Cuba-US Revelations Today

Still Powerful Pros and Cons
       ATTENTION LADIES AND GENTLEMEN!! The photo above shows the plush Hotel Riviera in Havana. It was built by the Jewish Mafia kingpin Meyer Lansky and opened in 1957. It was nationalized in 1959 when the Cuban Revolution overthrew the U.S.-backed Batista-Mafia dictatorship. Yesterday -- December 8th, 2015 -- the family of the late Meyer Lansky let it be known that they want Cuba to return the hotel to them or give them cash for what it is worth. I KID YOU NOT!! A great journalist -- Paul Guzzo of The Tampa Tribune -- reported Tuesday that 60-year-old Lansky grandson Gary Rapoport of Tampa, Florida, said: "The hotel was taken forcefully from my grandfather. Cuba owes my family money." That quotation would be funny, of course, except for the fact that the Batistianos and the Mafiosi, who raped and robbed Cuba at will from 1952 till 1959, have continued, from the sanctity of U. S. soil, to be supported by a U. S. Congress consistently passing and enforcing pro-Batistiano, anti-Cuban laws.
         This is mobster Meyer Lansky in Israel with his only daughter Sandra, the mother of Tampa's Paul Rapoport, the man who says Cuba owes his family for taking over Lansky's Hotel Riviera.
A best-seller written by Sandra Lansky.
           The photo above was used in Life Magazine in 1958 when it was the most-read magazine in the United States. It shows Meyer Lansky leaving his Riviera Hotel beside a young woman and carrying a satchel that Life said contained $200,000 cash, reportedly one night's loot from the vast gambling-prostitution-drug enterprise that Lansky directed in Cuba for the Mafia and dictator Fulgencio Batista. Then as now, Americans were well informed about the U.S.-backed Mafia-orchestrated rape and robbery of Cuba from 1952 till 1959. Yet, then as now, Americans don't give a damn. That's why, yesterday -- Dec. 8th, 2015 -- Meyer Lansky's grandson in Tampa, Gary Rapoport, feels he has a lot of support in demanding that Cuba repay his family for their loss of the Riviera Hotel. Yes, that is a true updated story. But everything regarding U.S.-Cuban relations since the 1950s have {1} been stranger than fiction; and {2} have shown little regard for the sacred pillars of the U. S. democracy. That's why, I believe, Mafia-aficionados and Democracy-lovers alike are fascinated with Cuba. Study the revelations attached to the above photos and see if you agree.
       After fleeing the Cuban Revolution on January 1, 1959, Meyer Lansky returned to a safe haven in Miami and that's where he died, at age 81, in 1983. In addition to such Cuban property as the Hotel Riviera, Lansky reportedly accumulated vast holdings in Miami, New York, Las Vegas, and Israel. He is renowned today as the greatest Mafia financial genius with Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, and Miami being his three favorite cities, along with Batista's Havana in Cuba till January 1, 1959.
Meyer Lansky is buried at Mt. Nemo Cemetery in Miami, Florida.
Photo courtesy: Ramon Espinosa/The Associated Press
       The photo above shows Javier Yanez placing a U. S. flag beside his Cuban flag on his balcony in Havana. The date was Dec. 19-2014, the day Presidents Obama and Castro went on television at noon to announce that they were trying to normalize relations. Since then the two nations have opened embassies in Havana and Washington for the first time since 1961; Cuba has been removed from the U. S. Sponsors of Terrorism list; and the U. S., thanks to brave overtures from President Obama, has lifted some travel restrictions allowing more Americans to visit the island.

    But Josefina Vidal, Cuba's prime negotiator on all items related to the United States, remains well aware that "four members of the U. S. Congress from Miami can continue to use a bullied Congress to punish innocent Cubans for another six decades or longer." She was referring to the four current Miami Cuban-Americans in the U. S. Congress -- Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Marco Rubio, Mario Diaz-Balart, and Carlos Curbelo. AND SHE'S RIGHT. Vidal is aware that President Obama has only one year left in office. She is also aware that when the three previous Democratic presidents -- Kennedy, Carter, and Clinton -- tried to normalize relations with Cuba, the Miami Cubans teamed with Republican sycophants to easily not only stop them but to pass even harsher congressional laws against Cuba. That's exactly what Vidal expects to happen with Obama's overtures too. "I don't expect the American people," she says, "to care about innocent Cubans on the island. But I am surprised they care so little about their democracy to allow a handful of Cuban exiles and their associates to usurp the U. S. government for their own revenge and power while the rest of the world cringes." Yet, Vidal is the one who has negotiated more detente with the United States than anyone since the 1950s. Last week she was back in Washington continuing important negotiations. Yesterday -- December 8, 2015 -- she was in Havana hosting key U. S. diplomats and hoping to negotiate some more.

      Josefina Vidal is quite aware that when Miami Cubans pushed through congressional laws such as The Cuban Adjustment Act, The Torricelli Bill, The Helms-Burton Act, etc., they codified in supposed perpetuity a law that mandated that the U. S. could never normalize relations with Cuba as long as there were still claims in the U. S. against property nationalized by Fidel Castro shortly after the triumph of the Cuban Revolution in January of 1959. But in Havana yesterday Vidal was willing to negotiate that stumbling block. The U. S. claims that nationalized U. S. property was worth $1.9 billion and, with inflation and interest, is now worth $8 billion. The largest claim against Cuba, Vidal was informed, is $267 million that the Cuban Electric Company was perceived to be worth in 1959. That company's ownership has changed several times and is now owned by Office Depot. Vidal was told that the individual claims against Cuba only amount to about $200 million, a figure even that cash-challenged Cuba could handle. Vidal told the U. S. negotiators yesterday that Cuba has settled claims with Canadian and Spanish companies and individuals. She was told that U. S. companies will likely be willing to settle with token payments as long as Cuba allows them to return and do business on the island. Vidal's reaction: "Fine. That's a good point concerning U. S. claims against Cuba. Now, what about Cuba's claims against the U. S. One of our accountants tabs that as $1 trillion. That factors in...the embargo since 1962; the theft of Guantanamo Bay since 1903; and countless deaths and injuries from terrorist attacks that have included airplane and hotel bombings as well as air and boat strafings by cannon-fire on our coastal areas." Vidal, for Cuba's sake, wants normal relations with the economic and military colossus just off the island's northern coast. She knows that Miami-directed congressional law about U. S. monetary claims against Cuba will almost certainly derail any real chance for normalizing relations with the U. S. Yet, she is a brilliant and stubborn negotiator. "Not even a nuclear power next door can scare Cuba, and I think we have proven that is so even as, from the Bay of Pigs till today, a few Cuban exile revenge-seekers have been allowed to set U. S. policy regarding us. Negotiations with us have to show respect for our sovereignty. That includes these claims."
        Richard Feinberg is a fair-minded expert on the Cuban economy at the Washington-based Brookings Institute. He is keeping a close eye on this week's Cuban negotiations with 15 creditor nations known as the Paris Club that have had long-standing claims against Cuba. Those nations are: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Britain, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United States. They still claim Cuba owes them $16 billion and Feinberg believes Cuba is willing to repay $5 billion on easy terms while the Paris Club is willing to forgive $11 billion with the understanding that those nations can conduct future business in Cuba. Feinberg says, "A comprehensive deal would go a long way toward normalizing Cuba's international financial relations." The U. S. embargo since 1962 has prevented Cuba from having financial dealings with the World Bank and other international institutions that most non-embargoed nations depend on. Most experts agree that Cuba is unique for surviving them for so long.
     Marc Frank, the great journalist for Reuters, has lived mostly in Cuba for a quarter of a century and is the best source for insightful and fair-minded articles from the island. In yesterday's article regarding Cuba's negotiating with the U. S. and the Paris Club regarding compensation, Marc Frank wrote: "Cuba has had a trade and current account surplus since 2011 and has improved its payments record to creditors and suppliers." Except for Paul Guzzo at The Tampa Tribune, Marc Frank is about the only well-known journalist in the UK or the US with the guts and integrity to report fairly on Cuban issues, be they positive or negative. Most of the others seem to clear their reporting with the Miami Mafia, but not Mr. Marc Frank.
       This Marc Frank book features a cornucopia of fascinating revelations about Cuba that he didn't clear with the Miami Mafia. So, it's truly a must-read about Cuba.
        The photo above is courtesy of Susan Stocker/South Florida Sun-Sentinel. It was taken yesterday - - December 8th -- at Florida's Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. It shows U. S. Marshalls arriving from Havana with a fugitive named Shawn Wegmann. He is an Indiana man wanted on firearm violations and was reportedly an enforcer for a motorcycle gang. He allegedly stole a small boat in Key West and fled to Cuba. Although unheralded, Cuba often turns over captured fugitives at the request of U. S. Marshalls. Cooperation between the U. S. and Cuba often goes unreported because the U. S. media generally fears upsetting the lucrative Castro Industry in the U. S.
        Cuba tries real hard to protect is vast coastlines. Above is the photo that the United States Marshalls sent to Cuba showing the boat Shawn Wegmann allegedly stole in nearby Key West so he could flee to Cuba. Cuba said thanks for the information. Yesterday the U. S. Marshalls thanked Cuba for turning Wegmann back over to them.
     Yasiel Puig is the awesomely talented Cuban outfielder with the Los Angeles Dodgers, baseball's richest team. Major League Baseball yesterday reluctantly agreed that Yasiel can accompany its troupe of current and former superstars that will travel to Cuba for a three-day Good-Will trip next week -- December the 15th through the 18th. Yasiel turned 25 this week; he was born December 7th, 1990, in Cienfuegos, Cuba. He defected to the U. S. in 2012...barely! He was kidnapped in Mexico and the smugglers threatened to kill him unless a well-known person in Miami paid them $250,000. {The Wikipedia bio of Yasiel mentions that Yasiel ended up paying "Cuban-American Mafia" members $1.3 million and $500,000 for securing his release. Prior to making his debut with the Dodgers on June 3, 2013, Yasiel had signed a $42 million, 7-year contract.} Yasiel became an instant superstar with the Los Angeles Dodgers, but a troubled one. Hopefully, his troubles will end very soon.
      This mugshot of Yasiel Puig relates to a recent altercation in a bar in which he allegedly pushed his sister and then had a bloody fight with a bouncer. That almost caused Major League Baseball to keep Yasiel from being on the star-studded Good Will trip to Cuba next week that will include three other Cuban Major League stars. But, after much deliberation, Wednesday it was announced that Yasiel will now accompany the entourage to Cuba.
     This photo shows Yasiel Puig celebrating a victory for the Los Angeles Dodgers with ace pitcher Clayton Kershaw, #22. There have been reports this winter that Puig will be traded by the Dodgers because Kershaw and other teammates "are fed up" with his behavior. But Kershaw denies those reports and it appears it was Kershaw who persuaded MLB to allow Yasiel to go on the Good Will trip to Cuba next week. That belated announcement by MLB noted that Kershaw and Yasiel will do "charity work" in Cuba next week. Kershaw and his wife are well known for their charity work in America and Africa. Kershaw has a long-term contract with the Dodgers exceeding $30 million a year. Yasiel is making "only" $4.5 million a year now but, minus his off-the-field problems, he has the talent in money-crazed Major League Baseball to one day match Kershaw's enormous paychecks.
          This photo is courtesy of David Kohl/USA Today Sports. Incredibly, Aroldis Chapman this week is making more news in Los Angeles and Major League Baseball than his fellow Cuban Yasiel Puig. Chapman was born 27 years ago in Holguin, Cuba. He defected in 2009 and by 2010 with the Cincinnati Reds he had become a legendary closer. He has a record-setting 105-mph fastball and reached 500 strike-outs in the Majors faster than any pitcher in history. Chapman was paid $8.05 million this year by Cincinnati but he is a free agent and the Reds cannot afford his next multi-year salary. The Los Angeles Dodgers can and they traded for Chapman but the deal is on hold now. That's because of an October 30th incident in which Chapman is accused of choking his girlfriend and firing eight gunshots into the basement of his Miami-area home, with one of the bullets blasting through a window and ending up in a field. His girlfriend told the police the incident started when she discovered something on Chapman's cellphone.  

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