Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Cuba's Legendary Resilience

Faces Looming Challenges 
       This photo shows Cuba's Minister in charge of U. S. Affairs, Josefina Vidal, holding a news conference in Havana following President Obama's announcement that he was ending the infamous Wet Foot-Dry Foot U. S. law that has long favored Cuban migrants while grossly discriminating against all others.
        As this photo reveals, Josefina Vidal had trouble leaving the news conference even after she had shouldered her purse and explained that she had "other things" to do, "uh, really folks." 
     This apparently is Ms. Vidal's favorite photo of her favorite American President. At least...she Tweeted the above photo and thanked Mr. Obama "for showing true American respect for the Cuban people." By Vidal's account, she has now been able to negotiate "17" substantially positive changes in U.S.-Cuban relations with President Barack Obama's administration. 
       At her "Wet Foot-Dry Foot" news conference, Vidal's only dour mood occurred when she was asked, "How many of your 17 successful agreements with Obama will Trump soon wipe out." She replied somberly, "We'll wait and see. Maybe all of them. We'll see." Later, back in her office, Vidal's optimism resurfaced as she Tweeted and Retweeted some of the still-standing Obama-Vidal positives related to American-Cuban rapprochement.
      Vidal Tweeted the above photo that shows the head of the United States Chamber of Commerce, Tom Donahue, on his latest visit to Cuba to assure President Raul Castro that, regardless of the impending Donald Trump presidency, America's business community "like the rest of the world" strongly favors an end to the U. S. embargo "that hurts Americans and Cubans." Below are two Vidal Re-Tweets reflecting her optimism:
 Jan 12 U.S. House Reps introduce bipartisan bill to lift embargo. Thx , for ur leadership.
 Jan 13Decision to end ‘wet foot, dry foot’ policy is a step forward for our relationship w/ . Now we must lift the embargo & end travel ban! 
        The two retweeted Tweets above were by Josefina Vidal, Cuba's Minister regarding all of the island's U. S. relations. In the first one she thanked two members of the U. S. Congress -- Tom Emmer of Minnesota and Kathy Castor of Florida -- for introducing a bill to lift the Cuban embargo. The Emmer-Castor bill is entitled ""The Cuba Trade Act" and is co-signed by seven other members of Congress. In the second Tweet, Vidal retweeted a Tweet by Congresswoman Barbara Lee regarding Ms. Lee's sane comments about lifting the embargo and about President Obama's decision to end the "Wet Foot-Dry Foot" U. S. law. The embargo and "Wet Foot..." were/are laws embedded by Congress and crafted by the most hardline Cuban-American counter-revolutionary hardliners in Miami.
     The photo above shows a news conference in Miami on Nov. 26-2016 celebrating the death of Cuba's Fidel Castro at age 90. Left to right: former Congressman Lincoln Diaz-Balart; Congressman Carlos Curbelo; Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen; and Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart. If you go back and check the CBS-5 video of this news conference, you will note that, at one point, the Havana-born Ros-Lehtinen turned to the Havana-born Lincoln Diaz-Balart and congratulated him on "writing" some of the Congressional laws regarding Cuba that currently get a unanimous 191-to-0 denunciation in the UN. Americans who pusillanimously have allowed such laws to exist for decades are not supposed to consider that the father of the Diaz-Balart brothers, Rafael Diaz-Balart, was a key Minister in the Batista dictatorship and then, after the triumph of the Cuban Revolution on Jan. 1-1959, created the first counter-revolutionary paramilitary unit on U. S. soil. The Diaz-Balart brothers, Ros-Lehtinen and Curbelo represent, along with Senator Marco Rubio, Miami's current counter-revolutionaries almost six decades after the overthrow of Cuba's vile Batista-Mafia dictatorship. 
        Vidal Tweeted this photo of U. S. Senator Dick Durbin "honoring Cuba" by leading a contingent of American health officials, including Dr. Robert Barish of the University of Illinois Health Center, on a visit to Cuba.
      The updated photo above reflects one way Revolutionary Cuba, famed for its mere survival and pugnacious resilience since 1959, plans in 2017 to survive what appears to be the convergence of The Perfect Storm that many prognosticators predict will finally doom the enigmatic Cuban Revolution. This Friday -- January 20th -- the anti-Cuban Trump presidency replaces the Cuba-friendly Obama administration; Cuba's most important friend, Venezuela, is in an economic and political free-fall; and Cuba's second most important friend, Brazil, has gone from the fiercely pro-Cuban democratically elected presidency of Dilma Rousseff to a coup-like and fiercely anti-Cuban unelected president. So resilient Cuba now has to look beyond the United States and even beyond Venezuela and Brazil if it is to survive The Perfect Storm that so powerfully favors the U.S.-based Batistianos who have been chomping at the bit for almost six decades to regain control of Cuba. The photo above shows Cuba's most important and most promising oil well. Aided by China's Gran Muralla company, this oil well -- known as "Varadero Aeste 1008" -- is being hastily developed to counter Cuba's dwindling source of oil from Venezuela. It is on the edge of the city of Matanzas and faces out toward the sea, including a horizontal path to the ocean. Cuban and Chinese engineers believe it will very substantially increase Cuba's quest for oil.
       Speaking of oil, the Russian newspaper Sputnik is reporting that Russian President Vladimir Putin is offering Cuban President Raul Castro low-cost oil to compensate for the island's dwindling supply from Venezuela. Sputnik said: "The Russian Ministry of Energy states that Rosneft and Lukoil companies have the reserves and the technical conditions to increase the volume of shipments to Cuba and is preparing the correspondent contracts." The newspaper Sputnik said that Russia sold Cuba $11.3 million worth of oil products from 2010 till 2015 and sold Cuba $740,000 in oil products in 2016.
      The French perfume giant Guerlain is opening a store in a rejuvenated National Heritage building at 157 Paseo del Prado in Havana. Guerlain sells cosmetic powders, soap and the most famous perfume brands -- Givenchy, Hermes, Versace, etc. Guerlain products are sold in America, Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East...and soon in Cuba.
      Saint Remy Trading Ltd. will be the distributor of the Guerlain products in Cuba. Susel Ferran is the Brand Manager at Saint Remy and she is very bullish on Cuba. She said, "Cuba has the spirit we are looking for. This is the first Saint Remy franchise outside of Europe. Now we have an extensive commercial space in Havana to sell our brands. Cuba restored the woodwork and the original floors at the National Heritage building and we are excited about our presence on this magnificent island." Cuba needs post-Obama support from people like France's Susel Ferran.
      The emergence of the anti-Cuban Trump phenomenon in the United States coincides with the recent death of Cuba's revolutionary sovereignty-protector Fidel Castro at age 90 as well as the ominous anti-Cuban signals from Venezuela and Brazil. It collectively brings to mind Fidel Castro's famous revolutionary definition: "Revolution is a struggle between the future and the past." He knew that the struggles of a revolution, even a successful one, are unending and, in turn, will inevitably spawn counter-revolutions. So juggling the past with the future is always paramount. Fidel's delicate juggling acts, such as with the U. S. and USSR, kept Cuba afloat in the turbulent Caribbean sea for over half-a-century. Cuban resilience, rolling with an incessant preponderance of powerful faints and actual punches, will still depend on resilience and necessary augmentations from the Cubans on the island, such as accentuating friends like China, France, and even Russia while deemphasizing dire threats and adverse entanglements, such as with the largely unencumbered, nearby United States-based Batistianos.
       Foreign investments, even from the United States, are vital for Cuba such as {above} with the Sheraton hotel behemoth.
      While Cuba can't afford the construction of ultra-modern 5-star hotels, such as its spanking-new Hotel Manzana, there are a lot of foreign companies and nations willing to make such investments in Cuba, a gorgeous island where the long-embargoed decay doesn't totally mask its vast but untapped potential. It is the largest and arguably the most beautiful island in the Caribbean, and still the enchanting Pearl of the Antilles. 
        A young-adult generation of Cubans on the island is stressing the "Cuba es Neustra" {"Cuba is Ours"} theme and demanding, as their T-shirts illustrate, the end of the U. S. embargo of their island. Jennifer Bello Rodriguez, the student leader at the University of Havana, says, "We need friendship with the United States but if we don't get it, and soon, we must look at other options. Unlike our parents, we will not grow old with the status quo. The blockade is a major problem and there are others, like Guantanamo Bay. To accept such things would be to forever surrender our sovereignty, and that we won't do."   

Jennifer Bello Martinez
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