Friday, August 25, 2017

CNN's Elian: A Review

The Epic Cuba-U.S. Tale!!
{Sunday, August 27th, 2017}
     This week -- Thursday, August 24th, 2017 -- CNN Films debuted a classical 2-hour movie-documentary entitled "Elian." Before daylight on August 25th, the first of many replays aired on CNN, which has an international reach. That's good because, probably more than anything else, the saga of a little Cuban boy named Elian Gonzalez during four months beginning on Thanksgiving Day in 1999 best defines the tumultuous David vs. Goliath-Cuba vs. U.S. relations since 1952. In 1952 right-wingers in the Eisenhower administration sicced the Mafia on Cuba in support of the vile U.S.-friendly Batista dictatorship. It spawned a Cuban Revolution that verily shocked the entire world on the first day of 1959 by actually overthrowing a U.S.-backed dictatorship. Many of the Batista-Mafia leaders had previous ties to South Florida and that's where many of them fled, establishing the Little Havana section of Miami as their new Government-in-Exile on U. S. soil. The idea, with the backing of the superpower U. S. government, was to quickly regain control of Cuba...but that still ongoing process has incredibly been unsuccessful after all these decades. In the meantime, the Cuban Government-in-Exile has essentially operated as a separate government, especially since the Reagan-Bush administration in the 1980s advised anti-Castro zealot Jorge Mas Canosa to study Israel's AIPAC and then create an ultra-powerful Cuban political powerhouse in Washington. Canosa did that, creating the omnipotent CANF -- the Cuban American National Foundation. With almost unlimited access to the U. S. Treasury, Canosa became a billionaire and no one in Miami or Washington dared challenge the CANF's dominance financially or politically. That is, till 1999 when the Clinton administration finally challenged Miami's and the CANF's awesome power related to the saga of a 6-year-old Cuban named Elian.
      This photo in Cuba shows Elian with his mother Elizabeth. After the creation of the CANF lobby, Jorge Mas Canosa and the Cuban-exiles were able to get just about anything they wanted from the U. S. government -- including pipelines of tax dollars from Washington-to-Miami and essentially whatever anti-Castro laws they wanted the U. S. Congress to pass. So, from the 1980s till this very day in 2017 billions of tax dollars have supported such things as a radio-television anti-Castro propaganda operation in Miami that primarily just makes selected Cubans richer. Other very easily enacted Cuban-exile Congressional laws included the infamous Wet Foot-Dry Foot bonanza that encouraged massive defections from Cuba to Miami with financial and residence-citizenship incentives available only to Cubans and to no other immigrants. With Wet Foot-Dry Foot in vogue in 1999, Elizabeth -- without permission from Elian's father Juan Gonzalez -- challenged the treacherous Florida Straits to get herself and her 6-year-old son to Miami. Elizabeth and 10 others drowned but she managed to save Elian by putting him on an inner-tube, which miraculously washed up on Florida's shore and was discovered by two Cuban-American fishermen.
      The rescued 6-year-old Elian quickly became a prized possession of anti-Castro zealots in Miami, including his very passionate cousin Marisleysis Gonzalez.
      With Marisleysis in charge of Elian, she had the total backing of all the richest and most powerful Cuban-American anti-Castro zealots in Miami -- including the super-rich CANF bosses, Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, etc., etc. Elian was showered with toys and luxuries but also lavishly paraded before the national news media time and again. Marisleysis also became a celebrity as Elian's caretaker and as the chief spokesperson for the anti-Castro exiles in Miami. Videos of Elian supposedly desiring to stay in Miami and begging his father to come stay there too were ubiquitous in the media, as shown in the new CNN docu-movie. But there also was another video that seemed to reflect Elian's true, non-coerced feelings. In that video as an airplane flew overhead Elian flamboyantly waved his hands up at the airplane and proclaimed plainly, "I want you to take me back to Cuba!!" As CNN Films pointed out, the Miami Cubans in charge of Elian tried to distort Elian's words even though Spanish is very well understood in Miami's Little Havana neighborhood and the audio of Elian's airplane plea is very clear on the video. While the brilliantly choreographed 2-hour CNN presentation is essentially fair and well-documented, it is slanted in favor of Marisleysis' emotional desires and attempts to keep Elian in Miami and make sure that he never returned to Fidel Castro's Cuba where they insisted "Castro would exploit the issue!" Of course, Marisleysis and the Miami Cubans were gleefully and powerfully doing just that as hard as they could.
     This photo shows Elian's cousin Marisleysis taking him to Disneyland. While she was in charge of Elian in Miami, Marisleysis repeatedly, as shown by CNN Films, taunted the little boy's father by daring him to come to Miami and "get your son." That was a cheap-shot at a time when the Miami Cubans were sure they had Elian for keeps. Cubans in Cuba and Cubans in Miami, as well as the U. S. government, were well aware that defying the Cuban extremists in Miami would not have been healthy for Elian's father Juan. CNN Films pointed that out by showing the car-bombed vehicle in which top Cuban-American newsman Emilio Millian was gruesomely silenced merely for criticizing Miami-related terrorist acts against innocent Cubans, such as the bombing of the civilian Cubana Flight 455. So, Marisleysis' nationally publicized taunts to Juan to come to Miami to get his son rang very hollow with everyone other than the anti-Castro zealots. The taunts were even understood by usually intimidated Americans normally too scared to even discuss the situation.
      While CNN Films chronicled its "Elian" docu-movie with a slight tilt to anti-Castro Miami zealots like Marisleysis Gonzalez and Cuban-exile leader Jorge Mas Canosa and Canosa's billionaire son, it was also balanced enough to fairly include assessments from unbiased Miami residents such as Carl Hiaasen, the legendary Miami Herald columnist and best-selling author. Hiaasen for years has been brave enough to correctly critique the hold anti-Castro extremists have on politics in both Miami and Washington. CNN Films pointed that out in "Elian" by stressing the Reagan-Bush anointment of the omnipotent Canosa government that had the economic and voting clout to determine which Republicans got to serve in Congress or the White House. Hiaasen has written about that incessantly and in "Elian" he commented about Miami's exploitation of little Elian as a wedge in its anti-Castro war that has snared America's democracy and the American taxpayers in its grips since January, 1959.
      Millions of words in print and vocalized on video have tried to tell the tale of the Elian Gonzalez saga that gripped Cuba, America and much of the world for four months in late 1999 and early 2000. But the AP photo taken by Alan Diaz will always highlight that startling international drama when U. S. Marshalls in a pre-dawn Miami raid rescued the traumatized 6-year-old Elian from a closet and from the clutches of Miami's fierce anti-Castro community. It stands today as a unique hallmark in which the U. S. government actually challenged the power of the anti-Castro Cubans.
   As CNN Films cogently documents, Cuba's Fidel Castro fought just as hard to get Elian Gonzalez returned to Cuba from Miami as he had fought against the U.S.-backed Batistianos in the Revolutionary War and against the Batistiano-U.S. military attack at the Bay of Pigs. And like in his Revolutionary War and at the Bay of Pigs, Fidel Castro -- again against all odds -- won his fervent battle to bring Elian back to Cuba, an event wildly cheered throughout the island. The "Elian" docu-movie of that colossal event includes the adult quotation by Elian in which he calls Fidel his "God." It also includes rare video footage of Fidel and the 6-year-old Elian engaging in small talk as well as videos of Elian making speeches in support of Fidel, the Revolution, and today's Cuba. In an updated CNN interview Elian reflects on the death of Fidel at age 90 on Nov. 25-2016 and he mentions that "Fidel was young when he fought the Revolution and it is the young Cubans today who will decide the island's future."
     Elian's comment about "young Cubans" deciding "the island's future" echoes a now notable quotation by Cuba's brilliant young television anchor Cristina Escobar. On both Cuban and U. S. soil Cristina has proclaimed: "Cuba's fate is up to Cubans on the island, not Cubans in Miami and Washington." Another young Cuban, Elian Gonzalez, agrees with Cristina Escobar, a fervent supporter of Cuban sovereignty.
         For eternity, Elian Gonzalez will be remembered as the traumatized 6-year-old boy who miraculously washed ashore in Florida on an inner-tube in 1999. But he's now a 23-year-old man, Cuban to the core. He is shown above with his fiancee, Ilianet Escano. It is a miracle that he is alive...and back in Cuba. His saga...especially the gigantic tug-of-war that enveloped him...is a microcosm of Cuba's colossal relationship with the United States. But it is, perhaps, the most significant highlight because it revealed the essence of the unending Cuba-U.S. conflict: The great U. S. democracy made a huge mistake when it selfishly teamed with the Mafia in 1952 to support the vile Batista dictatorship in Cuba; and the great U. S. democracy in 1959 made an even bigger mistake when it allowed the overthrown Batista-Mafia dictatorship on the island of Cuba to reconstitute itself on U. S. soil with Miami as its new capital.
     The splendid docu-movie "Elian" by CNN Films is a brilliantly produced chronicle of the enormous impact that a little boy named Elian Gonzalez had and has on U.S.-Cuban history and topicality. If you missed the initial showing on CNN on August 24th, it will be replayed many times. Elian's historic story has vast repercussions today.
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