Thursday, January 5, 2017

Cuba's ONLY Chance

It's Young-Adult Generation!
       This is a young Cuban that Americans need to know, especially Americans who believe that the incoming administration of President Donald Trump, in short order, will wipe out Revolutionary Cuba and quickly re-install the American Batistianos to power. Her name is Jennifer Bello Martinez. She is the leader of Cuba's Federation of University Students, which was founded 94 years ago and has, every year since, played a vital part in Cuba's revolutionary fervor, especially with its early support of a young lawyer, Fidel Castro, when he first decided to risk everything in a long-shot effort to overthrow a U.S.-backed dictator, Fulgencio Batista. Now fast-forward to January of 2017. The current leader of the Federation of University Students, Jennifer, says that she and "over a million young-adult Cubans like me are ready to fight to the death to defend the sovereignty and independence that Fidel bequeathed to us." Don't be mislead by her youth, her gender or her sweet smile. She means it. In fact, her resolve is why she is smiling. I'll explain.
       This first week of January, 2017 was mammothly celebrated in Havana's Revolutionary Square because the first week of January, 1959 marked the first week Cuba came under revolutionary control following the earth-shattering triumph of the Cuban Revolution over the U.S.-backed Batista-Mafia dictatorship. The above photo shows four old...very old...revolutionary fighters on the grandstand viewing the proceedings, a photo that conjures up reminders that the eternal face of the revolution, Fidel Castro, died at age 90 back on November 25th. The photo is also a reminder that 2017 is presumably the last year of Castro rule on the island, whether or not mortality in the form of old age inevitably intervenes. Fidel's successor, his tired 85-year-old younger brother Raul, has vowed to step down after this year with a non-Castro, 56-year-old Miguel Diaz-Canel, succeeding him. But as the two very best international journalists in Cuba -- Sarah Marsh and Marc Frank of Reuters -- pointed out in an insightful article this week -- it was not the Old Guard revolutionaries that led or dominated this week's anniversary celebrations of the Cuban Revolution.
      It is this New Guard of young-adult Cubans that will sustain the revolution or let it succumb to internal or foreign forces. Early indications, as illustrated by the photo above, reveal there is a powerful contingent of young adults on the island who appear ready to make any sacrifice, such as fight to the death, to preserve the sovereignty they feel the Cuban Revolution, for all its faults and shortcomings, bestowed upon them. FEU is the acronym for Federation of University Students. It wasn't the remaining Old Guard revolutionaries who inspired or dictated demonstrations at the University of Havana or who made the most fiery speech in Revolutionary Square aimed directly at what Cuba's young adults now consider their primary emerging threat -- another Republican, this time Donald Trump, as America's President and Commander-in-Chief. By far the most volatile speech and declaration made at the anniversary celebrations in Havana this week came from the heart and soul of Cuba's latest Celia Sanchez-like disciple. Her name is Jennifer Bello Martinez. Jennifer, who I introduced you to earlier, is the leader of the determined FEU.
      The focal point of all the celebrations this week surrounding the 58th anniversary of the triumph of the Cuban Revolution was Fidel Castro. The student leader Jennifer Bello Martinez made that abundantly clear: "Fidel was the main reason we attained sovereignty and independence and our support of his memory will be the only way we can keep it! The other alternative is that we become destitute pawns and slaves of a cruel foreign power! We have two choices -- exist as slave-like pawns to foreigners or fight to the death to try to chart our own course and not have it dictated to us by foreigners who brutalized Cuba back in the 1950s!"  
        The word Fidel written in red on the faces of the students was, according to Jennifer Bello Martinez, "meant to signify the blood he was willing to shed to give us sovereignty and independence. If we are deserving of that precious gift, we must be willing to shed our blood to defend it." When reminded how small Cuba is compared to "the nuclear superpower that still supports the determined Cuban exiles," Jennifer Bello Martinez replied, "My generation on this island must be more determined than they are. They are fueled by greed and revenge. We are fueled by what Fidel gave us, sovereignty and independence. We will bleed for that. I don't think they will leave their mansions in America to bleed for their greed, but they may before...get the CIA and the U. S. Treasury to fight for them. If so, we may die...but it will be a good death."  
      Many elderly Cubans this week, like the lady above, came out to emphasize their memories of Fidel Castro and to support the students who dominated the 58th anniversary of his victorious Revolution.
       Some of the elderly Fidel backers were as fiery and demonstrative as the young leader, Jennifer Bello Martinez. This nurse had cared for Fidel during the last decade of his life as he battled a long terminal illness. Holding his photo, she screamed, "If the bastards who tried to kill him for fifty years come back to these Cuban shores, we must destroy them or die trying!" She was crying when she added, "We owe him!"
       This elderly Cuban this anniversary week held up this newspaper to mock what he called "The Batista lie in America that most Cubans on the island hated Fidel and wanted a return of the Batista and Mafia thugs." Indeed, history registers the fact that the CIA convinced President Kennedy in April of 1961 to sign off on the Bay of Pigs attack by assuring him that, "Once the Cuban people realize that we are attacking Fidel, they will rise up against him." But when the bombs from U. S. warplanes began following on Cuba, the Cuban people en masse supported Fidel and made it easy for him to race to the Bay of Pigs and defend the island from the Cuban exiles and the world superpower, crowning both the Castro legend and the Cuban Revolution. To this day, with Cuban exiles still controlling the Cuban narrative in the U. S., many Americans are convinced that there are no Cubans on the island who revere Fidel and no Cubans who rate sovereignty above prosperity. In fact, to this day the Cuban exiles also dictate congressionals laws in the U. S., one of which for many decades has prevented everyday Americans from having the freedom to visit Cuba and judge it for themselves, a fact that makes lies about Cubans on the island all the more potent.
     This photo was staged not by the revolutionary Old Guard but by Jennifer Bello Martinez and the young-adult student leaders. It shows Cuban schoolchildren honoring a replica of Granma, the famed old leaky yacht that brought Fidel Castro and 81 other rebels back from Mexico to join Celia Sanchez's anti-Batista revolution in the Sierra Maestra foothills, although only 17 of the 82 rebels survived the ambush from shore by Batista soldiers. But 12 of the 17 survivors included the Castro brothers, Che Guevara, Camilo Cienfuegos and 8 others who contributed mightily to the revolutionary victory. Speaking of this photo, Jennifer Bello Martinez said, "Cuba will honor Fidel's request that no statues be constructed to honor him and no streets or buildings or anything like that be named for him. But he always was proud of the Granma as a symbol of the revolution and a symbol of independence. So we and the younger students should be also." 
        At this week's 58th anniversary celebrations remembering the triumph of the Cuban Revolution, this unit of female Cuban soldiers was front and center. Jennifer Bello Martinez said, "It was a female-powered Revolution from start to finish, and no one echoed that fact more than Fidel himself. No other revolution has ever been as female-powered as ours. We need to stress that to remind today's Cubans that the defense of the Revolution will also be female-powered, at least 50 percent or more. It has to be that way to honor Fidel."  
       Young Argentinians were on hand to help celebrate the 57th anniversary of the Cuban Revolution's victory this week. Jennifer Bello Martinez said, "No revolution in history has had as much residual and positive influence across Latin America as the Cuban Revolution, and that includes the American Revolution."  
       And this photo also was a part of the celebrations connected to the 57th anniversary of the Cuban Revolution's triumph. The three people above, shown holding their favorite photos of Fidel Castro, all received Medal of Friendship plagues for their support of the victorious Cuban Revolution. On the left is famed American actor Danny Glover. Mr. Glover, a frequent visitor to and intense admirer of Cuba, said, "I support all the values of the Cuban Revolution and admire Fidel Castro's devotion to the poor and downtrodden as opposed to the wealth to which he was born but didn't define him." The other two proud recipients are Estela and Ernesto Bravo, accomplished film-makers. They wanted nothing to do with the Batista rule of Cuba but returned to the island after the Revolution. One of their most notable documentaries is "Fidel: The Untold Story." Estala said, "I met Fidel often, believed in him and shared many happy moments with him." 
        Although it may come as a shock to Americans who generally are subjected only to the Batistiano-dictated Cuban narrative, the most ubiquitous signs in Cuba this week during the 57th anniversary celebration of Revolutionary Cuba were signs and placards that proclaimed "Yo soy Fidel""I am Fidel." 
       Starting in a few days -- on Jan. 20th, 2017 -- Mauricio Claver-Carone will be President Donald Trump's primary advisor on all things related to Cuba. Claver-Carone happens to be the most visceral anti-Castro lobbyist on the planet and this will mark the first time that Claver-Carone will have an American Commander-in-Chief to shape-and-mold to fit his extreme and self-serving Cuban agendas, all of which concern wiping out the last vestiges of the Cuban Revolution while also continuing to empower and enrich hardline Cuban-Americans. That bodes ill-will for Jennifer Bello Martinez and the sovereignty-loving generation of young-adult Cubans on the island who responded so powerfully to her fiery leadership this week. If, in the months ahead, there emerges a clash between the ideals of Mauricio Claver-Carone in Washington and Jennifer Bello Martinez in Havana, there will be fireworks...and bloodshed. But, it's been heading inexorably in that direction for six decades, hasn't it? The denouement is now on the horizon.
     The emergence of Jennifer Bello Martinez as the leader of Cuba's sovereignty-loving young-adults coincides with the 94th anniversary of the founding of her Federation of University Students, the 58th anniversary this first week in Jan.-2017 of the triumph of the Cuban Revolution, and the recent death at age 90 of Jennifer's idol, Fidel Castro. Her official statement, word for word, follows: "These anniversaries have a special connotation as the first without the presence of the historic leader of the Cuban Revolution, and we decided to dedicate them to this eternal youth because we will be the continuators of Fidel's legacy. He always placed his confidence in university students, always debated any ideas he had with university students, because he knew that this is where the reliable rearguard was, in revolutionary processes. We will either prolong the sovereignty he gave us or his enemies in Miami and Washington will have to kill us. And I smile happily and at peace with myself as I say that." 
    Meanwhile, this AP photo helps fuel the speculation that America's incoming President Donald Trump will be forced to put nearby Cuba and the Caribbean on his back-burner because of far more urgent threats and challenges from afar. The image above shows a Chinese warship on the left side-by-side with a Russian warship on the right as they rush to participate in a major joint military exercise in the increasingly volatile South China Sea. With nuclear powers like Russia, China and North Korea...coupled with Iran and worry about, the new U. S. Commander-in-Chief may just let super anti-Cuban lobbyist Mauricio Claver-Carone along with Cuba's perennial enemies in Congress work on recapturing poor little Cuba! 

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