For Cubans & Americans!!
      Today -- Wednesday, August 31st, 2016 -- a JetBlue A320 airplane will make a Full Flight From Fort Lauderdale in Florida to Santa Clara in central Cuba. It will write a new chapter in the turbulent history of U.S.-Cuban relations. For over five decades, as punishment for the Cuban Revolution overthrowing the U.S.-backed Batista-Mafia dictatorship in January of 1959, the ongoing U. S. embargo against Cuba has prevented any commercial flights from the U. S. to Cuba. Today's JetBlue flight is a product of President Barack Obama's courageous efforts to normalize relations with the nearby island. The most visceral remnants of the ousted Batista-Mafia dictatorship still dictate U. S. Cuban policy via a stranglehold on the U. S. Congress that yearly gets a 191-to-2 denunciation in the United Nations. But incredibly, President Barack Obama has sliced into the self-serving and misguided congressional dictates regarding Cuba.
      But as a historic JetBlue A320 airliner like this one leaves Fort Lauderdale today and touches down in the central Cuban city of Santa Clara, proper perspectives are in order. As has been the case since 1959, any and all efforts in the United States to deal sanely with Cuba have, first of all, spawned massive resistance from the small but omnipotent and lucrative Anti-Castro Cottage Industry that flourishes on U. S. soil. Today's resumption of commercial flights to Cuba for the first time in over five decades will spawn predictable vitriol. And these forces are not accustomed to losing, and that's why even the historic JetBlue flight to Cuba today will not have many American passengers, just mostly Cuban-Americans. For decades Americans have been the only people in the world without the freedom to visit Cuba, but such discriminatory laws also discriminate strongly in favor of Cuban-Americans. After the JetBlue flight on this final day of August, in September American and Silver airlines will begin regular flights to Cuba from Miami. Soon, plans call for 110 daily flights from the U. S. to Cuba. The U. S. and Cuba are discussing 20 daily flights to Havana, the most coveted prize, but they have not been assigned yet because the capital city's Jose Marti Airport is already strained by a sharp uptick in tourism to Cuba. Several major U. S. airlines are willing to start flights to remote Cuban cities if they can compete for HAVANA!! 
       America's Secretary of Transportation, Anthony Foxx, will be aboard today's historic JetBlue flight to Santa Clara. Before joining the Obama administration, Mr. Foxx was the Mayor of Charlotte from 2009 till 2013. He says, "This flight to Cuba opens a new and positive chapter in the annals of United States and Cuban relationships. Commercial, as opposed to just charter flights between the two neighboring nations, will benefit most Americans and most Cubans, as will many other fresh overtures orchestrated by President Obama."  
      There is no Cuban-American more expert on U.S.-Cuban relations than Alberto Coll. He came to the U. S. from Cuba at age 12. He graduated with honors from Princeton University and then from the University of Virginia Law School. He taught law at Georgetown University, then was a top official at the Pentagon, and now is a renowned Law Professor at DePaul University. Today's USA Today quotes Mr. Coll regarding JetBlue's history-making flight to Cuba today. Mr. Coll said, "This is truly transformational." He knows that the resumption of commercial flights to Cuba will help Cubans and Americans, telling USA Today that "The money will go into the pockets of Cuban families that are going to use those resources to expand their small businesses and improve their lives, over time, that is going to transform Cuban society in a more open, more pluralistic manner." Most Americans, most Cuban-Americans and for sure most people all around the world wholeheartedly agree with Alberto Coll that punishing everyday Cubans for over half-a-century in the misguided, revengeful guise of hurting Castro has shamed the United States long enough. And yet, a visceral minority of Cuban-Americans based in Miami and/or the U. S. Congress stringently oppose the viewpoints of Cuban-Americans like Alberto Coll...to the detriment of Cubans, Americans, Cuban-Americans and especially the worldwide reputations of both the United States of America and its great democracy.
      Today's USA Today article about today's historic JetBlue flight to Cuba also lavishly quoted anti-Castro zealots like Dr. Jaime Suchlicki, the head of the Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies at the University of Miami. Dr. Suchlicki has long been one of the most powerful anti-Castro zealots in the United States and thus he opposes anything President Obama or anyone else tries to do to normalize relations with the island. Concerning the start of commercial air traffic to Cuba, he told USA Today today, "Even well-intentioned travelers to Cuba will enrich the struggling Castro regime." That mantra has been shoved down the throats of Americans everyday since January of 1959, at least till President Obama intervened.
       For many decades, Americans have been told that the only opinions regarding Cuba must come from anti-Castro zealots like Dr. Jamie Suchlicki, who indeed is one of America's most notable consultants about Cuba in both the private and public sectors. Americans are not supposed to realize that most Cuban-Americans even in Miami agree with President Obama's sane Cuban approach. The aforementioned Alberto Coll certainly disagrees with Dr. Suchlicki, as do most Cuban-Americans whose opinions you are not supposed to know about. For example, in this age of Google you can easily dial up pertinent and unbiased contrasting views. Punch in a long article written by Alvaro Fernandez entitled: "Fog of Lies About Cuba Damage University of Miami's Reputation." If you do so, you will discover that the recent article starts out by excoriating the Miami Herald because of its standard policy to "dare not delve into the web of deception created by one university professor and his staff of liars, of what some call an important educational and research center." The "university professor" Alvaro Fernandez referenced is Dr. Suchlicki. But all Americans are supposed to never challenge anything he says about Cuba, including his quote in today's USA Today.
       In contrast to Dr. Jamie Suchlicki's quote, please remember Alberto Coll's beneficent words today in USA Today revealing his hope and belief that such overtures as the resumption of commercial flights to Cuba will help everyday Cubans on the island, the ones who have suffered so much for so long because of what essentially was the transfer of the Batista-Mafia dictatorship from Cuba to the U. S. in January of 1959. In fact, to comprehend the Batistiano-Bush dictation of America's Cuban policy, you should study Mr. Coll's bio. As mentioned, he came to the U. S. from Cuba at age 12, graduated from Princeton and then UVA Law School, and has taught law at Georgetown and now DePaul universities. But to understand Mr. Coll's background, you need to do a little Googling. Dial up a comprehensive article entitled "The Assassination of Alberto Coll" written by the incomparable Ann Louise Bardach, the all-time greatest expert on U.S.-Cuban relations. Ms. Bardach explains that while there have "literally" been killings, Alberto Coll was only assassinated politically, not physically, for opposing the Cuban hardliners and their sycophants in the Bush dynasty starting with, as she stated, "George H. W. Bush," and continuing on to George W. Bush anti-Castro zealots such as "John Bolton" and "Otto Reich." Ms. Bardach states that the most powerful anti-Castro Cuban-American, "Jorge Mas Canosa," once offered the brilliant Cuba-American lawyer Alberto Coll a powerful position. The Pentagon had made young Alberto Coll the Deputy Secretary of Defense during the George H. W. Bush administration. But...lo 'n behold...when the Cuban hardliners and the Bush dynasty discovered that Alberto Coll had a sane and decent concern for the innocent Cubans on the island, he was "assassinated" -- politically but not physically. As Ann Louise Bardach, the greatest of America's Cuban experts, explains, what happened to Alberto Coll was not pretty, not at all. But at least he survived...and his comment in today's "USA Today" shows that he still has dire concern for innocent Cubans on the island.
And speaking of Ms. Bardach:
       If you haven't read her seminal books, essays, and articles about Cuba, I assume you don't know much about either Miami or Havana. Start, of course, with her classic book: "CUBA CONFIDENTIAL: Love and Vengeance in Miami and Havana." And to learn about a great Cuban-American who actually cares about Cubans on the island, be sure to Google "The Assassination of Alberto Coll" by Ann Louise Bardach.


Cuba Looks to "The Future"

 U.S. Right-wingers Bask in the Past 
       This REUTERS/Enrique de la Osa photo shows a major news conference in Havana yesterday -- Monday, August 29th. The poster says: "With a firm step towards the Future." Conducting the news conference left to right are Mayda Molina, Eduardo Rodriguez and Alfredo Cordero. They are top officials in Cuba's Aviation & Transport industry. The session addressed an historic and epic event in U.S.-Cuban history. On Wednesday August 31st jetBlue Airlines will fly a commercial passenger jet from Fort Lauderdale to Santa Clara, Cuba. It will be the first commercial airplane flight from the U. S. to Cuba in over five decades because of the U. S. embargo instituted in 1962 to appease Cuban exiles booted off the island, primarily to South Florida, by the Cuban Revolution in the first week of January, 1959. Ms. Molina yesterday said, "As Cuba looks to a brighter future for our people, we hope the obstacles against us in the U. S. Congress, a relatively few people I understand, will also recognize how many Americans are hurt by decades of hostility aimed at overthrowing our government. Our hard-earned sovereignty is precious to us and we hope to live peacefully with everyone. Our only enemy is a small but apparently powerful element in the U.S. Congress."   
       Wednesday's historic  jetBlue flight from Fort Lauderdale to Santa Clara will soon evolve into about 25 daily commercial flights from the U. S. to Cuba. There are now 17 U.S. charter flights that land in Cuba daily to accommodate Cuban-Americans. All U. S. laws related to Cuba since 1959 have had a dual purpose: {#1} To hurt Cubans on the island; and {#2} to help Cubans in the U. S. economically and politically via gross discrimination not available to non-Cuban immigrants. Of course, Americans since 1959 are supposed to be too intimidated or too stupid to oppose such things, and those two assumptions have worked wonderfully for over five decades on behalf of a handful of Cuban-American hard-liners and their sycophants.
       The jetBlue commercial flight to Cuba Wednesday will usher in another key element of President Obama's brave normalization plans but provocations, intimidations and other tactics have squelched such efforts in the past...and might do so this time. However, Obama is the first U. S. President since the 1950s to have seriously challenged a Cuban policy that, from an image standpoint, far more drastically hurts the U. S. than it hurts Cuba, an island whose pugnaciousness has actually gained it considerable international respect and out-sized influence. Safety wise, Cuba is ready for the influx of air traffic from the U. S. but otherwise it is not. Because of Obama, a record 3.3 million tourists have visited Cuba in the past 12 months. Cuba's hotels, private home rentals, transportation services and amenities are already stretched to the limits. The U. S. Batistiano laws mandate that Americans are the only people in the world without the freedom to travel to Cuba. In defiance of a Batistiano-aligned Congress, Obama has created 12 categories of exceptions to the travel ban but most everyday Americans are still restricted...meaning that the commercial airplane travel to Cuba starting this week will mostly cater to Cuban-Americans, which all U. S. laws related to Cuba have done since 1959. Yet, as Cuban aviation official Mayda Molina said yesterday, "As Cuba looks to a brighter future for our people, we hope the obstacles against us in the U. S. Congress, a relatively few people I understand, will also recognize how many Americans are hurt by decades of hostility aimed at overthrowing our government. Our hard-earned sovereignty is precious to us and we hope to live peacefully with everyone. Our only enemy is a small but apparently powerful element in the United States." 
      If you detected skepticism in Ms. Molina's words yesterday in Havana, you would be correct. Even within the bowels of the world's greatest democracy, Ms. Molina is astute enough to understand that, when it comes to Cuba, democracy takes a back-seat to the self-serving and/or revengeful bellicosity of a few hard-liners. Of course, that might change if the once-proud U. S. democracy could ever get a moderate Cuban-American elected to the U. S. Congress -- you know, to reflect the views of the majority of Cuban-Americans who are indeed moderate and who support President Obama's sane approaches to Cuba.
       A notable Cuban-American in Miami, Hugo Cancio, wonders, "When will Cuban-Americans elected to Congress reflect the opinions of moderate Cuban-Americans like me?" Millions of democracy-loving Americans, as well as Cuban-Cubans like Mayda Molina in Havana, have been wondering the same thing.


The World We Live In

Why Are the Bad Guys Winning?
         It didn't get much international coverage last week or this week but the photo above depicted a truly gigantic event in one of the world's most important capitals -- Bogota, Colombia. It shows thousands of young Colombians wildly celebrating in the streets as they watched a giant television screen that was depicting the signing of an omnipotent peace treaty in Havana, Cuba. It, at least for a time, marks the end of the world's longest and one of the world's bloodiest wars, a Civil War that has raged for five decades pitting the Colombian government against FARC rebels. Hundreds of thousands of innocent Colombians have been killed or maimed. These young Colombians prayerfully wanted it to end, and so did the government of Cuba. For the last four years Cuba has painstakingly brokered peace negotiations that brought the decent President of Colombia, Juan Santos, face-to-face with the leading FARC terrorist guerrillas. Finally, last week in Havana a peace treaty was signed. As always, many powerful people -- including the former Colombian President Alvaro Uribe known for his Bush-dynasty ties -- vigorously oppose this peace treaty, so maintaining it will be difficult. BUT MOST COLOMBIANS, like the young people above, prayerfully applaud it. You see, they want to live out their lives, if possible, in peace...not fear.
      Anne Frank, the legendary and precious little Dutch girl, also wanted to live out her life in peace and become an author. Her famed diary, as she and her family tried to hide from the Nazis, revealed she likely would have become both a great author and a great mother. But Anne Frank, her sister and over six million other Jewish citizens were gruesomely murdered before the Holocaust was ended in 1945 by World War II. Now fast-forward from the haunting photo of Anne Frank to today's color photo on the right. This bloodied and traumatized little girl is actually considered lucky by today's insane and ongoing metrics. She's alive while most of her schoolmates were killed by the sophisticated bomb that merely bloodied and terrorized her. The twin photos above are courtesy of the New York Times and also courtesy of the insanity of the world Anne Frank lived in back in the 1940s and the world in which the little girl on the right is trying so desperately to live in today. But like with her dead classmates and millions of other little children, the odds are stacked very high against her. And that's because...it seems...the bad people...in today's world...are either...more powerful...or more motivated...than the good people. That sheer fact includes self-proclaimed good people like me who cry when we study photos of Anne Frank from the 1940s OR when in 2016 we see daily photos or television images like the one of the terrified and bloodied {BUT LUCKY} little girl shown above on the right. And then we wipe the tears away and sit for a few moments in awed silence staring aimlessly and helplessly into a brief and empty space. We wonder why? WHY? But we have no answers. My only hope...and my only miniscule contribution...is that Anne Frank knew as she died that I cared about her AND that the little girl in the color photo as she tries to live knows that I care...about her too. That's not much, I know, but at least it's something. Just caring...is something...isn't it? Isn't it? Isn't itISN'T IT...?
 I love you, Anne Frank. 
And for many years, I believed your most famous quotation.


Cuba Welcomes Americans

  The Stampede Commences 
{Sunday, August 28th, 2016}
Cubans welcome American tourists.
Americans in front of the new U. S. Embassy in Havana.
Cuban children like to pose for American tourists
           Poor little Cuba for years has provided totally free and excellent medical educations for Americans like these at the world's largest and one of the most highly respected medical schools. When they graduate, these Americans don't owe Cuba a dime or a peso. Cuba only asks that, at least for a time, they return to the poor areas in the United States from which they came and provide medical care as expertly and as cheaply as possible. {But shhhh...if you are an American, you are not supposed to know or say anything good about Cuba. Since the victory of the Cuban Revolution in 1959, Batistianos have dictated the Cuban narrative in the United States...as well as it's anti-Cuba/pro Cuban exile laws. That's why for decades everyday Americans have been the only people in the world without the freedom to visit Cuba. That law, which pusillanimous Americans meekly accept and the cowardly U. S. media promotes, is designed to prevent Americans from judging Cuba for themselves; instead, Americans are told that everything about Revolutionary Cuba since 1959 is bad and everything about the vile Batista dictatorship was good. Free-thinking Americans, like these medical students, know better.}
       Beginning next week -- on the last day of August, 2016 -- U. S. commercial jets for the first time since 1961 will become familiar sights at ten Cuban airports. Next Wednesday -- August 31st -- jetBlue will make history with a flight from Fort Lauderdale to Villa Clara in central Cuba. Then American in September will start direct flights from Miami to Cuba, followed by other major U. S. airlines before the end of 2016 making flights to Cuba from New York City, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Houston, Charlotte, etc. Currently 17 charter flights from the United States land in Cuba daily but commercial flights have been banned since 1961 until President Obama, beginning in December of 2014, bravely, astutely, and finally defied the decades-old control of America's Cuban policy self-servingly imposed by Miami hard-liners and a sycophantic U. S. Congress. In 2015 Cuba had a record 3.5 million tourists as Obama loosened the stranglehold Miami and Congress had on denying everyday Americans the freedom to visit Cuba although 300,000 Cubans living in the U. S. were allowed to visit each year. In 2014 only 91,254 Americans visited Cuba; in 2015 161,233 Americans visited Cuba. And that number will drastically increase beginning next week when up to 110 commercial flights will begin flying to Cuba from the U. S. each day after being banned since 1961.
      Cuba's top diplomat on U. S. matters, Josefina Vidal, this week -- Friday, August 26th -- said, "The jetBlue flight to Cuba next week reflects President Obama's wishes to treat Cuba fairly and decently. We appreciate that. The restored commercial flights to Cuba from the U. S. will tax us but we are prepared. Currently 110 airlines fly to Cuba and we are strong in matters of operational and aviation security. With Mr. Obama's cooperation, we now have a U.S.-operated hotel in Havana, and we have U. S. cruise ships docking in Cuban ports. That hasn't been allowed by the U. S. in half-a-century, but now U. S. companies and workers are making money along with Cubans on the new ventures, even before the commercial flights begin next week. Our burgeoning hotels are now buttressed by thousands of private homes now renting out rooms. Since Presidents Castro and Obama made their historic announcements on Dec. 17, 2014, 2,000 private restaurants have opened in Cuba. It is better for Cubans and for Americans to be friends, even if it displeases some. Endless animosity that benefits a few is senseless but for many decades it has been permitted to persist."  
      Josefina Vidal acknowledged some "growing pains" have emerged because of the island's fresh detente with the United States. "The U. S. airlines," she said, "craved the Havana route over the other nine Cuban cities and international flights to Havana were already constant. But we have worked hard, stressing safety and convenience, to accommodate up to 20 daily U. S. commercial flights to Havana by the end of 2016. In our efforts to normalize relations with the United States, we have always wanted Americans to visit us." 
 Cuba's Josefina Vidal.
        Study this interesting photo, which is courtesy of Fox News Latino. It shows Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif arriving in Havana this week to begin a 6-day swing through Latin America. Zarif in the dark jacket was greeted by Cuba's Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez in the white shirt, and Zarif then met with Cuban President Raul Castro. While America's best friends around the world are delighted with President Obama's efforts to normalize relations with Cuba, America's enemies are not. Two U. S. experts on Cuba, Leah Soibel and Chris Sabatini, are not surprised that countries like Iran are increasingly trying to woo Cuba. Soibel told Fox News Latino, "Cuba is a very important player in regards to Iran's relations with Latin America. If Cuba gives the greenlight, the rest of the nations will follow suit." Sabatini told Fox News Latino, "The U. S. with Obama is being more and more influential in Cuba, and it will continue in the future." Soibel, Sabatini and other key U.S.-Cuban experts agree that Cuba has an out-sized influence throughout Latin America, and countries like Iran know it. And all sane, unbiased American experts on Cuba firmly believe that Obama's attempt to increase U. S. influence in Cuba is far better than the decades-old efforts to isolate and assail the very influential island. 


Say, "Thanks, Cuba."

 Or at least, we all should!! 
         Even Americans, propagandized since the 1950s to never utter a kind word about Cuba while praising all ex-Cubans, should study this photo and then say, "Thank You, Cuba." This Alexandre Meneghini/ Reuters photo was taken in Havana yesterday -- Wednesday, August 25th, 2016. Thanks to an arduous four-year process brokered relentlessly by Cuba, this handshake officially ended the world's longest war, one that has raged for over five decades between the government of Colombia and the FARC rebels. It has cost hundreds of thousands of lives and maimed countless others, costing billions of dollars, including huge sums from U. S. taxpayers. The handshake officially ending the war yesterday involves FARC leader Ivan Marquez on the left and Humberto de la Calle, representing Colombia, on the right. In the middle representing Cuba is the island's Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez. STUDY THE PHOTO and don't be afraid to thank Cuba. In a world riven with bloody wars and rampant terrorism, any nation that works so tirelessly, and in this case so successfully, to end the world's longest war should be thanked...EVEN IF IT'S CUBA.
        This John Vizcaino/Reuters photo shows Colombians in a Bogota bar wildly celebrating the peace agreement as they watched live television coverage of the momentous event taking place in Havana.
     This AP photo shows Colombians in Bogota out on the streets celebrating the peace agreement. Huge outside television screens were sending the live coverage from Havana back to them. A 57-year-old Colombian, Orlando Guevara, told the AP, "I can die in peace because finally I'll see my country without violence with a future for my children." Of all the world's nations, his hope was engineered by Cuba. As an American, I wish it had been engineered by America. And I wonder why it wasn't engineered by, say, the United Nations? But it was engineered by Cuba. Does that mean no one is supposed to be congratulated?
          Juan Manuel Santos has been the President of Colombia since 2010. In stark contrast to his predecessor Uribe, President Santos based his legacy on reaching a peace agreement with the FARC.
      President Santos of Colombia himself flew to Havana to help Cuban President Raul Castro broker the monumental peace deal. In this iconic photo, Castro in the middle is jubilant that he succeeded in getting President Santos, on the left, shake hands with the famed FARC guerrilla fighter known as Timoleon.
       Alvaro Uribe, the former Bush-aligned President of Colombia, has expressed fierce opposition to the Cuban-brokered peace treaty between Colombia and FARC. Uribe is shown here with former U. S. President George W. Bush at the White House. In 2002 President Bush sent massive economic and military assistance to Colombia in the belief that Uribe could wipe out FARC "once and for all." It didn't happen.
The former Presidents -- Uribe and Bush -- are still close pals.
And still fiercely opposed to Santos, Cuba & FARC.
       Reminiscent of the Cuban Revolution, many of the key FARC guerrilla fighters were fierce and beautiful young females. This AP photo shows Juliana during a restful moment with her boyfriend Alexis.
Juliana alone with her thoughts prior to a battle.
       This is Yira Castro. She is famed as a fearless veteran female guerrilla FARC fighter and leader. Notice the Apple laptop computer she kept in the Colombian mountains, attesting to her power as a leader and recruiter. During the four years of peace negotiations in Havana, Yira spent 3 years in Cuba as a top FARC negotiator. The FARC movement against the Colombia government began in 1964. Yira says, "I and many other girls devoted our lives to fighting the vast social disparity between the richest Colombians and the majority poor who had nothing but despair." Yira was a FARC leader when its 17,000-person army captured huge swaths of Colombian territory. She does not deny nor apologize for the fact that cocaine and kidnappings helped fund FARC. "We had to survive in order to fight," she said. "And somebody had to fight." 
FARC Guerrillas bathed and washed in mountain streams.
      This is a FARC guerrilla patrol that had spotted government soldiers back in a forest. Juan Pablo, a legendary fighter for three decades, had just made the decision to attack. Juan is the big guy on the left. That's his girlfriend right behind him. The AP caption to this photo said Juan's former girlfriend died in his arms during a battle. A London Daily Mail reporter said this unit returned to camp safely "on this day."
       Robert Frost wrote these classic words about a peaceful and purposeful night in snowy New England woods. But a lot of soldiers and a lot of guerrilla fighters have for decades memorized them and taken comfort from them. Remember Yira Castro, the legendary FARC guerrilla fighter armed with that Apple laptop computer? She said she softly spoke those four Robert Frost lines "over and over" during battles.
WAR IS HELL even for survivors as this photo courtesy of Stephen Ferry and The Guardian attests. This is a young female FARC guerrilla fighter three hours after a fierce battle against government soldiers. She survived. Her best friend didn't. Back in camp, she showered with water flowing through the spigot holes in the bottom of a bucket. Then she put on fresh clothes and sat listlessly at a table. A big pan of hot food was placed before her. She had not spoken a word since the battle, since her friend died in her arms. And despite not have eaten all day, she didn't touch her food. But when this photo was taken, the comrade on her left had just begged her, "Please eat, Maria." She then replied softly, "Why? So I can be alive and healthy when I am slaughtered when we fight again tomorrow? I regret...I washed...Alina's warm blood...off my chest." 
       The Colombia-FARC Civil War had waged on ferociously for five decades. From 2002 till 2010 Colombian President Alvaro Uribe's powerful army -- massively supported by U. S. dollars and arms -- tried desperately to win the war, and couldn't. Uribe's successor, President Juan Manuel Santos, tried a different tactic -- peace. That's President Juan Manuel Santos on the left in the above photo with Cuban President Raul Castro's right arm around his shoulders. Castro's left arm is around Timoleon, the famed FARC guerrilla fighter.  Yesterday -- Wednesday, August 25th, 2016 -- the two sides finally signed an official peace treaty in Havana, the culmination of Cuba's 4-year effort to end the world's longest war and one of the bloodiest. 
 "Thanks, Cuba" 
The quotation marks are mine. Perhaps they should also be yours.


Cuba Can't Shed the Batistianos

Batista's U. S. Legacy Reigns
       Yesterday -- August 24th, 2016 -- a major article in the Miami Herald blared this headline: "IRS Goes After Pastors for Peace for Sending Aid to Cuba." Americans are not supposed to realize it but the article is a reminder that the Batistianos & Mafiosi booted off the Island by the Cuban Revolution in 1959 were largely kicked only a short distance -- resulting in a quick but soft landing in Miami where recapturing Cuba is still a big dream.
              The Miami Herald article pointed out that the founder of Pastors for Peace, Reverend Lucius Walker, has been "received like a hero" for helping everyday Cubans who have long suffered from such assaults as the U. S. embargo, which has been in effect since 1962 when it was imposed, according to declassified U. S. documents, for the purpose of starving and depriving Cubans to induce them to rise up and overthrow Fidel Castro...after U.S.-based assassination attempts, the 1961 Bay of Pigs attack, etc., had failed to accomplish the reinstatement of the Batistiano-Mafiosi rule in Cuba. The Miami Herald yesterday mentioned the aid Pastors for Peace has managed to get to needy Cubans and then reported: "But Pastors for Peace now faces punishment for its charitable acts from...the Internal Revenue Service. The organization was recently informed that it will lose its tax-exempt status for failing to disclose its shipments to Cuba." Yet, as indicated by the above photo, Pastors for Peace has long made no secret of its many shipments of aid to Cuba.
      The U. S. embargo against Cuba...Cuba calls it a blockade...has since 1962 severely harmed millions of Cubans on the island while also severely harming the worldwide image of the United States and democracy. But that fact, of course, doesn't concern those who have insisted on maintaining it for the past half-century and plan to keep it in place for the next half-century, or at least until the Batistiano remnants and their easily-acquired congressional sycophants reclaim the plush island.
        Despite the ongoing efforts of good people like President Obama, Senator Amy Klobuchar, Congresswoman Kathy Castor and Pastors for Peace, the longest and cruelest embargo/blockade ever imposed by a powerful nation against a weak nation remains very much in vogue to sate the revenge, political and economic appetites of a small but powerful minority very willing to mock the U. S. democracy as well as the 191-to-2 yearly vote in the United Nations that vehemently opposes them.
This image of America pleases a few but shames many.
       The two-bit army sergeant Fulgencio Batista had one lucrative stint as Cuba's ruler in the 1940s. But it's his second stint as Cuba's brutal, thieving dictator -- from 1952 till 1959 -- that shames America the most to this day.
      Meyer Lansky was the financial brains of the U. S. Mafia, second in power only behind his buddy Lucky Luciano. Both men had long craved Cuba, as had many politicians in Washington. It so happens that one day the semi-retired Lansky mentioned to his retired friend Batista, "I've always wanted the Mob to own its own country." That comment gave author Enrique Cirules the title and sub-title for his book: "A CARIBBEAN MOB STORY: The Mafia in Havana." Batista, following his rule of Cuba in the early 1940s, still had friends in Washington and Havana. So in 1952 Batista easily fulfilled Lansky's long-time dream.
       Beginning in 1952, the trio above -- Luciano, Lansky and Batista -- relished their brutal, thieving dictatorship in Cuba that was powerfully and shamefully supported by the world's most powerful and most famed democracy, America. It seems that key people in the Eisenhower administration...Nixon, the Dulles brothers, etc...in 1952 thought Lansky's dream about the Mob owning its own country, nearby Cuba, was a wonderful idea.
The April 21-1952 edition of Time featured Batista on its cover.
         This photo shows U. S. President Dwight Eisenhower warmly shaking the hand of Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista. In the center with his head bowed but softly grinning is Secretary of State John Foster Dulles whose brother Allen was CIA Director. Later...decades later...it would become known that the omnipotent Dulles brothers had strong connections to the United Fruit Company, the most infamous of the many American companies that benefited from U.S.-friendly dictators in the Caribbean and Latin America.
       But robbing the island blind while starving the peasants was not the reason the world's most improbable revolution began a do-or-die rebellion against the Batista dictatorship that was considered unbeatable because it was backed by the U. S., the strongest nation in the world, and by the Mafia, the strongest criminal organization in the world. However, the biggest mistakes Batista and the Mafia {and thus Washington} made in Cuba were the routine murders of children designed to quell dissent. It had the opposite effect, spawning marches like the one depicted above in which very brave "madres Cubanas" -- Cuban mothers -- vividly and loudly protested the murders of their "hijos" -- children. Americans were aware of these marches because top New York Times reporter Herbert L. Mathews told them exactly what was happening in Cuba. The Americans didn't care. But a young Cuban lawyer...his name was Fidel Castro...took note of the marches. He then concluded that women brave enough and outraged enough to do that would join a revolution as guerrilla fighters. Many did -- Celia Sanchez, Haydee Santamaria, Vilma Espin, Tete Puebla, etc., etc. -- and Fidel Castro repeated as late as April of 2016 that "I believe my judgment about Cuban women was unique at the time and is the best one I've ever made." 
The U. S. trained the Batistianos at Fort Benning, Georgia;
Then in Nicaragua for the failed Bay of Pigs attack in 1961.
       After overthrowing Batista, Fidel Castro in April of 1959 spent 12 days in the United States as a well-received U. S. hero. He believed the Eisenhower administration would permit Cuba and the U. S. to normalize relations. But this photo revealed that wasn't to be. Vice President Richard Nixon surprised and infuriated Castro by proclaiming that the U. S. and the Cuban exiles would quickly "regain control of Cuba."
       After those Nixon-marred 12 days in the U. S. in April of 1959, the two most important revolutionaries -- Celia Sanchez and Fidel Castro -- returned to the island determined that Nixon's bold prediction would never come true. By the time she was back on Cuba soil, Celia Sanchez...not Fidel Castro...was the one envisioning the Soviet Union, the world's other nuclear superpower, as the only counterbalance to the United States. It was Celia Sanchez who countered Nixon's proclamation with one of her own: "The Batistianos will never regain control of Cuba as long as I live or as long as Fidel lives." Celia died at age 59 of cancer in 1980 but the now 90-year-old Fidel is still alive. And thus, so is Celia's proclamation to this day.
        My favorite Celia quotation is her very prophetic rebuke of Nixon. But THE WOMAN PROJECT.ORG favors the one above: "We rebels...get far too much credit for winning the revolution. Our enemies deserve most of the credit, for being greedy cowards and idiots." I suppose, if she were alive today, Celia Sanchez would assign the same credit to the Batistianos and Mafiosi for the longevity of her Cuban Revolution.
      In 1960 the nascent Kennedy administration -- President John and Attorney General Robert -- inherited secretive Eisenhower administration plans to recapture Cuba. The Kennedy brothers dutifully carried through with multiple assassination attempts against Fidel in 1959, the Bay of Pigs attack in 1961 and the embargo/blockade in 1962. But by 1963 the Kennedy brothers both considered their Cuban actions their "biggest regret," as John told key aides such as Pierre Salinger and Robert told close associates including his wife Ethel. At one point, President Kennedy -- far angrier with the CIA than with Fidel Castro -- famously bellowed out loudly that he wished he could "blow the CIA to Smithereens!!" Indeed, in November of 1963 -- prior to his fateful trip to Dallas -- President Kennedy told his top aides that his top priority when he returned to Washington was to normalize relations with Cuba. If he had returned to Washington alive, the popular young President basking in Camelot glory probably would have accomplished that priority.
      For a myriad of reasons, the 1000 days of the Kennedy presidency were deeply intertwined with Fidel Castro's Cuba because of what Kennedy had inherited from the Eisenhower-Nixon administration.
         The strikingly handsome and awesomely popular John Kennedy Jr. went to Havana to personally show that he had no animosity towards Fidel Castro and "neither did my father." This photo shows John Jr. directly across the dinner table as he talked to Fidel. John Jr. tragically died in a plane crash in 1999.
     Just as Kennedy inherited the anti-Cuban vitriol from Eisenhower, President Obama has inherited massive anti-Cuban venom from the George W. Bush administration as well as from a Republican-dominated Congress. Yet, Obama has managed to apply more decency and sanity to U.S.-Cuban relations than all U. S. Presidents since 1952 combined. But still, remnants of the Batista dictatorship, ousted in 1959, still control most of the Cuban narrative and much of the Cuban policy in the United States. 
    The revolution that ended the Batista-Mafia rule in Cuba.
       After overthrowing Batista, Castro spent those fruitless 12 days in the U. S. in April of 1959 hoping that the Eisenhower administration would allow Cuba to have somewhat normal relations with America.
     Roberto Salas took this photo of Fidel in New York in April, 1959.
Celia Sanchez in New York City in April of 1959.
        Free educations and free health care as well as free food and free shelter, if needed, have been some of the successes of the revolution, along with failures and setbacks. While the U. S. has helped many countries and people around the world, it has yet to help Cuba and its people, at least prior to Mr. Obama. 
        From 1959 till today -- Aug. 25-2016  -- the so-called Miami Cuban Mafia has been able to dictate, to an inordinate degree, America's Cuban policy. Yesterday's Miami Herald article about the U.S./IRS "punishing" Pastors for Peace for shipping some aid to needy Cubans is a case in point that shames America. 
       Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota is co-sponsoring a bill that would help President Obama end the embargo and normalize relations with Cuba. But it seems the unpopular 535-member U. S. Congress simply does not have enough people with her combination of courage, astuteness, decency and patriotism.
        Senator Amy Klobuchar proudly posted this photo on her Senate website. It shows her in Havana celebrating the reopening of the United States Cuban embassy that had been closed ever since 1961. 

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 ...