Irrevocable Cuban Advances

But too fragile to be permanent??
Can Congress Change Cuban Course??
Photo courtesy: Reuters/Carlos Garcia Rawlings.
      The photo above -- taken on September 19, 2015 -- shows an American Airlines plane getting ready to land at Jose Marti Airport in Havana. This was a chartered flight because, for over half a century, commercial flights between Cuba and the United States have been illegal. But, thanks to President Obama's remarkably brave efforts to normalize relations with Cuba, that is about to change -- BIG TIME!!
        This photo -- courtesy of Augusto Gomez Rojas -- shows a Cuban airplane about to land in Mexico. This week marks exactly one year since President Obama announced his plans to normalize relations with Cuba. He has made amazing strides: Removing Cuba from the Sponsors of Terrorism list; opening embassies in Havana and Washington for  the first time since 1961; easing many restrictions on Americans traveling to Cuba; etc. And then yesterday Reuters used its biggest article to report on another major advance in U.S.-Cuban relations:
                       "The U. S. and Cuba have agreed to restore scheduled commercial airline service for the first time in more than five decades in a deal allowing 110 round-trip flights a day between the former Cold War foes. That includes 20 flights to Havana and 10 to each of the other nine international airports in Cuba.
                           "There will be a 60-to-90 day process doing which U.S.-based air carriers will submit proposed routes, with target dates of the first few months of 2016. There are now 12 criteria for Americans to visit the island -- visiting family, educational tours, journalistic endeavors, etc. -- but the general travel ban remains."
    The "general travel ban" that keeps everyday Americans from visiting Cuba remains in place because the U. S. embargo, which dates back to 1962, can only be changed by the U. S. Congress. That means it won't change any time soon because the U. S. Congress, when it comes to Cuba, is firmly dictated to by a handful of self-serving Cuban-Americans and their easily acquired sycophants to maintain enmity between the two nations to sate their revenge, economic, and political motives. But that doesn't mean that all of the 535 members of the U. S. Congress can be easily intimidated or bought off when it comes to Cuba. Senator Jeff Flake, on the left in this photo, and Senator Patrick Leahy, are neither scared off or purchased by the Cuban extremists in Congress. Mr. Flake is a Republican from Arizona and Mr. Leahy is a Democrat from Vermont. In December of 2014 they flew to Cuba to return Alan Gross to America, paving the way for the announcement a year ago this week that Presidents Obama and Castro were trying to normalize relations. Then, as that grandiose plan advanced, Senators Flake and Leahy flew with Secretary of State John Kerry to Cuba in July to raise the U. S. flag at its U. S. embassy, the same flag that had been locked in storage since 1961.
     Jeff Flake was born 52 years ago in Snowflake, Arizona. A Republican, he represented Arizona in the U. S. House of Representatives from 2003 till 2013. Since 2013 he has been in the U. S. Senate. During all those years, Jeff Flake has fought against a U. S. Cuban policy that he believes has been purely designed since 1959 to benefit a handful of Cuban exiles-Cuban Americans while discriminating against everyone else and also smearing the images of the U. S. and democracy in the eyes of the rest of the world. Not only does Senator Flake have that belief about U.S.-Cuban relations, he has enough guts to back it up in a 535-member U. S. Congress that has long allowed a few extremists to dictate Cuban policy. This week Senator Flake and Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont teamed to fire off a heart-wrenching letter to President Obama. You can go online and read its contents but, to summarize, they praised President Obama for the successes he has orchestrated to normalize relations with Cuba. The letter also strongly suggested that President Obama should fervently continue along that path during the final 400 days of his two-term presidency. This week Senator Flake told Politico that he believes more Republicans are beginning to resist the tight grip extremists, for decades, have had on dictating U. S. policy in Congress. He said, "To the extent that there was some resistance, maybe some broad resistance, there's now just pockets of resistance to diplomatic relations." Democracy lovers truly hope he is right.
        Study this photo. On the right is Marco Rubio, Miami's contribution to the U. S. Senate and to the Republican presidential primary. The image captures Rubio ranting in the Senate against President Obama's overtures to Cuba. On the left, you can see Senator Jeff Flake's expression as he listens to Rubio's diatribe about "blocking" or "rolling back" all of President Obama's Cuban advances once he replaces Obama in the White House. Senator Flake is aware that, thanks to the support from a cowardly and inept U. S. media, Rubio is totally convinced that his extremist views against Cuba will not cost him a single vote on his path to the White House, a path greased by the Tea Party and a lot of right-wing billionaires but not greased by any accomplishments as a first-term Senator. Senator Flake's frustration, as exhibited above, is from a democratic perspective: He is well aware that every recent poll in Miami, including Rubio's Little Havana neighborhood, reveals that even the majority of Cuban-Americans, like the rest of the world, strongly oppose the U. S. embargo of Cuba that Rubio wants continued and expanded for another six decades or so.
      If President Castro of Cuba and President Obama of the United States can shake hands and agree on normalizing relations between their countries, why can't Senator Flake and Senator Rubio do the same? One thing is certain, as the 192-to-2 vote in the UN indicates, the world, including Miami, now agrees with Flake's Cuban stance.
        This week's announcement that the U. S. and Cuba will resume commercial air service for the first time in over half a century is no small thing. It continues the Obama-orchestrated trend to bring decency and sanity to U.S.-Cuban relations. In that pro-democracy endeavor, Republican Senator Jeff Flake is probably Obama's biggest asset. Senator Flake is hoping that such commercial ties will prevent even Miami extremists from maintaining the embargo forever. But Obama's final 400 days in the White House will be fraught with opposition, even danger, as he tries to stamp Cuban reform as a primary legacy that will shine brightly for decades to come.
At least this is an Obama legacy.
For the first time since 1961, the Cuban flag flies at its embassy in Washington.
       This week Major League Baseball sent some of its superstars to Cuba on a Good Will mission. After the 3-day visit ended yesterday, MLB called the experience "exhilarating." MLB now plans for the Cincinnati Reds to play two exhibition games in Havana in March!! Four Cubans made the journey back to Cuba. They are  -- left to right in this photo -- Alexei Ramirez, Jose Abreu, Brayan Pena, and Yasiel Puig. Right behind Abreu is Miguel Cabrera, the best hitter in baseball, and right behind Pena is Clayton Kershaw, the best pitcher in baseball. Cabrera and Kershaw make well over $30 million a year. But the four Cubans also are now millionaires many times over in America.
        This photo shows Jose Abreu getting off the plane in Havana. It was, of course, a chartered flight but back in the U. S. this week it was announced that soon commercial flights between Cuba and the U. S. will fill the skies for the first time in 54 years. Such positives by Obama will be hard to roll back, even by Congress or President Rubio!!
       While in Cuba this week, the Major League superstars gave clinics for young Cubans. This MLB/Getty Images photo shows Jose Abreu instructing Cuban children. Jose was born 28 years ago in Cruces, Cuba. He defected to the U. S. in August of 2013 and signed a guaranteed $68 million, 6-year contract with the Chicago White Sox. After two powerful seasons in Chicago, the White Sox consider the $68 million investment a huge bargain, which means Jose's future earnings will easily exceed that $68 million. Jose's return to Cuba this week reunited him with his 5-year-old son Dariel Eduardo. Jose was asked how long had it been since he had seen Dariel. He quickly replied, "Two years, four months." Soon Jose's trips on commercial flights back and forth to Cuba will be more convenient. 

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