Does Florida Own Cuba?
Or Is Cuba A Sovereign Country?
Few people on this planet know as much about U.S.-Cuban relations as author/journalist Paul Guzzo at Florida's top newspaper, the Tampa Bay Times. In fact, the Times lists Paul's title as "History Writer" and he is indeed that...and much more.
Additionally, Paul Guzzo is unique as one of the few U. S. journalists and authors who has the courage and integrity to rise above incessant Batistiano propaganda and report the truth...as raw and sometimes as dangerous as it is...regarding U.S.-Cuban relations. Therefore, it is surely not surprising that during this Holiday season as the pivotal year of 2016 draws to a close that Paul Guzzo in the Tampa Bay Times has penned the most definitive article related to the Cuba-U.S. entanglements. His latest gem, a must-read unless you prefer U.S.-Cuban propaganda, is entitled: "Billionaire Philanthropist David A. Straz Jr. Has Spent Years Quietly Uniting Tampa and Cuba." Before you can consider yourself knowledgeable and up-to-date on the U.S.-Cuban conundrum, you need to know David A. Straz Jr. and why, even as a well-known billionaire in Florida, he needs to very quietly display his love for Cuba.
This photo of David A. Straz Jr. is courtesy of Paul Guzzo and the Tampa Bay Times. Mr. Straz calls Cuba "a wonderful country" and Revolutionary Cuba loves him back. When his private jet approaches Havana's Jose Marti Airport, all out-going and all in-coming air traffic is halted until Mr. Straz's plane is safely parked in a special place and he has walked off the tarmac. Behind the scenes for many years Mr. Straz, a well-known billionaire philanthropist, has worked tirelessly -- on behalf of Cuba and the United States -- to try to make sure that a majority in the United States and not just a self-serving and revengeful few have input in an American Cuban policy that currently gets a resounding 191-to-0 denunciation in the United Nations. So why, you ask, does such a powerful man as Mr. Straz make his contributions to U.S.-Cuban relations so "quietly" from his base in Tampa, Florida. Paul Guzzo reports that one of Mr. Straz's primary political mentors suffered greatly from also trying to bring decency and sanity to America's Cuban policy, and that's not exactly a great testament to the sacrosanct United States democracy that began a continuous, perhaps unstoppable, backslide way back in 1952 when the United States teamed with the Mafia to support the vile Batista dictatorship in Cuba and then in 1959 the avalanche picked up speed and power when the United States allowed the transferred ousted regime to refurbish itself powerfully on precious American soil.
The antithesis to Tampa's David A. Straz Jr. is Miami's Marco Rubio. In January Rubio will begin his second 6-year term in the U. S. Senate, a body he once slammed for not getting anything done. Rubio first entered the Senate six years ago with his bio loudly heralding the fact that his parents had escaped the Castro tyranny in Cuba for the freedom of Miami. That was a Batistiano fact; the St. Petersburg Times revealed that, actually, Rubio's parents had escaped the Batista tyranny in Cuba long before the audacious Castro had chased Batistiano and Mafiosi leaders to Florida. Rubio hit the Senate six years ago running for President of the United States in 2016, accounting for the fact that he was actually dead-last in the Senate when it came time to vote. A billionaire auto dealer in Miami had put up the first $10 million to finance Rubio's presidential bid with a promise that whatever money it took to put Rubio in the White House would follow. Running for President and soliciting billionaire dollars consumed Rubio but his first-term in the Senate was highlighted when he was wiped out by Donald Trump in the Florida primary, after which Rubio loudly said he would not seek a second term as Senator from Miami. But that, of course, soon changed when, apparently, it was deemed that his high-profile seat in the Senate was needed as a platform for his 2020 presidential bid. The election to a second term in the Senate, despite losing the primary in his home state to Trump, was a foregone conclusion because, it seems, only anti-Castro zealots in Florida can get elected to the U. S. Congress although polls show that the majority of Cuban-Americans even in Miami favor President Obama's and David A. Straz's decent and compassionate efforts to normalize relations with Cuba. The same Cuban-American minority that overwhelms Congress also seem to think they own Cuba, which happens to be a sovereign nation, at least as long as they can't get the U. S. to recapture it for them.
During the 2016 presidential campaign, the victor Donald Trump pointed out that "Sheldon Adelson would have total control over Rubio." Sheldon Adelson is the controversial Vegas-Macao casino owner who is worth in excess of $30 billion but is just one of many Jewish billionaires apparently anxious to put Rubio in the White House in 2020. Meanwhile, except for leading the Senate in missed votes and vowing to erase all of President Obama's positive overtures related to Cuba, Rubio has yet to make a mark helping needy Americans or innocent Cubans and in America's money-crazed political arena he doesn't have to. Meanwhile, President-elect Trump is poised to take his Cuban-related advice from the likes of Rubio.
President-elect Trump, caving in to Senator Rubio and the other five Cuban-American anti-Castro zealots in Congress, even went to Miami's Little Havana and promised elderly Brigade 2506 veterans that he would immediately erase all of President Obama's Cuban sanity and insanely fulfill their long-awaited desire to regain control of Cuba. Brigade 2506 was the unit that attacked Cuba in April of 1961 but instead of annihilating Fidel Castro it helped to forever enshrine his revolutionary credentials at the Bay of Pigs.
This historic photo reflects how Florida was reconfigured beginning in January of 1959 after the Cuban Revolution booted the Batistiano-Mafiosi leaders off the Caribbean island to what turned out to be a very soft landing on nearby U. S. soil. On the left above is Santo Trafficante Jr. who, along with his father, was the Mafia kingpin in Tampa for decades. But from 1952 till 1959 Trafficante Jr. was one of the Top Four dictators in Cuba, right behind Fulgencio Batista, Lucky Luciano and Meyer Lansky. After getting kicked out of Cuba, Trafficante Jr., of course, returned to Tampa as that city's Mafia kingpin. The gentleman carrying the satchel above is the famed Mafia lawyer Frank Ragano. Just before he died in 1998 Frank was kind enough to history to reveal and document many Cuban-Mafia schemes, including in Cuba and Florida.
This 1958 Life Magazine photo shows Meyer Lansky, the Jewish Mafia kingpin, leaving his Riviera Hotel casino in Havana with a satchel containing a reported $200,000 in 1958 cash. Such fleecing of Cuba from 1952 till 1959 reportedly resulted in tons of money being sent ahead to Swiss and Israeli banks as well as Mafia-related banks in Miami, Tampa and Newark. So, hooking back up with that kind of money beginning in 1959 purchased a lot of property and, even more significantly, greased a lot of for-sale politicians.
Talented 28-year-old broadcast journalist Cristina Escobar is one of Cuba's and the region's most influential experts on U.S.-Cuban relations. In fact, her thesis at the University of Havana was acutely accurate in predicting How President Obama Would Affect Relations With Cuba. She has made notable journalist ventures to California and Washington but she is adamantly pro-Cuban and fluent in both Spanish and English. In both languages she has stressed the same theme: "Cuba's fate is up to Cubans on the island, not Cubans in Miami and Washington." She admits now that, with the Republican Trump soon taking over the White House and anti-Cuban zealots like Rubio dictating Cuban policy in the Republican-controlled Congress, "We might finally lose our hard-earned sovereignty to a superpower but, like other true patriotic Cubans who died fighting for it on Cuban soil, we must try with everything we have to defend it."
There was a time in the not-too-distant past that graphics like this one did not routinely mock the U. S. democracy. The recently concluded, money-crazed, ridiculously long U. S. presidential election left frustrated American voters trying desperately to choose between what most of them considered the lesser of two evils -- the Democrat Hillary Clinton and the equally unpopular Republican Donald Trump. Both campaigns -- before, during and after the election that shocked the world by electing Trump as the leader of the Free World -- correctly complained about a "rigged" election, and indeed it was rigged by special interest money -- both domestic and foreign -- and by an establishment-rigged system that doesn't want to relinquish the greedy and lucrative grip that the nation's billionaires have on the world's economic and military superpower. The graphic above from a conservative group attacks the Democratic National Committee but just as many are replicated by liberal groups attacking the Republican National Committee, perhaps proving once and for all that a rigged two-party system needs some adjustment in the world's greatest democracy. One additional legitimate point that such pundit-driven, self-serving graphics actually make is this: Whether it's a foreign country like Russia or whistle-blowers like Wikileaks, Andrew Snowden, etc., most of the "dreaded leaks" of such things as classified documents or supposedly hidden emails are not attacked for their authenticity but rather for merely being LEAKED. It's a reminder that one of the built-in weaknesses of the U. S. democracy has been and is the routine use of classifying...or hiding...documents and actions from the American public for the oft-stated purpose of "protecting national security" when actually it is meant to "protect" the high-powered perpetrators of secretive evil deeds.
FOR EXAMPLE, FROM THE 1950S TILL TODAY AMERICANS HAVE KNOWN LITTLE ABOUT THE U. S. GOVERNMENT'S CLASSIFIED AND NEFARIOUS ACTIONS REGARDING CUBA, such as why and how a few right-wing thugs in the Eisenhower administration teamed the U. S. democracy with the Mafia to support the brutal, thieving Batista dictatorship in Cuba in 1952. Or how more high-flying U. S. thugs spawned the Cuban Revolution that booted the Batista-Mafia leadership back to U. S. soil in 1959. Or how, once on U. S. soil, the Batistianos and Mafiosi, aided and abetted by such entities as the Bush dynasty and the Tea Party, controlled the Cuban narrative in the U. S. and then dictated Cuban-related laws in the U. S. Congress designed to recapture Cuba and, in the meanwhile, enrich and empower a handful of the most revengeful anti-Cuban zealots in Miami first and later in Congress. FOR EXAMPLE, study the DE-classified letter depicted above that was dated "13 March 1962" and signed by a rather powerful man -- General Lyman Lemnitzer, the Chairman of the Joints Chiefs of Staff and America's most powerful military leader. The letter was classified, hidden, for about four decades...long after the long-admired General had died. The letter followed the April of 1961 U.S./Batistiano attack at the Bay of Pigs that was supposed to recapture Cuba but instead turned into a disaster that greatly enhanced Fidel Castro's grip on the island as well as his international standing. So, General Lemnitzer proposed another "Justification for U. S. Military Intervention in Cuba." The 1961 attack by then was not only labeled a U. S. disaster but also a criminal act conducted by the U. S. democracy, although the U. S. went to elaborate lengths -- even lying to the world in the United Nations -- about its total involvement. My point is, as a democracy-loving American I believe that democracy from the 1950s till today would be better served if the American people knew or know WHO was and is making six-decades of disastrous, even criminal, decisions related to Cuba. Those decisions have resulted in what today stands loudly as a 191-to-0 condemnation in the United Nations of America's Cuban policy, a worldwide vote that reflects the fact that Americans are the only citizens in the world without the freedom to freely visit Cuba and the only citizens in the world who have been bombarded for six decades by anti-Cuba/pro-Batistiano propaganda. Propagandists controlling narratives and actions apart from the participations of its citizens occur, I'm told, in oppressive dictatorships and Banana Republics but I don't believe should be hallmarks of a democracy. Notice in the above secretive first paragraph that General Lemnitzer stressed the word "pretexts" to justify another military attack on Cuba. A world superpower seeking or inventing self-serving "pretexts" to justify laws, attacks, and other ignominious acts against a vulnerable smaller nation have existed regarding Cuba since the murderous explosion of the USS Maine in Havana Harbor in 1898 served as the "pretext" for the Spanish-American War that finally gave the U. S. its long-desired dominance of Cuba, plus a few imperial bonuses such as the Philippines, Puerto Rico and Guam. Since 1959's triumph of the Cuban Revolution, of course, uncovering or dictating "pretexts" to recapture or continue attacking Cuba have been easy considering the control of the Cuban narrative, the continuous control of Congress and the malignant control of Republican White Houses. This eliminates checks-&-balances that were supposed to protect the great but fragile American democracy. In other words, restudy the above letter and ask yourself if democracy would have been better served if the American public had been aware of such things...like what General Lemnitzer was up to in March of 1962.
This photo and the one that follows were taken by Reynaldo La O and are used courtesy of Havana Times.org. Above is a birthday party that took place in a bedroom in the Cuban town of Guantanamo, almost within sight and sound of the plush and unwanted U. S. Naval Base on occupied Cuban soil at Guantanamo Bay. These seven Cuban children...and their parents and grandparents...have been punished by a U. S. embargo first imposed in 1962 and now is etched in history and chronicled as the longest and cruelest economic embargo ever imposed by a powerful nation against a weak nation. A few "hardline" Cuban-Americans, first and second generational remnants of the ousted Batista-Mafia dictatorship in Cuba, have benefited revengefully, economically and politically from the embargo along with a few easily acquired sycophants such as the Bush dynasty and the likes of Torricelli, Helms, & Burton in the U. S. Congress. The majority of Americans, Cuban-Americans and all the nations of the world...based on the current 191-to-0 condemnation in the United Nations...oppose the ignominious embargo. Yet...the unanimity of world opinion reveals that the once sacred U. S. democracy has been unable to correct the nefarious situation for the last six decades. Beyond the benefactors of the embargo, the primary culprits are the vast majority of American people who...either due to pure cowardice or a glaring lack of patriotism...allow it to happen.
This little birthday girl is no one's enemy. She's just...a little girl. Her Cuban parents and grandparents dearly love her. Look at her birthday plate...cake, cookies, food. To decent, democracy-loving citizens of America and the world, it is abhorrent that a few parents and grandparents living in nearby mansions in a far-more-powerful country are able to craft an American Cuban policy that may benefit them but surely has greatly harmed little girls in Cuba like this for six decades...and running. A U. S. democracy that cares so little about this little girl is now a democracy that needs some adjustments. And that long-overdue adjusting, I believe, should start with making sure that Rubio*Ros-Lehtinen*Menendez*Diaz-Balart*Cruz*and*Curbelo as unchallenged incumbents in the 535-member U. S. Congress should not be allowed to dictate a U. S. Cuban policy that the rest of the world unanimously opposes. This angelic little birthday girl deserves that adjustment because she has a life to live, hopefully a life free of punishment.
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