Monday, March 14, 2016

Cubans Treated Nicely

Decent Gestures Appreciated
      This photo courtesy of Alexandre Meneghini/REUTERS shows Cubans on the famed Malecon seawall engaged in topical discussions. These are exciting days in Havana. Cubans have a lot to talk about. In the next few days U. S. President Barack Obama, the Major League Baseball Tampa Bay Rays, and the Rolling Stones band will all be in Havana at virtually the same time, taxing Cuba's already overflowing hotels.
        This REUTERS photo shows three Cubans discussing the changing face of their island, according to a March 12-2016 article in The Guardian written by Ed Vulliamy and entitled "Obama and Jagger Fly In..." Because The Guardian is a leading Bristish newspaper, it has a lot more freedom to report fairly on Cuba than its American counterparts. For example, the day the Ed Vulliamy article was published, The Washington Post, which has become a right-wing propaganda machine since its recent purchase by Amazon's Jeff Bezos, published a typical anti-Cuban, pro-Batistiano article. The Post heralded all of Marco Rubio's anti-Cuban rants, including his assaults on President Obama for visiting Cuba and for not spending all his time on the island with Rubio's favorite dissidents. The Post also praised such gutless right-wing Rubio acts as shamefully blocking Roberta Jacobson's badly needed appointment as the U. S. Ambassador to Mexico because, WOW!!, Jacobson once perhaps did something that showed compassion for Cubans on the island, something Rubio and his ilk never do. By contrast, Ed Vulliamy in The Guardian can even write about enthused Cubans discussing optimistic changes on the island. For example, Vulliamy wrote in that March 12th article, "Havana is by far the safest Latin American capital; drug consumption is minuscule and organized crime of the kind known to Mexico City, Bogota or San Salvador is nonexistent." Of course, none of that was "nonexistent" during the Batista-Mafia dictatorship from 1952 till 1959, but Americans are not supposed to know that. Punishing innocent Cubans like these three with such things as the embargo may help Rubio and his ilk economically and politically in the U. S., but the rest of the world has long-since considered it pure imperialist cruelty. Thanks to Obama, many good people are trying to be kind, not cruel.
      This Alejandro Ernesto/EPA photo shows tourists in the Old Havana Square enjoying their visit and feeling quite safe, according to the March 12th article in The Guardian. If you noticed the article in the Washington Post the same day, you're supposed to believe, according to Rubio, that tourists like these will spend most of their time in Cuba watching brutal Cuban policemen pummelling innocent Cubans just for the fun of it, sort of like the Batista-Mafia thugs did back in the 1950s. Instead of resorting to Washington Post-type propaganda, The Guardian, in addition to reporting on Cuba's unique safety situation, discussed such topically exciting changes on the island as the surge in entrepreneurial ventures as well as upcoming events such as President Obama's visit, a baseball game featuring the Tampa Bay Rays, and the eagerly awaited Rolling Stones concert. The anti-Cuban zealots have failed to prevent these positives.
       The vast and lucrative Castro Cottage Industry that hides behind the skirts of the U. S. government -- as epitomized by presidential wannabees Cruz and Rubio -- is continuing to block or at least harass any and all of President Obama's decent and kind overtures to the Cuban people. Unable to prevent Obama's respectful visit to Cuba later this month, Cruz and Rubio are insisting that the President ignore everyday Cubans while lavishly boosting Cuban dissidents, which many kind and decent people believe already receive too much unseemly and tax-supported boosting from the likes of Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio.
        While in Cuba, Obama plans to attend the March 22nd baseball game that will feature the Major League Tampa Bay Rays against a Cuban national team. The President's entourage will include a couple of dozen members of the U. S. Congress as well as dozens of other invited guests who presumably don't agree with punishing innocent Cubans on the island for another six decades and say it's "hurting Castro."
      Traveling with the Tampa Bay Rays to Cuba will be three magical names in American and Cuban baseball -- Derek Jeter, Luis Tiant, and Jose Cardenal. Jeter, the recently retired New York Yankee legend, was arguably the most popular U. S. player while Tiant, now 75, and Cardenal, now 72, are Cubans who each had almost two decades of stardom in the U. S. Major Leagues. Jeter, Tiant and Cardenal will hold clinics for Cuban children while they are on the island. Cubans love baseball and appreciate American kindness.
       Joe Torre is a prime reason Major League Baseball is showing so much love for Cubans on the island. Born 75 years ago in Brooklyn, New York, Joe had a legendary Major League career as a player and manager. He is now a top MLB executive. A few months ago he took some of the current Cuban stars in the U. S. Majors -- such as Jose Abreu, Yasiel Puig, etc. -- to the island where they intermingled with the baseball-loving Cuban people. Now Joe is making sure that his former Yankee shortstop Jeter as well as Cubans like Tiant and Cardenal can be Goodwill Ambassadors on the island. It is Joe that arranged for the Tampa Bay Rays to play in Havana on March 22nd. He is also embarrassed that the 30 Major League teams are depleting Cuba's baseball talent by signing even 16-year-old Cubans to huge baseball contracts. He realizes the offshoots include the dangerous defections engineered and encouraged by human traffickers and other unsavory characters. Therefore, Joe is discussing with Cuba a plan that would allow Cuban baseball players to sign with Major League teams without defecting and without being estranged from Cuban fans and even Cuba's pro leagues. Joe Torre loves and admires the way Cubans love baseball.
         Upcoming on March 25th is a free concert in Havana by the legendary Mick Jagger and his famed Rolling Stones band. It's a precious, much appreciated gift from Jagger to the deserving Cuban people.
       A Cuban named Asmani Lopez Castro {no relation to the revolutionary clan} helped finalize the Rolling Stones concert in Havana. Asmani says over 400,000 Cubans will see and hear the band's performance.
       Federica Mogherini was born 42 years ago in Rome, Italy. She now has the powerful title of High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs. For years she has chafed at the U. S. treatment of everyday Cubans in the guise of "hurting Castro." But she has been stymied about doing something about it because of America's international power -- at least prior to Obama. Taking full advantage of U. S. President Obama's historically decent overtures to Cuba, Ms. Mogherini has been working overtime on behalf of the 28 EU nations and the Cuban people. Last week in Havana she signed an agreement with Cuba aimed at normalizing Cuban and EU relations, which means reversing the add-on punitive measures of the pre-Obama, Batistiano-aligned George W. Bush administration. She said, "I hope this is a new day for the Cubans on the island. I hope we can help them breathe...and hope." She is a very kind, decent lady.
      President Obama's unique decency in regards to Cuba has opened the door wide for much more decency from caring people like Federica Mogherini, Mick Jagger and even Americans like Joe Torre.
      In the five decades prior to President Obama, the fate of Cubana Flight 455 was a typical example of America's Cuban policy. The child-laden Cuban civilian airplane was blown out of the sky by well-known and well-protected terrorists who used the convenient Miami media to herald it as "the biggest blow yet against Castro." When a brave and decent Cuban-American newsman in Miami, Emilio Milian, complained about such things, he was car-bombed. Prior to Obama, intimidated and propagandized Americans readily accepted such things and, shamefully, never held accountable politicians who supported such terrorism, a fact Miami Herald columnist Jim DeFede discovered when he wrote a brave article stressing that "Terror Is Terror" whether the innocent victims were Brits, Americans or CUBANS!! That sentiment got DeFede fired.
       Hugo Cancio is typical of the Cuban-Americans in Miami, most of whom want the Cubans on the island to be treated decently. Hugo often visits the island and tries to help everyday Cubans. He also complains that he and the majority of Cuban-Americans in Miami are not represented by Miami's contributions to the U. S. Congress -- anti-Castro zealots from Ileana Ros-Lehtinen in 1989 to the Diaz-Balart brothers to Curbelo to Rubio, but never a moderate Cuban-American like Hugo who adamantly doesn't believe that hurting innocent Cubans is justified as a means to hurt Castro "which," he says, "is the crux of Miami and Washington politics ever since 1961 when Castro was the big Bay of Pigs winner, fueling misguided anger."
       Rubio's current bid for the White House is a joke, not because he's an anti-Castro Cuban-American from Miami but because he shows no compassion for Cubans on the island, except his beloved dissidents. Despite his totally unwarranted support from right-wing billionaires, the cable news networks, and the Castro Cottage Industry, Rubio will remain unfit for national office as long as he exploits the continued punishment of innocent Cubans on the island to further his own career. His scripted speeches and rehearsed lines belie the "CLUMP! CLUMP!" of his greedy, puerile steps to the White House even before he has accomplished a single important thing and while he is focused on being pro-Rubio and anti-Cuba.
      In the next few days, a lot of good people -- like Joe Torre -- will be returning to Cuba for the sole purpose of helping, not hurting, everyday Cubans. Mr. Torre, an American baseball legend and now a top Major League executive, is shown above arriving in Cuba on December 15, 2015, at the head of an entourage that included some of the top current Cuban and American superstars in the Major Leagues. The Cuban shaking Mr. Torre's hand is Dr. Antonio Castro, who happens to be Fidel's son as well as a superb promoter of Cuban and international baseball. In a world bedeviled with turmoil, Americans need to support the decent treatments of Cubans on the island as opposed to meekly tolerating the indecency of things like the embargo and...Cubana Flight 455. Baseball diplomacy is better than revenge diplomacy.
      Joe Torre was responsible for this photo and in a few days he will be responsible for some more just like it. This one was taken in December of 2015 and shows Jose Abreu, the Cuban who is a superstar first baseman for the Chicago White Sox, conducting a clinic for Cuban children. These young boys aspire to play the game they love and, maybe, one day to become rich and famous like their idol, Jose Abreu. Joe Torre believes they deserve that chance. So do I. I don't believe they deserve to be punished by rich foreigners who claim that punishing Cuban children like these might be "a big blow against Castro."
#1: Cuba is a sovereign nation.
Some places to visit in Cuba.
Cayo Largo & Cayo Coco off the main island are superb.
And by the way:
      I think Alexandre Meneghini, the great Reuters award-winner based in Havana, is one of the planet's all-time greatest photographers. The gem above depicts two Cuban ballet stars getting some well-deserved rest after a gruelling practice session.
This Meneghini classic shows a boy trying to out-stare a pony.



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