Monday, May 1, 2017

Cuba on May Day, 2017

One Notable Change!
{Tuesday, May 2nd, 2017}
       Yesterday was May 1, 2017. May Day since 1959 has been a very important day of celebration on the island of Cuba. But this year things were different. There was someone missing this year.
While May Day is celebrated BIG in Cuba....
           .......this was the first May Day in the last 90 years that Fidel Castro has not been alive in Cuba. He died at age 90 on Nov. 25-2016. The cause was old age, a lasting insult to his U.S.-based enemies who tried a record number of times to kill him. But on the island and elsewhere, he remains the face and soul of the Cuban Revolution and, of course, Revolutionary Cuba.
         This was the last hug, at least the last photographed one, that Cuban President Raul Castro gave his older and more famous brother Fidel. Like Fidel, their older brother Ramon died in 2016. The non-political Ramon was 91. So Raul is now the only living Castro brother as the post-Castro era comes into focus.
        By the time Raul Castro entombed Fidel Castro's ashes in the first week of December, 2016, the 85-year-old Raul had announced that he would retire as President of Cuba no later than February of 2018.
        When the time comes, Raul Castro's ashes will be entombed beside those of his wife, the legendary revolutionary Vilma Espin who died from cancer in 2007. The old rebels, like old soldiers, someday die.
       Americans, of course, are not supposed to know it but this photo shows the Big Four of both the Cuban Revolution and Revolutionary Cuba, and it was taken within days of that historic transition for both Cuba and the United States because at the start of January in 1959 the leaders of the fleeing Batista-Mafia dictatorship were already plotting their revenge in nearby Miami, plots that, of course, continue till this day in May, 2017. The Big Four from left to right: Vilma Espin, Fidel Castro, Raul Castro, and Celia Sanchez.
        This interesting photo shows Celia Sanchez driving her beloved Matari jeep in 1959 as she transitioned from being the key figure in the Revolution to then being the key figure in Revolutionary Cuba. Fidel Castro, for sure, agreed with that depiction of the 99-pound doctor's daughter...as have all the revolutionary insiders including the best and still-living historians -- Marta Rojas, Pedro Alvarez Tabio and Roberto Salas. Also, the best American biographer of Fidel Castro, Georgie Anne Geyer, very correctly stated in her seminal book "Guerrilla Prince" that Celia "over-ruled" Fidel whenever she chose to do so.
      This photo is a case-in-point. It shows Celia and Fidel deplaning in Cuba. In April of 1959, just after shedding their guerrilla uniforms and celebrating the Revolutionary victory, Celia persuaded a reluctant Fidel to spend 12 days in the U. S. because Celia, working with the U. S. State Department and the U. S. Society of Newspaper Editors, believed the Eisenhower administration would accept Cuba's newly won independence. Vice President Richard Nixon personally told Fidel that would not be so, that revolutionary rule in Cuba would be overthrown "within a few weeks." Back in Cuba, an outraged Celia informed a dubious Fidel, "There are TWO nuclear superpowers in the world -- America and the Soviets. The one close-by wants to kill us. The one far-away wants to help us. We would be stupid not to choose the far-away option." The rest is history, as choreographed by Celia, not Fidel, although he never once failed to back her up, a fact that was stated by Geyer and has been stated by the aforementioned insiders.
       This photo taken in 1958 by the legendary war photographer Dickey Chapelle, who died later on a Vietnam battlefield, shows the always studious Celia Sanchez and the usually carefree Vilma Espin during their guerrilla days. In the Georgie Anne Guyer bio of Fidel, there is a confirmed Celia quote that still fascinates but confounds me. In Revolutionary Cuba when Celia and Fidel were discussing the brutal war with journalists, Fidel mentioned "how tough" the fighting was. Celia followed up with this quote: "Oh, but those were the best days, weren't they? We were all so happy. We will never be so happy again, will we?"
      Before old age or other factors emerged, the most legendary Cuban rebels were young and surprisingly happy when they fought the war. This photo shows guerrilla fighters Raul Castro and Vilma Espin.
Right after the war was won, Vilma & Raul got married.
        Raul Castro in 2008 officially succeeded his ill brother Fidel as Cuba's President and, at long last, was receptive to peaceful and kind overtures from United States President Barack Obama, the only American President since 1898 with the intelligence, decency, and courage to deal fairly with Cuba. From 2015 till Obama left the White House on Jan. 20-2017, the U. S. and Cuba corrected and smoothed animosities dating back many decades -- such as reopening embassies in Washington and Havana for the first time since 1961. But to this day, a tiny cabal of self-serving and revengeful operatives in Miami and the U. S. Congress continue their concerted efforts to defy the wishes of the majority of moderate and decent Americans and Cuban-Americans who want to end the Congressionally mandated embargo and other punitive, imperialistic U. S. actions against Cuba. The Miami-inspired Congressional laws are also currently condemned internationally by a 191-to-0 vote in the United Nations, yet a handful of miscreants in Miami and in Congress could care less about an endless American Cuban policy that direly shames America and Democracy in the eyes of the world. Unfortunately, those miscreants have prevailed after the departure of President Obama last January and will prevail after the retirement of the last Castro brother next February.
        The 56-year-old Miguel Diaz-Canel is scheduled to take over as Cuba's next President by February of 2018. He is currently First Vice President of Cuba's National Assembly and, as a powerful advocate regarding educational and health issues, he is well-liked by ordinary Cubans, including young adults.
      But the most popular politician on the island of Cuba is probably Ana Mari Machado. Of the top five Vice Presidents in Cuba's National Assembly, none is more powerful than Ana regarding daily decisions.
       And while the Trump White House and his State Department probably don't realize it yet, the powerful leaders of other nations that want to deal with Cuba all ask to meet Ana Mari Machado, as shown above.
       On her Twitter page Ana Mari Machado the other day posted the above photo. It shows a little Cuban girl in Batista's Cuba sitting in an abandoned schoolroom, abandoned because the Batista dictatorship didn't consider the majority peasants worth educating or having health care. When Revolutionary Cuba inherited that situation in 1959, it was forced to famously send thousands of literate volunteers all across the island to educate the illiterate parents and children and to register their health needs. After that successful program, Revolutionary Cuba began impressing the world with its two priorities -- using a very high percentage of its limited resources to provide free educations and health care to all Cubans.
      This photo shows the transition from Batista's Cuba to Revolutionary Cuba. The young woman on the right had been a guerrilla fighter against Batista's U.S.-backed soldiers. After the revolutionary victory, this woman was one of the thousands of literate volunteers who traversed the island teaching illiterate Cubans how to read and write. In the very typical case depicted above both the father and mother of the baby are learning how to read and write. These facts, except in America, are registered in history. For example, Wikipedia describes what you see above in the early days of Revolutionary Cuba as "the world's most ambitious and organized literary campaign." Over half-a-century later, as Ana Mari Machado pointed out on her Twitter page, the results are startling. The former female guerrilla-fighter-turned-educator shown above may be cast as a villain by counter-revolutionaries in the United States, but Ana Mari Machado as well as history considers her a heroine. The photo above is one the U. S. Cuban narrative will avoid.
   In Cuba today schoolgirls are healthy and well educated.
       When major international contracts involving Cuba are signed in Brussels, as above, or elsewhere, Ana Mari Machado's signature often represents Cuba. Back on the island, she is also a true dynamo.
     Except for purely military issues, the major day-to-day decisions on the island are hammered out at Assembly sessions like the one above. They are mostly dominated by women, in this case Ana Mari Machado and the white-haired lady at the front of the table chairing this particular Ana-directed session. 
      The Cuban lady chairing that important aforementioned Assembly meeting was Miriam Brito Sarroca. It's women like her and Ana Mari Machado that decide what's best for Cubans, and that is as it should be and just as revolutionary heroines like Celia Sanchez and Vilma Espin "dictated" it right after January 1, 1959.
      This is a dynamic Cuban leader of the island's increasingly important  twenty-something generation. Her name is Rosy Amaro Perez. She is shown a few days ago in Trinidad, the colonial city on Cuba's south-central coast. She was there...leaving her husband and young daughter in Havana...to promote a brand-new Cuban television channel -- Canal Caribe -- that operates 18 hours a day and is aimed specifically at providing more news and information to the island's already smart and more impatient young adults.
The popular Rosy Amaro Perez relaxing in Trinidad.
     Cuba's most popular and most influential broadcast journalist is the superbly talented Cristina Escobar, another leader of the island's increasingly restive young-adult generation. In Cuba and the United States, and both in Spanish and English, and on YouTube, she has made this statement: "I don't want the U. S. to bring me democracy. That is a project for Cubans on the island, not Cubans in Miami and Washington." 
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