Cuba, An Oxymoron?

Well, not exactly!
{Thursday, March 31st, 2016}
Oxymoron: noun -- A figure of speech that juxtaposes elements that appear to be contradictory. Tourists visiting Cuba are discovering that the island is not an Oxymoron, at least...not anymore!
         Matt Kwong is an excellent photo-journalist based in Washington for Canada's CBC News Network. Being Canadian, Matt has a bit more freedom to report on what's happening in Cuba than his American counterparts. He just returned from the island and this week, March 29th, he wrote a major CBC article entitled: "Cuban Capitalism An Oxymoron No More." He prefaced his essay with this new-found fact: "Cuban capitalism, once an oxymoron, now represents a softer kind of a revolution -- one that looks after the scrappy, new-and-ready spirit of a people who have lived through more than 50 years of austerity brought on by a U. S. trade embargo." The following seven photos were taken by Matt Kwong for CBC.
      Nayvis Diaz Labout, in the middle above, is shown with two of her mechanics at her successful bicycle repair shop in Havana. Nayvis epitomizes the "scrappy, new-and-ready spirit" that Matt Kwong wrote about.
  Robin Perdaja owns the digital arts magazine Vistar.
Monica works full-time at Vista Magazine.
Idania del Rio, left, and and Leire Fernandez own this thriving Design Workshop.
      24-year-old Eloy Jazos Casa has a full-time job working at Havana's very first drive-through restaurant. It's not McDonald's, really, but it is very Cuban. The convenient food is good and it's already profitable.
         This is the bar area of a very popular, Russian-themed restaurant in a private home in Havana. They are called paladares. Many paladares in Cuba have been started with money from relatives in the U. S.
Gregory Biniowsky, a lawyer from Canada, owns the aforementioned paladar. 
       When Barack Obama succeeded George W. Bush as the U. S. President almost eight years ago, he was faced with the indignity of marching to the vile dictates of the U. S. trade embargo against Cuba. It was imposed in 1962 after the 1961 Bay of Pigs attack had failed miserably, as had numerous assassination attempts against Fidel Castro. Decades after the embargo was put in place, declassified U. S. documents revealed that its purpose was to starve and deprive Cubans on the island for the purpose of inducing them to rise up and overthrow their revolutionary government. Although the embargo remains in place to this day, thanks to a Batistiano-directed U. S. Congress, it has failed to dislodge either Fidel Castro or the Cuban government. And while it has not starved the Cuban people, it has indeed deprived them, much to the chagrin of the entire world, as indicated yearly by the 191-to-2 vote in the United Nations against the embargo. As indicated by yesterday's update from Cuba by Matt Kwong of CBC News, President Obama's brave and Herculean efforts to normalize relations with Cuba have finally begun to ease some of the decades-long deprivations heaped upon innocent Cubans on the island to sate the revenge, economic, and political motives of a few Cuban-Americans and their easily acquired sycophants in the U. S. Congress.
        This AP photo shows President Obama at La Cerveceria in Havana on Monday, March 21, 2016. With American journalist Soledad O'Brien as the moderator, this is where he assured young entrepreneurs in Cuba that he wanted them to "have every opportunity to succeed and become prosperous with America's help, not America's hindrance." Merely for going to Cuba and saying things like that, right-wing thugs in the U. S. -- like pundit Ava Navarro, columnist Cal Thomas and presidential contender Ted Cruz -- excoriated President Obama, and...sadly...many Americans, as usual, let them get away with such vile thuggery.
       At that entrepreneurial session in Havana on March 21st, this AP photo shows Miami multi-billionaire condo king Jorge Perez congratulating President Obama for his efforts to normalize relations with Cuba.
       This AP photo shows Carlos Gutierrez being allowed to address the March 21st entrepreneurial meeting that featured President Obama in Havana. Gutierrez was born 62-years-ago in Havana and he is one of many extremely rich Cuban-Americans who now support President Obama's kind overtures to Cuba.
      Yes, that kind Carlos Gutierrez in Havana last week was the same Carlos Gutierrez who was extremely cruel to Cuba when he was U. S. Secretary of Commerce in President George W. Bush's administration.
        This interesting AP photo shows President Obama front-and-center at the State Dinner he was accorded at Cuba's Palace of the Revolution Monday night, March 21st. Seated right behind Mr. Obama is Cuban President Raul Castro. Just to Raul Castro's left is America's First Lady Michelle Obama and to her left is the white-haired Miguel Diaz-Canel, the next Cuban President after Raul Castro retires in 2018.
        This AP/Fernando Medina photo shows a Cuban Honor Guard proudly clutching both Cuban and U. S. flags during Obama's visit. Thanks to Obama, the American flag is now ubiquitous and honored in Cuba.
       This AP/Rebecca Blackwell photo shows President Obama in Cuba last week pointing the way to a better future for the Cuban people. Not surprisingly, a gutless editorial in the Washington Post was entitled "President Obama's Visit Won't Benefit The Cuban People." Such right-wing propaganda stresses that the brutal-thieving Batista-Mafia dictatorship benefited the Cuban people as did, of course, such Batistiano-dictated laws as the embargo and post-Batista terrorism as the bombing of the child-laden Cubana Flight 455. In contrast to the right-wing garbage in the U. S. media, the aforementioned CBC News report in Canada revealed how Mr. Obama's presidency and his visit have benefited the deserving Cuban people.
President Obama applauding his Cuban policy.
And so should Americans.


Fidel Answers Obama

Fiercely Defends Revolution
{Tuesday, March 29th, 2016}
    No less a revolutionary legend than Fidel Castro himself has replied to U. S. President Barack Obama's historic 3-day visit to Cuba last week. Not surprisingly, Fidel was not very appreciative. His 1,500-word summary of the visit was best defined by his word "syrupy" and it got increasingly more critical. While Obama did not see Fidel in Cuba last week, the word from both Obama confidants and confidants of Fidel's wife Dalia reveal that in 2017, as ex-president, Obama "really hopes" to visit Fidel in his Havana home.
       Since his near-fatal intestinal illness in July of 2006, many Fidel-watchers are amazed that he is still alive in 2016. But recent visitors who have spent time with him -- from Pope Francis to French President Francois Hollande -- have confirmed that Fidel is both "remarkably healthy" and "still mentally sharp." Such confirmation was recently offered by {abovethe Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung. 
       This photo, taken this week by his son Alex, shows Fidel at his writing station in the living room of his Havana home where he wrote this week's 1,500-word assessment of President Obama's visit to Cuba. In recent years, Fidel has written countless "Reflections" columns that originate in Cuba's main newspaper, Granma, and then garner international headlines, as his comments about Obama are doing this week. Most of Fidel's reflections have concerned such topics as the environment and food production. But the new headlines reveal that Fidel, still a newshound as he approaches his 90th birthday, closely followed Obama's every moves and words in Cuba on Cuban television as well as his international favorites such as the BBC and Aljazeera America and he reportedly likes the CBS station in Miami. In his sharp critique of Obama's visit, Fidel dissected line-by-line Obama's historic and televised speech to the Cuban people.
       Obama's 50-minute speech to the Cuban people, from the splendid setting of the Grand Theater in Havana as shown above, was the highlight of his visit and it was televised live all over Cuba. In the speech, Obama said, "It is time, now, for us to leave the past behind." In his almost line-by-line reply, Fidel's reaction to that Obama sentence was: "I imagine that any one of us ran the risk of having a heart attack on hearing these words from the President of the United States." {Fidel doubts the U. S. can "leave the past."}.
      Actually, it is known that Fidel Castro admires Barack Obama. He has read and studied Obama's biographical books, as indicated by the photo above. However, he believes that "right-wing hardliners in Miami and Congress dictate America's Cuban vengeance and imperialism, with little or no hindrance from U. S. citizens." Is his essay Monday on Obama's visit, Fidel reviewed such things as the U. S. embargo against Cuba, the Bay of Pigs attack in 1961, and the 1976 bombing of a Cuban civilian airplane "by exiles who have refuge in Miami." Fidel does not blame Obama for "any of those things" but he blames "criminals in Miami and in Congress but also the American people who have allowed them to thrive within their democracy."
        Fidel devoted a portion of his reply to Obama's visit by toasting revolutionaries that were willing to "fight to the death" for Cuba's "independence and sovereignty." In his Monday essay, he specifically referenced famed Cuban independence fighters "Jose Marti, Antonio Maceo and Maximo Gomez." In his latest essay that he entitled "Brother Obama," Fidel wrote: "We do not need the empire to give us any presents. My modest suggestion is that he reflects and doesn't try to develop theories about Cuban politics."
       Fidel's essay made clear that he watched on television President Obama's camaraderie with his brother, Cuban President Raul Castro, such as when Obama and Raul were watching the baseball game between the Tampa Bay Rays and a Cuban national team. While Fidel acknowledged Obama's efforts to "build irreversible momentum" in U.S.-Cuban relations that even Republicans in Congress and a future White House will have "trouble reversing," he seemed to chide his younger brother Raul's "cozying up too much" with Obama. Fidel's definitive line that is getting the most international play -- "We don't need the empire to give us presents" -- appears to be aimed more at his brother Raul than at President Obama.
       Still sharp of mind and still in possession of a very sharp pencil, Fidel Castro remains the staunchest defender of his Cuban Revolution. In his essay about Obama's visit, he wrote these words: "No one should pretend that the people of this noble and selfless country will renounce its glory and its rights. We are capable of providing the food and material wealth that we need with only the work and intelligence of our people."
     Fidel Castro is no longer the young rebel that hooked up with anti-Batista guerrilla leader Celia Sanchez in the Sierra Maestra Mountains {aboveto create the combination/duo that won the Cuban Revolution.
      And Fidel Castro is no longer the dashing young rebel that, after winning the revolution, stirred the hearts of Hollywood starlets like Maureen O'Hara, which famously irked the much more pragmatic Celia.
      Approaching 90, Fidel has some vigor similar to that above when a video camera in the Sierra Maestra in 1958, while he was busy still fighting a supposedly far superior Batista army, videotaped him saying..."it is impossible to break down a revolutionary movement and guerrilla force that is supported by the people."
And in that epic rebel video, Fidel had some other thoughts.
He believed he was "inspired by a just cause."
      More importantly, Celia Sanchez -- the doctor's daughter who was the most important player in the Cuban Revolution -- believed that defeating the U.S.-backed Batista-Mafia dictatorship was "a just cause." The image above is taken from a documentary produced in January of 2016 by Mundo Latina Studies to highlight the 36th anniversary of Celia Sanchez's death from cancer at age 59 on January 11, 1980. You can watch that documentary on YouTube to get a comprehension of why Celia was the Cuban Revolution's most important player...as a guerrilla fighter, as the main procurer of rebels and supplies, and as the prime decision-maker, with Fidel's full blessing, during the Revolutionary War and later in Revolutionary Cuba. From the 1950s till today, Celia Sanchez also coined the most significant quotation related to Revolutionary Cuba: "The Batistianos will never regain control of Cuba as long as I live or as long as Fidel lives."
       With Fidel still alive, therefore so is the all-time most important quotation regarding Revolutionary Cuba, the quotation first coined by the greatest Cuban, Celia Sanchez, way back in April of 1959.
    Celia Sanchez's most modest quotation is the one above: "We rebels get far too much credit for winning the revolution. Our enemies deserve most of the credit, for being greedy cowards and idiots." Ouch!!
Is she still on the look-out for Fidel Castro's enemies??
And speaking of great women:
    Meet Ginger Kathrens. She is an award-winning film-maker with epic wildlife gems for the Discovery Channel, Animal Planet, National Geographic, the BBC and PBS. Ginger loves people...and animals. Chris Bury, a reporter for Aljazeera America, spotlighted Ginger on Joie Chen's America Tonight program last night. Ginger is the world's greatest defender of the wild horses in Wyoming and Montana. She wants them to be free and wild...forever. Cattle ranchers and the Bureau of Land Management are fighting Ginger. The BLM is rounding up the wild horses and selling them, supposedly to buyers who will treat them humanely. But Ginger has proven that many of the magnificent animals are sold only to be slaughtered for their meat, and she has tracked the buyers as well as the slaughtering places in Mexico and border towns in Texas. Ginger has saved many of the wild horses from that fate, but she has also, of course, lost some battles.
      Ginger Kathrens has brilliantly documented the life of the wild stallion Cloud ever since she first saw him running free over 16 years ago. She has created The Cloud Foundation that has made him famous.
       This image is from the award-winning PBS documentary entitled "Cloud: Wild Stallion of the Rockies" by the great Ginger Kathrens. She has also written three books about her favorite wild-and-free horse.
Ginger Kathrens keeps close tabs on Cloud's colts.
       This is Ginger Kathrens on her Rocky Mountain ranch. She is riding Trace, one of her beloved Wild Horse mustangs. I think that a lady who fights to preserve something precious is herself precious.


The Biggest Threat To Cuba

And...to America
      Cal Thomas is one of America's most ubiquitous syndicated columnists, with his columns supposedly appearing in over 500 U. S. newspapers. In addition to being a superstar propagandist for right-wing newspapers such as The Washington Times, the 73-year-old Thomas is, of course, a regular on right-wing propaganda machines such as Fox News. As a thuggish right-wing propagandist, Mr. Thomas represents what is the biggest threat to both Cuba and the United States. An example is his latest column entitled: "OBAMA'S APOLOGY TOUR COMES FULL CIRCLE IN CUBA." A religious fanatic, Thomas's views are so anti-democracy, pro-imperialism, pro-Israel that it is amazing that anyone who reads his obvious slander wouldn't cringe at its repetitious extremism. Yet, controlled and unchallenged propaganda is effective, accounting for the ubiquity of Cal Thomas, Fox News, etc. Right-wingers like Cal Thomas assaulting President Obama for trying to bring sanity and decency to America's Cuban policy is surely anticipated although the rest of the world that is not susceptible to thuggish propaganda fully agrees with Mr. Obama, not Mr. Thomas. Obama's trip to Cuba was not AN APOLOGY TOUR. It was a decent gesture for 11 million nearby Cuban people who have, for many decades, been punished by right-wing imperialist thugs that Cal Thomas champions. What Thomas did not have the guts to acknowledge was that Mr. Obama, when he left the friendly confines of Cuba, flew to Argentina where, INDEED, he was FORCED TO APOLOGIZE FOR THE RIGHT-WING THUGS IN THE U. S., SUCH AS HENRY KISSINGER, WHO SUPPORTED THE BRUTAL ARGENTINE DICTATORS WHO SLAUGHTERED THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE IN WHAT HISTORY CALLS "THE DIRTY WAR." Not only in Argentina, of course, but in Cuba, Chile, Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic, etc., right-wing thugs in the U. S. that Cal Thomas loved supported military dictators who also slaughtered many innocent people. A fact that Cal Thomas and his ilk do not have the guts or integrity to admit. SO, YES, DECENT AMERICANS LIKE PRESIDENT OBAMA NEED TO APOLOGIZE WHEN THEY GO TO COUNTRIES LIKE ARGENTINA WHERE A HENRY KISSINGER WILL NOT VISIT BECAUSE HE MIGHT WELL BE ARRESTED IF HE DOES SO. Meanwhile, right-wing promoters like Cal Thomas will never write about such things as Argentina's Dirty War.
     After leaving Cuba, this is what greeted U. S. President Barack Obama when he landed in Argentina. "FUERA OBAMA" means "Obama Get Out." As a democracy-loving American and as a conservative Republican who deeply admires Mr. Obama and the office he holds, I was saddened to see signs like this. But I was not surprised. Although Obama is the antipathy to what unrepentant right-wingers like Kissinger did to Argentina and other Latin American nations, what awaited the American president in Argentina was anticipated. But American right-wing propagandists like Cal Thomas will continue to assault the decent, democracy-loving Obama BUT NEVER WILL THEY hold right-wing imperialists like Kissinger accountable for having created the reasons for "Obama Get Out" signs that awaited the U. S. President in Argentina.
      Americans, inundated with right-wing propaganda and denied data that is CLASSIFIED to protect the reputations of people like Kissinger, know little about The Dirty War in Argentina that generations of Argentines know all about and will never forget. And President Obama was reminded of that fact this week.
Burning U. S. flags awaited Obama in Argentina.
Innocent Americans suffer today because of The Dirty War.
President Obama traveled this Argentine street.
But Obama is ashamed of The Dirty War.
And it's a shame Cal Thomas isn't.
       This photo shows U. S. President Obama alongside Argentina's President Mauricio Macri. Mr. Obama is shown tossing flowers into a river in honor of the thousands of Argentinians murdered in The Dirty War as the two presidents stand on one of the many monuments to those victims. Yes, Mr. Obama, on behalf of the American people, was apologizing for the role American leaders played in The Dirty War. This photo is a vivid reminder that, perhaps, the 73-year-old Cal Thomas and the 92-year-old Henry Kissinger are the ones who should be making "apology tours" throughout many Latin American nations.
Cal Thomas.
Henry Kissinger.
President Obama apologizing to Argentina.
     Even when President Obama held an internationally televised news conference with President Macri, a monument to the victims of The Dirty War was right behind them, embarrassing many democracy-loving Americans.
      Even as America's very decent President shakes hands with his Argentinian counterpart, the huge "LAS VICTIMAS DEL TERRORISMO" memorial is an indelible reminder of the U. S. role in The Dirty War that raged throughout the 1970s into the 1980s. Cal Thomas, meanwhile, was assaulting President Obama for his "Apology Tour" to Cuba and Argentina. Instead, Cal Thomas should be assaulting those who made the apology tour necessary.
      Bernie Sanders is hanging around as a presidential contender because millions of young Americans {if not their parents and grandparents} are fed-up with right-wing politicians. In his speech depicted above, Mr. Sanders assailed "the destructive Henry Kissinger" and assailed his rival Hillary Clinton for "supporting Kissinger." Argentinians would understand what Mr. Sanders meant, even if many Americans {thanks to the likes of Cal Thomas} don't.

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