Thursday, May 19, 2016

Cuba's New Dawn

It's Happening!!
{Updated: Saturday, May 21st, 2016}
      Key representatives of Spain and Cuba are spending this week shaking hands on important new trade relations between the two nations. The Cuban contingent is led by Orlando Hernandez, the President of the island's Chamber of Commerce. Spain's mission is headed by Jaime Garcia-Legaz, his country's Secretary of Commerce. Spain's Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo had earlier visited Cuba to set up this week's discussions. Mr. Garcia-Margallo applauded U. S. President Barack Obama's "brave new approach to Cuba." Spain is currently Cuba's second leading trade partner, behind only China and now ahead of troubled Venezuela. The Obama-orchestrated openings offer Cuba its long-awaited new dawn.
       A bright and exciting new dawn has arrived on the island of Cuba for these teenage schoolgirls, a testament to President Obama's historic efforts in drastically altering...not reversing yet but sharply altering...America's half-century of severely hurting innocent Cubans on the island in the guise of "hurting Castro." The New Dawn is startling and there are 11 million Cubans who are deserving of it.
       Starting this week, another major Hollywood movie began shooting in Cuba, taking advantage of long-closed doors that President Obama has opened. "Transformers: The Last Knight" is a franchise that has already earned a whopping $3.7 billion before the fifth huge production began this week in Cuba. 
      Michael Bay, one of Hollywood's most powerful directors, took his massive crew to Cuba to flim "Transformers: The Last Knight." His superstar actors include Mark Wahlberg and Josh Duhamel.
        This is the celebrated cast of the "Fast & Furious 8" movie on location in Cuba just before the arrival of this week's huge "Transformers" production. "Fast & Furious" is also a mammoth multi-billion-dollar franchise with a huge cast led by the two superstars on the left in the above photo -- Vin Diesel and Michelle Rodriguez. Prior to Obama, such gigantic American movies would never have been shot in Cuba.
       Beyonce {above} is among a long, long list of  world-famed American and British entertainers who have recently visited Cuba. And an influx of everyday Americans has sold out some Cuban hotels into 2017.
       With unmatched courage, intelligence and decency, President Obama has been the first American president since the 1950s with the guts and skill to stand up to the viscerally powerful Cuban-American hardliners and their right-wing sycophants in the U. S. Congress who have heretofore been unchallenged in their self-serving dictation of America's Cuban policy. The Obama quote above reveals something he has created, legalizing business openings, that no other American president was able to accomplish.
       President Obama himself became the first sitting U. S. president since Calvin Coolidge in 1928 to have the guts to visit Cuba. Coolidge had visited on a U. S. warship to emphasize America's pre-revolutionary dominance of the island. Obama thrilled Cubans by visiting the island on his gigantic Air Force One airplane and offering sincere friendship to the Cuban people whom he is trying to help, not hurt.
        In Cuba in April of 2016 President Obama assured Cuba and the world that "Cuba does not need to fear a threat from the United States." He made that exact quotation because he well knew that, prior to his presidency, Cuba had every reason to fear threats from the U. S., mainly Miami and the U. S. Congress. Moreover, President Obama is abundantly aware that, as his two-term presidency winds down, A Republican successor in the White House aligned with a Republican-dominated Congress would, once again, give Cuba ample reason to "fear threats from the United States" if his detente is rolled back. 
            But rest assured, President Obama has opened some massive doors to Cuba that even a Republican president and a Republican-dominated Congress will have trouble closing. The reopening of embassies in Washington and Havana for the first time since 1961 are among the many Obama-opened doors that most people in the world, including most Cuban-Americans, want to remain forever open. 
       For over five shameful decades prior to Obama, everyday Americans were the only people in the world denied the freedom to travel to Cuba. That abomination was based on the fact that since the Cuban Revolution in 1959 the cowardice of Americans as a whole has permitted a handful of the most vicious Cuban exiles, aligned with a handful of the most vicious right-wingers in Congress, to dictate America's Cuban policy to suit their revengeful, economic and political whims -- and easily make the abominations legal via laws routinely handed down by a few people within the hallowed halls of a dysfunctional, bought-and-paid-for, right-wing tilted Congress. Congress still has those "laws" intact but President Obama has skillfully and bravely sliced wickedly into many of them, such as by greatly easing the "legal travel to Cuba for U. S. citizens." Prior to President Obama, as the majority of Americans sat on their collective rear ends, America's Cuban policy -- ridiculed by the entire world -- had been purely to hurt Cuba while also greatly enriching and empowering a select group of Cuban-Americans, especially in Miami.
       Thanks to President Obama, Cubans this year have had the pleasure of watching the magnificent Adonia Cruise Ship arrive in Havana harbor from Miami. During its week-long stay, it also docked in the Cuban ports at Cienfuegos and Santiago de Cuba with its 704 well-heeled and excited passengers. Such cruises had been banned for five decades. Cardinal Cruise Lines will now make twice-monthly cruises to Cuba as other cruise lines and many other American companies are also trying to engage with Cuba.
           Thanks to President Obama, Cubans in the historic year of 2016 also got to see Air Force One, with Mr. Obama aboard, flying low over Havana on its way to landing at Jose Marti International Airport.
         And thanks to President Obama, starting this fall, for the first time since 1962, commercial airplane flights -- and not just cumbersome charter flights -- will be allowed to fly from the United States to Cuba.
         One Cuban basking in the glory of President Obama's new dawn for Cuba is Cristina Escobar, the island's talented newscaster. "Since the Cuban Revolution gave us sovereignty in 1959," she says, "my generation and my mother's generation of Cubans on the island have longed for the day the United States would accept us as an independent nation. Before Mr. Obama that was not the case and maybe after Mr. Obama it will not be the case. But, at least, he has shown respect for Cuba that, even if it is only of an evanescent nature, has been refreshing and hopeful. We are neighbors. We should also be friends." 
And by the way
           This political cartoon gem is courtesy of the great Patrick Chappatte and the New York Times. He expertly expresses the firm opinion that the current status of the Democratic presidential sweepstakes has pugnacious Bernie with tight grips around Hillary's ankles, which is preventing her from officially going to war against her surprisingly huge Republican challenger Trump. I do my best to avoid, with a quick-trigger TV remote, the obnoxiously biased pundits. But I go to great lengths to consult excellent political cartoonists to get a pulse on the political landscape. Mr. Chappatte says a lot with just two words.

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