America's Cuban Dissidents

A Big Hurdle for Cuba
    Today -- Sunday, January 3rd -- Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe will fly to Cuba for a 3-day visit to promote Virginia business interests on the island, just as recent visits from the governors of New York, Texas, and other states have done. Governor McAuliffe's office stated: "The purpose of the trip is to open new markets for Virginia products. The Governor believes opening trade relations is a key strategy to create new economic activity and opportunities for families in Virginia and Cuba." If the topic was not Cuba, such a sane and decent statement would be applauded by every decent and sane person on the planet. BUT THE TOPIC IS CUBA. Therefore, the vast Castro Industry in the United States immediately went ballistic to excoriate Governor McAuliffe, just as the governors of New York, Texas, and other states were excoriated for the same reason in 2015 -- JUST TRYING TO HELP PEOPLE.
     Terry McAuliffe was born 58 years ago in Syracuse, New York. He is very well known for his ties to former President Bill Clinton and 2017 presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton. With a net worth of about $30 million, McAuliffe is the former Chairman of the Democratic National Committee. He took over as Virginia's governor in 2014. Like President Obama in Washington, Governor McAuliffe in Richmond is often stymied by a fierce Republican-controlled conservative or right-wing legislature.
    And like President Obama in Washington, Governor McAuliffe in Richmond has fought tooth-and-nail to provide such badly needed things as more and better health care for non-rich Virginians. But, not unexpectedly, like Obama Mr. McAuliffe has been massively opposed by conservative right-wingers and Tea Party zealots who favor only the rich, and not the less fortunate. And when it comes to his trip to Cuba today, like President Obama, Governor McAuliffe is fiercely opposed by Cuban-American politicians who self-servingly fuel the vast Castro Industry in the U. S.
     Jason Miyares has just become the first Cuban-American elected to the Virginia General Assembly in Richmond. He had the obligatory support of the Tea Party, the Castro Industry in the U. S., the Bush dynasty, and all the Cuban-Americans in the U. S. Congress. And, oh yes, his bio make the obligatory claim that Miyares "came to the U. S. from Cuba in 1965 with only the clothes on his back." Of course, such bios never mention that ANY CUBAN WHO REACHES U. S. SOIL IS INSTANTLY PROVIDED PRIVILEGES AND WELFARE UNAVAILABLE TO ANY NON-CUBAN. Thus, Miyares sailed through James Madison University and the William and Mary Law School. Then, using his Cuban-Americanism, he had only to align with the Tea Party, the Bush dynasty, and the Castro Industry and he was well on his way to fame, wealth, and political power. Not surprisingly, the first and only time Miyares has made anything resembling a headline as a Virginia delegate was yesterday -- Saturday, January 2-2016 -- when he railed long and loudly in denouncing Governor McAuliffe's trip to Cuba today. Miyares strongly suggested that Governor McAuliffe in Cuba spend his time meeting with dissidents instead of trying to line up business that would benefit Virginians and Cubans. To quote part of his vitriolic statement, Miyares said that McAuliffe "should keep in mind the thousands of dissidents that are harassed, beaten and imprisoned each day in Cuba simply because they yearn for freedom." He didn't mention the Cubans who "yearn" to get to the U. S. because they are enticed by special privileges and benefits unavailable to non-Cubans.

       Cuban-American presidential contender Marco Rubio in the U. S. Senate, Cuban-American Jason Miyares in the Virginia General Assembly, or any other politically minded Cuban-American can make any statement about Cuba and know full well that the mostly incompetent and largely intimidated U. S. media will never challenge them. Newcomers like Miyares in Virginia have surely learned that valuable lesson from veterans like Rubio from Miami. However, there are two significant sides to the U.S.-Cuban conundrum. If you listen to Rubio, Miyares, etc., you will believe that the only thing actually taking place on the nearby island is "harassed" Cubans being constantly "beaten and imprisoned each day in Cuba simply because they yearn for freedom." If that statement was remotely true, the Castro Industry would make sure, in this Smart Phone digital age, that substantiating video filled every American television screen on a nightly basis. And Americans, if they were freely allowed to visit Cuba and judge things for themselves, would not be routinely force-fed such distortions. I've been to Cuba...all over it. I never saw and was never told about any such beatings. If I had, I would have been appalled and totally unafraid to mention it.
       However, if you listen to Cristina Escobar, Josefina Vidal, etc., you get an entirely different portrait of Cuba. Escobar is the young, dynamic news anchor in Cuba. Vidal is the veteran diplomat in charge of Cuba's direct relations with America. In the above photo, that's Escobar interviewing Vidal. Both women have made multiple trips to the U. S. with the clothes on their back as well as a return airplane ticket to Cuba. And both high-profile women, while in the U. S., have reportedly received huge cash-and-mansion offers to defect. Instead, they elected to use their return tickets to Cuba.
     Josefina Vidal, Cuba's Minster of North American Affairs, in 2015 brilliantly negotiated some historic advances in U.S.-Cuban relations. First off, she got Cuba removed from the State Department's list of the Sponsors of Terrorism, which had allowed Cuban-Americans in Miami to sue Cuba for whatever they wanted to sue the unrepresented island for. Then she forged monumental advances such as the re-opening of embassies in Havana and Washington for the first time since 1961. But, heading into this New Year of 2016, Vidal has made it plain that much remains before Cuba will "in essence" normalize relations with the United States. She is willing to discuss compensation for property nationalized by Revolutionary Cuba but only if the U. S. compensates Cuba "for the sins since 1962 of the illegal blockade and for the terrorist acts that have killed and maimed so many Cubans." Further, she wants the lush port at Guantanamo Bay, which she believes "was stolen in 1903 like a bully steals lunch money from a little kid." And further, she wants the U. S. Congress to stop funding "endless regime-change programs and endless funding and encouragement of dissidence on an island that is far, far more peaceful and crime-free than countries like the United States and Mexico. A foreign country funding and creating dissidents is something no sovereign nation can tolerate unless it totally capitulates. And Cuba's history proves that Cuba will not capitulate one millimeter. I believe Cuba is much safer and more protective of its people than the U. S."
    Cristina Escobar is Cuba's multi-talented and out-spoken prime-time news anchor. She is quite influential among Cuba's restive and demanding twenty-somethings who will dictate much of what post-Castro Cuba looks like. A passionate Cuban, Escobar in December of 2014 went to California for a journalistic seminar. When asked to speak, she opined about what she called a "little known quirk in U.S.-Cuban relations. As a broadcast journalist in Cuba, I have much more freedom to tell the truth about the United States than American broadcast journalists have to tell the truth about Cuba." In 2015 Escobar made headlines in Washington when she covered the last Vidal-Jacobson diplomatic session. She became the first Cuban journalist to ask questions at a White House news conference, and she fired five pertinent, back-to-back questions at White House spokesman Josh Earnest during a bristling 14-minute span. She wanted to know if the new U. S. embassy in Havana would "respect Cuba?" She wanted to know if the U. S. would continue to fund "regime-change" and "dissident-encouraging" programs on the island. And she wanted to know if "Obama will visit Cuba in 2016," etc., etc. After she made headlines at that Washington news conference, Escobar was interviewed by the U. S. journalists, including one from Miami, and she made speeches around the U. S. capital. The main theme of those interviews and speeches was this: "The lies the U. S. media tells about Cuba hurts everyday Cubans the most." In addition to reporting the news on Cuban and regional television, Escobar steadfastly sticks to her basic themes: She believes she is more truthful about America than American news anchors are about Cuba. If she didn't honestly believe such things, she probably wouldn't have used those return plane tickets and instead would have moved into the mansion in Miami and caressed the bank account to go with it that she supposedly has been offered several times. THE MORAL OF THIS ESSAY IS: If either Josefina Vidal or Cristina Escobar defect on their next trip to the U. S, Americans should indeed believe at least much of what the Castro Industry in the U. S. says about Cuba. But if they always use their return airplane tickets, it might be good for Americans to believe what Vidal and Escobar say about Cuba.
Photo courtesy: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images.
       The above photo was used to illustrate a major article in today's Los Angeles Times written by Christi Parsons who is covering President Obama during his vacation in Hawaii. The title of the article is: "President Obama Considering Visit To Cuba To Shore Up Relations -- And His Foreign Legacy." Remember that question Cristina Escobar fired at Josh Earnest about Obama visiting Cuba in 2016? Well, after the LA Times article today, you can bet the vast Castro Industry in the U. S. will loudly demand that, IF OBAMA DOES VISIT CUBA IN 2016, he should only meet with the Castro Industry's favorite Cuban dissidents. And you know what? The feisty Cristina Escobar has anticipated that possibility, prompting this quote on her newscast: "If Mr. Obama is coerced into boosting the small but disruptive dissident community in Cuba, I would like to invite him not to come. We have exciting and positive things to do, especially with friendly nations that are not concerned with creating dissent where otherwise it wouldn't exist on this island that doesn't want or deserve the criminal element that makes American streets so terribly dangerous."
Now see...I told you there are two sides to the Cuban conundrum.

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