A True Peek at Cuba

Daily Life on the Island!
{Updated for: Saturday, November 11th, 2017}
    The photo-graphic above is courtesy of The National Geographic and the Charles Krulwich blog. It reminds me of a phenomenon that I, a passionate bird-lover, observed on my visit to Cuba. Many Cubans I met were/are far more concerned about pigeons...as a hobby and as competitive athletes...than they are with the latest U.S.-Cuban turmoil, which they have become accustomed to all their entire lives.
     An excellent and fair-minded Associated Press journalist in Cuba is Andrea Rodriguez. This week on November 9th and 10th the Cuban headlines in the United States loudly heralded the Nov. 9th-2017 announcement of the Trump administration's latest torrid sanctions against Cuba designed to finally overthrow the Cuban Revolution that reshaped both nations in 1959. But on Nov. 9-2017 Andrea Rodriguez's major AP article from Cuba was headlined "Pigeon Competitions Take Flight Over Rooftops in Cuba." The superb article showed up in hundreds of American newspapers from the Washington Post in the East to the Los Angeles Times in the West. Andrea wrote: "Pigeons lovingly raised and trained in rooftop pens are daily turned loose across Havana. The magnificent birds dart through the air in feats of aerial acrobatics, competing to see whose pigeon can out-fly and out-maneuver their rivals and win over females in contests that draw huge audiences on the ground." I witnessed that fierce-but-fun competition in Cuba and you can experience it via the excellent writing of Andrea Rodriguez in the aforementioned AP article. Andrea noted that many Cubans in the U. S. are also addicted to the sport and often travel to Cuba to obtain the best trained pigeons.
Viva Cuba's love of pigeons.
Viva Andrea Rodriguez for reminding us!!
      My old friend and antagonist Larry Daley surfaces in the "Comment" sections of many U. S. articles I read about Cuba. For example, Karen DeYoung's major article in the Washington Post on Nov. 9, 2017, recapped the Trump administration's blisteringly cruel new sanctions against Cuba's Cubans spotlighting the fervent attempts of all Republican stalwarts in Washington trying to starve-deprive-make misery the lives of Cubans on the island so they will rise up and overthrow their Revolutionary government. I didn't count or read all the "Comments" Larry contributed to the Karen DeYoung November 9th article but there must have been about fifteen, all viciously supporting Trump's efforts to recapture Cuba to appease a handful of old U. S. Counter Revolutionaries like Larry who remain obsessed with excoriating the Castros and the Revolution that overturned the Batista-Mafia dictatorship way back on Jan. 1-1959. Larry Daley...I once knew but now forget his Cuban name...seems typical of the vast Castro Cottage Industry that has thrived unchecked for decades in America. I have old-fashioned America beliefs that people should use their real names to substantiate their viewpoints, hopefully some of which would be a little unbiased.
     In 2005 when my biography of Cuba's revolutionary heroine Celia Sanchez was published, Larry Daley gave it a 3-star rating on Amazon and then proceeded to dismiss it as a pro-Communist review of Celia's incomparable impact on both the Revolution and Revolutionary Cuba. {P.S.: I'm passionately pro-Democracy and that's why I resent the transfer of the Batista dictatorship to America}. Larry's review got a reaction from me that resulted in about 35 candid exchanges with Larry Daley that are still posted on Amazon. I wasn't concerned with criticism of me but his self-serving distortions about Celia Sanchez infuriated me because I thought he was {is}, like so many others, hiding behind his Americanized name and behind the intimidated political correctness in the U. S. that dictates that only Counter Revolutionary Cubans should be allowed to control the Cuban narrative in America -- in other words, proclaiming that the Batista-Mafia regime in Cuba was a Mother Teresa-like heavenly gift to the Cuban people while Revolutionary leaders such as Celia Sanchez were/are fiends. In the 35 or so heated exchanges with me, Larry Daley claimed he knew a lot more about Celia than I did BECAUSE HE FOUGHT WITH HER UNDER FIDEL CASTRO DURING THE REVOLUTION THAT OUSTED THE BATISTA-MAFIA DICTATORSHIP, chasing many of its leaders to an even more lucrative reconstitution on U. S. soil.
      This is a photo of Larry Daley when he still had a Cuban name, the way he looked when he presumably fought with Celia Sanchez in what Larry calls Fidel Castro's Assault Group 6 Column One.  The photos of Larry Daley were used in an article he wrote on February 6, 2015 in the Corvalis Gazette-Times in Oregon. It was/is entitled: "As I See It: A Witness to the Cuban Revolution." It was/is a scathing attack on Raul Castro. Larry Daley wrote: "Perhaps it is a presumption of mine, but I believe my knowledge of Raul Castro's record is more extensive than that of most in the area. After all, in 1958 I was a member of assault group 6 in his brother's Column One." Then Larry Daley added: "I know that Raul 'suicided' his sister-in-law Nilsa Espin, empting a full magazine from a submarine gun in her body." Ummmmmm, Larry? Are we really supposed to believe that, or believe any of the "Comments" you added to Karen DeYoung's Nov. 9th-2017 article?
     Historians, at least unbiased ones, know that Celia Sanchez and Vilma Espin were legendary guerrilla fighters in Cuba's Revolutionary War. In the historic photo above taken by famed female War Photographer Dickey Chapelle {who died on a battlefield in Vietnam in 1965}, that's the always studious Celia and the always merry Vilma between battles against the supposedly vastly superior U.S.-backed Batista armies. Vilma actually was a student at one of America's great universities, MIT, when Celia wrote a letter to Boston saying, "Return home. Our underground has commenced an exciting revolution that is about to turn hot. I know you don't want to miss it." And Vilma didn't. By the time Dickey Chapelle took the above photo, Fidel Castro worshiped Celia Sanchez and Raul Castro was madly in love with Vilma.
     In 1959, within a few days after ousting Batista, Vilma Espin married Raul Castro. They remained married until June 18, 2007, which was the day Vilma died of cancer.
      Vilma Espin Castro gave birth to four children by her husband Raul. The photo above shows their dear friend Celia Sanchez admiring one of Vilma's newborns. Vilma named her four babies Deborah, Mariela, Nilsa, and Alejandro. Larry Daley claims Raul "emptied" a machine gun into the body of Vilma's sister Nilsa Espin. It is quite obvious that Vilma Espin never believed that...or believed much else of the Cuban narrative in the U. S. dictated since 1959 by Counter Revolutionaries like Larry Daley. And neither should Americans in 2017.
    The photo above depicts what Fidel Castro himself considered the Big Four of the Cuban Revolution and of Revolutionary Cuba. Of that quartet, Fidel rated Celia Sanchez #1 with himself, Vilma, and Raul bunched behind Celia. They were all prime guerrilla fighters and decision-makers during the war but Celia was the most important recruiter of rebels and supplies as well as being, with Fidel's fervent blessing and support, the prime decision-maker during the war and in Revolutionary Cuba till January 11-1980 when she died, at age 59, of cancer. In fact, in 2005 Marta Rojas told me, "Since Celia died of cancer in 1980, Fidel has continued to rule Cuba only as he precisely believes Celia would want him to rule it." And Marta would know.
     The photo above shows Marta Rojas and Fidel Castro in 1959. Marta was two years younger than Fidel. She was born on May 17, 1928, in the city of Santiago de Cuba.
      At age 89, Marta Rojas, beyond doubt, knows more about Celia Sanchez, Fidel Castro, and the Cuban Revolution than any living soul. As a journalist {beginning during the Batista dictatorship}, Marta helped save Fidel Castro's life when he was imprisoned from 1953 till 1955 and, via an exchange of crucial notes she carried to-and-from his prison cell in her bra, Marta created the ultra-vital Fidel-Celia nexus before they ever laid eyes on each other. Marta wrote the obituary of Celia Sanchez in 1980 that appeared on the front page of the Granma newspaper where she was an editor. Marta emerged in Revolutionary Cuba as an internationally acclaimed author and historian with her publishers including the U. S. giant Random House. She is a dear, sweet lady and, I repeat, the world's greatest expert on the Cuban Revolution.
      I believe the best book by Marta Rojas was and is "Tania: The Unforgettable Guerrilla." Later, as indicated above, Marta contributed to various historical accounts of Tania, the guerrilla fighter who died fighting with Che Guevara in Bolivia in 1967.
      Marta Rojas's fascinating book forever attached the moniker "The Unforgettable Guerrilla" to the Tania that died fighting with Che Guevara in Bolivia in 1967. She was waist-deep in a creek firing her rifle at soldiers mostly obscured by dense foliage when she was felled by a hail of bullets. She is remembered for her beauty as well as her fearlessness as a guerrilla fighter. Tania's real name was Tamara Bunker and the name she used in Bolivia while fighting with Che Guevara was Laura Gutierrez
     One of America's all-time most fascinating crime stories dates from the 1970s and relates to newspaper heiress Patty Hearst. After being kidnapped by an extremist rebel group, the Symbionese Liberation Army, Patty Hearst incredibly evolved into a bank-robbing guerrilla fighter herself. During that frantic period, Patty Hearst adopted the rebel name "Tania" based on Marta Rojas's "Unforgettable" guerrilla fighter.
      In 1974 the biggest headlines in America were reserved for the Patty Hearst saga and how the heiress to the Hearst newspaper fortune turned into the American guerrilla fighter and bank robber named "Tania." The first paragraph of the above article said Patty's kidnapping created "the biggest manhunt in U. S. history." As a guerrilla fighter, Patty chose the name "Tania" after Marta Rojas's "Unforgettable" guerrilla fighter who died with Che Guevara in Bolivia.

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