Sunday, May 22, 2016

Still Hating Cuba's Revolution

 Unforgiving Forever 
        Gloria Estefan, 58, was born in Havana in 1957 during the Batista dictatorship and the strengthening Cuban Revolution. The photo is courtesy of Her family fled Cuba when Batista was overthrown on January 1, 1959. Settling in Miami, Ms. Estefan's father fought in the CIA-directed Bay of Pigs attack on Cuba in April of 1961. Ms. Estefan, a world-class singer, went on to become one of many extremely wealthy Cuban-Americans who will never forgive Fidel Castro for overthrowing the Batista rule in their homeland. 
         This is a view of the Miami skyline from Gloria Estefan's mansion, which sits on 1,339 of South Florida's expensive acres. The photo is courtesy of Celebrity She's worth over $500 million.
        In this month of May in 2016, Gloria Estefan has undoubtedly noticed that some of the world's most famed singers -- Smokey Robinson, Usher, Beyonce, Mick Jagger, Dave Mathews, etc. -- have recently visited Cuba, taking advantage of President Obama's herculean efforts to normalize relations with the island. In the past month, for the first time since 1961, Hollywood has also sent superstars and huge production crews to Cuba to shoot major movies. But for some, like Ms. Estefan, there will be no trips back to Cuba if the revolution is not overturned. She told Billboard Magazine, "I personally would find it very difficult to go there. I can't get on stage with a million Cubans in front of me and not...say something."
        One of Miami's most visible Cuban-American billionaires is Miguel Fernandez. He left Cuba in 1964 at age 12 and later served in the U. S. Army. He owns a $36 million mansion in Biscayne Bay and thousands of acres of very valuable Florida land, including the splendorous 4,000-acre Little River Plantation. He also owns 25,000 acres in Alabama and lots of sea, land, and air toys that might make non-billionaires blush.
         Like many ultra-rich Cuban-Americans, Miguel Fernandez is best known nationally as a financial supporter/associate of the Bush dynasty, which has produced one CIA director, a two-term Vice President, a two-term President, a one-term President, and a two-term Governor of Florida. In 2016 Mr. Fernandez was still contributing millions of dollars in dire hopes of putting a third Bush, Jeb, in the White House.
          Jeb Bush's well-funded 2016 presidential bid unceremoniously fell by the wayside, as did those of Cuban-Americans Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz. The demise of the Bush dynasty may not be at hand but it for sure has been blunted. And that's probably the second best news Cuba has had since George H. W. Bush way back in the 1950s began assuming the political mantle of his father, the controversial Prescott Bush.
      As an antidote to the Bush dynasty, the Obama presidency has represented at least a temporary window for Cuba to chart its own course, even one that includes the U. S. as a partner or at least not an all-out enemy. Yet, five years from now, his overtures might seem like a mirage because much sincere cooperation can easily be shattered by just one pre-conceived incident, such as the Brothers to the Rescue "humanitarian" ventures in the Florida Straits. Obama's Cuba, in other words, is tenuous at best.
        An excellent correspondent for NPR, Mandalit del Barco, this weekend {May 21st} posted an interesting article entitled: "The U. S. Influence On Cuba's Rapid Cultural Change." The first line noted that: "As big-name celebrities flock to the territory, Cuban culture is undergoing rapid change." She tagged that sentence with a pertinent question: "But do Cubans want Chanel stores and Rolling Stones concerts?" Ms. Barco explores the pros and cons of President Obama's dramatic influences on U.S.-Cuban relations, which have vacillated wildly with the 1898 Spanish-American War, the perpetual U. S. occupation of Guantanamo Bay beginning in 1903, peaceful decades of coexistence under the U. S. yoke, the U.S.-backed Batista-Mafia dictatorship beginning in 1952, a bloody revolution from 1953 till 1959, a Cold War, a Hot War, a blockade, terrorism that included the bombing of Cubana Flight 455, and now significant but still tentative steps towards what's called detente or rapprochement. While many Americans naively assume that all modern-day Cubans on the island yearn to get rich and be Americanized as soon as possible, that is not necessarily so. The fact that Ms. Barco comprehends that many Cubans on the island want to Cubanize their nation, apart from about seven centuries of Spanish and American imperialism, makes her refreshing update worth Googling.
       Left to their own instincts, everyday Cubans and everyday Americans would be Good Friends and mutually beneficial neighbors. But since 1492, when Columbus discovered both countries, the everyday people have not been able to make those decisions. Such decisions have been made for the majority of Americans and Cubans by a handful of far more greedier Americans and Cubans. Unless that age-old dilemma is rectified, ephemeral periods of peace -- such as the current one orchestrated by Mr. Obama -- will fade into sorrowful oblivion like many other once-fond hopes that soon turned into illusions.
       Cuba's feisty young television journalist, Cristina Escobar, speaks for a lot of twentysomethings who believe Cubans on the island, not those in Miami and Washington, should shape Cuba's future. She told U. S. journalist Tracey Eaton, "I don't want the U. S. to bring me democracy. That is a project for Cubans." A prime student of U.S.-Cuban history, she remembers what she calls "Lucky Luciano's idea of democracy." 
Question: Why is Cristina Escobar an expert on Lucky Luciano?
Answer: Because she is an expert on U.S.-Cuban relations. 


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