Pushing Back Against Obama

Cuban-Americans vs. Cubans
{Updated: Sunday, February 21st, 2016}
      This photo, showing Cubans scampering across a street in Havana, is courtesy of Daniel Berehulak/The New York Times. It was used this week -- Friday, February 19, 2016 -- to illustrate an article in the NY Times written by Steven Rattner. The article is entitled "Will Democracy Follow Capitalism Into Cuba." Mr. Rattner wrote the article after taking his family to the island, and his analysis was acutely insightful. He ended his observations with these exact words: "In some ways, Cuba reminds me of China -- a country where the populace seems to put a lower priority on achieving democracy than on prospering economically. With so much of the economy remaining under state control, Cuba has an exceptionally long 'to do' list. But while our embargo didn't succeed in reforming the country, the slow, steady infiltration of capitalism just might." 
          Mr. Rattner's perception parallels what I detected on the island. More importantly, as you will see in this update, I believe it mirrors what the leaders on the island feel, and those leaders include two influential women -- Josefina Vidal and Cristina Escobar -- that I believe are the best barometers for checking the pulse of the island as the post-Castro era looms. Also pervasive among the significant beliefs of the next generation that will rule the island is the strong determination that no foreign nation, including the United States, will be allowed to influence its future, except on friendly terms decided by Cuba. Sovereignty supersedes even prosperity.
Photo courtesy of: Yamil Lage/AFP/Getty Images.
      This excellent photo in February of 2016 shows a convertible auto from the 1950s driving past the brand-new splendid and magnificent U. S. embassy in Havana, Cuba.
       Thanks to President Obama, Cuba also has an embassy in Washington for the first time since 1961. As he tries to normalize relations, Obama this week greatly expanded, in defiance of Congress's stifling embargo, travel and trade to Cuba.
        And this week it was announced that Obama will visit Cuba next month, the first U. S. President to do so since Calvin Coolidge in 1928. Obama's historic overtures to Cuba are strongly supported by most Americans, most Cuban-Americans, most American businesses, and most people worldwide. His Cuban ventures are, however, fiercely opposed by anti-Castro Cuban exiles, right-wing Republicans, and a Republican-dominated Congress, which has the power to maintain the Cuban embargo in perpetuity, meaning for eternity. With all that being said, Obama's prime obstacle still remains an increasingly incompetent and biased media.
       Cuba's uniqueness in the annals of U. S. history makes the island a window into the demise of both the print and electronic media in America. Alan Gomez at USA Today is a prime example. He is, unfortunately, the major Cuban reporter on America's largest newspaper. He also illustrates the fact that, when it comes to Cuba, only Cuban-Americans who are anti-Castro zealots are allowed to write about or report on Cuban issues. Friday -- February 19th -- Gomez's huge article in USA Today made the point that President Obama, on his upcoming visit to the island, will see "a glorified version of Cuba." In recent years, Cuba has allowed Gomez to make six trips to the island, well knowing his visits will promote the vast and profitable Castro Cottage Industry in the U. S. In yesterday's anti-Cuba, anti-Obama article, Gomez wrote: "Obama has insisted that he will visit some of the most outspoken dissidents. But whether he's in Havana or Santiago or Cienfuegos, he probably won't see the Cubans who continue to secretly build boats and rafts to set sail for the country he {Obama} just left." Gomez and other high-profile Cuban-American "journalists," anointed to tell Americans all about Cuba, don't have the integrity to mention that U. S. laws massively entice Cubans, and only Cubans, with special residency and financial rewards the instant they touch U. S. soil.
        Jose Diaz-Balart is also emblematic of the fact that the mainstream U. S. media, with very few exceptions, doesn't dare hire a non-Cuban American/anti-Castro zealot to report on Cuban issues. Based in Miami, Jose, among other things, is a news anchor on MSNBC. His prime credential is apparently the fact that his father, Rafael Diaz-Balart, was a Minister in the ousted Batista-Mafia dictatorship in Cuba and after 1959's revolution he was one of the richest and most powerful anti-Castro zealots in the United States. Jose also has had two brothers, anti-Castro zealots Lincoln and Mario, elected from Miami to the U. S. Congress. But easily intimidated and propagandized Americans, since 1959, have been successfully told that "journalists" like Alan Gomez and Jose Diaz-Balart will give you true and unbiased information about Cuba so you can make fair judgments, particularly ones that defame Cuba and sate the revenge, economic, and political desires of America's embedded and unchecked Castro Cottage Industry. 
        But like most issues, there are two sides to the U.S.-Cuban conundrum. The Castro Cottage Industry in the U. S. represents one side. Josefina Vidal represents the other side. She is Cuba's Minister of North American Affairs. A brilliant diplomat, she changed the facade of U.S.-Cuban relations in four sessions with America's outstanding diplomat Roberta Jacobson. Vidal drew a line in the Cuban sand regarding Cuba being on the U. S. Sponsors of Terrorism list. Because it greatly benefited the Castro Industry in the U. S., no one expected her to win, but she did. She also negotiated such things as the reopening of embassies in Havana and Washington for the first time since 1961, and she inspired President Obama to circumvent Congress and greatly expand U.S.-Cuban trade and travel.
       But Josefina Vidal is ready and able to call a halt to Obama-orchestrated advancements, depending on how successful the Castro Cottage Industry is in rolling back recent positives for both nations or in exacerbating the punitive nature of the ongoing embargo, as Miami-based Cuban-Americans aligned with easily acquired congressional sycophants, such as Jesse Helms and Dan Burton, grossly tightened the embargo in 1996 after President Clinton tried meekly to end it. Vidal, the quintessential expert on U.S.-Cuban relations, believes the same thing can happen with Obama's not-so-meek efforts. Regardless, Vidal says, "We have friends and supporters around the region and the world. If the United States does not want to be our friend, we must concentrate solely on our real friends to continue the positive changes we have made and are making." While Vidal greatly appreciates "the intelligence and kindness of Mr. Obama," she remains acutely aware of the anti-Cuban forces in the U. S. Beyond that, she has some other red lines in the U.S.-Cuban sand that Mr. Obama may not be able to meet. First off, when Obama or anyone else points a finger at Cuba about mistreating dissidents, she firmly points a finger right back, saying, "If the U. S. didn't fund Cuban dissidents in the U. S. and in Cuba, we would have fewer than almost any nation in the world. That needs to stop. Guantanamo Bay needs to be returned to us. Reparations concerning five decades of the embargo and about murderous and injurious terror acts against innocent Cubans must be seriously discussed."
       Cristina Escobar, like Vidal, is a feisty Cuban who represents the side of the U.S.-Cuban conundrum on the island that is not represented by Gomez, Diaz-Balart, Rubio, Cruz, etc. She is Cuba's and the region's most dynamic and influential broadcast journalist. At age 28, she is also the leader of the anxious young generation of patriotic Cubans determined to decide the island's future, which would mean not having it decided from a hostile foreign country.
       This photo captured Cristina Escobar during an historic moment at the White House in Washington where she covered the last Vidal-Jacobson diplomatic session. She is shown asking President Obama's Press Secretary Josh Earnest one of her six back-to-back questions, the first six questions a Cuban journalist had ever asked at a White House news conference. 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 its regime-change programs on the island?" And she asked, "Can we expect President Obama to visit Cuba in 2016?" The Earnest answer was the first confirmation that Obama planned to visit Cuba this year. The 14-minute Cristina Escobar-Josh Earnest Q & A White House video is on YouTube.
       This image is taken from a interview that U. S. journalist Tracey Eaton got in Havana with Cristina Escobar last month. Two versions of it are posted on YouTube, one 3+ minutes and the other 15+ minutes. You can see and hear her make such firm statements as, "I don't want the U. S. to bring me democracy." She mentioned Cubans, like Jose Marti, who had died on Cuban soil fighting for independence and sovereignty prior to Fidel Castro. It is very plain that she indelibly believes that it is on Cuban soil, not U. S. soil, that "Cuba's do-or-die future must be decided."
        Cristina Escobar may appear to be no match for rich and powerful Cuban-American politicians like Rubio and Cruz or rich and powerful Cuban-American journalists like Gomez and Diaz-Balart, but she is probably more determined than Rubio and Cruz as well as being a better journalist than Gomez and Diaz-Balart. On her trip to Washington, she enthralled veteran U. S. broadcast journalists such as Andrea Mitchell of NBC when she stressed this theme: "The lies the U. S. media tell about Cuba hurts everyday Cubans the most." As a journalist and as a staunch defender of everyday Cubans, Andrea Mitchell and others eloquently praised her talent and her stoic patriotism.
       Cristina Escobar, during that White House Q & A with Josh Earnest, not only wondered aloud if President Obama would visit Cuba in 2016, before she left Washington she made it clear that she was more concerned with {1} the "lies" the U. S. media tells about Cuba; {2} whether the U. S. would "respect" Cuba's sovereignty; and {3} whether the U. S. will continue to fund "regime-change programs" on the island. While Cristina, like Vidal, relishes normal relations with the United States, she also believes {1} Obama should stay home "if he plans to boost dissidents while he is here;" {2} "my generation of Cubans wants the United States, like other nations, to respect Cuba's sovereignty;" and {3} "my generation wants Guantanamo Bay returned to its rightful owner by the bully that stole it from us."
       In defense of Cuba, Cristina Escobar doesn't appear to be intimidated by Cuban-Americans like Rubio and Cruz or Gomez and Diaz-Balart, although she readily admits they "have unlimited resources and the desire to harm us." 
A two-way street.
The voice of a new generation of Cubans.

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