Some Say Miami IS NOT a Dictatorship!

Edna Buchanan
     Edna Buchanan was born in 1939 in New Jersey and she started her journalism career in Miami, so it's safe to say she learned early in life about the Mafia in particular and crime in general. She became arguably the greatest crime journalist in American history and also one of America's most successful crime novelists. Her initial fame came in daily articles in crime-infested Miami as a reporter for the Miami Beach Daily Sun.  Soon her bravery and insightfulness were regularly featured in major articles for the Miami Herald and the Associated Press. She won a Pulitzer Prize in 1986 for her coverage of Miami crime. When she turned her unique expertise into writing crime books, she quickly won the Edgar Award in 1995 for "Miami, It's Murder."  In 2006 Billy Corben directed and Alfred Spellman produced a superb two-hour documentary entitled Cocaine Cowboys, which expertly chronicled the incredible dominance the drug cartels had over Miami in the 1970s and 1980s.  It explained that the banks, including the Federal Reserve in Miami, were literally overflowing with drug money, and even the so-called "legitimate" businesses were drug controlled or merely fronts for the drug trade. Appropriately, Cocaine Cowboys featured the expert knowledge of Edna Buchanan. The documentary's coda depicted Ms. Buchanan on a balcony with the truly beautiful Miami skyline in the background.  She gestured back over her left shoulder, pointing out how gorgeous it was, before sadly lamenting that it was financed with bushels of drug money and rivers of bright, red blood.
          The above photo shows a typical front-page article by Edna Buchanan in the Miami Herald as she led the chronicling of America's Batistiano Banana Republic, one whose speciality was car, boat, and airplane bombs. This article is dated May 1, 1976.  It began: "A bomb planted under the hood of his station wagon shattered the legs of the news director of radio station WQBA in Little Havana Friday night. Emilio Milian, 45, who had editorialized against terrorism and violence in Miami, stepped out of the station after a show, got into his WQBA car, turned on the ignition and the device detonated at 7:17 p.m. Late Friday doctors at Jackson Memorial Hospital amputated both of Milian's legs."
     The car-bombing of Emilio Milian in 1976 is just one of many terrorist acts that has defined the reconstitution on U. S. soil of the overthrown Batista dictatorship in Cuba. At the time Emilio was the most popular newscaster in South Florida.  Despite threats, including unmistakable ones sent by earlier bomb victims, he railed against fellow Cuban exiles murdering innocent Cubans and then bragging about it in the Miami media.  His views were supported by the majority of Cuban exiles, but not by the far richer and more powerful fanatical fringe that controlled the dictatorship. Suffice to say, the bombing that maimed Emilio sent the desired message. Born in the little Cuban village of Sagua la Grande, Emilio quit medical school at the University of Havana to pursue his first love, radio broadcasting. He left Cuba with his wife and three children in 1965 to seek radio work in Miami. Like many truly decent and great journalists before him, such as Lisa Howard, and many after him, such as Gary Webb, Emilio's reporting on  America's first and only dictatorship resulted in tragedy.  His pleas, to stop the terrorism against innocent civilians and to stop bragging about it, was his undoing. As befits a Banana Republic, no one was ever charged with his bombing although Cuban exiles Gaspar Jimenez and Gustavo Castillo were openly hailed as the bombers. The legless Emilio lived on until his death on March 15, 2001, at age 69. The headline in the Miami Herald on March 16-2001 was: "EMILIO MILIAN, BROADCASTER WHO DENOUNCED TERRORISM, DIES."  The article, written by Liz Balmaseda, included these exact words: "At the height of his popularity, Milian frequently denounced terrorist bombings, saying the bombers were...criminals. But he also was the subject of constant death threats. A virtual state of siege existed at the Milian home, where his children had been warned about opening mail packages and talking to anonymous callers. The bomb that ripped off his legs proved powerful beyond the physical damage to Milian. Even now...no one has been prosecuted, even though the investigations of several agencies and witness testimony pointed to three suspects. Former U. S. Attorney Atlee Wampler obtained a four-count jury indictment on April 30, 1981, just hours before a five-year statute of limitations would lapse. But the suspects -- exiles Caspar Jimenez, Gustavo Castillo and an unnamed third person -- were never arrested. For reasons that remain unclear, Wampler's successor, Stanley Marcus, dismissed the indictments."  Before and after the Milian bombing, FOR REASONS THAT REMAIN UNCLEAR has been the phrase that journalists and historians have used over and over again to describe Cuban exile terrorism related to Miami, words analogous to any two-bit Banana Republic dictatorship. And the Milian bombing, once and for all, chilled freedom of expression in Miami and, in the eyes of many, cemented the transfer of the Batista dictatorship from Cuba to the United States. FOR REASONS THAT REMAIN UNCLEAR. In fact, those reasons are quite clear and the U. S. democracy should be strong enough to confront that reality, but apparently it is not.  
      Yes, America...since January of 1959 a perfidious Banana Republic dictatorship, much richer and more powerful than Fulgencio Batista and Meyer Lansky ever dreamed of in Cuba, has existed on U. S. soil.
Fulgencio Batista, 1936
      Fulgencio Batista, an undistinguished army sergeant (notable only for his already-cultivated ties with the Mafia in South Florida) became Cuba's dictator in a 1934 coup known as The Revolt of the Sergeants. Antonio Guiteras, a decent and very popular rival, was brutally murdered in Matanzas in 1935. All other rivals, real or perceived, met the same fate as Guiteras. Batista, strongly supported by the Communist Party of Cuba, actually won a rigged election that made him President of Cuba in 1940. The United States, the overall dominant force on the island since the 1898 Spanish-American War, strongly supported the murderous Batista because, with hefty kick-backs, he sold out as readily to U. S. capitalists as he did to his Mafia friends from South Florida.
       Therefore, as pictured above, Batista was a superstar at events such as Armistice parades in Washington, D. C., as the U. S. government tried to convince the American taxpayers that their friend in Cuba was a decent leader. From 1934 till 1944 Batista fleeced so much money from the island via those Mafia and U. S. kickbacks that he actually had trouble banking it in Swiss numbered accounts and in the Mafia strongholds of Miami and Union City (NJ). In 1944 Batista allowed Grau San Martin to ascend to the Presidency while the little sergeant mostly counted his money and kept tabs on the businesses and mansions he kept buying in South Florida. Soon, he moved into his favorite mansion in Daytona Beach while still trying to manage his money spigot in Cuba. In the early 1950s Batista didn't even mind that an old rival, Carlos Prio Socorras, had become Cuba's President in an almost fair election.
Meyer Lansky
     Batista's all-time best friend was Meyer Lansky, the Mafia's Jewish mastermind and financial genius. Even with Batista's sojourn to South Florida beginning in 1944, both men were still raking in Cuban cash and living high on the hog in South Florida.
Photo courtesy: Brule Laker
      The above photo shows Meyer Lansky's home in Hallendale Beach, one of his favorite retirement mansions in South Florida. By this time the Mafia kingpin was reportedly worth $300 million but he had not been satisfied when his dear friend Batista moved back to South Florida and slowed the money spigot in Cuba. At the start of 1952 Lansky told Batista, "Both you and I have enough money that anyone with our bloodlines will all be rich for the next thousand years. But I've always wanted to own my own country. That's why I want you back in Cuba."
      The above photo, taken from the epic Godfather movie, shows the Meyer Lansky-inspired character Hyman Roth telling the Michael Corleone character about how he always wanted to own his own country, namely Cuba. The real Meyer Lansky actually made that statement to his best friend Fulgencio Batista. That wish by the Mafia kingpin significantly advanced the future reality of a dictatorship on U. S. soil.
       Meyer Lansky on U. S. soil never had any worries about going to prison even though it was well known he was the prime Mafia instigator of drug smuggling, pornography, prostitution, gambling, and extortion rackets. In 1970 the U. S. government estimated Lansky was worth $300 million and there were suggestions in Congress that he at least should pay income taxes.  After reading that pertinent suggestion in his newspaper, Lansky fled briefly to Israel, till his associates paid off the proper people and all charges against him were dropped in 1973. He died of natural causes (lung cancer) on May 15, 1983, as one of the leading citizens in Miami Beach, Florida. At his death, Meyer Lansky was worth approximately $450 million, much of it thanks to his associations with Fulgencio Batista in both South Florida and Cuba.  From 1959 to 1983, much of the Lansky fortune was spent trying to kill Fidel Castro or in repeated Mafia/Cuban exile/U. S. government bids to recapture Cuba. 
"I'm backkkkkk!"
      Strongly prodded by Meyer Lansky, Fulgencio Batista returned to Cuba and on March 10, 1952 -- almost twenty years after the Revolt of the Sergeants -- his coup overthrew the government of Carlos Prio Socorras and created the second Batista-Mafia (and U. S. - backed) dictatorship in Cuba. Very quickly, the U. S. (on March 27, 1952) officially recognized the Batista/Mafia dictatorship and lavishly heralded its official return. The timing was inauspicious for Cuba and for a popular and very energetic young anti-Batista lawyer who had envisioned a democratic Cuba that would include him.
Fidel Castro; April, 1952: Candidate for a democratic election in Cuba
      The second Batista coup took place three months before what Cubans were told would be an honest election on the island, an election in which a popular young lawyer, Fidel Castro, had already filed the appropriate papers to be a candidate for a judicial position. Batista -- backed by the Mafia, the Communist Party of Cuba, and the United States -- canceled the election, of course, because he well knew he could never win anything that even resembled an honest election. In 1959 Fidel reminisced back to March of 1952 as he told the famed journalist Carlos Franqui, "I guess Batista and the United States educated me that month about guns, money, and democracy."  Franqui said, "How so?"  Fidel replied, "Guns and money trump democracy, so why waste your time pretending that is not so?"
      Shortly after Batista's pernicious March-1952 coup canceled the promised democratic election in Cuba, the young lawyer and political hopeful Fidel Castro took off his suit and tie, stopped parting his hair on the left side, grew a beard, and began showing how much he had learned about guns trumping democracy.  That education and that resolve would, seven years later, spawn a new and different dictatorship in Cuba and, even more significantly, the first ever dictatorship on U. S. soil.
Santo Trafficante Jr.
      Next to Meyer Lansky, Fulgencio Batista's best friend in his South Florida Mafia circles was Santo Trafficante Jr. He was born in Tampa to Sicilian Santo Trafficante Sr., who died of natural causes in 1954 when he was the undisputed Mafia kingpin in Tampa.  Jr., even more bloodthirsty than his father, took over that role and became the #3 man in the Batista-Lansky dictatorship in Cuba. As Lansky concentrated on building Cuba's burgeoning drug operations, Trafficante Jr. took over the syndicate-owned gambling casinos in Cuba -- including the Hotel Habana Riviera, the Tropicana Club, the Capri Hotel Casion, the Sans Souci, the Sevilla-Biltmore, the Commodoro, the Deauville, and the Havana Hilton. All the while Trafficante Jr. maintained close Mob ties to the Bonanno family in New York City and to Mafia kingpins Sam Giancana in Chicago and Carlos Marcello in New Orleans. In addition to kickbacks to Batista, Trafficante Jr. was responsible for paying off the Bonanno, Giancana, and Marcello operations. He also made Havana the prostitution center of the Caribbean as well as the dominant drug and gambling hub in the Americas. 
     Like his father and most Mafia bosses, Santo Trafficante Jr. lived out his long life without ever having spent a day in a U. S. prison.    
      One thing Al Capone, Trafficante Sr., Trafficante Jr., and all the Mafia bosses had in common was to incessantly complain about how much money they had to pay lawyers as well as Police Chiefs, Governors, Congressmen, etc., to stay out of U. S. prisons. Thus, some mob lawyers became almost as famous as their main clients. The photo above shows Tampa Bay/Havana Mafia boss Trafficante Jr. (center) toasting New Orleans/Dallas Mafia boss Carlos Marcello (to his right) and their famed lawyer Frank Ragano (to his left). Ragano would later reveal that Trafficante and Marcello not only financed terrorist and assassination attacks on Castro's Cuba but both of his prime Mobster clients powerfully targeted both John Kennedy and Robert Kennedy for assassinations in the 1960s.
       If Trafficante Jr. and Marcello -- along with Giancana and Teamster boss Jimmy Hoffa -- were not directly involved in the heart-wrenching assassinations of the Kennedy brothers in the 1960s, it is only because someone else beat them to it. That is not a conspiracy theory because Ragano's claim is backed up by key members of the Bonanno family in New York, by famed undercover FBI agent Joe Pistone (alias "Donnie Brasco"), and even by the declassified CIA "Family Jewels" documents finally released in 2007.  Also, Mob Lawyer: Frank Ragano published by Random House in 1996 is an interesting read.
      While it is true that Mafia thug Santo Trafficante Jr. typically never served a day in prison in the U. S., he did spend two weeks in a Cuban prison in January of 1959. That's because, totally sure he could buy Cuba's new leader Fidel Castro for the Mafia just as the ousted Batista had been bought, Trafficante Jr. didn't flee the island with the other Batistiano leaders on January 1, 1959. He stayed behind and made an offer, 40% Mafia kickbacks, that he thought Fidel couldn't turn down. Fidel not only summarily turned down the offer, he tossed Trafficante Jr. in prison. Che Guevara, in charge of the La Habana Fortress trials of the captured Batista leaders, sentenced Trafficante Jr. to death by firing squad.
Celia Sanchez & Che Guevara
     Celia Sanchez, the prime decision-maker in Revolutionary Cuba (always fully supported by Fidel Castro) over-ruled the Che-orchestrated death sentence for Trafficante Jr.  The pragmatic Celia did that as a favor, not to the Mafia, but to the U. S. government, which she hoped would come to accept both Cuba's sovereignty and its new leadership.  Releasing Trafficante Jr. back to his Mafia roots in South Florida was one of the few major decisions Celia regretted making, as she confessed years later to friends Marta Rojas and Nora Peters. Oddly enough, just prior to over-ruling Che regarding Trafficante Jr., Celia had actually fired the lawyer Fidel as the Chief Prosecutor of the Batistianos because she felt he was "far too soft in his treatment of the child killers."  That's when the doctor Che in Havana and Fidel's brother Raul in Santiago de Cuba became the two key prosecutors of the Batistianos. Che and Raul, not Fidel and Celia, have taken most of the historic heat for the up-to-700 executions of Batista associates in the days following the triumph of the Cuban Revolution.
Marta Rojas; legendary journalist, author, and revolutionary
      Marta Rojas -- the greatest living expert on Celia, Fidel and Cuba (she is a healthy 82) -- once remarked: "Celia, the child-loving doctor's daughter, was angelic, except when it came to those she called Batistianos."  
Roberto Salas; renowned Cuban photographer and author 
      Roberto Salas -- the second greatest living expert on Celia, Fidel and Cuba -- stated in his book The Pictorial History of the Cuban Revolution"Celia made all the decisions for Cuba, the big ones and the small ones."  
      The inimitable Marta Rojas also told me in a 2005 email: "Since Celia died of cancer in 1980, Fidel has ruled Cuba only as he precisely believes Celia would want him to rule it."  
     If you study and comprehend the aforementioned three quotations, I believe you will better understand why Celia Sanchez later  concluded that her decision to release Trafficante Jr. from his Cuban prison and Che's firing squad was among the biggest regrets of her life. They also help to demystify the transfer of the Batista dictatorship to U. S. soil, especially when aligned with a sentence Celia Sanchez wrote in a 1973 letter to her American friend Nora Peters: "If nothing else, we chased the Batista and Mafia criminals to Miami and, I believe, it's the first indigenous dictatorship on American soil, or am I wrong, Nora?"  
      Above is the only mug shot ever taken of Santo Trafficante Jr. -- this one by the Tampa sheriff's department on May 19, 1954. However, his lawyer Frank Ragano got him released the same day and their friends at the Florida Supreme Court quickly dismissed all charges before his scheduled trial.  After Celia Sanchez, of all people, released Trafficante Jr. from his Cuban prison in January of 1959, he was instrumental in relocating the Batistiano capital from Havana to Miami, thereby creating the first-ever dictatorship on U. S. soil, one that continues to this very day.
      Reminiscent of other Banana Republics, America's tells Americans what to believe and not believe.  Thus, Americans are often told that Batista's Cuba in the 1950s was one of Latin America's wealthiest countries. That's like saying that, between them, Bill Gates and the man living under the bridge are worth $50 billion, implying that each man, including the penny-less man under the bridge, is worth about $25 billion.  But photos are often worth a thousand words and capable of superseding a thousand lies. The above photo from 1954 depicts the real story of Batista's Cuba. Notice the Mafia casino going up in the background overlooking a helplessly poor Cuban family. Or, better yet, check the History Channel documentary entitled Declassified: The Godfathers of Havana. It states that the Cuban majority in the 1950s went to bed hungry at night and repeatedly it showed a malnourished young mother trying unsuccessfully to nurse her infant. And the documentary shows black-and-white film of Cubans being beaten with baseball bats in the streets of Havana...as well as huge ships in the harbor loaded with cocaine bound for Miami. But the dichotomy between the rich and the poor, the powerful and the weak, was not what created the Cuban Revolution that ousted the Batista-Mafia dictatorship on the island of Cuba.
      And it wasn't the ubiquitous Batista firing squads, like the one shown above, that spawned the anti-Batista Cuban Revolution.
      The death knell for the Batista dictatorship in Cuba, and its reconfiguration in South Florida, was the unconscionable series of murders directed at Cuban children as a warning for the peasants on the island not to resist. The embers of the revolutionary fire were lit by Cuban women, outraged over the murders of their children, who courageously took to the streets with massive anti-Batista marches that soon resonated across the island, across the Caribbean, across Latin America, and even touched some hearts in America. So, the child murders represent the biggest mistake Batista, the Mafia, and the United States ever made on the island of Cuba. One such murder, in particular, reshaped Cuba, South Florida, and America.  
      Celia Sanchez, a 99-pound doctor's daughter from the little eastern Cuban town of Media Luna, was a minor player in the anti-Batista underground in 1952. And then she and her father Manuel began to hear that little peasant girls were being kidnapped and taken to the plush casino/hotels to be lures for rich pedophiles.  At the start of 1953 Celia determined that Maria Ochoa, a ten-year-old peasant girl she loved, had been legally kidnapped and raped to death in a casino/hotel. That seminal event transformed the doctor's daughter from her  minor role to becoming the most important player in the Cuban Revolution and Revolutionary Cuba.
Frank Pais
      Frank Pais, the young school teacher, was by far the most important male in the anti-Batista underground.
 Frank Pais funeral march in Santiago de Cuba
      But Frank Pais as well as his baby brother Jesus were captured and gruesomely murdered by Batista's police in Santiago de Cuba. 
Celia Sanchez
Pedro Alvarez Tabio
     The Murder of Frank Pais later prompted this salient quotation from the great Cuban historian Pedro Alvarez Tabio: "If Batista had managed to kill Celia Sanchez anytime between 1953 and 1957 there would have been no viable Cuban Revolution, and no revolution for Fidel and Che to join."  That's because, over and above the macho men of the revolution, no one matched the overall determination, intelligence, courage, organizational ability, and recruiting skills (of rebels and supplies) of the doctor's daughter from Media Luna. American history registers the fact that the murders of four little girls in a Birmingham church did more to defeat the racist cause of their killers than anything else. American history can also register the fact that the murder of peasant children in Batista's Cuba, especially ten-year-old Maria Ochoa, did more to defeat the cause of Batista, the Mafia, and the United States on the island of Cuba than anything else. It also remains the underlying cause for the resulting emergence of the first dictatorship on U. S. soil.
William Soler Pediatric Hospital in Cuba
      The three Cuban children in the above photo, standing in front of their doctors, have received life-saving liver transplants at the William Soler Pediatric Hospital in Cuba.
      These two female Cuban doctors at the William Soler Pediatric Hospital in Cuba are working hard to save the life of that Cuban baby in the bassinet.  One thing that hurts their effort is the U. S. Congress's Helms-Burton Bill, which unbiased Cuban experts such as Ann Louise Bardach will tell you was written not by the two right-wing congressmen for whom it is named but by the Batistiano dictators in Miami, who jetted up to D. C. to wildly celebrate its passing. Via the dictates of the Helms-Burton Bill, which every democracy-loving American should be ashamed of, the U. S. has fined American companies and foreign companies for such things as selling baby aspirin or needed hospital instruments to Cuba; Cuban diplomats in countries like Mexico and Norway have been kicked out of hotels because those hotels were partially owned by U. S. companies that are forced to comply with the Helms-Burton Bill; this summer England's biggest warship sailed into Havana Harbor on a good-will mission that thrilled the Cuban people but, because of the Helms-Burton Bill, that British warship, while in the area, was not permitted to pay a good-will mission to a U. S. port because it had stopped over in Havana; the executives of a Canadian company, as well as their spouses and children, are not allowed in the U. S. because that company does business with Cuba, etc., etc.  The Helms-Burton Bill is designed solely to appease the ancient revenge motives of a handful of anti-Castro Cuban exiles while it punishes the rest of the people all around the world, including that Cuban baby in the above photo that those Cuban doctors are trying to save.
      And, oh yes...the William Soler Pediatric Hospital in Cuba is named for little Willie Soler, who was murdered, along with his three schoolmates, in Batista's Cuba. As depicted in many books, including Georgie Anne Geyer's seminal Castro biography, the four little bodies were left in an abandoned warehouse as a warning for the adults in that community not to resist the Batista/Mafia dictatorship. Willie's mother and 500 other women famously and bravely conducted anti-Batista marches in both Havana and Santiago de Cuba. They are the ones who ignited and coalesced the Cuban Revolution. Because of his courageous mother, little Willie Soler today has a major hospital in Cuba named after him. And it does outstanding work, despite the quintessence of evil otherwise known as the Helms-Burton Bill.   
     The nearby cities of Miami and Havana have been the fiercely competitive capitals of the two well-defined Banana Republic dictatorships, South Florida and Cuba, since January of 1959. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines dictatorship as: "A form of government in which absolute power is concentrated in a dictator or a small clique."  It defines a Banana Republic as: A small dependent country, usually in the tropics; especially one run despotically."  Note: I define South Florida as the area from St. Petersburg in the north to Key West in the south, with Miami as its capital; the rest of Florida, with Tallahassee as its capital, remains a part of the democratic United States of America although even that was highly questionable during the eight years Batistiano-aligned Jeb Bush was Florida's governor and George W. Bush was America's president.
     Banana Republic dictatorships once dominated the Caribbean and Latin America but by the mid-1980s governments that actually could be defined as democracies came into vogue. Thus, in the fading days of 2011 the two that best conform to the aforementioned definitions of a Banana Republic dictatorship are South Florida and Cuba. Any halfway serious aficionado of U. S. - Cuban relations could easily provide another thousand examples on another hundred pages of why South Florida, with Miami as its capital, is a classic Banana Republic dictatorship. However, if I did that I would have to forgo my other three pastimes -- riding my ATV, reading David McCullough's historical biographies, and devouring anything pertaining to  baseball even in wintertime.  So, this aficionado will absolutely prove that Miami/South Florida is an epic Banana Republic dictatorship via the use of just three words: "Cubana Flight 455."
Cubana Flight 455 (actual photo)
     The fate of Cubana Flight 455, coupled with its historic prelude and ongoing aftermath, is actually (all alone) proof- positive that South Florida, with Miami as its capital, is a Banana Republic dictatorship by anyone's definition -- including mine, yours, and...Merriam-Webster's. Therefore, the next posting will be entitled "Cubana Flight 500".  Obfuscations, both the cowardly and self-serving ones -- such as confining Cubana Flight 500 to the dustbins of history -- do not serve the U. S. democracy well. Facts and transparency do.  



"The Country That Raped Me" (A True Story)

Note: This particular essay on Ana Margarita Martinez was first posted on Cubaninsider on November 2nd, 2011. Yet, for some reason, over a thousand people in one DAY dialed it up on February 20th, 2021!!! Soooo...here is a replay.
Ana Margarita Martinez
     Born in Havana, Ana Margarita Martinez flowered into a beautiful woman...IN MIAMI! 
 Ana Margarita Martinez had a beautiful wedding...in Miami.
Juan Pablo Roque
Juan Pablo Roque became Ana Margarita's new husband. 

Juan Pablo Roque
     Juan Pablo Roque, a former pilot in the Cuban Air Force and a dear friend of Fidel Castro, was married to Ana Margarita Martinez for seven years in Miami. But like a lot of men, doggone it, Juan cheated on Ana...not with other women but with phone calls back to Havana, sometimes to Fidel himself. You see, Juan was a spy for Cuba in the very heart of anti-Fidel country -- Miami!  His beautiful Cuban-exile wife, Ana, helped him fit into the  Miami community, tight as a Rawlings baseball glove fits one's hand.
     And Juan Pablo Roque was a real good spy. The above photo shows him after he had become friends with Ileana Ros-Lehtinenthe U. S. congresswoman from Miami who (for God's sake!) happens to be the most anti-Fidel person on the planet! Ileana, of course, had something in common with Juan and Ana -- they were all born in Havana but gained fame in Miami. (Carl Hiaasen, the famous Miami Herald columnist and best-selling author, swears not everyone in Miami was born in Havana so I'll take his word for it but Ana, Ileana, and Juan were). Juan's job in Miami, in addition to being married to the beautiful Ana, was to keep Cuba informed of the undertakings of Brothers to the Rescue, Jose Basulto's non-profit operation that flew airplanes over the waters between Florida and Cuba, presumably to rescue endangered would-be Cuban defectors bound for Florida.
Jose Basulto
     In the U. S. Jose Basulto and Brothers have been heralded as humanitarian wonders. In Cuba (and elsewhere) Basulto is considered a prime anti-Cuban terrorist who still brags about CIA-backed sabotage missions to Cuba even prior to the April-1961 Bay of Pigs attack. In any case, when the Clinton administration was set to normalize relations with Cuba, Basulto's planes not only flew into Cuban waters but over Havana itself, dropping leaflets, etc. and scaring citizens. Aware that he had no problem from U. S authorities, Basulto even took media people on some of his flights. Cuba begged the U. S. and then the U. N. to stop the flights, to no avail. (The U. S. allows Batistianos to make all its rules relating to Cuba and the U. S. has a veto in the U.N.). Brothers representatives used the Miami media to taunt Cuba, saying it had neither the courage nor the means to do anything about the overflights and, in any case, would be too afraid of U. S. retaliation if it dared to harm them. Hearing all that himself, and realizing Cuba did in fact plan to do something on its own after the U. S. and the U. N. ignored its pleas, Juan  flew back to Havana, leaving Ana in Miami.
      Two days after Juan arrived back in Havana, Fidel (as he admitted to Dan Rather and others) ordered the young Perez-Perez brothers to take two MIG jets into the skies to meet a trio of Brothers planes flying toward Cuba, with Basulto flying the lead plane. Two of the Brothers' planes were shot down, killing the four occupants. Basulto's plane returned safely to Miami. As Fidel has stated he knew it would, the provocation worked perfectly for the Batistianos and against Cuba because the downing of the Brothers' planes quickly altered President Clinton's plans 360 degrees -- from normalization to signing the Helms-Burton Bill, which to this day remains the most anti-Cuban and anti-America's-best-friends (because it punishes them too) portion of the infamous U. S. embargo against Cuba, which has been in effect since 1962. The U. S., using that bill, routinely fines international banks hundreds of millions of dollars for doing any business with Cuba, and the banks pay up because they must continue to deal with the world's economic giant. Norway is still livid at the U. S. for forcing a Cuban delegation, officially invited to Norway, to be evicted from its hotel in Oslo because the hotel was partially owned by U. S. interests. A heated editorial in the Oslo main newspaper strongly advised the U. S. to "keep your imperialist bullying out of our democratic country and try bullying a big boy like China with your genocide against little Cuba." Elected officials in Norway have been a lot harsher although some pro-American elected officials in Norway have wondered aloud (with a parliamentary statement) how in the world "a country as great and strong as the U. S. can allow a few exiles to harm their former country and the rest of the world at the same time." The Helms-Burton Bill was reportedly written by history's all-time most powerful anti-Fidel Cuban-exile Jorge Mas Canosa.  (For details on that subject you should check the prolific writings of brilliant experts such as Ann Louise Bardach, Peter Kornbluh, and Wayne S. Smith). But Helms-Burton is still in effect, supposedly with a provision that it can never be legislatively changed,  angering everybody (yes, as far away as Norway and beyond) except the most belligerent Cuban exiles as evidenced by last month's vote in the UN by all the world's nations. But, hey, let's forget politics and get back to our intriguing love story....
     The historic episode, the shoot-down of the two Brothers' planes, instantly made a celebrity out of Ana Margarita Martinez in Miami and Juan Pablo Roque in Havana. An AP reporter stationed in Havana asked Juan what he missed most about Miami. He had a quick two-word reply, and it wasn't Ana Margarita! Juan replied (true story), "MY JEEP!!" As befits a cheater like Juan, the scorned little woman got to keep his prized jeep and the photo above shows Ana with that very jeep, the love of Juan's life. But, like any jilted woman born in Havana and raised in Miami, Ana didn't stop there...no way! She wrote one book about her celebrity and is now writing a second one. She, of course, has an agent who is also busy shopping her story around Hollywood. But the main payoff for Ana involves one of the most undemocratic nuances of the U. S. embargo against Cuba: The inclusion of Cuba on the short U. S. list of Nations That Sponsor Terrorism. The U. S. government, the majority of Americans, and the majority of people around the world don't think Cuba, the well-known victim of countless terror attacks emanating from Florida, should be on any list as a sponsor of terror. Juan as well as the famed Cuban Five (imprisoned for decades in the U. S.) were in Miami to try to prevent such terror attacks as the downing of the child-laded Cuban airliner in Oct.-1976 that killed all 73 aboard) and, in fact, they provided their information first-off to the U. S. FBI.  However, a small cabal of the most vehement anti-Fidel Cuban exiles makes all the U. S. rules relating to Cuba, so that's why (yes, it's the only reason) Cuba is on America's list of the four nations that sponsor terror. (The Batistiano-aligned George W. Bush administration removed real terrorist sponsors like (the late) Gaddafi's Libya while it greatly strengthened the penalties against Cuba simply to appease Miami). Having Cuba on the Terror list means anyone can sue Cuba for absolutely anything in U. S. courtrooms, including those in Miami, and Cuba is never even represented in such lucrative farces. The families of the downed Brothers' pilots received hundreds of millions of dollars in that fashion. The families of Cubans killed in the Bay of Pigs attack on Cuba have similarly received millions of dollars.  (The families of the 34 Japanese killed in the attack on Pearl Harbor have not been allowed to sue in U. S. courts, of course, because no ousted Japanese dictatorship has ever reconstituted itself on U. S. soil). The Cuban government doesn't pay the money but the U. S. government, thanks to things like the Helms-Burton Bill, has to support the verdicts so it uses frozen Cuban assets, such as the money Cuba is due for A T & T-taxed phone calls between the two nations, the same type money that Canada and Mexico routinely receive.  And the U. S. government forces banks that have Cuban money to turn it over to those anti-Cuban verdicts. (Even international banks comply because those banks must continue dealing with the U. S., the world's dominant financial power). Thus, both Jose Basulto and Ana Margarita Martinez knew a good thing -- a Miami courtroom -- when they saw it. After the families sued and actually received countless millions, Basulto sued and, guess what? He won big! (Uh, remember, Basulto was well represented but Cuba was not represented at all).  So, of course, Ana sued, accusing Cuba (not Juan) of rape. She, of course, won -- $7.175 million in personal damages and $20 million in punitive damages. If you add that up, Ana won $27.175 million. I assume it's the first time in history that a country has been successfully sued for raping a woman but perhaps it has happened in some other similar Banana Republic courtrooms that I am not aware of.  Anyway, because so many plaintiffs successfully preceded Ana, Cuba's frozen assets have been depleted several times but with such things as telephone calls to and from Cuba those assets are still accruing, as every lawyer and every Cuban American in Miami well knows. So Ana's $27.175 million is getting there; she has even been awarded -- uh, this is true -- three Cuban airplanes that somehow ended up in South Florida. And, uh, Ana's lawyers in 2011 have notified all of the new U. S. airlines the Obama administration now allows to fly to and from Cuba that they must pay a percentage of each ticket to...Ana! Now, before I put this U. S. - Cuban reality story to bed, glance, if you will, back up at the above photo. It shows Ana Margarita Martinez with Juan Pablo Roque's fondest memory of Miami -- and it's his beloved jeep, not Ana!  That jeep continues to make me feel sorry for Juan.
     And glance once again at the beautiful and happy Ana. Any woman who has had a divorce settlement in which her husband was never represented and his country was never represented would smile like that, don't you think?  "Only in America," you say. Yes true, but don't forget this caveat. "Only in America since January of 1959 when the ousted Batista dictatorship in Cuba was reconstituted in Miami." Prior to that, on U. S. democratic soil, both sides were represented in court proceedings. But, let's don't dwell on Banana Republic politics...because I can't get over what a beautiful smile Ana has. What was Juan thinking when he said the thing he missed most in Miami was his Jeep? His Jeep! Are you telling me he didn't miss ...that smile?
     And one more thing {pardon my loquaciousness, but U. S. - Cuban stories are hard to put down, especially when they are true}. Remember I said that Ana's agents right now are negotiating a lucrative movie contract about her life? I'll let you decide who you think should play Juan, Ileana, Fidel, and Jose but I've made up my mind that the only Hollywood actress beautiful enough, Latino enough, talented enough, and audacious enough to play Ana is...we need a drumroll here...Michelle Rodriguez! So let's gets it done: Michelle playing Ana!!
Michelle Rodriguez starring in "The Country That Raped Me!"


A Pictorial Flashback That Flashes Forward

  The above photo shows a 14-year-old Fidel Castro in Cuba in 1940. He was already a star athlete (baseball, basketball, and track) and an academic whiz who displayed a photographic memory. At fourteen, Fidel's lifelong obsession with girls/women was already in vogue. This was also the period when Fidel wrote the famous letter to President Roosevelt asking for a "green" ten dollar bill; he received a return generic note and signature from Roosevelt but no ten dollar bill, which he only wanted as a curiosity because his father, Angel, was a wealthy Cuban who owned 36,000 acres, a sugar mill, a cattle ranch, etc.
     In 1948 at age twenty-two Fidel married Mirta Diaz-Balart. They honeymooned in Miami and New York but Fidel, who never (contrary to his critics) cared for money or luxuries, had to borrow money in order to return to Cuba. Fidel and Mirta quickly had a bubbly little boy, Fidelito. They divorced after Fidel, while imprisoned in 1953-55 after his failed July 26-1953 attack on Dictator Batista's Moncada garrison, learned that both Mirta and her lawyer brother Rafael were on Batista's payroll, and by then Mirta also had knowledge of torrid love letters Fidel wrote in prison to his fellow revolutionary Natalia (Naty) Revuelta. Fidelito is one of eight (yes) Fidel sons and all eight remain very loyal to him as, amazingly, does Mirta. She is a frequent and welcomed visitor to the island. Fidilito is now a semi-retired nuclear scientist who once led the top scientific institute in Cuba till he was famously fired by Fidel, who succinctly declared, "He was fired for incompetence. This is not a monarchy."
     The above photo shows Fidel and Mirta on their honeymoon. She represents an enigma (one of the many) in the fascinating and unending Cuban-U. S. conundrum. Mirta to this day loves Fidel; her brother Rafael and his sons Lincoln and Mario (her nephews) were/are among the richest, strongest, and most visceral anti-Castro zealots in Miami-Washington from January of 1953 till the present day.
     Mirta's brother Rafael Diaz-Balart, shown above armed with a pistol at a 1958 political rally, was a top Minister in the Batista dictatorship. The infamous Masferrer brothers, known to history and to Batista dissidents as extremely cruel enforcers, are on each side of Rafael. They all fled the victorious Cuban Revolution to set up shop in South Florida. Rafael Diaz-Balart created the first anti-Castro paramilitary unit in Florida and called it The White Rose after Jose Marti's most famous poem. The Masferrer brothers, who led a fierce 3,000-man army of enforcers in Batista's Cuba, joined the long list of Cuban exiles with their own anti-Castro paramilitary unit operating out of South Florida. Rolando Masferrer, the most infamous of the brothers, died in a car-bombing in Miami in 1975; Rafael died of old age with two of his sons (Lincoln and Mario) in the U. S. Congress from Miami and with one of his most famous obituaries listing him as a "self-made billionaire" (with a B) but, like the Cuban exile billionaire (with a B) Jorge Mas Canosa and the unfortunate Rolando Masferrer,  he never realized his dream of returning to Cuba as its leader.
     The above photo shows Naty Revuelta with her daughter Alina, Fidel's daughter. In 1950s Cuba Naty was considered Havana's most beautiful socialite, married to a very wealthy doctor. But she hated the plight of the massively maligned majority peasants in Batista's Cuba. So, she clandestinely aided and financed the young rebel Fidel Castro, including her support of the ill-fated, Fidel-led attack on Batista's Moncada garrison on July 26, 1953. Fidel's subsequent imprisonment would surely have led to his execution except for the fact that the media, including the New York Times' famed reporter Herbert L. Mathews, closely monitored the treatment of Fidel, who by then was the hope and the hero of the majority peasants. When Fidel was released from prison in 1955, everyone knew death squads (out of the view of the media) would dog his every trail, which they did. But Naty and other urban underground women bravely provided Fidel safe houses till he could escape the island, and one of the safe houses owned by Naty was where Fidel impregnated her, resulting in their daughter Alina.  
     As far as anyone knows, Fidel has never said an unkind word about Alina privately or publicly. But, shortly after the above photo was taken, she defected. From her base in Miami, Alina is now a very, very rich woman. Her wealth is based on her anti-Castro books, her anti-Castro talk show on Miami radio, and her ubiquitous and unending anti-Castro speeches on university campuses from coast to coast (her minimum fee is $7,000 plus expenses). Her theme, never challenged at any of her forums,  casts her as a freedom-loving Cuban and, of course, American patriot. Soon a Hollywood movie of her life, financed by anti-Castro zealots, will expand on that theme. However, a visitor to Cuba who asks about Alina will, in unanimity as far as I could tell, get this randomly solicited perspective: "Alina doesn't have a political or patriotic bone in her body, because she only knows one thing -- greed. Does she hate her father because of his politics? No. She hates him because he would never shower her or her friends with luxuries, the same principle he applied to his other nine children, all of whom are loyal to him."  The least known of Fidel's eight sons, Redondo,  chooses to live far out of the spotlight in rural Cuba. Fidel's two daughters are the well-known Alina and the little known Francisca, better known by her nickname Panchita.  Panchita lives quietly in Miami with her husband and with Fidel's blessing. Alina in the overly compliant and often not-too-accurate media is sometimes billed as "Fidel's only daughter." Panchita is also his daughter. Alina, perhaps, could more accurately be billed as "the only one of Fidel's ten children to turn against her father, some say because of her abiding interest in freedom and others say because of her abiding interest in money." In any case, Alina joined a lucrative and huge cottage industry in the U. S.  Since 1959, being "anti-Castro" in the U. S. has created at least two billionaires and innumerable millionaires, and the beat goes on. Even the now 85-year-old Fidel wonders "how much money will they make AFTER I really die?" 
     Christina Kirchner, the President of Argentina, visited Fidel Castro to personally check on his recovery from his near-fatal (and still very serious) illness. When she returned to Buenos Aires, President Kirchner told several news conferences that he was "far better" physically and mentally than she anticipated. "As usual," she said, "he spent most of our time joking with me about topical items that interested him and me also. He held up a Miami paper that had indicated he was dead and a Washington paper that discussed the thousands of people in the U. S. who had become obscenely rich just from telling the U. S. government they were anti-Castro. Well, after we had pored over those newspapers he straightened up, laughed, and said, 'How much money will they make after I really die?' That typical gesture from him told me he is not quite ready to die, maybe because he loves to read those American newspapers so much."  
    The above photo shows the green-eyed Naty Revuelta in the 1950s when she was considered the most beautiful socialite in Havana, a time when she was married to a very wealthy doctor but also madly in love with and massively supportive of the budding young anti-Batista rebel Fidel Castro. "I loved him as a man but mostly I loved his love for the poor Cuban peasants," she later told the notable U. S. journalist Linda Robinson. The recipient of the torrid Fidel love letters from prison, Naty later gave birth to Fidel's daughter Alina, a pregnancy that ended her marriage to Dr. Fernandez. Alina, after her defection from Cuba, began her anti-Castro path to riches by selling those love letters to a Spanish newspaper/magazine chain, much to Naty's sorrow. Thus, exact copies of those letters appear in books about Cuba, including my biography of Celia Sanchez (The Legend of Cuba's Revolutionary Heart) and the astute Julia Sweig's seminal book Inside the Cuban Revolution
        Today Naty Revuelta still loves Fidel Castro passionately. The above photo shows Naty in Havana contemplating her answer to a question from Linda Robinson for a major article in US News & World Report. Linda's question: "After all these decades is there anything critical or bad you want to say about Fidel?"  Naty's answer: "Not even with the petal of a rose."  (Naty's reference to "the petal of a rose" phrase was borrowed from a famous Jose Marti poem).  Fidel had many out-of-wedlock affairs -- one, briefly, with the famous Ava Gardner and others with not-so-famous beauties such as Marita Lorenz. But the most fascinating, by far, was the one with Naty Revuelta because it is that prism that provides the deepest insight into the historic figure known as Fidel Castro.  Naty's longevity and Fidel's longevity add layers of dimensions to the Castro legend. To this day -- through many decades of hell, hurricanes, wars, lies, truths, etc. --  Naty still loves the Cuban peasants dearly and she still loves Fidel dearly. And to this day, her daughter with Fidel, Alina, hates him with a passion. Is that passion based on Alina's love for American-like freedom or her love for American-like money? You choose the answer because it will also be a part of history, albeit a small part. Wendy Gimbel's 1998 book Havana Dreams, published by Alfred A. Knopf, was essentially a biography of the publicity-shy Naty. After thinking about Naty, Latin American writer Alma Guillermoprieto called Cuba an "Enchanted Island" and "an anachronism adrift in the Caribbean." Incomparably beautiful, anachronistic, enchanted, revolutionary...the 1950s Natalia Revuelta personified Cuba then and now. She told Linda Robinson in the U. S. News & World Report article that she uncompromisingly loved and loves Fidel but she let go of him during her Alina pregnancy because she was convinced he would "be killed." After all these decades, does Naty still believe in the revolution as much as she did when she largely funded his attack on Batista's Moncada garrison back in July of 1953. "Yes...yes."   
     As a young man Fidel Castro had the misfortune to be imprisoned twice -- once in his native Cuba in Dictator Batista's aforementioned Isle of Pines prison and later in a foreign prison. The above photo shows a bored but not defeated Fidel reclining in a Mexican prison after he was arrested in that country for amassing weapons he intended to take back to Cuba to battle the Batista dictatorship. But after twenty-two days the Mexicans relented and Fidel resumed his tasks -- which including amassing more weapons, talking the newly graduated Argentine doctor Che Guevara into joining him on his return to Cuba, and purchasing an old yacht named Granma  (after someone"s grandmother) that he hoped would take him and 81 other rebels on the perilous journey from Mexico to Cuba. As it turned out, the perils exceeded Fidel's fears. The old yacht began to leak as it neared Cuba and a Batista surveillance helicopter spotted the over-loaded, sinking Granma and radioed a Batista army in time for it to set up an ambush on the shoreline. All but seventeen of the 82 rebels were killed on or near the shoreline but among the survivors were Fidel Castro, Raul Castro, Che Guevara, and Camilo Cienfuegos. The female guerrilla fighter primarily responsible for saving the lives of those seventeen rebels was a petite doctor's daughter named Celia Sanchez. On that beach, Playa de los Colorado near the town of Las Coloradas, Fidel Castro experienced the epiphany of his life -- the beginning of his lifelong worship of one person, Celia Sanchez.
     The red line above illustrates the journey that confronted the creaky, leaky, over-loaded Granma yacht, which in its prime was intended to hold twelve people. Fidel had 82 men on it, plus oil cans (3,200 gallons of fuel were needed), weapons, food, water, etc. Fidel's goal was to reach a beach that fronted the town of Niguero in Oriente province. In History of Cuba here is how Jerry A. Sierra described what happened: "Waiting for them on December 2 (1956) was Celia Sanchez, one of the founders of the July 26th Movement, with an assortment of trucks, jeeps, food, weapons, and about 50 rebels. Leaking and running days behind schedule, the Granma was spotted by a helicopter, and the rebels were forced to beach the ship...about fifteen miles south of the designated spot. The new landing was more of a swamp than a beach, and the rebels were unable to unload most of their weapons due to the muddy waters, the thick undergrowth plant life and small crabs. The rebels were attacked at Alegria de Pio...most were killed in battle or as they attempted to surrender."
      Thus, long before Fidel Castro ever set foot in the Sierra Maestra as a fighter, and long before Che Guevara ever set foot on the island of Cuba, Celia Sanchez had a daunting guerrilla fighting unit against anything the Batista dictatorship was sending after her. Despite the Granma being forced to beach fifteen miles south of the planned rendezvous with Celia, she miraculously raced at the head of her fifty rebels to the swampy Playa de los Colorados area and managed to save seventeen rebels including the twelve that were healthy enough to join her guerrilla unit. Those twelve were: Fidel Castro, Raul Castro, Che Guevara, Camilo Cienfuegos, Juan Almeida, Efigenio Amejeiras, Ciro Redondo, Julio Diaz, Luis Crespo, Calixto Garcia, Universo Sanchez, and Jose Ponce. Thus, before the Castro brothers and Che Guevara emerged as three of the best known names in the annals of history, Celia Sanchez had to save their lives in a Cuban swamp known as Playa de los Colorados.
       Just as Celia Sanchez was the definitive figure in Cuba's Revolutionary War and later in Revolutionary Cuba, Celia Sanchez rendered the definitive quotation related to the historic landing of the Granma, a quotation you'll find in countless books including Carlos Franqui's The Twelve, Jerry A. Sierra's History of Cuba, Georgie Anne Geyer's seminal Guerrilla Prince biography of Fidel Castro, Rich Haney's Celia Sanchez biography The Legend of Cuba's Revolutionary Heart, etc. Here now is that historic Celia Sanchez quotation: "Just consider where the landing took place. If they had debarked right on the beach instead of at the swamp, they would have found trucks, jeeps, gasoline. It would have been a walkaway."
        Many entities -- the Batistianos, the U. S. government, some historians, some journalists, etc. -- have chosen, either self-servingly or ignorantly, to minimize Celia Sanchez's leading role in both Cuba's Revolutionary War and Revolutionary Cuba. But the man most identified with both of those historic events, Fidel Castro, has never failed to shine the largest revolutionary spotlight where it belongs -- over the petite figure of the doctor's daughter, Celia Sanchez.  He considers her the greatest female guerrilla fighter and the most outstanding revolutionary leader, male or female, of all time. There are many who agree, including myself. And including Linda Pressly, probably the world's best news and documentary producer.
     Linda Pressly is the senior news/documentary producer for England's BBC. I consider her and Mariana van Zeller, who works for the Current network on Vanguard documentaries, the two best documentary producers...and my passion is watching documentaries on the Military, History, Discovery, Current, and BBC networks. Lo 'n behold, I got an e-mail two weeks ago from my Celia Sanchez publisher, Algora of NYC, and they forwarded to me an e-mail they had received from Linda Pressly, who asked them how she could get in touch with me because she was preparing a BBC documentary on Celia Sanchez. Wow! I immediately recognized Linda Pressly's name because, to my mind, she's produced the world's best documentaries. In the last couple weeks I've exchanged many Celia Sanchez-related e-mails with Ms. Pressly and she calls me (London to Virginia) for long Celia Sanchez-related phone calls.  
      It's not surprising that the brilliant Linda Pressly, as she ponders the imminent transition to a post-Castro Cuba, is currently preparing a major documentary on Celia Sanchez. Nor is it surprising that most Americans would be surprised, even though Celia Sanchez was the most important figure in the Cuban Revolution and Revolutionary Cuba, both of which say so much more about the United States than they say about Cuba. After all, the United States is the strongest and richest nation in history. And, after all, Cuba is only a small island. So, why is it politically incorrect and even unhealthy (especially if you are allergic to car bombs) to give Celia Sanchez her proper due in the United States. (In 1976 in Miami the top Cuban exile newscaster, Emilio Millan, was typically car-bombed after he spoke kind words about "notable child-loving Cuban heroines Celia Sanchez and Vilma Espin still on the island" and then lamented Cuban exile terrorist acts such as the bombing of the child-filled Cuban civilian airplane; the car-bomb message was loud and clear and since then the media has been careful, very careful, about what it says about any Cuban exile in Miami or Union City).  The Batista/Mafia dictatorship deposed by the Cuban Revolution has simply been, since 1959, reconstituted on U. S. soil, mostly clustered in the historic Mafia havens of Miami and Union City (NJ). Those quite unique, reconstituted dictatorships, via sheer political and financial power, have mostly dictated what Americans know about the Cuban Revolution and Revolutionary Cuba. Also, Latin (especially Cuban) machismo prefers to project the notion that macho men like Fidel Castro, Che Guevara, and Camilo Cienfuegos kicked them off the island, certainly not a petite doctor's daughter. Also, the doctor's daughter had an angelic reputation (except when it came to the Batistianos) as a fervent protector of peasant children. It would be much, much easier to vilify those macho rebel men than it would be to cast dispersions on the petite doctor's daughter. (And casting aspersions in the other direction is the prime motive of the Batistianos). Thus, in a changed and altered democracy (changed and altered by the Cuban Revolution), Americans are not supposed to know about what a now silent Emilio Millan tried to tell them. That's why Americans should look forward to the upcoming BBC documentary on Celia Sanchez. Americans don't necessarily need to devour Cuban history (anymore than, say, Haitian history) but they do need to know what created and sustained the Cuban Revolution and Revolutionary Cuba, both of which have so mightily affected the United States for all these decades. And to know those things, as Linda Pressly so markedly comprehends, Americans and citizens of the world need to know Celia Sanchez. Why, for example, do everyday Cubans (as depicted in the photo below), with no particular prodding from the government, still sit around outside Celia Sanchez's childhood home and discuss why she still means so much to them? As post-Castro Cuba looms on the horizon, Americans need to know what everyday Cubans on the island are thinking and not just rely on what visceral, self-serving Cuban exiles tell them. There are two sides to the Cuban story and the side actually on the island should be viewed by Americans, and that's probably why, for going on six decades now, the one place on the planet Americans have not been able to freely visit is...nearby Cuba! The Cuban exiles who dictate America's perception of Cuba say, "Uh, Celia Sanchez, who's that?" Cubans on the island know her; international experts like Linda Pressly know her. Americans also have a right to know her, regardless of what the visceral minority Cuban exiles self-servingly dictate.  (To be continued...I hope, just as Emilio Millan hoped).
     Cubans in front of the Celia Sanchez childhood home discussing what she meant/means to them; one thing she means to them, I think, is that the Miami/Union City Batistianos will not dictate post-Castro Cuba to them. The doctor's daughter who died of cancer at age 59 on January 11, 1980, remains a force on the island and an obstacle to those off the island who have unsavory designs on her mi Cubita bella ("my beautiful little Cuba").
Mrs. Fidel Castro (Dalia Soto del Valle)
     As per Celia Sanchez's final request to Fidel, he married Dalia in 1980 shortly after Celia died of cancer. (Cuban insiders such as Marta Rojas and Cuban experts such as Ann Louise Bardach all agree with that assessment and the date of the marriage). Dalia was a beautiful, red-headed teacher in the south-central colonial city of Trinidad when Celia became her dear friend, after which Fidel noticed her stunning beauty. Celia would be very proud of Dalia, who has been Fidel's fiercely loyal wife for over two decades. She is the doting mother of five sons by Fidel and all their names start with "A" -- Angel, Antonio, Alejandro, Alexis, and Alexander. Dalia and all five of her sons, especially Alexander, have been exceedingly protective of Fidel since his near-fatal illness in July, 2006.
  Into the year 2016 Dalia still takes good care of the 88-year-old Fidel.


Guantanamo Bay: An American Shame

Attorney General Eric Holder
On Tuesday, Sept. 20-2011, U. S. Attorney General Eric Holder was in London trying to assure America's best international friend that the Obama administration is doing everything it can to close the U. S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, before the 2012 presidential election. Holder's exact words to the English Parliament were: "The Obama administration is focused on closing the facility as quickly as possible, recognizing that we will face substantial pressure." It is that "substantial pressure" that so direly embarrasses England and the rest of America's friends around the world. Why? Because that pressure comes from a tiny cabal of extremely rich and politically powerful Cuban exiles and their sycophants, making a continuing mockery of the world's greatest democracy.
      Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, shown above with George W. Bush and Jeb Bush, epitomizes what Attorney General Holder referenced as the "substantial pressure" holding back the shut down of Gitmo or anything else that might hint of decency and intelligence within the parameters of U. S. relations with Cuba. The Havana-born Ros-Lehtinen has been in the U. S. House of Representatives from Miami since 1989, when Jeb Bush was her Campaign Manager. Her longevity in the U. S. Congress now has her the Chairperson of the Foreign Relations Committee, adding to her potency in targeting Cuba. This is the same Ros-Lehtinen that the very brave Miami Herald columnist Jim DeFede scathingly denounced for her unbridled and unending support and protection of the most infamous Cuban-exile terrorists, including Luis Posada Carriles. Like Guantanamo, Mr. Posada's safe haven in Miami still represents a majestic embarrassment for England and the rest of America's international friends.
     During the George W. Bush-Dick Cheney administration, Amnesty International called the U. S. prison at Guantanamo Bay "the Gulag of our time." Photos such as the one above mightily embarrassed all of America's friends around the world and, indeed, even conservative Republicans like myself. When news of the Gulag-type conditions at Gitmo went viral, the Bush-Cheney reaction was "rendition," which meant -- at further great expense to the U. S. taxpayers and embarrassment to America's friends -- prisoners at Gitmo were flown to U. S. - friendly dictatorships, such as the recently deposed one in Egypt, for "debriefings." But to this day, having the "Gulag of our time" on foreign soil in Cuba seems more pleasant and more palatable than having such nasty things on U. S. soil.
     Guantanamo Bay is on the very southeastern tip of the alligator-shaped island of Cuba. It is a luscious and beautiful port that any nation in the world would love to own, including Cuba. Imperialist powers such as Spain loved it dearly for centuries. Imperialist-minded U. S. leaders coveted Guantanamo Bay for many decades, and often tried to capture it or buy it or lease it. By the end of the 19th Century Spain was so weak and so over-stretched that the U. S. realized that Cuba was ripe for the taking, if only the U. S. could come up with a pretext to declare war. We can't just up and declare war on Spain, can we? The American people, God bless 'em, would need a pretext!
     The USS Maine, a huge American warship with 355 sailors and marines on board, headed for Cuba. The photo above shows the USS Maine entering Havana Harbor as it nears the famous Morro Castle fortress. 
     The USS Maine exploded while it was moored in Havana Harbor on the night of Feb. 15-1898. As depicted in the above photo taken just before it sank completely, the mighty ship was blown to bits. Of the crew of 355, 261 were killed and out of the 94 survivors all but 16 were severely injured.  The terrible tragedy, however, was pleasing to some because Spain could be blamed for the explosion and that would provide a pretext for the United States to declare war on a very weak and over-stretched nation, an easy and quick war that would give the United States sole control of Cuba. History, including U. S. - ordered reviews, has concluded that Spain wouldn't have dreamed of sabotaging an American ship.  But armed with the battle cry "Remember the Maine" the U. S. made quick work of Spain in 1898's Spanish-American War. When Spain begged for peace, no Cuban was allowed at the signing ceremony. Thus, from 1898 till 1959 the dominant foreign power in Cuba was the United States of America. One of the first things the U. S. did was to steal "in perpetuity" Guantanamo Bay, forcing the island's puppet leaders to give up the lush port in exchange for about $2000 annually, a fee the U. S. subsequently increased to about $4,000. Although booted off the island by the Cuban Revolution on Jan. 1-1959, the U. S. has continued to send the yearly U. S. treasury checks to Cuba. However, since 1959 the checks have not been cashed and, to this day, they just keep piling up in the lower-right-hand drawer of Fidel Castro's desk.
     The U. S. Guantanamo Naval Base consists of 45 square miles (120 km) of very valuable land and water. It remains the oldest (since 1903) U. S. Navy Base and the only one located in a country with which the United States does not have diplomatic relations. In addition to the prison, the base features luxurious buildings and quarters as well as McDonald's, Subway, KFC, A & W, etc., restaurants. The U. S. Navy owns all the franchises on the base, much like the Cuban military owns most of the Cuban businesses (although recently Cuba -- uh, not the U. S. Navy -- has provided loans and material to encourage private ownership of farms and businesses, including barber shops and paladars (expansions of already existing home restaurants). 
      Josefina Vidal, Cuba's Minister of North American Affairs, says: "All sovereign countries in the world, I believe, consider the United States' control of Guantanamo Bay to be illegal under all existing international laws. Instead of pretending they have a legitimate lease by offering us pennies per year, money which a now sovereign Cuba does not accept, why won't the U. S. let international courts, or majority opinion in the U. S. or worldwide, have a say in the theft. For such a precious port, how much would a fair international court determine that the U. S. owes Cuba since 1903 for the theft of its land and waterway? And how long would it take a fair international court to demand that the U. S. return Guantanamo Bay to its rightful owner? Or, if such a port were to be leased, how much would a fair international court say the rent should be...a few pennies or dollars a year? The U. S. may be the world's greatest democracy but its Cuban policy reveals it to be a democracy that is largely controlled by the minute minority of Cuban exiles known as the Miami Mafia. If that is not so try to convince any of the Caribbean or Latin American nations that it is not so. In fact, try to convince any sovereign nation anywhere in the world. In my region, the Caribbean, every nation considers the U. S. a fraud and a big bully for its conduct against Cuba, such as the theft of Guantanamo Bay. And if that is not so, maybe some of the international journalists here today will endeavor to take a survey. If you are the strongest nation in the world by far, you can be a big bully. But as the world's greatest democracy, is that the image the United States should be sending around the world -- a big, corrupt bully?"
The U. S. Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba

cubaninsider: "The Country That Raped Me" (A True Story)

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