Monday, May 2, 2016

Cuba: May of 2016

Still Sovereign, Still Struggling
       Late Sunday afternoon -- May 1st, 2016 -- the beautiful Adonia left Miami, Florida and sailed to Havana, Cuba with a full-load of 700 well-to-do passengers. It enabled Carnival Cruise Lines to enter the U.S.-Cuban history books by becoming the first cruise ship allowed to leave the U. S. for Cuba in half-a-century.
        This graphic depicts the 7-day journey of the Adonia as it will circle the island of Cuba before returning to Miami. The Adonia will dock in three Cuban cities -- Havana, Cienfuegos and Santiago de Cuba.
The Adonia will now travel to Cuba every two weeks.
         Cuban-American Arnaldo Perez -- the top lawyer for Carnival Cruise Lines -- was given the honor of being the first person to disembark from the Adonia at the Port of Havana. Mr. Perez, like most Cuban-Americans in Miami {but unlike most politicians in Miami}, favors normalizing U. S. relations with Cuba.
        Miami-born Gabe Gutierrez had the honor of being the reporter for NBC News regarding the departure of the Adonia from Miami to Havana. That's fine, except for the fact that Gutierrez couldn't resist mocking Cuba and leaving his American viewers with the obligatory lie concerning anything related to Miami-Cuban news. Gutierrez pointed out that Cuba earlier had blocked Cuban-Americans from traveling to Cuba on the Adonia, implying it was blatantly discriminatory and spawning the obligatory lawsuit before the issue was resolved and Cuban-Americans were permitted to get aboard. The Gutierrez lie of omission ignored the fact that Cuba allows some 300,000 Cuban-Americans to fly to Cuba each year because the Cuban airports can screen incoming passengers to guard against terrorism, something Cuban ports could not do, at least without scurrying to update its ports with the necessary screening apparatuses. But Gutierrez mocking Cuba with his lie of omission and with the mainstream U. S. media having only blatantly biased anti-Cuban reporters cover Cuban events is typical, and gutless, of the U. S. media, which is not permitted to admit that Cuba has reasons to guard against Miami-based terrorism.
More Cuba shortly, but first:
        I am easily old enough to be their great-grandfather but I confess I am obsessed with the sheer talent of Kate McKinnon and Cecily Strong. Because of them, I hope I survive a lot more Saturday nights because otherwise I would miss their extremely positive contributions to my life. To my reckoning, their uniquely quintessential work on Saturday Night Live puts them in a tie at the top of the pantheon of America's National Treasures. The CNN montage above was taken recently depicting Kate in the black dress in the role of CNN's beautiful blond anchor Kate Balduan interviewing in the red dress a dumb blond Talking Head, played by Cecily Strong, who happened to be a fervent supporter of Donald Trump's presidential bid. Politically correct liberals like the two Kates are famously taken aback by Trump's alleged woman-bashing. In the above skit, Kate McKinnon playing the outraged Kate Balduan and Cecily Strong playing the pro-Trump excuse-maker constitutes, in my opinion, the best five-minutes of entertainment in television history. In other words, this particular skit jumped over the 19 others in the Top Twenty that also had been performed, individually or together, by Kate McKinnon and/or Cecily Strong, two national treasures.
     Cecily Strong & Kate Mckinnon!! 
   Cecily & Kate: Incomparable Entertainers. 
Now back to Cubaninsider:
        The above photo was taken by Gabe Gutierrez of NBC-News this past weekend -- on April 30th -- in Panama. Gutierrez used it to illustrate his report on the latest batch of Cubans and their traffickers trying to reach America where, beginning the moment they touch United States soil, they become the only would-be immigrants in the entire world who immediately begin receiving financial and political benefits as well as legal residency totally unavailable to anyone else. It was surprising that NBC-News would touch this story because, generally speaking, the broadcast media in the U. S. is too incompetent and too intimidated to report on anything that might depart from the U. S. Cuban narrative, which is a self-serving distortion that has so totally been dictated since 1959 by the hardliners from the ousted Batista-Mafia dictatorship that roiled Cuba in the 1950s till the 1959 triumph of the Cuban Revolution changed things forever.
       Panama is the latest Latin American nation to squeal VERY LOUDLY about Batistiano-Mafiosi crafted U. S. laws {in an eternally dysfunctional and bought-and-paid-for Congressthat are designed to sharply benefit Cubans while also sharply discriminating against everyone else. The American people, meanwhile, are supposed to be too scared, too stupid, and too unpatriotic to weigh in on such things as the ongoing Cuban Migration Crisis that the above map-montage depicts. Such infamously discriminatory U. S. laws as Wet Foot/Dry Foot for decades have enticed Cubans, and only Cubans, to leave their homeland and partake of the unique riches that immediately await them in the U. S. Such laws, of course, spawn unending criminal activity such as human trafficking. Blaring the falsehood that President Obama's efforts to normalize relations with Cuba will result in the abolition of some of the Batistiano-Mafiosi laws, human traffickers have convinced thousands of Cubans to rush to the U. S. immediately. For up to $17,000 paid to so-called coyotes, presumably well-to-do Cubans can take a long air-+-land route to reach the U. S. border at Mexico and then be home-free on U. S. soil to become instantly more well-to-do courtesy of U. S. taxpayers and the further demeaning of the U. S. democracy. Recently for two months 8,000 Cubans and their traffickers were stuck on the Nicaragua-Costa Rica border, but now Costa Rica has also closed its border to Cuban immigrants, as has Belize, etc. And now Panama is besieged. The map above shows the airplane route to South America and then the land trek supposedly up through Costa Rica, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala, etc., and Mexico to reach the border cities of Brownsville, Laredo, and El Paso, Texas. Once there, Cubans are home-free but all non-Cubans -- including children fleeing unmerciful crime and poverty -- are incarcerated, carefully screened, and in most cases deported. Of course, sufficiently proselytized and scared Americans are not supposed to object to iniquitous laws like Wet Foot/Dry Foot. 
     In addition to America's Cuban laws like Wet Foot/Dry Foot causing headaches throughout the Caribbean and Latin America, other entities such as Major League Baseball in the United States are reeling from America's uniquely abominable laws related to Cuba. Recently, 150 Cubans from the baseball-rich island have signed lucrative contracts offered by the 30 MLB teams. These Cubans from age 16 to 28 have received huge, guaranteed contracts ranging from $1 to $77 million dollars. Such money attracts streams of unseemly scouts, agents, and human traffickers. MLB is embarrassed and is begging the U. S. Congress to have the guts and the decency to change its Batistiano-directed Cuban laws that so markedly benefit such criminals and so markedly discriminate against America's own prospects. How? MLB has a June draft for its 30 teams; a U. S. prospect or non-Cuban international prospect must sign with the team that drafts him, eliminating bidding competition. But defecting Cubans can receive bids from all 30 teams. Thus a top U. S. prospect might receive a $3 million deal while a Cuban prospect might get upwards of $70 million.
          For example, these are two newly minted Cuban multi-millionaires in the U. S. That's Chicago White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu on the left and Los Angeles Dodgers right-fielder Yasiel Puig on the right. They are among 150 Cuban baseball stars who have recently defected to the U. S. with the aid of human traffickers, agents, scouts, etc. Abreu got a 6-year $68 million fully guaranteed contract but it was recently disclosed that he was forced to pay $5.8 million to human traffickers. Puig got a 7-year $42 million fully guaranteed contract and before he could enjoy it he was imprisoned and threatened until he, too, paid human traffickers. Other Cubans, not nearly as talented as Abreu and Puig, have gotten much larger initial contracts -- upwards of $72 million fully guaranteed even if they don't make their Major League teams. Still in their twenties, Abreu and Puig are among the many Cuban stars in the Major Leagues who, after their initial contracts are fulfilled, can expect to really cash in. The Miami Marlins, the poorest of the 30 very rich Major League teams, recently gave right-fielder Giancarlo Stanton a $300 million guaranteed extension!
      The MLB Cuban Pipeline is designed to sate America's need for Cuba's unique baseball talent, the best in the world per capita. The island also produces the best and most superstar ballet performers, but they too have long been enticed with money to defect. The George W. Bush presidency even pushed through a law to provide bonus inducements for Cuban doctors to defect, not to help the U. S. but simply to hurt Cuba. All such tactics also, of course, fuel the human trafficking pipelines with the incredibly insane baseball contracts now topping the list. The U. S. embargo against Cuba helps promote the human traffickers. All 30 Major League teams have luscious year-around baseball facilities along with scouts and coaches in baseball-rich countries like the Dominican Republic, but not in Cuba, of course. So, to extract Cuba's incomparable baseball talent, the MLB teams must align with various criminals and traffickers.
       Hall of Famer Joe Torre turns 76 in July. As a former player and manager, he is truly an American baseball icon. Now as a top MLB executive, Joe is starkly embarrassed by the Bastistiano-directed congressional laws that, among other nefarious things, aligns his beloved MLB with human traffickers and other unsavory characters involved in the pipeline to get Cuban baseball stars to the U. S. Joe wants Cuban players to be treated like all other prospects, just as he wants all Cuban immigrants treated like others and not enticed with Wet Foot/Dry Foot money. Taking advantages of President Obama's sane overtures to Cuba, Joe this year has taken U. S. superstars -- including Puig, Abreu, newly retired Derek Jeter, baseball's $33 million-a-year pitcher Clayton Kershaw, etc. -- to Cuba for Goodwill baseball clinics. Joe also arranged for the Tampa Bay Rays to play a game this year in Havana against a Cuban team in which President Obama watched from behind home-plate. In fact, Joe believes that one day -- if sanity and decency ever returns to U.S.-Cuban relations -- Havana would be a nice city for a MLb expansion team!   
      This AP photo shows Joe Torre in Matanzas, Cuba earlier this year signing autographs for appreciative Cuban fans. He had taken his group of Major League superstars to Matanzas for a baseball clinic.
       This is Joe Torre holding the news conference the day he announced that the Tampa Bay Rays would play in Havana against a Cuban team. America still has great democracy-loving patriots like Joe Torre. 
     For many years, Cuban baseball teams dominated international competition -- including the Pan-Am Games, the Olympics, and the World Baseball Classic. But not now, not since baseball contracts in the U. S. reached obscene levels and gave birth to human trafficking pipelines that entice Cuba's native talent. The next World Baseball Classic is just a few months away in early 2017. The U. S. team, loaded with American and Cuban superstars, will be powerful, but so will Puerto Rico and especially the Dominican Republic.
         Manny Machado, the third baseman for the Baltimore Orioles, is the best baseball player on the planet. He was born 23 years ago in Miami but both of his parents are natives of the Dominican Republic. That means Manny could play for either the United States or the Dominican Republic in the 2017 World Baseball Classic. He has chosen...drum roll please!!...to play for the Dominican Republic because he believes the Caribbean teams have more enthusiasm for international tournaments. Early in his Orioles career Manny had operations on both knees. But he is healthy in 2016 and at age 23 is baseball's best overall player at a luscious time when many lesser players are making upwards of $30 million a year.
      OH, I KNOW...many fans who haven't seen much of Manny Machado believe Bryce Harper {upper-left} and Mike Trout {upper-right} are baseball's best players. But Manny Machado {bottom} is the best.
        And, by the way, Manny Machado and his beautiful bride are trying to skim by this year on his paltry 2016 salary of $5 million. But he becomes what's known as a free agent in a couple of years. The Orioles, a small-market team, are ready to offer Manny a reported $350 million for the next ten years, but that offer will likely be topped by big-market, far richer teams such as the NY Yankees and the two LA teams.
Now a majestic American pose:
Bald Eagle, courtesy of: Lisa DeJong/Cleveland Plain Dealer.
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