Thursday, January 14, 2016

Miami Is NOT Cuba's Capital

Havana Still Has That Distinction
Yet, the Miami-Havana debate is ongoing 
        The above photo is courtesy of the El Salvador Foreign Ministry. It shows the first of the more than 8,000 Cubans, blocked at the Costa Rican-Nicaraguan border since November, on an airplane yesterday -- Wednesday, January 13th. They were flown over Nicaragua so they could continue on their way to the Mexico-Texas border. Thanks to a U. S. law known as Wet Foot/Dry Foot, included in the 1966 Cuba Adjustment Act, any Cuban that touches U. S. soil instantly has legal residence and economic welfare. It applies only to Cubans and is one of many U. S. laws -- such as the embargo that dates back to 1962 -- designed to hurt Cuba and provide special privileges and incentives to entice Cubans to defect to the U. S. All other nations strongly resent the discriminatory favoritism accorded only to Cubans. When Nicaragua stopped the land route from Cuba to Texas back in November, the chaos caused acute regional problems.
       The El Salvadorean government Wednesday released this photo showing Cubans being processed on their way to the Mexico-Texas border. Since 1966 all Caribbean and Latin American nations have resented the Wet Foot/Dry Foot U. S. policy that grossly favors Cubans and discriminates against all non-Cubans.
            The above map shows two favored routes human traffickers have devised to get Cubans to the Texas border: {1} Cuba to Guyana by airplane and then by land to Venezuela and then up through Central America to Mexico; and {2} Cuba to Ecuador by airplane and then by land to Colombia to Panama and on up through Central America to Mexico. In November Nicaragua began blocking these tedious land routes.
         This Marco Ruiz/Miami Herald graphic back in November explained how thousands of Cubans got stuck two months ago when Nicaragua stopped their Cuba-to-Texas-to-Miami journey. Only this week have airplane flights, after tedious discussions among a host of involved countries, tried to alleviate this aspect of the ongoing Wet Foot/Dry Foot problem that was legalized by the U. S. Congress in 1966 as one of many laws designed to hurt Cuba by giving very special incentives for Cubans to defect to the United States.
        Tomas Regalado was born 68 years ago in Havana. Since 2009 he has been the Mayor of Miami. He told Aljazeera America Wednesday {January 13th} that Miami, already crowded if not overwhelmed with Cuban exiles, might not be ready to handle the latest influx from the Mexican border. Mayor Regalado said, "We don't need people living on the streets for weeks." Miami is not Florida's capital city; that honor is held by Tallahassee, which is far to the northeast. But Miami is Florida's most dominant city and also, in essence, the capital city for millions of Cuban exiles, making Miami truly an extension of old Havana.
       While Tomas Regalado, born in Havana 68 years ago, is the Mayor of Miami, Carlos Gimenez {above} has been the Mayor of Miami-Dade County since 2011. Mr. Gimenez was born in Havana 61 years ago. So there is not much difference between old Havana in Cuba and modern Miami in nearby South Florida.
       The Fanjul sugar monopoly reigned in Cuba from the 1920s until 1959. After the Cuban Revolution defeated the Batista dictatorship in January of 1959, in short order the Fanjul family -- now led by the brothers Alfonso and Jose Fanjul {above} -- took over the sugar monopoly in South Florida, the Dominican Republic, and the United States!! These ultra-rich brothers exemplify the basic fact that, despite a half-century of hostility, there is not a lot of difference between Havana, the capital of Cuba, and Miami.
Photo courtesy: The Cuban History.com.
        Little Havana is a neighborhood of about 80,000 people, mostly Cuban-Americans, in the heart of Miami, Florida. It's where many of the leaders of the Batista dictatorship quickly settled after the triumph of the Cuban Revolution on January 1, 1959. The still-living remnants from the ousted Batista dictatorship have grown very old, like the soon-to-be 90-year-old Fidel Castro, or have passed away. The first generation in Little Havana still has a visceral hatred of Mr. Castro and his revolution, even perpetrating the myth that Little Havana is the capital of Cuba, at least until they regain control of the pugnacious revolutionary island, in which case many would return to where Havana would be their capital. However, the second generation, born in Little Havana and more Americanized than their parents, is not as stuck in Cold War ideology regarding Cuba.


     The majority of the second generation of Cuban-Americans in Little Havana actually favor normalizing relations with Cuba, including the end of the U. S. embargo that has greatly harmed Cubans on the island and just as greatly harmed the image of the United States and democracy worldwide every year of its existence since 1962. Yet, because of Little Havana's first generation, the Miami area only sends extreme hard-liners to the U. S. Congress, and that includes first-term Senator Marco Rubio as well as both Diaz-Balart brothers {Lincoln Diaz-Balart first and then Mario Diaz-Balart, the sons of an important Batista Minister, Rafael Diaz-Balart)}.
       The talismanic and cataclysmic U. S. support of the Batista-Mafia dictatorship in Cuba was immediately continued in January of 1959 after the Batistianos and Mafiosi fled the victorious Cuban Revolution, with many of the leaders making a bee-line to {or back to} South Florida. With Vice President Richard Nixon, CIA Director Allen Dulles, and Secretary of State John Foster Dulles making the prime U. S. decisions regarding Cuba, the most hard-line exiles from the Batista-Mafia dictatorship were sent to the then-secretive Army School of the Americas at Fort Benning, Georgia, where the U. S. was already training exiles from U.S.-friendly Latin American dictatorships so they could be sent back to protect those dictators. One of the most visceral anti-Castro exiles from Cuba, of course, was Luis Posada Carriles. He quickly graduated as a 2nd Lt. at Fort Benning's then-secretive but now infamous and renamed Army School of the Americas. As you can see in the caption, 2nd Lt. Posada Carriles was a member of the Brigade 2506 that was quickly formed to serve as the CIA/Cuban exile army that would attack Revolutionary Cuba, which it did in April of 1961 at the Bay of Pigs after U. S. bombers had destroyed Cuba's only three military bases. To this day, Posada, who will turn 87 on February 15th, is a heralded and famous citizen of Miami thanks to incredible help, including from Miami members of the U. S. Congress, in getting out of prisons in Venezuela and Panama. But it is not as a soldier that Posada earned his fame; he has been a well-documented, decades-long, unabashed terrorist against anything connected to Fidel Castro or Revolutionary Cuba. He has bragged about deadly bombings of Cuban hotels, etc., and once even bragged about his primary role in the downing of the Cuban civilian airplane, Cubana Flight 455, but later recanted that claim. Posada and many of the other Fort Benning Cuban graduates became key CIA operatives and were well-funded and well-trained in various anti-Cuban, anti-Castro missions. With Castro vilified and Batista sanitized as the Batistianos controlled the Cuban narrative in the U. S., politically powerful Americans, such as the Bush dynasty, could become sycophantic allies of even the most extreme Cuban exiles without having to worry about it hurting their reputations.
      
    The all-time most powerful Cuban-American has been Jorge Mas Canosa. He too graduated from Fort Benning's Army School of the Americas as a 2nd Lt. {see photoand as an anti-Castro zealot of the first order. By the 1980s the Bush dynasty had anointed Mas Canosa as the leader of the Cuban exiles, as explained in detail by Julia E. Sweig in her book "What Everyone Needs To Know About Cuba." Sweig, a renowned and unquestioned Cuban expert, told how Mas Canosa was advised to study and then replicate AIPAC, the ultra-powerful Israeli lobby. He did, and created the Cuban American National Foundation, which...like AIPAC on behalf of Israel...quickly came to greatly influence the U. S. Congress and all Republican presidents on behalf of the most hard-line Cubans. The sanguine, proselytized, or intimidated American citizens have never questioned such notoriety or influence within their government. 
      In 1983 President Ronald Reagan made an eventful trip to Miami and had important discussions {see photo} with Mas Canosa. From that moment till his death in 1997, Mas Canosa, with the blessing of the Reagan-Bush administration {especially Bush}, was unchallenged as the leader of what essentially became the Cuban-government-in-exile. Mas Canosa became a billionaire in Miami and his dictation to Congress and to Presidents regarding Cuban issues equaled that of AIPAC regarding Israeli issues. Along with Julia E. Sweig, Ann Louise Bardach comprises America's two best expert journalist-authors regarding how Mas Canosa virtually created a Cuban-exile government within the bowels of the U. S. government. Ms. Bardach, in addition to her insightful books {especially "Cuba Confidential"} conducted a famed interview with Luis Posada Carriles for the New York Times. Carriles bragged about his terrorism and thanked U. S. taxpayers and Mas Canosa for funding his enterprises, but later recanted Mas Canosa's support.
       Peter Kornbluh at the National Security Archive in Washington {nsarchive.gwu.edu} has de-classified and posted on its website many U. S. government documents, including the one above from 1965, that Kornbluh says ties the top Cuban-exile leaders to bomb-making related to notorious terrorist acts.
     
      Starting with the two-term Reagan-Bush administration in the 1980s, Mas Canosa's influence on Congress and all Republican administrations was supreme. But, shown here with President Bill Clinton, Mas Canosa also easily controlled or overwhelmed even Democratic presidents on all matters related to Cuba. Mas Canosa was born in Santiago de Cuba in 1939 and died at age 58 in Coral Gables, Florida, just outside Miami, in 1997. By then his MasTec construction company was a billion-dollar enterprise and his name adorned major edifices and buildings all around Miami and Coral Gables.
        Mas Canosa left his three sons his anti-Castro Cuban fervor and his ultra-valuable, billion-dollar MasTec company. But the sons, like most second generation Cuban-Americans, are not nearly as hard-line on America's relations with Cuba as the first generation that their father gigantically epitomized. However, the moderate views of this generation of Cuban-Americans has not translated to moderate Cubans being elected either in Miami or to the U. S. Congress from Miami.
        In 1989 Ileana Ros-Lehtinen became the first in a continuing parade of Bush-connected extreme Miami hard-liners elected to the U. S. Congress. She was followed in short-order by Lincoln Diaz-Balart and Mario Diaz-Balart, sons of Rafael Diaz-Balart, a key Minister in Cuba's Batista dictatorship and later second in power and wealth only to Mas Canosa in Miami. In the above photo, that's Lincoln on the left and Mario on the right flanking Ros-Lehtinen.
          But it wasn't until the most visceral Cuban exiles had aligned themselves tightly with the Bush political and economic dynasty that a handful of anti-Castro zealots took almost total control of America's Cuban policy, especially in the U. S. Congress. That fact was indelibly manifested in 1976, the only year George H. W. Bush was CIA Director. But de-classified U. S. documents, as revealed by the highly respected Peter Kornbluh and others, show G.H.W. Bush had tight involvement with the CIA and Cuban exiles long before his infamous year {at least for Cubaas CIA Director. The Bush alliance with the Cuban hard-liners, cemented in 1976, became greatly exacerbated during G. H. W. Bush's two terms as Vice President and one-term as President, and then was just as strongly perpetrated during George W. Bush's two-term presidency and Jeb Bush's two terms as Governor of Florida. All along the way, the convenient nuance of top government officials being able to classify {hide} unseemly details from public knowledge greatly aided the Bush-Cuban alliance, at least until -- decades later -- great investigative journalists such as Peter Kornbluh, Robert Parry, etc., de-classified pertinent U. S. government documents related to nefarious Cuban acts.

      Not too long ago, Jim DeFede was a top columnist and the best investigative reporter at the Miami Herald. Then, fully knowing he was risking his high-profile job, Jim wrote a scathing article excoriating Miami's representatives -- namely Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and the Diaz-Balart brothers -- for what Jim considered their unconscionable support of Miami's most famed anti-Cuban Cuban-American terrorists. In the article, Jim pointed out that terrorism against innocent Cubans is/was the same as terrorism against Britons, Americans, etc. {Needless to say, Jim was soon an ex-Miami Herald columnist and investigator reporter, but he now works for the CBS television station in Miami}.
     Today Michael Putney is a high-profile, Miami-based television reporter and columnist. And he regularly writes Op-Ed editorial columns for the Miami Herald. He's angry President Obama might visit Cuba. Recently Mr. Putney's column was entitled: "THIS IS NOT THE TIME TO GO TO CUBA, MR. PRESIDENT." A sub-title stated: "Planned Trip To Cuba In March Would Make Obama Look Weak." Because I am a democracy-lover, I believe that in the United States of America, even in Miami, both sides of two-sides stories should see the light of day. Therefore, I believe the Miami Herald should be able to embrace the views of, say, a fired Jim DeFede as well as, say, a Michael Putney. But sadly, I do not believe that Miami is capable of such fairness although polls clearly reveal that most Miami citizens, even in Little Havana, favor Obama's rapprochement with Cuba as opposed to the hostility espoused by Mr. Putney and all four of Miami's members of the U. S Congress -- Ros-Lehtinen, Rubio, Diaz-Balart, and Curbelo. 
        If Cuban President Raul Castro and American President Barack Obama can agree to speak civilly to each other, both in person and on the phone as they did in 2015, and if those truly remarkable gestures can greatly benefit most Cubans and most Americans, perhaps continuing that sane approach in 2016 is better than the half-century of hostility that has benefited only a few self-serving antagonists.
   An out-dated relic of the Cold War.
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