Friday, December 23, 2016

Cuba, the Punching Bag

And Still A Cash-Cow...
With a Trove of Votes!! 
      The Governor of Florida, Rick Scott, wrote a letter this week and addressed it to Cuban President Raul Castro and then actually mailed it. But any 5-year-old remotely familiar with Florida politics could easily detect that it was purely directed at and lavishly publicized to the extreme anti-Cuban hardliners that Mr. Scott apparently feels comprise the coveted political bigwigs in his state. I mean...let's get serious, Gov. Scott. Your very first two sentences made fun of the 85-year-old Cuban leader regarding the death of his beloved 90-year-old Brother: "As you know, following the death  of your brother Fidel, the streets of Miami were packed with people celebrating. This celebration represented the hope for an end to the decades of torture, repression, incarcerations and death that you and your brother have caused the people of Cuba." Get real, Governor! Did those celebrations in any manner or degree relate to revenge? Those first two sentences were not meant for Raul Castro because they merely replicate what he has heard many times before from Florida politicians seeking money and votes, but harassing him about his brother's death, as you know, plays really big with Florida's most extreme anti-Cuban zealots. Yet, sir, polls show that even most Cuban-Americans in even Miami favor President Obama's efforts to normalize relations with Cuba, not the continued asinine efforts to use Cuba as a punching bag, cash-cow and lush political bonanza.
      And Governor Scott...after morbidly teasing Raul Castro about the death of his brother, your tone in appeasing only the most extreme elements in your state didn't soften, such as your unbiased, high-brow statement regarding the next path you expect him to take: "This path is best characterized by oppression, tyranny, wrongful imprisonment, torture, and murder." With such a sentence you even insult the intelligence of the extremists, not to mention everyone else. Even in total control of the Cuban narrative, and even safely ensconced behind the skirts of the world superpower and without any worry that the media will question anything you say related to Cuba, you mostly insult America and democracy by heralding Banana Republic aspects of your state. Bragging about the wild street celebrations of Fidel Castro's death is a reminder of how those same streets so rudely treated the world's Civil Rights icon Nelson Mandela just because he was Fidel Castro's dear friend and certainly not a friend of the extremists you cater to.
         Believe me, Governor Scott, my concern is not for Raul Castro or for the legacies of his two brothers who died this year at ages 91 and 90. My concern is for America and democracy, neither of which, in my opinion, is served by a one-sided, bully-driven Cuban policy emanating out of Florida that severely harms, decade after decade, millions of totally innocent Cubans on the island in the guise of hurting, overthrowing or annihilating the Castros. Your entire letter...indeed your entire political career in Florida although you were born 64 years ago in Bloomington, Illinois...is based on the age-old premise that every single thing Revolutionary Cuba has ever done is totally wrong and every single thing the Batista-Mafia dictatorship that preceded it ever did was totally correct and, particularly, every single thing the Cuban-exiles in Florida have done is absolutely right. With all due respect, Governor Scott, that premise is not only a huge distortion, it is a blatant lie, and one that most Americans, most Cuban-Americans and all the nations of the world...based on the 191-to-0 UN vote...know to be a blatant lie. Thus, sir, your letter to Raul Castro this week speaks only to the choir, not to anyone else...and I am very sure you fully realize that.
       Florida Governor Rick Scott's letter to Cuba's Raul Castro this week did not raise the bar toward helping the much-maligned everyday Cubans on the island. As usual, it seems to be the familiar ploy of always raising the bar even higher in trying to help Rich Scott's political career with no concern for the collateral damage it may cause innocent Cubans or America's image related to its imperialist Cuban policy, an image that actually can't get much lower than the UN's 191-to-0 evaluation. One of the kinder...and stupidest...sentences in Governor Scott's letter was this one: "Like your brother, you are known for firing squads and imprisonment of those who oppose you." Was that sentence a last-ditch broadside against Raul Castro who has heard such things from across the Florida Straits for decades? Of course not. It was a sentence aimed to appease extremist hardliners in Florida, nothing more and nothing less. It also, I think, reveals why Americans are fed-up with establishment career politicians who treat citizens as idiots and patsies, but correcting the situation seems to be getting harder when voters are constantly left to choose between the lesser of two-or-three evils from a pool of bought-and-paid-for career politicos.
        In order to totally vilify Revolutionary Cuba, Florida politicians seem eager to totally sanitize the thieving, brutal Batista-Mafia dictatorship that spawned the revolution. But their are countless photos like the one above that attest to the fact that, from 1952 till 1959, the Batistianos, Mafiosi and U. S. businessmen fleeced the island without any consideration of the majority peasants, such as these.
       By way of contrast, in Revolutionary Cuba no one...not even Florida politicians...can deny that children are prioritized with excellent health for life and education through college provided eternally free despite rich Florida politicians insisting that its northern superpower neighbor inflict it with history's all-time longest and cruelest economic embargo ever imposed by a powerful nation against a weak one. The healthy, well-dressed Cuban schoolgirl sitting confidently on the lion's back represents today's Cuba while the poverty-stricken woman and seven children represent Batista's Cuba. A Florida politician is not about to discuss the difference between the black-and-white photo of the peasant women and children in Batista's Cuba and the color photo of the well-cared-for girl atop the lion's back in Revolutionary Cuba.
       But it was photos like this one that reveal what gave birth to the Cuban Revolution. The well-documented murders of children apparently meant to quell dissent in Batista's Cuba inspired the revolution after brave Cuban women, instead of being quelled, were inspired to let everyone know what was happening. Today Cuba has dissidents too, some legitimate and some encouraged and/or funded from the U.  S., but documentations such as the repetitious one above in Batista's Cuba are not functions of Revolutionary Cuba, although Florida politicians are never challenged when they say otherwise.
        Florida politicians project the falsehood that Cuban exiles from Batista's Cuba were Mother Teresa-like angels on U. S. soil. That's not exactly true. The memorial above remembers the 73 people, including 24 teenage Cuban athletes, that were aboard the civilian Cubana Flight 455 when it was blown into the sea by a terrorist bomb. The historic event from Oct. 6-1976 to this day has a tight Florida nexus, including the alleged bombers who still today have heralded Miami sanctuaries thanks to Miami members of the U. S. Congress helping secure controversial pardons from a Panamanian prison. When Cuban-American newsman Emilio Milian in Miami complained about such terrorist attacks, he got car-bombed; when Miami Herald columnist Jim DeFede excoriated the Miami members of the U. S. Congress, he was shortly fired.
      Even in Revolutionary Cuba...as in the rest of the world...the relatives of terror victims cry, and cry, and then just cry some more. This Cuban mother and sister had a son and brother aboard Cubana Flight 455.
      The highly respected Director-General of the World Health Organization, Margaret Chan, has praised Revolutionary Cuba "for devoting such a high percentage of its revenue to the health, education and shelter of its citizens." The WHO recently hailed Cuba for being "the first nation in the world to totally eradicate the transmission of HIV from mother to child." And as reported by USA Today last month, Florida recently cut its HIV programs and its nation-leading infections have soared. USA Today has also reported on Florida's being the "epicenter" for medicare fraud and the "epicenter" for pills that attract addicts from distant states just to buy the pills. And Florida also probably does not want to compare its infant mortality rate or it crime rate with Cuba's. Margaret Chan has praised Revolutionary Cuba as "a role model" for other countries when it comes to using limited funds to provide good health and educational care for "all its people." 
    With Raul Castro, Margaret Chan inspects a Cuban hospital.
       While the U. S. media is not in the business of admitting there are two-sides to the U.S.-Cuban conundrum, the Cuba Central segment of the Washington-based Center for Democracy in the Americas is not nearly so biased or intimidated. So, the Cuba Central and CDA websites are excellent sources for Cuban information, which often does the best job of refuting the words and tactics of Florida politicians.
        The dynamo at the Center for Democracy in the Americas, Sarah Stephens, has worked tirelessly for the past decade on behalf of the people of Cuba and the United States democracy. No one has exceeded her expertise and her energy when it comes to trying to normalize relations between the two neighbors.
        This photo shows American superstar Dave Matthews helping the Center for Democracy in the Americas celebrate its tenth anniversary of trying to bridge the gap between the Florida straits and bring sanity and harmony to U.S.-Cuban relations. Mr. Matthews has accompanied Ms. Stephens to Cuba.
      Cuba superstar Carlos Varela teamed with Dave Matthews at the gala celebrations honoring the Center for Democracy in the Americas. Even the Miami Herald in a major article lavishly saluted Sarah Stephens and her monumental work in bringing Cubans and Americans together and for her influencing President Obama's Herculean efforts to normalize relations with Cuba, a nearby country that is not Florida's.
           And yet, it appears to me that Florida Governor Rick Scott's nonsensical, weird, and morbid letter to Cuba's Raul Castro this week was inspired by the lucrative Castro Cottage Industry's firm belief that America's incoming President, Donald Trump, will reverse all of President Obama's sane and decent efforts to normalize relations with the island. Instead of celebrating the death of Fidel Castro in his letter or on the streets of Miami, Governor Scott seemed to be mostly celebrating the impending Trump presidency, which figures to cater to the vast Castro Cottage Industry that thrives on punishing and bullying Cuba while, most of all, keeping the spigots wide open on the unending pipelines that are filled with tax dollars that gush on a continuous basis from Washington to Miami. You know, Miami's lush anti-Castro propaganda machine, Radio-TV Marti, still needs another billion-or-so tax dollars to tell not-so-stupid Cubans on the island how mean Fidel was and Raul is; and, of course, the U. S. Congress needs to continue funding a bevy of Cuban regime-change programs as well as such incredibly discriminating anti-Cuba/pro-Cuban exile programs as Wet Foot/Dry Foot that, since 1966, permits only unfettered and unvetted Cubans whose feet touch U. S. soil to be home free, with instant major benefits. If Governor Rick Scott can write another letter and justify any such things within the bowels of a democracy, or explain to us why all the nations of the world {via the 191-to-0 UN vote} oppose America's cruel Cuban policies, then we should all take time and read it.
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