Thursday, March 2, 2017

Cuban Images

Past and Present!
         The photo above illustrated a long article this week by the online power Salon that is a bit unique, meaning it was written by a reporter who actually visited Cuba and then presented an unbiased report on the often maligned island. The article is entitled "Hustlers Are Going to Hustle: From East Baltimore to Cuba..." The young Cuban entrepreneur above hustled the writer as he tried to get a customer for his taxi service provided by his 1950s-era Oldsmobile. The Salon article is unique because its writer toured Cuba and fairly reported on day-to-day life on the island in a transition period that follows the Nov.-2016 death of 90-year-old revolutionary icon Fidel Castro and the Jan.-2017 replacement of the Cuba-friendly Obama presidency by the Republican-unfriendly Trump administration. Unlike the Salon article, the mainstream U. S. media is too intimidated or too politically correct to report fairly about Cuba and most...not all, but most...of the Internet blogs -- such as Breitbart, National Review, Capital Hill Cubans, etc. -- are fiercely and blatantly unfair in dispensing fake but lushly funded anti-Cuban diatribes to their right-wing choirs.
       In less than a year -- by early February of 2018 -- for the first time since 1959 -- Cuba will have as its leader someone not named Castro. The 56-year-old, non-revolutionary, mild-mannered, motorcycle-riding, Beatles-loving, education-advocate Miguel Diaz-Canel will be the next President of Cuba, succeeding Raul Castro. Raul will be 86-years-old on June 3rd and in 2016 both of his brothers -- the 91-year-old Ramon and the 90-year-old Fidel died. And Raul is very tired. While he has relished being in charge of the Cuban military since 1959, he did not relish assuming the mantle of President but did so shortly after Fidel's near-fatal intestinal illness that first befell him in July of 2006. Raul, even in his prime as Cuba's military leader and later even as President, insisted on being home for dinner with his family at 6:00 PM each evening.
    In 1959 Vilma Espin and Raul Castro were married.
        Beginning in 1959, the Big Four in Revolutionary Cuba -- left to right -- were Vilma Espin, Fidel Castro, Raul Castro and Celia Sanchez. The Castro brothers were the upfront leaders and in charge of defense but the two revolutionary women were unchallenged concerning all other domestic items, with the overall power structure aligned in this order: Celia, Fidel, Vilma, and Raul...an order championed by Fidel. If that ranking does not compute with your understanding of Cuban history, it's probably because the Cuban narrative since 1959 has been dictated in the U. S. by two generations of transplanted Batista-Mafia figures. {But the ranking computes with the major observers of the Batista-to-Castro transition, including still-living and highly respected Cuban journalists-authors such as Marta Rojas and Roberto Salas}
      Since 1952 Cuba has been fueled -- for better or worse and come hell or high water -- by the island's fierce female opposition to and remembrance of the vile U.S.-backed Batista-Mafia dictatorship, a fact the Western world ignores to facilitate its vilification of Revolutionary Cuba. Meanwhile, even as the Batistianos and Mafiosi regrouped in South Florida in January-1959, Vilma...as shown above...and Celia were solidifying revolutionary rule on the island with powerful institutions such as the still-viable-in 2017 Federation of Cuban Women, block-by-block Committees for the Defense of the Revolution, etc.
       The "Guerrillera" {female} dominance of both the Revolution and Revolutionary Cuba resulted in Vilma Espin having more decision-making power than guerrilla partner and future husband Raul Castro and Celia Sanchez having more decision-making power than her guerrilla partner and eternal soulmate Fidel Castro. Unbiased historians and insiders with such intimate details of the Revolution and Revolutionary Cuba -- from Carlos Franqui to Pedro Alvarez Tabio to the still-living Roberto Salas and Marta Rojas -- were/are abundantly aware of this fact. For example, in his book the respected Roberto Salas wrote: "Celia Sanchez made all the decisions for Cuba, the big ones and the small ones. When she died of cancer in 1959, we all knew no one could ever replace her." In the montage above, the photo in the upper-right shows the influential guerrilla fighters Celia Sanchez and Vilma Espin during a break in the Revolutionary War. After the war, Vilma's power rivaled that of Celia's and, except for defense factors, exceeded that of Fidel and Raul.
       And if you understand the unique power that revolutionary icons Celia Sanchez and Vilma Espin had both during and after the victorious Cuban Revolutionary War, you need to update your knowledge of Cuba by understanding the above photo of Jennifer Bello Martinez. She is shown wearing her "I am Fidel" T-shirt while making a fiery speech in defense of Revolutionary Cuba. Jennifer, cast in the mold of Celia Sanchez and Vilma Espin, is President of the Federation of University Students that, for over nine decades, has been one of the fiercest fighters for Cuban independence. Jennifer's influence on the island extends beyond the FEU, which means she is more powerful on the island than the collective array of dissidents that Jennifer and her followers believe are supported and funded by "foreign elements that we Cubans -- like Jose Echeverria, Jose Marti and Antonio Maceo -- must wage do-or-die battles against." {Echeverria was one of the many FEU leaders murdered by Batista while Marti and Maceo died on Cuban soil fighting Spanish imperialism}. While Revolutionary Cuba needed Celia Sanchez and Vilma Espn to overcome Batista in the 1950s, it needs Celia-Vilma disciples like Jennifer Bello Martinez if it is to continue its revolutionary rule.
       This montage from left-to-right shows Vilma Espin the guerrilla fighter, Vilma Espin at the peak of her power in Revolutionary Cuba, and Vilma Espin in the twilight of her remarkable life. Born in 1930 like her husband Raul, Vilma died of cancer in 2007. She was the mother of Raul's four children -- Mariela, Alejandro, Deborah and Nilsa. The heterosexual Mariela, as an internationally known gay rights advocate, is the best-known of Vilma and Raul's four children while Nilsa is the least known and both Deborah and Alejandro are the most politically powerful, or at least influential, and also more powerful and influential than Fidel's 8 sons on the island {or Fidel's two daughters, both of whom defected to South Florida}.
       The book shown above -- "THE LONGEST ROMANCE: The Mainstream Media and Fidel Castro" -- may indeed have correctly depicted the long romance between Fidel and the liberal media but with the transplanted Batistianos dictating the Cuban and Fidel narrative in the United States, Americans need to do a lot of research and Googling to ascertain the truth. For example, the photo used on the cover of the Humberto Fontova book depicted above can easily be researched to ascertain its origin on U. S. soil.
       This is the photo that Fontana put on the cover of his book. Your Googling research of this photo would take you to a YouTube video in which Fidel Castro stood before this bank of microphones and...in English...talked about his desires for friendly democratic relations with the United States in the early days after the triumph of the Cuban Revolution. Those comments came at a time when Fidel, as a revolutionary hero, was wildly popular in Cuba, the United States and the world...popularity that was proven during his 12-day friendship visit to the United States in April of 1959, a mere three months after ousting the U.S.-backed Batista-Mafia dictatorship. But even by then, right-wingers in the Eisenhower White House had continued their alliance with the Batista-Mafia revenge-seekers who had regrouped in South Florida. 
       Cuba in 2017 is faced with analyzing and reacting to the transition in the United States from the Cuba-friendly Democratic presidency of Barack Obama to the unfriendly Republican presidency of Donald Trump.
     During his recently concluded two-term presidency, Barack Obama displayed far more guts and intelligence than all the previous American Presidents dating back to the Spanish-American War in 1898 and especially since the victorious Cuban Revolution in 1959. Confronted with a Batistiano-directed United States Congress, President Obama adroitly used a massive string of Executive Powers in a fervent attempt to normalize relations with Cuba, with his final such power stroke resulting in the end of the extremely discriminatory Wet Foot-Dry Foot law that massively encouraged and richly favored only Cuban immigrants.
          President Trump has yet to live up to his promises -- as stated above in Miami -- to use his own Executive Powers to erase President Obama's overtures toward Cuba. In this brand-new month of March-2017, it is assumed Trump still plans to keep those Miami promises but more pressing problems -- such as with the media, health care and Russia -- have pushed his Cuban plans aside -- at least momentarily.
      Organizations in the United States -- such as the James Williams-directed Engage Cuba Coalition -- are fighting tooth-and-nail, with some success, to continue Mr. Obama's friendly advances toward Cuba.
      For example, the image above is taken from an impressive Engage Cuba-produced video that gives voice to young Cuban entrepreneurs on the island who have benefited from the brave opening President Obama and a far-more-open Cuba is currently affording them. The video, readily available on YouTube if you care to see and hear what young Cubans think, is in both English and Spanish with the translated words crawled across the video in English when Spanish is spoken or in Spanish when English is spoken. Many decisions that directly concern Cubans in Cuba are routinely made in Miami and in Congress without consulting them, but they indeed do have opinions that Americans should respect. The young Cuban female entrepreneur above, and many others like her, are shown on the video literally begging the United States to follow "the Obama initiatives" and allow them to continue Obama's goal, which is to allow Cubans on the island to make decent entrepreneurial livings in defiance of Congressional and Miami hardliners.
       This is a CIA map of Cuba that was used by Voice of America during the Obama presidency when U. S. government organizations actually promoted Obama programs aimed at normalizing relations with Cuba.
      In 2017 -- the first year of the post-Obama Trump presidency -- there are many international efforts fighting the U. S. economic embargo/blockade of Cuba that has existed since 1962 and which the United Nations, by a vote of 191-to-0, considers the longest and cruelest embargo ever imposed by a powerful nation against a weak nation. The fact that many Americans don't seem to care how much that harms the worldwide image of both America and democracy continues to be a negative factor in the equation.
       As long as the U. S. embargo-blockade against Cuba remains in place, as long as the U. S. is unwilling to discuss the return of Guantanamo Bay to Cuba, and as long as a few Cuban-American hardliners can continue to dictate Cuban policy in the U. S. Congress and in Republican White Houses, there will be pro-Cuban and pro-Fidel demonstrations and promotions such as the one depicted above. This impressive poster promoted the massive pro-Cuban session in Vancouver that took place on February 17, 2017.
     The poster above heralds a two-day session sponsored by a normalization committee -- UCNC -- at the Fordham University School of Law and will take place on March 25th and 26th, 2017. It marks the start of a "National Conference to fight for the full normalization of relations between the United States and Cuba." 

      In less than a year, by February of 2018, Miguel Diaz-Canel at age 57 will take over as the next President of Cuba -- a non-Castro and a non-revolutionary. The photo is courtesy of Adalberto Roque/AFP/Getty Images. In the intervening months, no matter what America's President Donald Trump does or does not do regarding his predecessor's {Obama's} peaceful overtures to Cuba, it is believed that Diaz-Canel will strongly look eastward in the direction of China and Vietnam as opposed to taking a westward glance toward the nearby United States. That's because Diaz-Canel does not believe that either Trump or Congress will "adequately address" -- Diaz-Canel's words -- two lines in the sand he has drawn: {1} The end of the embargo; and {2} "sincere discussions" with Cuba related to the return of Guantanamo Bay to Cuba "without conditions." Thus, to counter the anticipated "continuation of American bellicosity towards Cuba," it is expected that Diaz-Canel's leadership of Cuba will, even more than the Castro leadership since 1959, deemphasize Cuba's relations with the U. S. as much as possible and instead focus on accentuating as much as possible Cuba's relations with friendly powers, especially China and Russia.  
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