Cuba Is Trying

 But So Are Its Enemies
 {Updated: Sunday, July 31st, 2016
        This weekend a major article in the London Daily Mail used the above photo to illustrate a topical revelation that "Cuba and Bulgaria are the two top hotspots for tourists trying to avoid terror attacks." It's okay for Brits to know such things although propagandized Americans are not supposed to comprehend Cuban positives. But, yes, Cuba is one of the safest spots on a troubled planet. The article also revealed a Catch-22 situation: Since President Obama's efforts to normalize relations with the island, Cuba's economy and infrastructure -- severely weakened by the massive, malicious, and ongoing U. S. embargo since 1962 -- is being overwhelmed by a fresh burst of tourism.
      Royal Caribbean has just spent $50 million refurbishing this magnificent ship, Empress of the Seas, with plans to begin regular cruises to Cuba. The itinerary included 4-and-5-night trips from Miami. But those plans are on hold because Cuba has so far refused permission to allow the 1,840-passenger ship to visit.
       Royal Caribbean's Senior Vice President Vicki Freed worked hard arranging the expected cruises to Cuba and is disappointed with Cuba's refusal. She says, "The Empress of the Seas is the right sized vessel for Cuba and our intention is still that someday we will be going there. We're just waiting for the nod from Cuba." 
        On the surface, Cuba's refusal to allow 1800 well-heeled visitors to the island aboard Empress of the Seas is hard to fathom. It affords its enemies in the United States more anti-Cuban fodder to further their long-standing agendas, which are to destroy Revolutionary Cuba. Sovereign since 1959 but shackled since then by military attacks, assassination attempts, terrorist acts, and history's all-time longest and cruelest embargo, Cuba is having trouble adjusting to President Obama's efforts to challenge a second generation of revengeful Batistianos by trying to normalize relations with the neighboring island. Cuba is effectively blocked from routine international financial operations because nations and banks are afraid of being sanctioned or fined by the superpower U. S. if they deal with Cuba. That infringement on the island's hard-earned sovereignty would have long ago doomed much larger nations and may finally doom little, pugnacious Cuba. Meanwhile, Cuba's frayed infrastructure has already been overly taxed by the Obama-orchestrated increase in tourism. It is using its limited resources to increase and improve its hotel accommodations, for example, but also is direly worried about having enough energy to avoid power outages and blackouts that have been forecast for the second half of this year. Those tourists expect hotel rooms with electricity and air conditioners, expectations that Cuba may not be able to provide. Back in June Cuba allowed Carnival Cruise Lines to begin regular trips to the island, but the excited influx of visitors strained Cuba's capacity to accommodate them. The much larger Empress of the Seas would do the same. By refusing or delaying Vicki Freed's plans at Royal Caribbean, Cuba is not shooting itself in the foot. The island is still being shot in the back by forces hiding behind the skirts of the world superpower.
Yes, Cuba is trying but so are Cuba's congressional enemies.
Posada in Miami, now 88, still fervently hates Fidel.
Fidel in Havana, 90 in a few days, still fervently hates Posada.
While good Cubans {and Americans} can't end the feuds.
         In January of 1959 Cuban children wore fake beards to honor the island's new bearded leader, Fidel Castro. His revolution had just done, in the eyes of the world, the impossible by overthrowing a U.S.-backed dictatorship. But the leaders of the ousted Batista-Mafia regime, including Rafael Diaz-Balart and Santo Trafficante, and the most visceral anti-Castro Cubans, such as Jorge Mas Canosa and Luis Posada Carriles, quickly regrouped on U. S. soil, mostly Miami, before extending their power to the halls of Congress in Washington and to the White House, especially when it was occupied by the Bush dynasty. But since 1959, in the eyes of the world, the Cuban Revolution has pulled off another impossible feat -- by merely surviving for over five decades. Fidel Castro's beard, so black in the above 1959 photo, is now very white just a few days from his 90th birthday. But he and his beard are still intact. And that too seems utterly impossible.
  A survivor of 634 assassination attempts? WOW!! 
Not only a legend, but still a living legend as he nears 90.


Cuba Is Teetering

In A Perfect Storm Crisis 
        This AP photo highlights the fact that JetBlue Airlines will be the first to make U.S.-to-Cuba commercial flights in over half-a-century. The regularly scheduled flights will begin next month, on August 31st, between Fort Lauderdale and Santa Clara. The fares will be $99 one-way. It will begin with three flights a week before going to daily service on October 1st. JetBlue says it will start flights to Camaguey on November 3rd and to Holguin on November 10th. Eight other airlines, including American, have also obtained permission for flights to Cuba. Ten Cuban cities will welcome the historic U. S commercial planes.
       JetBlue's executive vice-president, Marty St. George, said, "It's a new day for Cuba travelers and one we have thoughtfully prepared for." JetBlue has permission to fly to Cuba from Fort Lauderdale, Orlando and New York's JFK. Mr. St. George says he will announce later flights to Havana -- the busy, coveted capital.
      The "new day" and the new normal for Cuba also has drawbacks as reflected by the updated Reuters photo above. It shows Cuban children playing in front of a street mural with an image of Hugo Chavez that depicts him as "Cuba's best friend." He surely was as President of Venezuela from 1999 till he died of cancer in 2013. Chavez idolized Cuba's Fidel Castro and, in exchange for thousands of Cuban teachers and medical personnel working in Venezuela, Chavez sent Cuba over 100,000 barrels of oil each day. Cuba produces in excess of 50,000 barrels a day and needs about 140,000 barrels each day to provide its energy needs. So when Hugo Chavez lived, Cuba actually refined and sold some excess oil. But...no more. 
Venezuela's current President is Nicolas Maduro.
      Like his predecessor and mentor Hugo Chavez, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro also idolizes Cuba's Fidel Castro. In the three years since Chavez died, Maduro has made at least 15 trips to see Fidel.
        This photo was used this week by both Reuters and Voice of America to point out that economic conditions are so dire in Venezuela that its impact on Cuba is becoming massive. At least fifty beloved zoo animals in Venezuela have starved to death in recent days because of severe food shortages. Venezuelans have crossed the border into Colombia to purchase food, diapers, toilet paper and other necessities.
        Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and Cuban President Raul Castro remain close friends but Maduro's economic and political problems are now weighing heavily on Cuba. Castro notified the Cuban people: "A certain contraction in the fuel supplies agreed upon with Venezuela is negatively affecting our energy supplies, despite the firm will of President Maduro and his government to fulfill them." That statement came after Venezuela's oil to Cuba decreased by 20 percent. Maduro's pro-U.S. political opponents, if and when they can oust Maduro, would very likely, but gradually, cease the oil shipments to Cuba entirely.
      In exchange for the oil shipments, Cuba has 31,000 doctors and dentists serving Venezuela's poorest areas, plus hundreds of teachers. But one of the last anti-Cuba acts devised by the George W. Bush administration was a regime-change program encouraging, with bonuses, these doctors, dentists and teachers to defect to the U. S., where other regime-change U. S. laws provide Cuban immigrants, and only Cuban immigrants, instant residency, financial and citizenship privileges. The government of Colombia recently said 750 of these Cubans crossed over its borders and instantly asked for U. S. visas. So, even prior to Venezuela's debilitating economic problems, the doctors-for-oil program was teetering on the brink of disaster, just as the nations of Venezuela and Cuba are now. Teetering and being pushed over the cliff. 
       The New York Times used this photo to illustrate a major article written by Victoria Burnett. It revealed that Cubans like the lady above now fear blackouts and power shortages before this year is out. In addition to the major problems in Venezuela, low nickel prices and a weather-related poor sugar harvest are among the perfect storm nuances that have converged to challenge Cuba's economy, off-setting some positive gains resulting from better relations with America since Obama replaced Bush #2 as U. S. President.
       The blog The Cuban Economy warns of a dire economic "chill" engulfing Cuba. It concludes that "warnings of rationing revive memories of post-Soviet austerity in Havana." Indeed, Revolutionary Cuba struggled but survived in the early 1990s after the collapse of the Soviet Union ended billions of dollars worth of subsidies to Cuba, creating a "Special Period." Now a second one looms just over the horizon.
      A close observer of the Cuban economy is Jorge Pinon, the renowned Latin American energy expert at the University of Texas. Mr. Pinon believes that Cuba's economic crisis will worsen as President Maduro's problems in Venezuela deepen. And Mr. Pinon believes that dire financial problems in Cuba will push the island politically closer and closer to the United States as a necessary and practical economic reaction.
        As the above quotation indicates, Cuba's Josefina Vidal very badly wants to continue the "constructive spirit" that she has meticulously forged with the United States during President Obama's administration.
      But suggestions that the current economic crisis will force Cuba to make "unwarranted concessions" to the United States irk Josefina Vidal. She says, "As a sovereign country since the 1959 revolution ended American and Mafia dominance of the island, Cuba has doggedly survived the 1960 Operation Mongoose assassination attempts against our leaders by the U. S., the Mafia and Cuban exiles; the 1961 military attack known as the Bay of Pigs; the American economic blockade in effect since 1962; and all other major obstacles confronting us. The so-called 'perfect storm' hitting us now includes the Venezuelan situation, low oil prices, low nickel prices, a sugar shortfall, and other normal and unexpected economic challenges. But let's not forget that the continuing U. S. blockade along with the unending array of Congress-mandated and lavishly funded regime-change programs still represent the main obstructions into the lives of everyday Cubans on this island. The so-called U. S. experts who say otherwise are pure liars, and such lies are repulsive to me."
       Recently several major American publications made headlines by suggesting that Cuba was ready to extradite Joanne Chesimard back to the U. S. as a "drastic means" of "cozying up to the United States." 
      But Josefina Vidal herself ended such speculation regarding Joanne Chesimard with this forceful statement: "We have explained to the U. S. government that there are some people living in Cuba to whom we have legitimately granted political asylum. That includes Joanne Chesimard. As a black woman, we remain unconvinced that she received a fair trial in the U. S. The U. S. has given asylum to dozens and dozens of Cuban criminals, some accused of terrorism, murder and kidnapping, and in every case the U. S. government has decided to welcome them, including the protection of Luis Posada Carriles and many others in Miami."  
       Joanne Chesimard, also known as Assatur Shakur, was the first woman placed on the FBI's Most Wanted List. There remains a multi-million-dollar bounty on her head. She was a member of the Black Panthers in 1973 when a car in which she and two male Black Panthers were riding was stopped on a New Jersey highway. In a shoot-out, State Trooper Werner Foerster was killed along with a male Black Panther. Chesimard and the other male Black Panther were wounded as was a second police officer. In six criminal procedures and three trials, Chesimard was finally convicted of killing Mr. Foerster although she always has maintained her innocence. In 1979 she escaped from prison and ended up in Cuba, where she has remained. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has recently made headlines by calling her a "cold-blooded killer" while loudly insisting that President Obama should "strongly" demand her extradition from Cuba.
      Meanwhile, Luis Posada Carriles, shown here in a photo from The Guardian, is the most notable of what Josefina Vidal called "The dozens of Cuban criminals" protected and welcomed in the United States. Posada, now 88-years-old, was born in 1928 in Cienfuegos, Cuba. Since 1959 he has made war against Fidel Castro and he admitted to Ann Louise Bardach and the New York Times that there has been "collateral damage."
        Cuba and many other nations consider Luis Posada Carriles history's all-time greatest Latin American terrorist. Indeed, in a famous New York Times interview conducted by Ann Louise Bardach, he admitted decades of anti-Castro terror attacks against Cuba, including a famously fatal hotel bombing in Havana.
       But in Cuba and across the Caribbean and Latin America, Posada Carriles is most famous for being tied to the October 6, 1976 bombing of a civilian Cuban airplane. All 73 aboard Cubana Flight 455 perished.
      Right after the triumph of the Cuban Revolution over the Batista dictatorship in 1959, Luis Posada Carriles and many other anti-Castro zealots were trained at the now-infamous Army School of the Americas at Fort Benning, Georgia, and later were on the U. S. payroll in many famous anti-Cuban endeavors.
      Many declassified U. S. documents, such as the above Nov. 5, 1976 letter to Henry Kissinger, indicates the U. S. government was/is well aware of Posada's involvement in the bombing of Cubana Flight 455.
     In 2016 as the United States and Cuba try to enter A New Era, their mutually represented and misrepresented history -- especially since the 1950s -- has been complicated and conflicted. But it is indeed a two-way affair in which neither nation has been totally right nor totally wrong. In the past year both Josefina Vidal and President Obama have acknowledged that fact. And at long last, it is perhaps time that everyday Cubans and everyday Americans cease to be the primary victims of self-serving animosity.


Vidal Wants Much More

       While Cuba Is Still Sovereign  
      Cuba's state newspaper, Granma, used the above photo of Josefina Vidal to illustrate a massively long Q & A session with the island's brilliant and dogmatic chief diplomat on all things involving the United States. It candidly revealed her summary of where Cuba stands one year after the U. S. and Cuba last July officially resumed diplomatic ties with the reopening of embassies in Havana and Washington. During the past historic year, she was asked what has been achieved to date. She succinctly replied:   
                "The process of negotiations took place almost six months prior to the reestablishment last July of diplomatic relations, so the process began on Dec. 17, 2014 with the simultaneous television announcements by Presidents Castro and Obama. So, I prefer to talk about what has been achieved in the last 19 months. Priority aspects for Cuba included the return of the Five Heroes who were serving prison sentences in the U. S.; the removal of Cuba from the list of state sponsors of terrorism; and renewing the Havana Club trademark registration in the United States. In the political diplomatic sphere I would highlight the creation of the Cuba-United States Bilateral Commission providing follow-ups to the post-reestablishment of diplomatic relations agenda. To date, three meetings have taken place in alternating venues, while a further two are scheduled to be held. It was important to have a mechanism of this type to just talk, to address unresolved issues that had been willfully neglected too long. With the Bilateral Commission, we have signed 11 major agreements, the last one involving the agreement to jointly fight drug and human trafficking." 
           Vidal was then asked what remains to be achieved. She calmly and, yes, expertly said: 
                     "The dissuasive and punitive components of the blockade, and its intimidating extra-territorial effects, continue to have negative consequences for Cuba. We are still unable to make financial transfers, we are denied services of this kind and payments are withheld, while the U. S. continues to impose fines on banks and foreign financial entities that do business with our country. The blockade is an outdated policy that the world abhors and it must end. Thus far it has not been possible to normalize banking relations. All of this could be resolved if President Obama was brave enough to exploit his executive prerogatives. Thus far the U. S. has failed to issue a political statement or legal document explaining to world banks that operations with Cuba are legitimate, and that those banks or countries won't be sanctioned. So for a half-century Cuba has had to exist under an America blockade that would have doomed much larger and stronger nations. The U. S. took 56 years to recognize Cuba's legitimate government that had replaced a brutal regime backed by the Mafia and by the United States. But lifting the blockade has not been achieved. Returning the stolen Guantanamo Bay port has not been achieved. Lifting economic sanctions that would destroy most other nations has not been achieved. We are not naive. We are aware of the United States strategic objectives and we will not let our guard down. We will always remain alert. Meanwhile for the good, the bilateral process represents opportunities to advance for the first time toward resolving pending issues, not only of the past 56 years but also centuries ago." 
      Josefina Vidal made those comments in direct response to specific questions. She had no teleprompter and no notes. And she speaks for Cuba. She is formidably intelligent and the world's greatest expert on U.S.-Cuban relations. Yet, for 56 years the Batistianos and Mafiosi booted off the island by the Cuban Revolution in 1959 have dictated America's Cuban narrative and America's Cuban policy. Thus, propagandized Americans have been proselytized to discount Vidal's assessment of U.S.-Cuban relations in favor of the self-serving, undemocratic dictates of two generations of Batistianos and Mafiosi. That unending situation has and will continue to harm the image of the U. S. far more than it harms Cuba's.
        I suggest that intimidated or unpatriotic Americans, those who deny or ignore Josefina Vidal's topical and significant comments depicted above, should try to explain away her sane assessments. Merely ignoring them is the cowardly way out. And remember, my own assessments of Cuba are in defense of America and democracy, not Cuba. I happen to think that 56 years of the Batistianos and Mafiosi dictating America's Cuban narrative and policy is 56 years too much as it defames democracy and the United States.
         I noted in the above Vidal quotes that she, for perhaps the first time, was critical of U. S. President Obama. Referencing his refusal to stop the debilitating banking sanctions that indeed would have destroyed much larger nations long ago, she said, "All of this could be resolved if President Obama was brave enough to exploit his executive prerogatives." With that comment, Vidal is acknowledging that the Batistianos and Mafiosi greedily control the United States Congress on all issues regarding Cuba, but she is frustrated that Obama has not used his "executive prerogatives" even more than he has since December of 2014. Vidal is a student of Batistiano-U.S. history. Her comment seems to indicate that she thinks Obama is afraid to go further in his brave efforts to normalize relations with Cuba. Perhaps she is right there too.
      The handshake graphic above reveals that Vidal is appreciative of Obama's efforts to be the first of the last eleven American presidents to have the guts and decency to even attempt to normalize relations with Cuba. The physical and political threats are enormous. But Vidal is abundantly aware of the timeline of the U.S.-Cuban relationship that includes salacious American right-wingers dictating the Spanish-American War in 1898 and dictating the U. S. backing of the fiendish Batista-Mafia dictatorship in 1952 and since 1959 dictating America's Cuban policy that yearly gets a resounding 191-to-2 denunciation in the United Nations. Through it all, Americans are supposed to be too cowardly and too stupid to even weight in on the topic.  
But guess what!!
      Unlike the biased and intimidated U. S. journalists, Sarah Marsh has the guts and integrity to tell you the truth about U.S.-Cuban relations. Of course, Sarah is British and the Brits didn't support the Batista-Mafia dictatorship in Cuba and then, when it was overthrown, let the Batistianos and Mafiosi dictate Cuban policy for the past 56 years. And, of course, Sarah works for Reuters, the great news agency based in Britain that, unlike the U. S. media, is not obligated to distort America's Cuban policy in favor of the Batistianos and Mafiosi. Therefore, Sarah Marsh, who is headquartered in Buenos Aires as a Reuters Latin American expert, actually has the freedom to tell the truth about U.S.-Cuban relations. HOW ABOUT THAT!! And she does so in an updated article analyzing the past year in which the U. S. and Cuba have restored embassies and diplomatic relations for the first time since 1961. For the reasons mentioned, Sarah Marsh is neither biased NOR intimidated when writing about Cuba, so you may want to check out her very latest article. 
And lastly
        The U. S. does not have a diplomat or a politician or a journalist that can out-smart or out-maneuver the great Cuban patriot, Josefina Vidal. But she is David to their Goliath. She defends a small, vulnerable country while they are supported by the world's economic and military superpower. It is thus a lop-sided struggle. She alone just makes it less so. On a level playing field, her beloved Cuba would flourish.
And now a change of pace:
      This magnificent photo is courtesy of Linda Bumpus and my favorite magazine, Birds & Blooms. That's a male bluebird on the left and his female companion on the right. Once together, they mate for life.



Cuba's Post-Obama Plans

 It Plans to Survive 
{Updated: Tuesday, July 26, 2016}
      The London Daily Mail used the above photo of Hillary Clinton in an article that said that Ms. Clinton, as President Obama's Secretary of State, was the person who actually began the Obama administration's efforts to normalize relations with Cuba. The Daily Mail.com website is the largest online newspaper source in the world and it reports intently and fairly about Cuba. So, that revelation is significant considering that Ms. Clinton is expected to succeed Mr. Obama as U. S. President on January 20th, 2017.
      The Daily Mail.com used this photo to illustrate the day in December of 2014 that President Obama announced to the world that he planned to normalize relations with Cuba, and he has indeed been the first U. S. President since the assassination of John Kennedy on November 22, 1963 to seriously attempt to accomplish that nearly impossible task because Cuban abnormality benefits a lot of powerful people.
         The Daily Mail.com used the above photo to illustrate that Miami-led Cuban-Americans will likely thwart any and all efforts to normalize relations with Cuba, just as a visceral minority of Cuban-Americans have done since the triumph of the Cuban Revolution on January 1, 1959. On the left above is U. S. Senator and failed-wannabe President Marco Rubio. In the middle is Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, also from Miami. In 1989 when Jeb Bush was her Campaign Manager Ros-Lehtinen became the first of a steady stream of Bush-anointed Cuban-Americans in Miami who have been propelled to the U. S. Congress. On the right is Mirta Costa; her son Carlos was a pilot of a "Brothers to the Rescue" plane shot down by Cuba in the Florida Straits in 1996. At the photo-opt above, Rubio and Ros-Lehtinen used Ms. Costa to highlight their efforts to maintain their dominance of America's Cuban policy as opposed to President Obama's wishes for peaceful and normal relations. The Daily Mail.com and other international media outlets have reported fairly on that shoot-down of two small Brothers' planes in 1996. The U. S. media has not. In 1996 President Bill Clinton was the third Democratic president to attempt to normalize relations with Cuba, after failures by Presidents Kennedy and Carter. But then Brothers planes, ostensibly in the Florida Straits to rescue stranded Cubans, taunted Cuba with flyovers, even dropping anti-Castro material over Havana. Cuba for days begged the U. S. to stop the flights over Cuban land and/or waters. The U. S. didn't. Cuba then begged the UN to do something. It also didn't do anything because the U. S. has veto power. Cuba then shot down two planes killing four people either in international waters or on the edge of Cuban territorial waters. A third plane piloted by one of Miami's all-time most famed anti-Castro Cuban-Americans, Jose Basalto, turned back and landed safely. With the Miami narrative dictating anti-Cuban vitriol, Cuba was/is totally blamed for the 1996 shootdowns although highly respected and less biased Americans such as Wayne S. Smith, Peter Kornbluh, Sarah Stephens, etc. have pointed out that the Brothers' planes, the U. S. and the UN should also share the blame. In any case, as the Daily Mail.com and the international media have pointed out, the Brothers' shootdowns totally ended President Clinton's plans in 1996 to normalize relations with Cuba and instead caused Clinton to sign the Helms-Burton Act that to this day remains the primary vehicle designed to destroy Revolutionary Cuba via isolation, as opposed to the famously failed 1961 Bay of Pigs attack.
      This photo shows President Bill Clinton on March 12, 1996, signing the Helms-Burton Act into law. On the far left was Jesse Helms. Looking directly over Clinton's right shoulder in red was Havana-born Ileana Ros-Lehtinen who has represented Miami in the U. S. Congress since 1989. The large man standing just to the right of President Clinton was Robert Menendez, the Cuban-American U. S. Senator from New Jersey. Second from the right was Havana-born U. S. Congressman from Miami Lincoln Diaz-Balart whose father Rafael was a key Minister in Cuba's Batista dictatorship before becoming, after the 1959 revolution, one of the all-time richest and most powerful anti-Castro Cuban-Americans. Helms-Burton was supposed to be the final nail in Revolutionary Cuba's coffin. The Daily Mail.com indicates that President Bill Clinton reluctantly signed it into law only after the Brothers' shootdowns ended Clinton's plans to normalize relations with Cuba. That generally accepted fact is interesting because now the Daily Mail.com says that Hillary Clinton, expected to be the U. S. President beginning in January, used her power as Secretary of State to initiate President Obama's ongoing plans to normalize relations with Cuba. But in any case, Helms-Burton can only be changed by the U. S. Congress and that means it is not likely to be changed. There always seems to be enough Jesse Helms-types in Congress to align with a handful of anti-Castro Cuban-Americans to make it a permanent, if very controversial, part of the U. S. government, a cancerous portion of the U. S. democracy that is denounced yearly in the UN by a boisterous but helpless 191-to-2 vote. But let's not forget President Bill Clinton's original plans in 1996. Likewise let's assume that, most likely, President Hillary Clinton's plans beginning in 2017 will be to continue President Obama's sane and peaceful efforts regarding Cuba.
    Hillary following Barack as U. S. President is necessary
As a conservative Republican, I never thought I'd say that.
       The Daily News.com used this inauspicious photo of U. S. Senator Marco Rubio to point out that the Miami Cuban-American remains determined to lead the fight against normalizing relations with Cuba.
      The Daily News.com used this photo of Texas Cuban-American U. S. Senator Ted Cruz to point out that the 2020 presidential wannabe plans to out-do Rubio in making sure that the U. S. never normalizes relations with Cuba, at least not until its back under the U. S. yoke, meaning a few Cuban-Americans.
      The Daily Mail.com used this photo of Cuban-American U. S. Senator Robert Menendez to point out that the Congress-mandated Cuban policy is dictated by anti-Castro Cuban-Americans. Yet, polls show that most Cuban-Americans favor President Obama's Cuban policy, but it seems moderate Cuban-Americans are not candidates to be elected to the U. S. Congress or have much of a say on America's Cuban policy.
       Another Cuba-related nuance that seems to mock the U. S. democracy is the fact that the American broadcast news networks appear to only hire anti-Castro Cuban-American zealots as their anchors and talking heads and then sic them on Cuba...uh, always unbiased, of course. Jose Diaz-Balart based in Miami, for example, is a top anchor on NBC and MSNBC and his views on Cuba are not supposed to be questioned even though his father was a key Minister in the Batista dictatorship before the Castro revolution chased him and many others to Miami. Two of Jose's brothers, Lincoln and Mario, have been elected to the U. S. Congress from Miami...but who's counting? And even if you can count, don't complain about the extraordinary wealth and power of the Diaz-Balarts, or about the absurd discrimination and cruelty of Helms-Burton, and certainly never mention the 191-to-2 anti-U.S./pro-Cuban vote in the UN.
       And similar to the American broadcast industry, the mainstream print media in the U. S. seems only to employ journalists who are anti-Cuban zealots -- such as the Miami-based Cuban-American Alan Gomez who regularly uses the pages of USA Today to assail and demean Cuba, with counter-views verboten. His latest vitriol was on July 21st when, as always, his massive USA Today article distorted Cuban reality and heralded what he perceived as the upcoming and wonderful demise of Cuba, with exact paragraphs like this: "Many hurdles remain. Cuba continues to arrest hundreds of political dissidents each month. Cuba's economy is faltering in ways not seen in decades, in part because its main benefactor, oil-rich Venezuela, is suffering a major economic crisis and massive food shortages. Cuban officials have warned of power outages and other shortages in the months to come." With such paragraphs, U. S. journalists regarding Cuba, such as Alan Gomez, seem to cheer loudest when they suspect that Cubans on the island will begin to starve or at least be without necessities such as electricity on the tropical island. Americans, meanwhile, have permitted a Batistiano-dominated Congress and a Batistiano-dominated news media to defame the U. S. and democracy a lot more than it has defamed Cuba. It that were not so, there wouldn't be a 191-to-2 anti-U.S./pro-Cuba vote in the UN, and if that were not so Revolutionary Cuba would have died long, long ago. Perhaps Alan Gomez can write a USA Today article and explain to the American people how little Cuba has survived over a half-century of...military attacks by overthrown exiles backed by the strongest military in the world, unpunished terrorist attacks such as the bombing of Cubana Flight 455, the longest and cruelest economic embargo ever imposed by a powerful nation against a weak nation, and a U. S. Congress that mandates any law that anti-Cuban zealots believe will bring about the demise of Revolutionary Cuba.
       The Cuban who diplomatically and fervently defends Cuba against the Batistiano-directed threats emanating from the U. S. is Josefina Vidal. Normally the U. S. media distorts or ignores the Cuban side of all equations but, amazingly, in the aforementioned USA Today article, Alan Gomez actually included this quotation from Vidal: "It's up to the United States to disassemble the hostile, unilateral policies that created a confrontational character on the links between the two countries. Cuba doesn't have similar policies toward the United States." Of course, with revengeful Cuban-Americans controlling the Cuban narrative in the United States, Americans are supposed to accept any and all assaults on Cuba -- such as teaming with the Mafia to support the brutal Batista dictatorship in Cuba and, after it was overthrown in 1959, trying to recapture the island via military and terrorist attacks orchestrated from the United States. When that failed, history's longest and cruelest economic embargo ever imposed by a strong nation against a weak one has been imposed to punish Cubans on the island while enticing, enriching and empowering Cubans in America. As Cuba's primary bulwark against America's intransigence, Vidal says, "Eleven million Cubans on this island would not be targeted every day if the American people had the courage and patriotism to respect and protect their democracy more. I believe the world, despite the incomparable U. S. influence, agrees with me on that. If the U. S. wants to impose its will on Cuba, as it has tried to do since the 1898 Spanish-American War, it will have to destroy our revolution completely. If the U. S. allows us to exist and breathe freely, we will work with the reasonable people in the U. S. government to make things better for Cubans and for Americans." 
       A lot of people around the world love Cuba or at least admire its tenacious efforts to fight against 500 years of imperial domination and, since 1959, to wage its underdog battle to remain a sovereign nation. I have been to Cuba and I admire and like Cubans on the island and most Cubans in America. But my love is America and democracy, and therein lies my passion for Cuba. I believe Cuba and especially the Cuban Revolution say a lot more about the United States, the world superpower, than they say about Cuba. And what it says, as reflected by that 191-to-2 yearly vote in the UN, is that America's Cuban policy for centuries, especially since 1898 and most particularly since 1959, has been dictated by a handful of right-wing rogues who have usurped the U. S. democracy for their own salacious and greedy purposes. Yes, I am disappointed that the U. S. democracy has not been strong enough since 1898 to ward off its Cuban abomination that daily demeans the image of the United States around the world, an image that the Castro Cottage Industry in the U. S. couldn't care less about. So yes, I like Cuba but I love America. And I believe America's Cuban policy should be predicated by the hands and hearts of decent Americans, not rogues.
       It is my opinion that rosy-cheeked little Cuban girls and their loving mothers should not be punished all their lives by revengeful and greedy exiles and natives of a foreign power that target their very vulnerable island. Punishing little girls like this in the guise of hurting Castro is a lame and gutless excuse. And if that is not the case since 1898, perhaps some self-anointed American or Cuban-American patriot should attempt to convince me and the United Nations why it is not so. 2, not 191, should be the underdog.

cubaninsider: "The Country That Raped Me" (A True Story)

cubaninsider: "The Country That Raped Me" (A True Story) : Note : This particular essay on  Ana Margarita Martinez  was first ...