Thursday, June 2, 2016

U.S.-Cuba War Heats Up

What? You thought it was over?
{Friday, June 3rd, 2016} 
       Jose Daniel Ferrer is a prime example of how the U.S.-Cuba War has heated up on the heels of President Obama's historic efforts to normalize relations with the island for the first time in decades. Jose is Cuba's most powerful anti-Castro dissident. He is 45-years-old and has spent 22 of those years in Cuban prisons. This first week of June, 2016, Jose is in Washington on an international anti-Castro tour that has taken him to Miami already and soon to New York City, Silicon Valley in California, and Madrid, Spain. 
        President Obama's historic 2016 trip to Cuba this spring opened a lot of long-closed doors, including doors that indeed had long secured the congressionally mandated embargo of Cuba. Opening those doors, in many areas, normalized relations between the two neighboring nations but other offshoots include the creation of new battlefields. While Obama was in Cuba, he met with anti-Castro dissidents.
       This photo shows Obama in Cuba meeting with the most notable dissidents on the island, including Jose Daniel Ferrer. On his current trip to Miami, Washington, California, Madrid, etc., Jose has a two-way ticket. That means he will be returning to Cuba, supposedly with more support and more notoriety.
      The prime support for Jose Daniel Ferrer in Cuba has been on the eastern tip of the island around Santiago de Cuba. That's where he founded the dissident organization "The Patriotic Union of Cuba." His Obama-inspired and refurbished impact will be greatly enhanced by the time he arrives back in Cuba later this month from his whirlwind international anti-Castro tour. Therefore, Jose's upcoming anti-Castro battles will mesh with an Obama-style U.S.-Cuba War that is just beginning to heat up. It's not a hot war like the revolution or the Bay of Pigs attack or the terrorist bombing of the Cuban civilian plane Cubana Flight 455. Instead, at least for now, it's strictly an economic war that hopefully won't spiral into a hot or terrorist war.
      The 40-year-old Yoani Sanchez is not as powerful as Jose Daniel Ferrer in Cuba but internationally she is easily the most famous anti-Castro dissident because of her ubiquitous blog. Like Jose, Cuba has given Yoani two-way tickets to fly around the world and then return to Cuba more powerful than ever before.
        On her international tour, Yoani Sanchez...for sure...stopped off at Radio-TV Marti in Miami. It's the anti-Castro propaganda machine that has been lushly funded by U. S. taxpayers since the 1980s. It's broadcasts are supposedly aimed only at Cuba but are routinely and rather easily blocked by Cuba. Marti's legions of critics universally agree that its primary purpose is merely to provide yet another pipeline of tax dollars from the U. S. Congress to Miami. Regardless, Yoani used her time in the U. S. to take advantage of Marti's state-of-the-art broadcast facilities and blast additional vitriol at Fidel from Little Havana in Miami. 
       On her international tour, of course, Yoani Sanchez was wined, dined and fawned over in the U. S. Congress. The above photo shows Yoani being hosted and toasted by two viciously anti-Castro Cuban-American Senators, Marco Rubio from Miami and Robert Menendez from New Jersey, the two anti-revolutionary bastions. When she arrived back in Cuba, Yoani let it be known that she had the financial wherewithal to start her anti-Castro digital newspaper, which, like her blog, is a giant international warehouse for anti-revolutionary stalwarts. In decades past, Cuba has eased much of its dissident problems by, from time to time, making it easy for them to go to the U. S. as long as they stay. Several times, such as the Mariel Boatlift in 1980, Cuba has arranged for boatloads of legitimate dissidents, criminals and mentally ill to relocate to the U. S. for two purposes -- to lessen problems on the island and increase the problems on hostile soil, such as that depicted graphically in the famed "Scarface" movieBut that strategizing was pre-Obama. This is current-Obama, and the stratagems are now quite different from everything that has gone before. Now, the two most famed dissidents on the island -- Jose and Yoani -- can make international anti-Castro tours raking in massive acclaim and, supposedly, massive support...and then return to the island as much stronger dissidents!! Thus, the hot wars and the cold wars have evolved into economic wars, and that includes one that is about to play out in the U. S. District Court in Washington. 
       If you think the U.S.-Cuban wars ended with the triumph of the Cuban Revolution in 1959, or the failed U. S. Bay of Pigs attack in 1961, or the ongoing efforts by President Obama to normalize relations with Cuba, you would be wrong. All the U.S.-Cuban wars...the hot ones and the cold ones...have been fueled by economics, namely by how much money American companies or Mafia leaders could rake off the nearby island. Cuban millionaires who owned companies such as rum-maker Bacardi and sugar-maker Fanjul were initially distraught when they lost their lucrative island corporations to the upstart Revolution that shocked them in January of 1959. Even though the Batista-Mafia dictatorship had been backed by the U. S. government, a somewhat sordid arrangement that enabled U. S. businessmen to partake in the rape and robbery of the island, none of the fleeing Batista-Mafia leaders nor their business associates had any inkling that, on U. S. soil, they would still have massive support from government enterprises that included the Eisenhower-Nixon White House, the U. S. Congress, the CIA, and a myriad of state and federal courts, especially those in Florida. Therefore, Cubans who were merely millionaires in Batista's Cuba in the 1950s soon become billionaires. Surely in Cuba, the Bacardi and Fanjul families were worth millions but in the U. S. those millions soon became billions. Having the U. S. Congress and federal courtrooms on your side, they discovered, was a lot better than having the support of Fulgencio Batista or Lucky Luciano in Cuba. That bit of U.S.-Cuban realism is playing out again today in the U. S. District Court in Washington, D. C.
       If, by chance, you disagree with anything in the first paragraph above, I suggest you use a modern tool known as Google and search the "Fanjul sugar monopoly." You will discover, I believe, why the Fanjul brothers have billions of reasons to smile and congratulate each other. In pre-revolutionary Cuba their family owned a lucrative sugar operation. In post-revolutionary America the Fanjuls own a sugar enterprise...also called a monopoly...that makes the Cuban company resemble a speck of sugar compared to millions of tons. From the Florida Everglades to the Dominican Republic, the extended Fanjul family owns some of the world's most luxurious real estate and the toys to go with it. One brother famously lobbies the Democrats and the other handles the Republicans, meaning in a two-party political system they are covered. It also means that Americans pay the highest prices in the world for sugar. Your Google search, if you care to pursue it, will also reveal that the Fanjul sugar monopoly in the U. S. is not only controversial but also shocking, yet as an American you are not supposed to Google it or question it. And the same goes for other post-revolutionary gold mines in the U. S., such as Bacardi that is again fighting Cuba in court.
        The Bacardi name is synonymous with rum, which was a million-dollar enterprise in pre-revolutionary Cuba and is a multi-billion-dollar gold mine in the United States after the revolution. So, in essence, Fidel Castro unwittingly did the Bacardi family...as well as the Fanjul family, etc...some gigantic favors when he booted them off the island to a much safer and much richer sanctuary, the United States of America.
        For decades, the mighty United States and the island of Cuba have waged vigorous post-revolutionary battles for ownership of famed Cuban brand names...such as Havana Club, the lucrative rum. To say the least, an island doing battle against the world's economic and military superpower is not exactly a level playing field. Yet, little Cuba shocked the world by surviving the revolutionary war, the Bay of Pigs attack, the U.S.-Soviet Cold War, and even the U. S. embargo against Cuba from 1962 till today. And Cuba has, to a degree, held its own in the tug-of-war with Bacardi regarding who owns the Havana Club trademark. Of course, Bacardi has plenty of money to lobby Congress, which means it has the Havana Club market in the U. S. sewed up tightly. But little Cuba, a resilient innovator if there ever has been one, teamed with the French alcohol giant, Penard Ricard, to market its own Havana Club rum. And guess what? Cuba's Havana Club is considered superior to Bacardi's version, which is distilled in the U. S. Territory of Puerto Rico and bottled in Jacksonville, Florida. Bacardi, by the way, is headquartered in Hamilton, Bermuda...which I guess is, uh, for tax purposes. And also guess what? Back in January, on the heels of Obama's detente with Cuba, the U. S. Office of Foreign Assets Control {OFAC} AWARDED THE HAVANA CLUB TRADEMARK TO CUBA!!  
        But be assured, Bacardi can afford the best lawyers and the best lobbyists in Washington and therefore it is about a 500-to-1 favorite to defeat Cuba in that U. S. District Court battle, whereby it hopes to wrest the Havana Club trademark from Cuba...once and for all, OFAC's ruling be-damned! Even with OFAC's decision favoring Cuba in January, the U. S. embargo prevents even one bottle of Cuba's Havana Club from being sold legally in the United States, and the U. S. Congress supposedly has codified the embargo for eternity, which will plague the U. S. and democracy for generations to come. Yet, President Obama's astute use of Executive Powers has sliced into the abominable embargo to such an extent that Americans today can purchase up to $100 worth of Havana Club in Havana and bring it to the U. S. That Obama slice of sanity has resulted in New York bar owners maintaining anew that Americans prefer Cuba's Havana Club
       The marketing guru for Bacardi is Fabio Di Giammarco. His photo is courtesy of Bacardi's global headquarters in Hamilton, Bermuda. He has launched a massive advertising campaign designed to proselytize Americans into accepting the premise that anything Bacardi does is right and anything Cuba does is wrong. He expects to win. I wonder why? This week Mr. Giammarco told the Miami Herald: "It's an exciting time for us and the Havana Club franchise in the United States." As reported by the Miami Herald this week, one of the slickly produced Bacardi ads highlights this point: "Even A Revolution Couldn't Topple The Rum." I reckon what Mr. Giammarco means is...the Cuban Revolution couldn't topple the rum-makers after they fled to the United States but history records that they did in Cuba, although that too is still debatable.  
    Indeed, the Cuban Revolution toppled the rum-makers but, after regrouping in the U. S., tons of Bacardi rum money have been used to support efforts to topple the Revolution, just as tons of Fanjul sugar money have done the same. But, incredibly, the Cuban Revolution is still standing. In fact, Fidel Castro himself is still standing as he approaches his 90th birthday on August 13. Meanwhile, in June of 2016 Bacardi is spending millions of dollars on a marketing campaign and on a fight in the U. S. District Court in D. C.
      To summarize, this graphic depicting the island of Cuba shows perhaps the two most appropriate or symbolic flags -- a money flag and a Cuban flag. What's missing, of course, is a...United States flag.
       But once the gritty President Obama leaves the White House in a few months -- January of 2017, to be exact -- Cuba might "need to fear a threat" from the powerful, highly financed forces that only he has managed to blunt, if only momentarily, since the 1950s. Whether it's rum, sugar, cigars or any other iconic and vulnerable Cuban products, there will always be foreign entities ready to pounce. Regardless of who is in the White House, as long as a handful of Cuban-Americans can dictate Cuban policy in the U. S. Congress and to the U. S. media, the island of Cuba will have every right "to fear a threat" from the U. S.
       Little Havana USA refers to the anti-Castro section of Miami. If Cuba is represented in that new U. S. District Court battle, its lawyer should point out that Cuba and Bacardi are fighting over the "Havana Club" trademark, not the "Little Havana Club" trademark. But Bacardi has the home-court advantage.
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