent. If that were not so, U. S. and Cuban flags would not now be flying, for the fist time since 1961, in front of their newly opened embassies.
          Josefina Vidal, shown above recognizing a questioner at a news conference in Washington, is a kind, sweet lady in circumstances in which she believes Cuba is treated fairly. If not, her nationalism and love for sovereignty can flare out wickedly. In 2017 a Republican U. S. President would discover that Vidal, quite aware of the vast disparity in U. S. and Cuban power, believes that neither a passive nor a military capitulation "is in Cuba's future." As far as Vidal is concerned, sovereignty is a "do or die proposition for Cuba." Anything else, she believes, "would mitigate against our independent and revolutionary nature."
          In 2002 after a stunning speech at a star-studded historical session hosted by Caroline Kennedy at the Kennedy Library in Boston, Josefina Vidal received the night's only standing ovation following her spirited defense of Cuban independence. In the last two years during intense diplomatic sessions responding to President Obama's rapprochement and detente with Cuba, she has never veered from that Kennedy Library position. In news conferences in Havana and in Washington, she has resolutely pressed Cuba's do-or-die attitude regarding sovereignty and independence. The above photo shows Vidal being interviewed by Cristina Escobar, Cuba's top broadcast journalist. This interview is conducted in Spanish, runs just over a half-hour, and is readily available on YouTube among other significant "Cristina Escobar Interviews." This particular in-depth Q & A session provides a clear understanding of Josefina Vidal, and to not understand her is synonymous with not understanding the current state of U.S.-Cuban relations.
         Cristina Escobar, at age 27, is not only Cuba's top broadcast journalist, she is also the most influential leader of the generation of young adult Cubans who will likely predicate the island's future course. Unless blunted by outside forces, Cristina hopes to help carve an entrepreneurial path that has friendly relations with the United States. But, make no mistake about it, Cristina Escobar is as much a nationalist as Josefina Vidal. Marco Rubio or any other Republican President in 2017, if they plan to recapture Cuba, will have to contend with Cristina Escobar's nationalism. Like Josefina Vidal, Escobar is fluent in both English and Spanish but also fluent in sovereignty and independence. Her firebrand Cuban defense as well as her uncommon journalistic skills were on full display when she covered the fourth and final Vidal-Jacobson diplomatic meeting in Washington. At a celebrated White House news conference and in speeches and interviews around Washington, Escobar stressed two primary topics: {1} "The lies the U. S. media tells about Cuba harm everyday Cubans the most," and {2} "Six decades of America's regime-change tactics aimed at Cuba have only made us twenty-something Cubans cherish our independence all the more."
           Despite her journalistic splash in Washington, the U. S. media ignores the opinions of influential young Cubans like Cristina Escobar. But on the island, and now on regional networks, she is a force. Like Vidal, she expects a Republican -- "Probably Rubio" -- to succeed Barack Obama as President of the United States in 2017. And, like Vidal, Escobar believes "that might mean war or capitulation."
              While two influential Cubans -- Josefina Vidal and Cristina Escobar -- are taking it for granted that Marco Rubio will be the U. S. President beginning in 2017, noxious conjectures will continue unabated in the U. S. for the rest of 2015 and all of 2016. That's because the election process itself is a capitalistic windfall for powerful entities -- politicians, advertising agencies, lobbyists, television stations, pundits, etc. Thus, Americans are subjected to an endless stream of campaigning, almost election to election. That being said, the Vidal-Escobar prognosis is probably the most accurate. After all, they believe it is life or death for their island's independence while American pundits are more interested in how much money their punditry will accrue for them during the long, drawn-out process. The Vidal-Escobar rationale is solid. They believe the perfect storm is favoring Rubio. His mentor, presidential contender Jeb Bush, is loaded with campaign money but also will likely get over-loaded by his last name. And no one else will have the billions of dollars needed to win the Republican nomination. Likewise, Rubio's Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, can amass the necessary billions of dollars but her last name and her political baggage will weigh her down. Moreover, the media will afford Rubio more of a free ride than all others will get. The New York Times recently had a major article outlining the many financial miscues Rubio amassed on his way to the Senate. That only infuriated supporters, such as former Florida congressman-turned-network-anchor Joe Scarborough, who screamed that the NY Times article would actually help "catapult" Rubio into the White House. Rubio used his anti-Castro zealotry in Miami's Little Havana to reach the Senate with the considerable help of the Bush dynasty and the Tea Party. His bio made the obligatory claim that his parents had escaped the Castro tyranny in Cuba for the freedom of Miami...at least till it was pointed out that his parents had actually escaped the Batista tyranny that Castro later also chased to Miami. In his stump speech and on televised debates, Rubio gains great mileage by heralding the fact that his father was a bartender and his mother was a housekeeper. Of course, Rubio can conveniently ignore the fact that any Cuban-American in Miami has extreme benefits that non-Cuban Americans do not remotely enjoy. Yet, all those things are just contaminant or collateral issues on Rubio's path to the White House, according to the Cuban experts Vidal and Escobar. They believe the primary reason Rubio's path to the White House in 2017 is sufficiently greased is one word -- Money, with a capital "M." Rubio verily swoons over billionaires.
         Jason Zengerle is one of America's most astute and acute political observers. His latest attention-grabbing gem was in the influential New York Magazine. It is entitled: "SHELDON ADELSON IS READY TO BUY THE PRESIDENCY." It seems that Vidal and Escobar, two Cubans quite interested in the U. S. presidency, have already devoured and studied Zengerle's article. Perhaps you should too, especially if you are an American voter. It's easy to Google and then devour. Zengerle points out that one rich man can purchase the presidency. And, believe me, 82-year-old Sheldon Adelson is very, very rich...and very, very determined. Vidal and Escobar sincerely believe Adelson can make Marco Rubio Commander-in-Chief.
         Sheldon Adelson is among a cabal of right-wing and Jewish billionaires who are determined to make their man, Marco Rubio, the next President of the United States. Thanks to a 2010 ruling by the U. S. Supreme Court, they have that opportunity. {In 2010 the Supreme Court ruled that there was no limit on political donations to so-called SuperPacs, a ruling that pretty much reshaped the U. S. democracy to totally favor individual and corporate billionaires. America's best potential Presidents, such as Senator Elizabeth Warren, won't even compete because to do so they would have to sell their political positions and souls to the highest bidders} Marco Rubio, on the other, has courted billionaire donors since he reached the Senate, so much so that he is #100 among the 100 Senators when it comes to actually taking time to vote in the Senate. In his hometown newspaper, The Miami Herald, there have been letters-to-the-editor pointing out that Rubio has sold out to Israel at the expense of supporting them. In fact, the hard-line Cuban-Americans in Miami's Little Havana favor Jeb Bush over one of their own, Rubio. Also, polls show that a strong majority of Cuban-Americans in Miami disagree with Rubio's apparently bought-and-paid-for antagonism towards detente with Cuba. Knowing all that, Vidal and Escobar still believe a handful of billionaires like Sheldon Adelson can and will put Rubio in the White House. As noted, Eugene Robinson this week wondered if there are any nations the "hawkish" Rubio is not anxious to bomb. Well, there is one for sure -- Israel. And there appears to be another one -- China. Rubio's top aides took a free trip to China to partake of the economic wonders in the world's second largest economy. Regardless of how "hawkish" Rubio is, Sheldon Adelson knows that, as Commander-in-Chief, Rubio surely won't bomb Israel or China, something Vidal and Escobar wishes also applied to Cuba. According to Forbes, Sheldon Adelson in 2015 is worth $28.9 billion. He has vast holdings in Las Vegas, Singapore, Macao, and Israel. He owns the Israeli daily newspaper HaYom. Some of his billions, including vast hotel-casino holdings, are tinged with or mired in controversy but they still can have a huge bearing on who becomes Commander-in-Chief. 
Israel first, America second, China third, and.......Cuba last!!
And, oh, by the way.................
            ..................................back in March President Barack Obama, as shown in this AP photo, visited Pope Francis at the Vatican in Rome. Mr. Obama invited the Pope to the White House in Washington. Yesterday, after his historic four-day visit to Cuba, Pope Francis arrived in the United States where President Obama greeted him at Andrews Air Force Base. Pope Francis, who leads an extremely modest lifestyle and is the world's leading champion for poor people, once referenced capitalism as "the dung of the devil."
         This man is apparently an example of the dung Pope Francis was referring to. His name is Martin Shkreli and he is the Founder/CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals. A drug named Daraprim sold for $18 per tablet till Turing purchased its production rights. Then the price was increased to $750 per tablet. Often such greed is "legal" because pharmaceutical companies spend billions on lobbyists, mostly former members of Congress who they kept in office for years before hiring them themselves. Also, noxious and sometimes embarrassing drug ads -- such as erection miracles for wimps -- take up about 40% of television's insulting avalanche of mostly puerile ads. But this time Turing's overnight increase from $18 per tablet to $750 per tablet for the cancer/HIV drug Daraprim caused a backlash that got this dung's...uh, Mr. Shkreli's...attention. He told ABC-TV News that he would lower the $750-per-tablet price so Turing would make only "a small profit." MAY GOD AND THE POPE BLESS HIM FOR HIS KINDNESS!! Martin Shkreli is an Albanian who graduated from Baruch College and then quickly became first a major Hedge Fund manager who then founded Turing Pharmaceuticals. Mr. Shkreli reminds me of the Pope's reference to dung but also he is reminiscent of Donald Trump's claim that Hedge Fund managers make untidy amounts of money and should be required to pay taxes. While the U. S. could certainly use more smart Albanians, the U. S. already has far too many greedy, well-educated Hedge Fund managers and far too much dung.

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

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