Lies and Distortions Hurt Cuba AND Democracy!

The Self-Serving Media Exacerbates the Problem
Updated: Friday, April 19th
    DeWayne Wickham is not only America's most outstanding nationally syndicated journalist, he's a unique and rare bird for another reason too: He has enough guts to tell the truth about Cuba. Wickham is the top columnist for America's top newspaper, USA Today. His column is also syndicated to 135 other newspapers across the country. Wickham's columns are always immersed in an amalgam of facts.
      Wickham's Tuesday, April 16th column that originated in USA Today was entitled: "Beyonce, Jay-z Get Unfair Rap Over Cuba." Typically, Wickham backed up that headline with his usual courage and insight, writing these brave and undeniable words: "Here's the ugly truth about the flap over the recent trip to Cuba by Beyonce and Jay-Z. The whining of three Cuban-American lawmakers who object to the couple's visit to Havana has little to do with keeping American dollars out of the coffers of Cuba's government and a lot to do with shameless politics." That was Wickham's first paragraph on April 16th, one that few, if any, other well-known journalists in America have the courage or the intelligence to write although no sane, unbiased person in America could possibly disagree with his omniscient Cuban assessments. America's Cuban policy, dictated to by the likes of the "three Cuban-American lawmakers" that Wickham referenced, deserves Wickham's "ugly truth" and "shameless politics" phrases that highlighted that first paragraph.
    DeWayne Wickham's April 16th column continued with these astute observations: "This travel restriction, ostensibly, is meant to keep Americans from spending dollars in Cuba, something the Cuban-American lawmakers contend would undermine this nation's decades-old economic embargo of Cuba. But as Rubio, Ros-Lehtinen and Diaz Balart know, the embargo has no chance of squeezing the economic life out of Cuba because it is ignored by the rest of the world -- and is undercut by many of their Cuban-American constituents." In the next few paragraphs Wickham pointed out that the extreme anti-Castro Cuban-exile radicals are responsible for a plethora of U. S. laws that harm everyone on the planet -- EXCEPT THEM. And then he wrote: "Cuba is the foil they use to boost their political standing in this country. And to justify the special immigration status that Cuban refugees enjoy, they need the rest of us to see Cuba through their eyes." Wickham then detailed special U. S. laws designed to empower and enrich Cuban radicals that encourage all manners of Cuban-exile immigration, explaining that "this unfettered immigration is a boon for Cuban-American politicians who attacked Beyonce and Jay-Z." And Wickham summarized his April 16th column with this final sentence: "Their warped view of Cuba can only be perpetuated if they succeed in keeping the popular music icons -- and the rest of us -- from seeing Cuba for ourselves."
        Wednesday {April 17h} Savannah Guthrie, co-host of NBC's Today show, had a sit-down interview with President Barack Obama. Of course -- considering not much else is happening in the way of wars, conflicts, terrorism, immigration debates, etc. -- the President was asked about last week's visit to Cuba by Beyonce and Jay-Z, who happen to be close friends of the President. He replied: "I wasn't familiar that they were taking the trip. My understanding is I think they went through a group that organizes these educational trips down to Cuba. You know, this is not something the White House was involved with. We've got better things to do." That statement had to be dragged out of our President! WOW!
      Beyonce and Jay-Z have the wealth and wherewithal to go anywhere in the world. To celebrate their 5th wedding anniversary they chose Cuba. The only people who complained, of course, were the radical anti-Castro Cuban exiles who staunchly maintain a right to create and enforce whatever anti-Cuban laws they choose, such as travel to Cuba. They also try mightily to control the Cuban discourse.
     Beyonce has traveled around the world, including China {above}. She feels she should have the freedom to travel to Cuba, if she chooses. The U. S. government, hostage to anti-Cuban laws fueled by the most radical Cuban exiles, restricts the travel of Americans to one country -- the safe, enchanting, nearby island of Cuba! Intelligent, non-cowered Americans like journalist DeWayne Wickham understand the reasoning is two-fold: (1) Anything that hurts Cuba and helps them economically or politically; and (2) If Americans were freely permitted to travel to Cuba they just might form an opinion of the Cuba-U. S. quagmire that differs from theirs. Americans who do not agree with Wickham's column in USA Today Tuesday are Americans not very interested in freedom or democracy. "Their warped view of Cuba," Wickham wrote, "can only be perpetrated if they succeed in keeping...us...from seeing Cuba for ourselves." 
        In other words, DeWayne Wickham is talking about the U. S. democracy that existed prior to 1959, or prior to the overthrow of a U. S. - backed dictatorship that then reconstituted itself on U. S. soil in Miami and, beginning in the 1980s, advanced to Washington via Bush-backed {also Bush-whacked} Miami elections. In April of 2013 Beyonce and Jay-Z made a loud statement for democracy that, in a saner world, should have quietly gone unnoticed while the President, Congress, and the American people concerned themselves with more pressing issues. So, of course, should even radical exiles! 
       Meyer Lansky and the Mafia, of course, were the co-dictators along with Fulgencio Batista in Cuba from 1952 till the Cuban Revolution, with ample reason, booted them to Miami on January 1, 1959.
      Meyer Lansky died of lung cancer in Miami at age 81 on January 15, 1983. The FBI estimated his worth to be in excess of $300 million, much of it looted from the island of Cuba, but the IRS never made a serious attempt to tax it. Despite fierce determination and unlimited bushels of money, plus the backing of by far the richest and strongest nation in the history of the world, the Batistianos based in Miami have, after 54 tumultuous years, been unable to re-capture Cuba. However, if you follow recent trends you might form the opinion that the radical Cuban exiles may have more success in taking over Washington than they have had in trying to take over Havana. So, keep a close eye on the 2016 presidential campaign that, in fact, is currently underway, for all intents and purposes, by the Miami politicians.
     Senator Marco Rubio, the young Bush-ordained Cuban-American from Miami, is being shoved down the throats of Americans as the Republican presidential candidate in 2016. On April 14th, for example, Rubio was the superstar guest ON ALL FIVE OF AMERICA'S PRESTIGIOUS NETWORK SUNDAY MORNING TALK SHOWS PLUS BOTH OF AMERICA'S SPANISH NETWORKS, TELEMUNDO AND UNIVISION, establishing a record. He is such a celebrity that no one would dare ask him tough questions -- such as a plethora of political controversies in Miami that include questionable real estate transactions, alleged credit card misuse, massive distortions about his background (he claimed his parents escaped the Castro tyranny in Cuba for freedom in Miami till the Washington Post and the St. Petersburg Times pointed out that, uh, his parents escaped the Batista tyranny in Cuba for the safe havens of Miami), etc. But, hey! What do facts or truth matter when it comes to politics in Miami...or Washington? And, of course, the television networks depend so much on self-aggrandizing talking-head celebrities and pundits, which keep them from the expense of actually going out and covering stories, that they are not about to do anything but coddle celebrities like Rubio whom they need as in-house talking heads, all of whom love the free publicity. 
       Senator Rubio had the benefit of all seven of America's Sunday morning networks to vent his outrage over last week's visit to Cuba by Beyonce and Jay-Z. Senator Rubio, of course, doesn't pass up chances to blast Cuba. So he leaped at the opportunity to also trash Jay-Z, telling ABC News
            "I think Jay-Z needs to get informed. One of his heroes is Che Guevara. Che Guevara was a racist. Che Guevara was a racist that wrote extensively about the superiority of white Europeans over people of African descent, so he should inform himself on the guy that he's propping up. Secondly, I think if Jay-Z was truly interested in the true state of affairs in Cuba, he would have met people that are being oppressed, including a hip-hop artist in Cuba who is right now being oppressed and persecuted and is undergoing a hunger strike because of his political lyrics. And I think he missed an opportunity. But that's Jay-Z's issue. The bigger point is the travel policies. The travel policies need to be tightened because they are being abused. These are tourist trips, and they are -- what they're doing is providing hard currency and funding so that a tyrannical regime can maintain its grip on the island of Cuba, and I think that's wrong."
       Sen. Rubio and all the other Miami politicos who have made the trek to Washington assume they can paint any portrait of Cuba and never be questioned by an accommodating media nor by a thoroughly programmed American citizenry. Some people also think that is wrong. In fact, Senator, Jay-Z spent all his time in Cuba mingling with everyday Cubans, something you have never done. Yes, you have been to Guantanamo Bay, the plush military base that the U. S. took from Cuba right after the Spanish-American War in 1898, but that's not really Cuba, is it? Jay-Z is not making political or economic gains for being anti-Cuba but it seems he has an unbiased opinion of the country and its people whom he actually met.
      The exact same thing can be said about Representative Kathy Castor who represents Tampa in the U. S. Congress, the same Florida city that for decades was dominated by Mafia kingpin and Batista henchman Santo Trafficante Jr. Congresswoman Castor was in Cuba last week too...the Cuba that Jay-Z visited, not Guantanamo Bay. Rep. Castor was there on a goodwill mission and to try to line up future business for her constituents in the Tampa area. Upon her return, Rep. Castor told the Tampa Bay Times: "In Cuba there are new, privately owned small businesses -- restaurants everywhere, hotels and motels. Reform is happening, and much of the money is not going to support the actual government. It is going to those individuals, just like the remittances. Cuba has embarked on economic reforms that the United States of America should promote. I will request that Secretary of State John Kerry and President Obama open talks to lead to greater trade and travel opportunities between the U. S. and Cuba. The two countries have much to gain from engagement with one another. Every American should be able to travel to Cuba, including Beyonce and Jay-Z, and including the people in the Tampa Bay area -- and they should fly out of Tampa." Those are the exact words Rep. Castor told the Tampa Bay Times when she got back from Cuba last week.   
      Once he was anointed by the Bush political dynasty in Miami, Marco Rubio was all about getting to the U. S. Congress, which he did in January of 2011 as a U. S. Senator. And once in the U. S. Senate, Marco Rubio has been all about getting to the White House in 2016 with the support of the Bush dynasty, the Tea Party, Fox News, etc. Of course, programming the compliant U. S. media to ask only soft-ball questions and always promote him with "rising star" accolades headlines the stratagem.
      As far as the media is concerned, it was, ironically, a great Cuban-American, Emilio Milian, who was among the last to criticize such things as the terrorism committed by Cuban-Americans against innocent Cubans on the island. As a top newscaster in Miami Emilio secured a legal pistol to protect himself and his family. It was all for naught when a car-bomb silenced Emilio in 1976, and the rest of the media got the message. Jay-Z, a product of Brooklyn's mean streets, identifies with Miami's Emilio Milian. 
       And speaking of tyranny and both sides of a two-sided story, one might consider Cuban General Tete Puebla an expert on the subject. As a 14-and-15-year-old girl she had already carved out a fierce reputation as a guerrilla fighter against Batista soldiers who had huge advantages in both numbers and weapons. But they were not as inspired as Tete. Before racing to the Sierra Maestra to fight, Tete had witnessed Batista's Masferrer Tigers coming to her village and burning some relatives alive in locked, gas-soaked gunny sacks and sheds as a warning not to dissent. Tete Puebla disobeyed that warning!

      Americans interested in both sides of a two-sided story might want to Google "The Masferrer Tigers" as they related to Cuba prior to 1959. The above photo shows Rafael Diaz-Balart in the middle flanked by the infamous Masferrer brothers at a political rally in Batista's Cuba in 1958. Since the triumph of the Cuban Revolution in 1959 Americans have been pummeled with the notion that the good guys {Rolando?fled Cuba for Miami in January of 1959 while the bad guys {Tete?gained control of Cuba. 
        But form your own opinion after studying Tete Puebla, a lady who stayed in Cuba, and Rolando Masferrer, who fled to Miami. The above book is entitled: "Rolando Masferrer in The Country of Myths. While Googling, determine where in South Florida did Rolando Masferrer land after fleeing the Cuban Revolution? Answer: Miami. How much money did Masferrer have in his possession when he landed in Miami? Answer: $10 million and, as with most of the other Batista leaders who fled to Miami, it is assumed Masferrer had earlier sent many more millions of dollars to safe banks prior to the triumph of the revolution. Who investigated Masferrer for the FBI and then said: "He is a guy who could slit your throat and smile while doing it." Answer: U. S. Senate aide Al Torabocchia. What two well-funded anti-Castro terrorist organizations did Masferrer quickly create in South Florida? Answer: "30th of November" and "Alpha 66." Did Masferrer have any problems with the Feds or with local authorities in Miami? Answer: No, of course not. But on Oct. 31-1975 a car bomb killed Masferrer in Miami and the assassination was related to internecine warfare carried out by competitors contesting Masferrer's status as Miami's anti-Castro leader and his desire to assume leadership of Cuba once the exiles and the U. S. had re-captured it. The four best sources of data on Rolando Masferrer: (1) Tete Puebla; (2) the above book; (3) FBI declassified files; and (4) England's Spartacus Educational website. Americans judging Cuba should also judge Masferrer. 
 General Puebla has not lost her memories of Masferrer nor has she been brain-washed.
      Thus, even today -- in April of 2013 -- Tete Puebla would fight to the death to protect Cuba and to protect the 86-year-old Fidel Castro, whom she much prefers over what preceded him and what might succeed him. Understanding Tete Puebla might help Americans understand the U. S. - Cuban quagmire.
  The saga of Tete Puebla -- the teenage guerrilla fighter and General -- is well known.
     On the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, England still has a democracy strong enough to tell both sides of the Cuban conundrum. Thus, the BBC interviewed both General Tete Puebla and Nidia Sarabia {BBC photo above} to ascertain the opinions of two Cuban women who have dramatically lived under both the Batista and Castro regimes. America's democracy, since 1959, seems not quite strong enough to exhibit the same fairness. Some free-thinking Americans wonder why they can freely travel anywhere in the world, except to Cuba even though Cuba, by most accounts, is perhaps the safest place in the world to travel and surely one of the most interesting. General Puebla believes the reason for that is because, heavens forbid, American tourists might get an opinion of the island that differs from, say, that of Senator Rubio. General Puebla says, "If the reason is to keep tourist dollars from Fidel's pockets or bank accounts, everyone on the island -- including the U. S. - aligned dissidents -- are aware that Fidel cares not at all about personal money. He never has. If he did Cubans would not be guaranteed free education, free health, free shelter, and free food as well as provide free medical training for poor foreigners including Americans, free eye operations for poor people all over the region and so forth. If he valued personal money like those he chased off the island did, how does one explain those programs or explain Fidel's aversion to any forms of luxury. Before him the poor people on the island were starved and brutalized. The same people who did that, and the same people who supported that, desire to control this island again. My generation opposes that. I hope you future Cuban generations do also." {The quotation from a General Puebla speech of Nov.-2011}
      General Puebla spoke those words before a future generation of Cubans on the island {above}. She believes she has earned the right to an opinion, even if it differed from Batista back in the 1950s or even if it differs with Senator Rubio today. Yes, Tete Puebla can spell "tyranny" in English and "tirania" in Spanish. Truth be known, she learned the word first-hand during her own extraordinary lifetime. 
     On just one Sunday morning, Senator Marco Rubio was on all seven of the top television networks in the United States beginning in earnest his saccharine-laced presidential bid while also attacking and belittling Jay-Z for a visit the artist took to Cuba. But like General Puebla, Jay-Z thinks he also should be entitled to an opinion even if the topic is Cuba! Jay-Z didn't have all the television networks as a forum to respond to scathing attacks from Cuban-exile politicians, so he did so in a song he recorded. In the lyrics he lambasted the politicians whom he said never did "s###" for him, meaning the ghetto kid who grew up on the mean, drug-riddled streets of Brooklyn, New York. Now that he's a very rich and powerful man, Jay-Z has the unique power to visit Cuba if he wants to and to defend himself if he needs to. 
      In other words, General Tete Puebla in Cuba and entertainment superstar Jay-Z in Brooklyn have a lot in common. Both are sort of feisty and somewhat hard-headed. And both believe they have a right to have an opinion about Cuba even if it differs with Senator Rubio and other Miami politicians.
Distortions designed to hurt Cuba also hurt democracy.


The World Laughs At America's Cuban Policy

And Americans Accept It
        Beyond doubt, the best sentence ever written to describe the U. S. Cuban policy was penned by Penelope Purdy {above}, the editorial writer and Latin American expert at the Denver Post: "The U. S. Cuban policy has been conducted all these decades with the IQ of a salamander." No sane, unbiased person on the planet can deny the veracity of that sentence, yet the policy that Ms. Purdy depicted has existed decade after decade. It, of course, reflects grave ignorance and cowardice on the part of the American people as well as a lack of patriotism for democracy from the last two generations of Americans. It also is a reminder that there will always be enough self-serving U. S. politicians in the U. S. Congress and the White House -- Torricelli, Helms, Burton, the Bush dynasty, etc. -- to join the Salamander Clan that enables the most vicious and revengeful Cuban exiles to dictate the U. S. Cuban policy that Ms. Purdy describes and that the rest of the world, including America's best friends, take turns either being embarrassed by it or mocking it. In the article crowned by the above sentence Ms. Purdy in gory details explained how the United States of America created the Cuban Revolution by supporting and/or installing a long litany of lascivious dictatorships from Batista in Cuba to Trujillo, Somoza, Pinochet, etc., all over the Latin American and Caribbean landscape, a situation that today explains why the U. S., the world economic and political superpower, has amazingly little influence in its own backyard, stupidly relinquishing that role to Brazil, the Latin American superpower now led, as are some other very key nations in the region, by a democratically elected president who was once imprisoned and tortured by a U. S. - backed dictatorship that she tried feverishly to overthrow when she was a brave, young woman.
The right-wing Salamander Clan in the U. S. put Dilma Rousseff in a dictator's prison.
     The right-wing Salamander Clan in the U. S. also helped make Dilma Rousseff the democratically elected President of Brazil, by far the most powerful Latin American nation. A consequence of all that is the fact that Cuba was awarded with another dear friend, President Rousseff of Brazil. For Americans not to comprehend how Dilma Rousseff survived a dictator's prison to become the democratically elected President of Brazil speaks to two topical facts of life: (1) The American people since the 1950s have been the most flagrant salamanders for allowing this to happen; and (2) the U. S. democracy, the world's greatest government from 1776 till just after World War II, has not been the same democracy since the 1950s when powerful and greedy right-wingers discovered the U. S. government could help them exploit smaller, weaker nations -- first in the Caribbean (Cuba, the Dominican Republic, etc.), then in Latin America (Chili, Nicaragua, etc.), and later around the world (in Iran, the Congo, etc.) for the purpose of raping and robbing those nations of their natural resources.
Cuba's Jose Marti {Tumblr image} and other renowned patriots died fighting against foreign imperialists.
Jose Marti died on Cuban soil fighting Spanish domination in 1995. 
 Jose Marti said: "If you do not fight, at least respect the decency of those who do."

       Inspired by the likes of Jose Marti, the Cuban Revolution fought and eventually overthrew the U. S. - backed Batista-Mafia dictatorship in the first week of January, 1959.
    It was not the wholesale robbery of Cuba that inspired the Cuban Revolution. It was the routine murders of Cuban children that induced brave Cuban women {Like those aboveto take to the streets and protest the Batista-Mafia dictatorship. Thus was created the first revolution in history that: (1) Overthrew a U. S. - backed dictatorship; (2) created as an offshoot a reconstitution of that dictatorship on U. S. soil, mainly in South Florida; and (3) for the decades since 1959 confounded the world by resisting a foreign re-capture of the island! {The sign above decries the murders of children in Batista's Cuba}
      Celia Sanchez -- the angelic, 99-pound doctor's daughter -- dearly loved a ten-year-old peasant girl named Maria Ochoa in Batista's Cuba. When Maria's ravaged body turned up under a canvas in the basement of a Mafia-run casino-hotel, Celia blamed it on the Batista-era practice of kidnapping Cuban girls like little Maria Ochoa to use them as lures to attract rich pedophiles to their casinos.
       Celia Sanchez, while Fidel Castro was in a Batista prison and before Che Guevara had ever set foot in Cuba, went to the Sierra Maestra Mountains to begin the overthrow of the Batista-Mafia dictatorship, on her way to becoming history's all-time greatest female guerrilla fighter and revolutionary leader.
To this day in Cuba, admirers of Celia place beautiful flowers at the crypt of their beloved heroine.
      Tete Puebla today is a General in the Cuba army. By the time she was 15, Tete had earned a reputation as the fiercest guerrilla fighter in the Sierra Maestra. Her inspiration: Batista's infamous Masferrer Tigers had come to her village and burned some of Tete's relatives alive in locked, gas-soaked sheds and gunny sacks as a warning to her village not to resist what was happening in Cuba. A few months ago England's BBC, the world's most respected news organization, produced a documentary on Celia Sanchez and interviewed General Tete Puebla because of her keen insight. The U. S. media, on the other hand, has neither the integrity nor the courage to ask Tete: "General Puebla, can you tell us why you became a guerrilla fighter against Batista as a teenage girl and why today you remain a General in the Cuban army?"     

    The Tumblr photo above shows the base of the Jose Marti statue in Baltimore, Maryland. Instead of being Contented Salamanders, perhaps Americans should study why that Jose Marti statue in Baltimore contains soil from all those diverse locations. If they knew, perhaps better informed Americans would be mocked less by, for example, Europe's greatest newspaper.
     England's The Guardian is probably the world's best newspaper. Generally it's top articles, as above, provide the best insight into international, U. K. or U. S. breaking or topical news. But this past Sunday The Guardian's main article poked fun, quite appropriately, at America's Cuban policy.
   This past Sunday The Guardian used the above photo to illustrate an exceedingly long article written by its New York City-based journalist Ed Pitkington on the visit by America's superstar couple Beyonce and Jay-Z to the nearby island of Cuba. Of course, The Guardian didn't make a big deal out of where the famed entertainers chose to celebrate their 5th wedding anniversary with Beyonce's mother Tina and Jay-Z's mother Gloria Carter.
      But The Guardian wisely and appropriately used the long article to make fun of America's renowned democracy that continues to dictate absurdities to 315 million Americans to appease the dictates of a tiny anti-Castro faction of exiles still smarting from the 1959 overthrow of the Batista-Mafia dictatorship in Cuba. Here are some exact quotes from the article:
         "Shawn Carter could have been any American visitor strolling through the streets of a Caribbean town, dressed in standard-issue tourist fare of blue T-shirt and shorts, fedora on head and fat cigar in mouth. His wife, Mrs. Carter, as she likes to be addressed, did that other classic tourist thing: she slung a large and ostentatiously expensive camera around her neck. To add to the heat, the anti-Castro lobby group Cuba Democracy Advocates, based in Washington, accused the couple of being 'extremely insensitive.' 'There are women getting beaten on a daily basis, people are fighting for their freedom,' the group's director Mauricio Claver-Carone told celebrity news website TMZ." The Guardian then reported on how the Carters and their parents loved their meal at "the renowned paladar, La Guarida. You don't get that quality of island cooking every day in Brooklyn, the couple's more familiar stomping ground. All in all, bearing in mind the Rottweiler-like tenacity of the Cuban exile community, this wrangle has the potential to run for some time. It is unlikely, though, to be causing Mr. and Mrs. Carter much loss of sleep." The Guardian then laughed out loud at "the U. S. Congress and White House continuing to pay lip service to the embargo largely out of fear of the electoral repercussions were either party (Republicans or Democrats) to displease the Cuban exiles who continue to wield significant influence in the key swing state of Florida." 
      Ileana Ros-Lehtinen was the first in a long line of Bush-anointed politicians in South Florida to become entrenched in the U. S. Congress. Jeb Bush, in establishing his political base in Florida, was Ros-Lehtinen's Campaign Manager when she was first elected to the U. S. Congress from Miami in 1989, a combination of events that later helped Jeb's older brother, George W. Bush, win a very controversial Presidential race by winning Florida's electoral votes to overcome the fact Al Gore won the most nation-wide votes for President that year. Her longevity in Congress has elevated her to, among other things, the head of the Foreign Relations Committee. Unfortunately, Cuba is a foreign country and Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen, who was born in Havana on July 15, 1952, leads a visceral anti-Castro lobby that essentially dictates America's Cuban policy. Yes, politicians elected in Miami and sent to Washington affect and effect laws that concern the entire nation.
       Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen this week went ballistic on CNN and other venues in denouncing the visit of famed Americans Beyonce and Jay-Z to Cuba where they joyously celebrated, with their mothers, their 5th wedding anniversary. The congresswoman co-wrote {with Mario Diaz-Balart, another Miami addition to the U. S. Congress} a blistering letter to Adam Szubin, director of the Office of Foreign Assets Control at the U. S. Treasury Department, berating the type of license Beyonce and Jay-Z received before traveling to Cuba. The letter said, "As you know, US law expressly prohibits the licensing of financial transactions for 'tourist activities' in Cuba." Of course, Adam Szubin and others are well aware of all the anti-Cuban laws put into effect by the Cuban-exile extremists. The letter also reminded Szubin that Cuba is listed {thanks to the Cuban-exile lobby) by the U. S. State Department as one of four state sponsors of terrorism as "one of the world's most egregious" human rights violators. Ros-Lehtinen and Diaz-Balart (whose father Rafael was a key minister in the Batista dictatorship) wrote: "US dollars spent on Cuban tourism directly fund the machinery of oppression that brutally represses the Cuban people." The long letter added: "The restrictions on tourism travel are common-sense measures meant to prevent US dollars from supporting a murderous regime that opposes US security interests at every turn and which ruthlessly suppresses the most basic liberties of speech, assembly, and belief." Of course, most tourists {I visited Cuba in 2004 on an extensive research mission}, probably including Beyonce and Jay-Z, don't believe that nor do they observe such things once they are in Cuba. And, of course, many believe that is why the Cuban-exile extremists lobby so hard to prevent tourists in Cuba...and Luis Posada-Carriles, still Miami's most infamous anti-Castro zealot, openly admitted that he bombed Cuban hotels to deter tourism.
      In this year of 2013 Uncle Sam {as depicted above} remains a vivid symbol of the U. S. government. And, although one would not know it if you listen to the powerful anti-Castro Cuban lobby, Uncle Sam has some major problems, none of which remotely concern Cuba. In recent days, for example, my USA Today has told me that the U. S., although overrun with millionaires and billionaires, is so broke it must lay off so many air controllers that it jeopardizes airline passengers; and that the U. S. is so overrun with military-style guns that even school children are potential victims each day they venture out their front door.
        Americans were told this week that 16 million children in the U. S. -- 1 out of every 5 -- are faced with hunger issues in a nation overrun with millionaires and billionaires but also over-governed by bought-and-paid-for politicians. The UN and other organizations acknowledge that in Cuba all of its people are guaranteed free food, free shelter, free educations through college, and free health care for life. 
      Americans were told this week that the two current interminable wars have produced so many dead U. S. soldiers that some typical graveyards are now simply filled to capacity. And with that salient reminder, Americans are now confronted by more potential wars in the Middle East and the Korean Peninsula where, this time, the enemies have nuclear missiles. Such majestic problems, of course, are not related to Cuba.
        Americans were told again this week that so many wounded U. S. soldiers -- many without arms, legs, eyes, etc. -- have returned and are returning from the current two wars that the United States, the richest nation in the history of the world by far, does not have the capacity to adequately care for them nor will future generations of Americans have the capacity to adequately deal with them."
      Yet, if you listen to the anti-Castro extremist lobby -- and most Americans are forced to -- you're told to believe that Uncle Sam's biggest problem in this second week of April in the year 2013 is the wonderful visit by Beyonce and Jay-Z to forbidden Cuba. AND YOU STILL WONDER WHY EUROPE'S GREATEST NEWSPAPER, THE GUARDIAN, LAUGHS AT US WHILE AMERICA'S BEST FRIENDS AROUND THE WORLD ARE EMBARRASSED FOR US? {That's a rhetorical question so you need not answer it}
    But this is not to say that all members of the U. S. Congress are self-serving, bought-and-paid-for, Bush-anointed, Mafia-connected, anti-Castro zealots. Take, for example, Kathy Castor who has represented Tampa, Florida -- of all places -- in the U. S. Congress since 2007.
     Kathy Castor has just returned from a 4-day visit to Cuba, albeit a visit not nearly as famed as Beyonce's and Jay-Z's. Ms. Castor was in Cuba fulfilling her job to line up potential business and goodwill for her Tampa constituents. My, my! A member of the U. S. Congress actually doing her job. Never a salamander, Ms. Castor has long advocated a sensible U. S. policy regarding Cuba and she decries such Cuban-exile-inspired laws as the U. S. embargo of Cuba and Cuba's inclusion on the terrorist list.
      Kathy Castor's superb representation of Tampa in today's U. S. Congress contrasts markedly with the situation that existed in Tampa for five decades prior to Santo Trafficante Jr.'s death in 1987. Santo and his father were the undisputed and unchallenged Mafia kingpins of Tampa for those five decades.
     Back in the 1950s when Mafia kingpin Meyer Lansky was Batista's co-dictator in Cuba, Lansky put his pal Santo Trafficante jr. in charge of some of the Mob's hotel/casino gambling joints as well as some of the Mob's equally lucrative drug and prostitution enterprises. When Batista, Lansky, Trafficante Jr., etc., were booted out of Cuba by the Cuban Revolution on Jan. 1-1959, Lansky, Trafficante Jr., etc., returned to their mansions and enterprises in South Florida, believing the U. S. would recapture Cuba for them. 
{But, hush. You're supposed to believe Mother Teresa was the one booted out of Cuba in 1959!}



Havana, Cuba vs. Old Havana, USA!

An Incredible Dichotomy!!!
{Updated for Saturday, April 6th}
       Beyonce and Jay-Z, America's most famous billionaire couple, went to Cuba this week to celebrate their 5th wedding anniversary, a phenomenon captured by the above James Devaney/FlimMagic photo. A Cuban waitress told the Associated Press that the wealthy entertainers dined with their mothers. She called Beyonce "beautiful, without a drop of makeup." Most Americans, it seems, are yoked and led by rings in their noses to accept whatever it is that self-centered, self-serving radicals tell them to accept when it comes to Cuba. However, it appears Beyonce and Jay-Z don't have yokes around their necks nor do they have rings in their noses. Thus, they gladdened the hearts of Cubans on the island this week and, at the same time, observed the changing landscape as decent Cubans and decent Americans, after so many cruel decades, seek the right to interact. Such thoughtfulness should be saluted.
     As Beyonce and Jay-Z ventured around Havana, respectful but joyous Cuban crowds were ecstatic, as indicated by the Ramon Espinosa/AP photo above. It was a kind and courageous gesture by Beyonce and Jay-Z. They could have taken their jets or yachts to any spot on earth. They chose Cuba and the deserving Cubans on the island appreciated it. The Cubans above have no ill-will toward Americans.
      By all accounts, Beyonce and Jay-Z have enjoyed their visit to Cuba. On Wednesday night they dined for three hours at La Guarida, Cuba's most famed paladar, which is a restaurant in a private home. La Guarida opened in 1996 and is located on an upper floor of a crumbling early 1900s palace in the Centro neighborhood of Havana. Their waitress, Vivian Aimerich, told Miami's El Neuvo Herald by phone that Beyonce and Jay-Z drank daiquiris, rum and wine, snacked on shrimp, and shared a big plate of white rice and black beans. Jay-Z finished off a fish filet and tomato-based sauce. Vivian said, "They were nice."
     Beyonce carried a camera and Jay-Z smoked a cigar as they strolled around Havana. They refused to answer questions posed by journalists but spoke freely and posed with everyday Cubans. Jay-Z has fondly mentioned Cuba in at least two of his most popular songs and now he has experienced it.
      Mauricio Claver-Carone and the ultra-powerful anti-Castro lobby is, of course, going bonkers over Beyonce and Jay-C visiting Cuba. Claver-Carone - a lawyer born in Florida and raised in Madrid, Spain -- runs the U. S.-Cuba Democracy political action committee among his many enterprises in Washington. On his Capital Hill Cubans blog, Claver-Carone blasted Beyonce and Jay-Z for "fulfilling a propaganda dream for Cuba's brutal dictatorship." Of course, propaganda machines go into over-drive to denounce any Cuban positive, even a simple visit from American celebrities, and it's been that way since 1959. 
       Yoani Sanchez -- Cuba's most famed anti-Castro dissident -- this week was soaking up the euphoria, awards, and riches in Old Havana in Miami, USA! Since January of 1959 when the U. S. - backed Batista/Mafia dictatorship was over-thrown and reconstituted in nearby Miami, being anti-Castro has created fame and wealth for anti-Castro Cubans. Yoani Sanchez didn't join a tiny club.
       Of course, Cuban-U. S. aficionados are still trying to fathom why the 86-year-old Fidel Castro magnanimously allowed Yoani Sanchez to leave the island on her around-the-world 80-day anti-Fidel tour. But, then again, Fidel has fascinated and confounded the world every day of his life since the 1950s.
      Yes, that's Fidel Castro himself riding a horse across a rocky stream high up in the Sierra Maestra Mountains of eastern Cuba in 1957. He survived that ride and, less than two years later, he had chased the Batista-Mafia dictatorship off the island and managed to somehow hold on to it for 54 more years and counting. And that's the Cuba, the old one and the new one, that Beyonce and Jay-Z visited this week.
      The above photo appeared in Life Magazine in 1958 and shows Mafia kingpin Meyer Lansky leaving the casino at Hotel Nacional with a female companion and a satchel that reportedly contained $200,000.00 -- one night's loot from one Mafia casino in 1950s Havana! After being chased out of Cuba to the nearby safe haven of Miami, Lansky told his lawyer, Frank Ragano, "We sure made a killing in Havana but, Frank, the Mob is making out just as good being anti-Castro in Miami. You might say Fidel did us a favor!"
       Frank Ragano, on the right facing the camera in the above photo, made a nice living in Miami keeping Mafia thugs like Meyer Lansky, Santo Trafficante Jr., and Carlos Marcello from ever having spent a day in jail on U. S. soil. Before he retired Ragano and his Mafia friends {above} drank a toast to, uh, thank the U. S. government for its benevolence and cooperation. And that was, uh, the least they could do.
       Meanwhile -- while a nice sanctuary awaited Lansky, Trafficante Jr., and the other Mafia leaders in Miami -- Cubans took to the streets of Havana {as depicted above} and began destroying the Mob casinos that had epitomized the wholesale rape and robbery of the island from 1952 till Jan. 1-1959 during the U. S. - backed Batista-Mafia dictatorship. Of course, each day since Jan. 1-1959 the trio that ruled the island and constructed those casinos has tried mightily to re-capture it and, doubtlessly, REBUILD THOSE CASINOS! It appears in April of 2013 that Beyonce and Jay-Z will admit that fact in Havana. However, it is highly doubtful that Yoani Sanchez and her acolytes in Old Havana will ever do the same.
      Frank Ragano, the Mob Lawyer, died in 1998 at age 75. By then the Mafia figures he had kept out of prison had also died. Thus, in his last years Ragano was amazingly frank about the evil deeds his major clients committed, both in the United States and in Batista's Cuba. And Ragano validated his details.
       In 1994 Frank Ragano co-authored a tell-all book entitled "Mob Lawyer." He enlightened history about his prime clients -- Santo Trafficante Jr. and Carlos Marcello -- and their gruesome rape and robbery of Cuba during the Batista dictatorship and their equally gruesome attempts from Florida designed to kill Fidel Castro and re-capture the island. Of course, Ragano's insightful details regarding the involvements of Trafficante Jr. and Marcello in their vows to murder both John Kennedy and Robert Kennedy still resonate to this day, along with his Cuban revelations. As referenced in his book and stated again succinctly just before his death in Tampa in 1998, Ragano frankly stated: "Santo and Carlos both appreciated all the money the U. S. government allowed them to steal in Cuba. But, truth be known, they did not expect, nor did I, that the U. S. government would let them continue their Cuban activities once Castro took over Cuba. It was like the Batista dictatorship just moved from Havana to an even more lucrative conclave in Miami, with continued U. S. government support." Of course, it has been easy to corroborate Frank Ragano's take on the U. S. - Cuban maelstrom but it remains politically correct to deny an undeniable fact. But from Ragano in the 1990s to Beyonce and Jay-Z today, truth slowly ebbs out!
      My Canadian friend Rosa Jordan has visited Cuba often and traveled from one end of the island to the other multiple times. Rosa grew up in Florida but immigrated to Canada in 1980. She has written three outstanding books about Cuba and has intimate knowledge of the island's history and its people. 
        I just finished Rosa Jordan's book "Cuba Unspun" and I thought it was so brilliant and moving that I purchased another copy from Amazon-Canada this morning to give to a friend. 


A Cuban Lady's Well-Earned Tears

The Greed and Revenge That Makes Her Cry
Updated for April 5, 2013
     Ramona de Saa {above} is a sweet, world-class lady who has shed a plethora of sad tears the last couple of days. She is the director of Havana's National Ballet School, the largest such school in the world with over 3,000 students {according to Wikipedia}. Since shortly after the Cuban Revolution, first the legendary Alicia Alonso and then Ms. de Saa have scoured the island in search of talented children who are then offered free ballet scholarships in Havana. A testament to its remarkable success is found in top ballet companies around the world in which Cuban graduates have starring roles. Cuba has continued funding the program even in face of highly sophisticated and financed efforts to get the Cubans to defect, mostly from U. S. sources much more concerned with hurting Cuba than with helping the defectors or benefiting American ballet companies. In that wake are waves of unabashed tears.
         In the last few days, seven of Ramona de Saa's top ballet stars defected while performing in Mexico. Because of the U. S. Wet-Foot, Dry-Foot law that, of course, pertains only to Cubans, all they had to do was prove they were Cubans and then they freely crossed over into the U. S. Ranging in age from 20 to 24, six of them -- Annie Ruiz Diaz, Luis Victor Santana, Ariadnni Martin, Jose Justiz, Edward Gonzalez, and Randy Crespo -- have already arrived in Miami and the 7th, Alejandro Mendez, is expected to arrive shortly. A tearful Ramona de Saa told Andrea Rodriguez, a top journalist at the AP bureau in Havana, "It really pains us." Ms. de Saa said she considered one of the defectors "like a daughter." It is believed she was talking about Annie Ruiz Diaz. But Ramona anticipates such pain. Annie said, "It is the most difficult decision I have made in my life, but we're not thinking about the past but rather the future." That past includes Ramona.
        The BBC did a nice 50th anniversary story on Ramona de Saa's National Ballet School, pointing out that young students like those above were the best trained in the world although, after long and intense instruction, defections to other companies around the world were regular occurrences.
Carlos Acosta, for example, has long been England's top ballet star after defecting from Cuba.
       Ramona de Saa has an identical twin sister, Margarita de Saa {above}. They have been separated for going on five decades because Ramona stayed in Cuba and Margarita defected to the U. S. In the above photo Margarita is instructing her students at her Pennsylvania Academy of Ballet.
          The identical twins -- Ramona and Margarita de Saa -- are shown on a happier day when they were both still in Cuba. The U. S. - Cuban conundrum since the 1950s has been an apocalyptic sadness for most so it can be an astringent windfall for a few. The saga of these twin sisters is a product of that inexcusably salacious ignorance and cruelty. The fact that it cannot be corrected remains a very salient reminder that sometimes a few criminals and benefactors are simply smarter or stronger than all the rest.
     This Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP photo shows a Cuban dancer with Ramona de Saa's National Ballet of Cuba. Is she thinking about performing or...defecting? One thing is abundantly sure: The enormous cottage industry in the United States that makes money and sates revengeful appetites on such decisions is anxiously concerned with what the dancer decides. It's been that way since January of 1959.

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

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