Fidel Castro and Latin America

And Why Cuba Fascinates So Many
Cristina Fernandez, Michelle Bachelet, and Dilma Rousseff.
      The three ladies above are, respectively, the democratically elected Presidents of Argentina, Chile, and Brazil. Those are the three richest and most important nations in Latin America. Two significant corollary facts regarding these three women are: {1} All three of them love and admire Cuba's revolutionary icon Fidel Castro, who turns 88-years-old this week; and {2} all three of them do not like the United States and merely tolerate it because of its incomparable economic and military power.
    The above conclusion, of course, is not openly admitted by Presidents Fernandez, Bachelet, and Rousseff nor is it politically or socially correct to mention it in the United States. Nevertheless, it is true. And that last corollary fact irks and disappoints many true democracy lovers in the U. S. and elsewhere, especially America's best foreign friends. {A "corollary fact" is one that flows from an already proven fact}. So, permit me to briefly explain the nexus related to my corollary fact regarding Cuba's Fidel Castro and the proven facts that shaped the democratic elections of Presidents Fernandez, Bachelet, and Rousseff...and others throughout Latin America.
     Americans, propagandized since the 1950s regarding the U. S. ventures and aspirations in Cuba, believe that if Presidents Bachelet, Fernandez, and Rousseff love and admire Fidel Castro then they must be either crazy or fiendish! Moreover, proselytized Americans believe if Presidents Bachelet, Fernandez, and Rousseff do not like and merely tolerate the United States then they surely must be anti-democracy thugs or Commies or something just as diabolical. But trust me, these three extremely smart and talented ladies did not become the democratically elected Presidents of Latin America's three richest and most important countries by being crazy, fiendish, anti-democracy or anything else that could be construed as diabolical. The Cuban impact on regional and world affairs since the 1950s -- far out of proposition to the island's size, wealth or population -- has utterly fascinated millions, including me. Many historians as well as Nelson Mandela himself, for example, have long credited Fidel Castro with being the primary reason democracy replaced colonialism on the African Continent. But Americans to this day are not supposed to understand why Nelson Mandela loved and admired Fidel Castro so much and, yes, did not like and merely tolerated the superpower United States. Likewise, to this day Presidents Rousseff, Bachelet, and Fernandez credit Fidel Castro with being the primary reason democracy replaced U.S.-friendly dictators throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. Again, Americans to this day have been programmed since the 1950s not to believe such basic and corollary {easily documentedfacts.
     I agree with Franklin Delano Roosevelt, arguably America's greatest President and the only one to serve four terms. He believed that democracy depends on an informed, engaged and courageous citizenry -- such as America was blessed with from 1776 till 1945, which happened to be the year FDR died and the year the Greatest Generation saved the world from utter devastation in World War II. Sadly, the two generations since World War II have proven to be the Worst Generations when it comes to supporting democracy in America and around a very troubled world. 
       And those last two generations of Americans emerged at a very inopportune time -- right after World War II when the respect, admiration, and pure love of both democracy and America reached its zenith on the world stage. The nearby island of Cuba, unwittingly, has played a massive role as a...some say the...focal point, or epicenter, of America's and democracy's descent in world opinion. That is especially true in America's own backyard -- the Caribbean and Latin America -- where the small and poor nation of Cuba has influence comparable to or exceeding that of the world's all-time dominant economic and military power. That fact is reflected in the views of the three female Presidents of Latin America's three most important countries -- Brazil, Argentina, and Chile. Like the Cuban loving male Presidents in nations such as Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua, etc., Presidents Rousseff, Fernandez, and Bachelet must contend with domestic protests and opponents they believe are highly financed and encouraged by anti-Castro zealots and dollars from Miami, Union City and Washington. Leaders throughout the Caribbean and Latin America firmly believe that anti-Castro zealots and dollars from the George W. Bush administration engineered the coup that briefly overthrew Venezuelan President Chavez in 2002, and that scares or at least concerns democratically elected Latin American Presidents to this day. That, too, is a fact that Americans are not supposed to believe. But it's an important fact because -- more importantly -- Presidents Rousseff, Fernandez, Bachelet, etc., believe it. President Rousseff of Brazil, the Latin American superpower, is running for re-election this fall. She is aware of U. S. dollars and influence from anti-Castro zealots that will try to defeat her. President Bachelet of Chile, when she was re-elected last fall, was well aware of the U. S. dollars and influence that tried to defeat her. Recently, President Fernandez was not at all shocked when anti-Cuban zealots in the U. S. Congress called for crippling financial sanctions against Argentina, not too unlike the Cuban exile-directed sanctions against Cuba that have been in existence, to the chagrin of the entire world, since the early 1960s. All this has occurred because two generations of Americans, since the 1950s, have not cared enough or known enough, even anecdotally, about their democracy to adequately defend it.
This beautiful young girl in Brazil............
.....was tortured for 3 years by a U.S.-backed dictatorship.
Her name is Dilma Rousseff.
      She is now the democratically elected President of Brazil, the Latin American superpower. As a lifelong democracy-loving American, I know very, very few Americans who have any comprehension of how and why Latin America emerged from domination by U.S.-backed dictatorships to waves of democracy that now blanket the region. To not know President Rousseff's years of torture in Brazil; to not know the dictatorship that killed President Bachelet's father in Chile; and to not know the gruesome dictatorship in President Fernandez's Argentina that birthed babies in military hospitals and then murdered the mothers and soon gave away the babies like dolls to friends of the military leaders is to not know why America's influence throughout Latin American in 2014 takes a backseat to democratically elected Presidents who remember all those vile U.S.-backed dictatorships.
     This is Jorge Videla, the dictator of Argentina when the mothers of those babies in military hospitals were murdered with their babies soon given away like dolls. Americans need to know about that episode in Latin American history. Taking a few minutes to Google "Mothers of the Plaza" or "The Dirty War" would provide an understanding of why Cristina Fernandez is today the democratically elected President of Argentina, a nation that remembers the U.S.-backed dictator Jorge Videla, who took power in a 1976 coup in a decade in which the U. S. routinely backed coups throughout Latin America and the Caribbean so rich U. S. companies could extract much of the wealth from those helpless nations.
       Here are Grandmothers of the Plaza who to this day are seeking justice for their murdered grand-daughters in Argentina. Americans need to know these grandmothers and what happened to their grand-daughters, not for the sake of Argentina but for the sake of democracy in the United States of America.
     Americans need to know that, even today, Latin American countries are trying desperately to bring to justice the vile dictators of its past, such as Argentina's Jorge Videla above. Videla died in an Argentinian prison in May of 2013 after being convicted of "crimes against humanity," specifically the murders of all those mothers in military prisons right after their babies were successfully birthed. 
    In 2014 the U. S. President, Mr. Obama, knows that President Cristina Fernandez and every Argentinian and every Latin American knows all about vile dictators such as Videla, Pinochet, Trujillo, Somozo, Batista, etc., that so many powerful right-wing U. S. politicians and businessmen supported from the 1950s through the 1970s. If so, Americans would begin to comprehend why today's democratically elected Presidents such as Fernandez, Rousseff, Bachelet, Ortega, Morales, Maduro, etc., tolerate superpower America but still regret America's Latin American past. Americans would regret it too...if they knew its details.
     Americans are not supposed to understand this photo. It shows President Cristina Fernandez of Argentina visiting the man she most admires -- Cuba's Fidel Castro. No, President Fernandez is not crazy. No, President Fernandez does not admire fiends. Latin American Presidents like her, Rousseff, Bachelet, etc., frequently pay homage to Fidel Castro in Havana. They credit the Cuban Revolution with being the very first entity to overthrow a U.S.-backed dictatorship, eventually -- they believe -- paving the way for the tsunami-like waves of democracy that began to wash away those dictatorships. As the ill Fidel Castro turns 88-years-old on August 13th, his legacy long after his death will likely be admired by future Latin American presidents. Not to understand that is to not know the difference between Jorge Videla and Cristina Fernandez. And the difference is this: One was a ruthless U.S.-backed dictator and the other is an anti-U.S. democratically elected President. And Americans need to realize that is a helluva difference and a toxic collusion that envelopes us today. 


Deciphering An Ode to Peace

As War-Mongers Win, Civilians Lose
{Monday, August 11th, 2014}
      Reuters, perhaps the world's most respected news service, used this photo Sunday, August 10th, to illustrate a major article that had this headline: "Israel's Attacks in Gaza Town A War Crime." It referenced an Israeli attack earlier in the current war when Israeli tanks and warplanes had demolished the small town of Khuza'a in southern Gaza and then Israeli soldiers mopped up. The article, written by Mohammed Omer, stated: "An Israeli bulldozer crushed the outside of Mohammed Khalil al-Najjar's home, pushing rubble through his kitchen. Dozens of Israeli soldiers then entered his home, many of them masked, moving from room to room, weapons in hand. 'We are 14 family members inside this home, all civilian women and children,' al-Najjar screamed to the army commanders in Hebrew, a language he mastered over 30 years as a construction worker in Israel. 'I have built in Israel more than you,' he added, as the soldiers ignored his pleas. Moments later...the Israeli soldiers used the family as human shields, walking behind them through the streets of Khuza'a." These are the kind of reports from Gaza flashing around the world from respected news sources such as Reuters, the BBC, etc., but not necessarily having an impact in Israel or the United States. But more and more, even leaders in the UN such as Ban Ki-Moon and Navi Pallay are talking about "war crimes" being committed in Gaza, such as referenced in the above headline. The ongoing disaster in Gaza continues to turn strong international supporters of Israel against the current Israeli decision-makers.
     At the least, most of the world believes, women and children should be allowed to leave Gaza, a tiny strip of land where 1.8 million Gazans are hemmed in and at the mercy, or lack thereof, of the ultra-powerful Israeli military machine, which is largely funded and continually refurbished by United States taxpayers and which maintains a cruel border-closing blockade around tiny Gaza. While the majority of Americans and Israelis accept this, the majority of the rest of the world does not.
     The BBC headlined this photo of a Palestinian family in Gaza mourning the death of a 10-year-old child. Israeli propaganda has convinced many of the very racist notion that Palestinian parents, like the man in the white shirt, use their children as "human shields." But Ken Penhall, CNN's reporter in Gaza, says "It's like shooting sardines in a barrel" because the Gazans have no place to run, no place to hide. 
    This image flashed around the world this weekend from the West Bank, land where the UN, the U. S. and the rest of the world have begged Israel to stop building settlements and allow the Palestinian to also have a state. But Israel, a nuclear power, will not allow such a solution to a lopsided conflict that has been ongoing since 1948. This photo shows a sight the world is familiar with -- Palestinians throwing rocks at heavily armed Israeli soldiers in the West Bank, not Gaza. The deaths this weekend of young Palestinians in the West Bank is something that should be addressed. 
      Saturday's television ratings and interaction on the major social networking venues revealed that the world's most watched video the second weekend of August-2014 is entitled: "Shujayea: Massacre at Dawn." It is a half-hour documentary first aired from 10:30 P.M. till 11:00 P.M. Saturday night, August 9th, on the Aljazeera America network. "Shujayea: Massacre at Dawn" does not have a narrator except for the petrified voices of the surviving victims, including a tiny Palestinian girl, of a massive Israeli attack at dawn on the Shujayea district of Gaza City. The stunning video, buttressed only by the chaotic sounds of the living victims, features a brave little girl voicing her opinion of "Israelis" and a young Palestinian man screaming about all the "body parts of little children" littering the streets. Considering all that is happening in the world -- including red-hot wars in Iraq, Syria, Ukraine, etc., the Ebola scare, etc. -- it is a bit surprising that "Shujayea: Massacre at Dawn" spent hours dominating worldwide television as well as the most ubiquitous social media forums. But if you missed it, you may want to go online and watch it because it is likely to win a multitude of international awards. Most of all, it reveals how massive military power in the year 2014 unleashed on a helpless, heavily populated civilian area can so quickly destroy so many lives, especially in a district in which the civilians have nowhere to flee because the attacking superpower has closed down the borders. In the U. S. and Israel the attacking superpower controls the narrative but elsewhere around the world videos and the sounds of the surviving victims speak much louder than propaganda, proving yet again that, in even the world's most famed democracy, overwhelming propaganda can easily trump actual news, including even sensationally authentic documentaries such as "Shujayea: Massacre at Dawn."
A scene depicted in "Shujayea: Massacre at Dawn."
News, not propaganda.
    The photo above reportedly was the most viewed image on Facebook this weekend. The BBC headquarters in London were besieged by thousands of protesters denouncing Israel's attacks on Gaza. In England the BBC is being accused of slanting the conflict in favor of Israel although the BBC is generally considered to be among the Western media's fairest chroniclers of the Gazan attacks. Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Peru and El Salvador all recalled their ambassadors from Tel Aviv this weekend. Bolivia officially listed Israel as a "terrorist state." In Cuba, Fidel Castro, five days shy of his 88th birthday, was asked to sign a "Save Palestine Manifesto," which he did along with the signatures of notables around the world. He said: "Like billions of others, I have supported most of what Israel stands for. But I don't support apartheid in which a strong nation imprisons helpless people. And I don't support the slaughter of children. So I sign this manifesto and I strongly suggest others do the same." {Note: Although he was vilified in the Western World for doing so, Nelson Mandela and other notables gave Fidel Castro the lion's share of the credit for ending apartheid in South Africa. And that, for the faint of heart, is news, not propaganda. Supporting apartheid requires military superiority and propaganda.}
     This is a recent political cartoon by Scott Stantis in the Chicago Tribune. It was re-published by other outlets around the world. By using an eye-catching image plus 13 words, Mr. Stantis says a lot more about a major American problem than all the words about the subject that are used in large portions of your favorite news sources. This political cartoon is news, not propaganda. Political cartoons penned by great journalists such as Scott Stantis often say more by using pertinent images and a few words than other media sources say by using thousands of words and multiple related images. What Scott Stantis is saying so powerfully and succinctly in the above image, I believe, is this: "Yes, America has its hands full trying to deal with the thousands of children illegally crossing our borders as they remarkably flee crime-riddled nations such as Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala...but America also has to deal with its own crime-riddled streets, such as in Chicago." Indeed, at last, in the first week of August-2014 the National Guard was finally called out to help Chicago's overwhelmed and out-gunned police force deal with a massive problem that includes multitudes of children being killed via cross-fires or other senseless gunfire in Chicago. It is possible that the political statement by Scott Stantis inspired the use of the National Guard in Chicago. If so, thanks Mr. Stantis. Chicago's children, like children around the world, certainly deserved your forceful statement.
    By contrast, this Wikipedia.org photo personifies propaganda, not news. Joseph Goebbels was Adolph Hitler's Propaganda Minister and his masterful use of that force accounted for Germany's Nazi Party from 1933 to 1945 capturing most of Europe on its way to almost dominating the entire world, failing because of America's Greatest Generation and because the fiendish Hitler double-crossed the fiendish Joseph Stalin and unwisely attacked the vast Soviet Union. The deadly effective use of repetitive lies by Goebbels actually created the word "propaganda" and to this day equates the word to a negative connotation. Goebbels in the 1930s and 1940s only had the written word, radio, and pulsating speeches to spread his propaganda. In modern times, however, Television, the Internet, Smart Phones, Twitter, advertising and public relations Firms, etc., provide propagandists with extraordinary tools that Goebbels never even dreamed about before he murdered his wife and six children and then committed suicide along with Hitler in that infamous Berlin bunker in 1945.
     This image was one of the most viewed photos this week in the worldwide Windows Photo Gallery. It shows an Israeli air- strike on Gaza. It is both news, for depicting a real happening, and propaganda, for being widely used to excoriate Israel for unleashing its ultra-modern military power against a densely populated,  besieged, and tiny land mass where 1.8 million Palestinians are denied their own status as a nation by a powerful neighbor that controls the borders and doesn't allow even children to escape the bombing. Thus, a true image, such as this one, can be used for legitimate "news" and/or pernicious or contentious "propaganda" by revealing the truth but also slanting it to fit pro-or-con biases.
     For example, Evo Morales this week used the photo of Gaza being bombed along with much more graphic photos of Gazan children being killed and terrorized to highlight this statement: "These kids had no place to hide against the might of a nuclear superpower." The 54-year-old Evo Morales has been the democratically elected President of Bolivia since 2006. Since 1972 Bolivia and Israel have had a Visa Exemption Agreement allowing Israelis to travel to Bolivia without a Visa. This week President Morales revoked that agreement, citing the photo above and the comment by CNN's Karl Penhall that Israel's assault on Gaza was like "shooting sardines in a barrel." President Morales then loudly proclaimed Israel "a terrorist state" that should be held accountable for "crimes against humanity." Of course, Israel and its prime supporter, the United States, label Palestine's prime military wing, Hamas, "a terrorist organization" that repeatedly commits "crimes against humanity," mainly Israelis but also against Palestinian children by using them "as shields." So, one man's news is another man's propaganda; and one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter. President Morales of Bolivia this week was trying to study the photos from Gaza to distinguish between what is news and what is propaganda. It actually is a very wide chasm, except in the hands of superb and often very vile propagandists. Thus, President Morales and millions of others, in this age of widespread state and sectional violence, face a real dilemma in trying to sift through the ashes of Gaza and other troubled spots. Meanwhile, humanity is forced to face the cards it has been dealt as it confronts a modern fact: Evil doers now have mankind's most terrible weapons at their disposal. Children, whether in Chicago or Gaza or Iraq or elsewhere often do not stand a chance to even reach their teenage years. President Morales this week said: "It seems God gave people like Mother Teresa all the humanity but gave the worst among us all the weapons. Man's inhumanity to women and children is the result."
And speaking of Gaza.............
     ..........two of the world's most intelligent elder statesmen -- Fidel Castro and Jimmy Carter -- spoke about Gaza this week and both quotations received worldwide attention. Mr. Castro, who turns 88 on August 13th, called Israel a "fascist terror state" for its assaults on Gaza. Mr. Carter, who turns 90 on October 1st, had earlier called Israel's imprisonment of Gaza "clearly an apartheid situation." And then this week Mr. Carter said the United States, instead of being dictated to by Israel, should consider "Hamas a political party that has won a legitimate Palestinian election." Despite their age, both of these men remain awesomely intelligent. In his youth, Mr. Castro's teachers often tested his IQ by having him read a long page from a book and then, without notes, he could recite it back to them word-for-word. In his 30s, 40s, and 50s Mr. Castro could make seven-hour speeches without notes or a teleprompter. Of all the American presidents, Mr. Carter, a renowned peanut farmer from Georgia, most likely had the highest IQ and most likely was the most decent human being. His 28 books and his humanitarian work in his post-presidential years also establish Mr. Carter as America's most important ex-president. While vast anti-Castro and anti-Carter propaganda machines have abounded for decades, their sheer intelligence still resonates today and will fuel their considerable legacies. Thus, as a non-propagandist newshound, I thought their comments this week about Gaza were very pertinent.
     Mr. Carter and Mr. Castro are shown above standing at attention as the U. S. and Cuban national anthems were played prior to a baseball game. In their twilight days, after a combined 18 decades on earth, Mr. Carter and Mr. Castro are prime examples of this essay's primary theme -- that "news" and "propaganda" are two different animals and distinguishing between them is more important than ever. Both of these men have made monumental news during their lifetimes. And both men, each of whom have had their share of successes and failures, have continually been assaulted by vicious, callous, and mostly unfair propaganda machines.
Israeli friends around the world.......................
 ................are very disappointed with this image.


The Celia Sanchez Revolution

Also Known As The Cuban Revolution
{Updated: Saturday, July 26th, 2014}
Republished by request!!
{May 27th, 2021}
        Americans are not supposed to comprehend that a doctor's daughter named Celia Sanchez was the most important player in the Cuban Revolution. Such knowledge would not compute with the narrative dictated since 1959 by two generations of key elements that fled the victorious Cuban Revolution and resettled in the U. S., primarily nearby Miami. The U. S. support of the Batista-Mafia dictatorship in Cuba in the 1950s remained firm when it was transferred to U. S. soil. The Cuban Revolution's triumph and its ongoing survival remains one of history's and modernity's most compelling and unbelievable components. Not to know Celia Sanchez is to not know either the Cuban Revolution or today's Cuba. And few Americans know either. Therefore, what follows are a few pertinent facts.
     A young school teacher named Frank Pais and a young doctor's daughter named Celia Sanchez were the two most vital anti-Batista recruiters and organizers in the crucial early days of the revolution that actually began with the urban underground in 1953. Soon, Batista had put huge bounties on the heads of Frank Pais and Celia Sanchez. The bounty on Frank led to the capture and brutal murder of his 17-year-old brother Jesus. Then Frank himself was captured and brutally murdered. But the largest bounty was on Celia's head. However, the Cuban Revolution stayed alive because Celia stayed alive. Cuba's best historian, Pedro Alvarez Tabio, correctly concluded: "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." American's are not supposed to comprehend that quotation although Cuba's revolutionary insiders, including Fidel Castro, clearly comprehend it.
     Celia Sanchez was not only the Cuban Revolution's most important recruiter and organizer, she was also its bravest and most determined guerrilla fighter in the Sierra Maestro Mountains during the crucial three years when Fidel Castro was either in prison or in Mexico. Without Celia there would have been no revolution for Fidel to join.
       Even after macho men such as the Castro brothers joined her revolution at the beginning of 1957, it was still Celia Sanchez, with the total concurrence of Fidel Castro, who made the key rebel decisions. That's why, as above, the pertinent updates and data were routinely analyzed, first and foremost, by Celia Sanchez.
       At nights in their tent in the Sierra Maestra Mountains during the revolutionary war, this was a typical scene -- Celia holding a candle so she and Fidel could read. Later, Fidel told historian Pedro Alvarez Tabio, "I could read books but it was necessary for Celia to read war material. Then in the darkness we would talk." 
    After the triumph of the revolution, Celia remained the prime decision-maker in Cuba, still with the total concurrence of Fidel Castro. Thus, as shown here, Celia is the one who began each day analyzing the reports and data while all Fidel had to do to start his day was to kick off his slippers and relax in his rocking chair while Celia studied updates. They spent most, but not all, of their nights at Celia's 11th Street Apartment.
     Celia Sanchez, not Fidel Castro, made the most definitive quotations that defined Revolutionary Cuba. The above quotation is an example: "We rebels...get far too much credit for winning the revolution. Our enemies deserve most of the credit, for being greedy cowards and idiots." Americans need to know this quotation.
     What Celia meant by depicting the Batistainos as "greedy cowards and idiots" relates to the photo above. It was this: With the support of the U. S., the strongest nation in the world, Batista and the Mafia could have continued raping and robbing Cuba at will. However, in an effort to quell dissent on the island, Celia and the rest of the female population were astounded that children were murdered as a warning to Cubans not to resist. But it produced massively brave street marches, like the one above, and it created in the female half of Cuba's population a do-or-die effort to get rid of the Batistianos. Without that resolve by Celia Sanchez, Haydee Santamaria, Vilma Espin, Tete Puebla, Melba Montgomery, Marta Rojas and the rest of the female population on the island, there is no way a U.S.-backed dictatorship could possibly have been overthrow by a popular domestic revolution. The march shown above and Celia's quotation about "greedy cowards and idiots" define that fact.
     Celia Sanchez, either by verbal or written command, dictated what post-Batista Cuba evolved into. It was Celia and Vilma Espin who quickly devised the powerful Cuban Federaion of Women. It was Celia and Haydee Santamaria who concocted the still active block-by-block Committees for the Defense of the Revolution, something they began discussing in late 1957 when they were the two most determined guerrilla fighters in the foothills of the Sierra Maestra Mountains. In 1959 those block-by-block committees came to fruition as did the Federation of Cuban Women. Also, verbally and in writing {above}, Celia Sanchez laid down the most important quotation relating to Revolutionary Cuba: "The Batistianos will never regain control of Cuba as long as I live or as long as Fidel lives." Fidel Castro turns 88 in 2014 but he is still alive and, even more incredibly, so is Celia Sanchez's daunting proclamation.
      In addition to her bold statements and actions regarding the Batistianos, Celia Sanchez quietly but massively used telephone diplomacy on behalf of her beloved Cuba. She knew, beginning in January of 1959, that Cuba needed the nearby United States, the strongest and richest nation in the world, to be "Cuba's best friend and best trading partner." Thus, in January, February and March of 1959 she was constantly on the phone with the U.S. State Department and with America's Society of Newspaper Editors to arrange for a Cuban delegation, led by Fidel Castro and her, to visit the United States. She knew that, in both Cuba and the U. S., Fidel was wildly popular. The U. S. State Department promised her that Fidel could meet with President Eisenhower. If so, Fidel was primed to promise Eisenhower that Cuba would hold a democratic election that fall and that none of the top revolutionary leaders "nor their proxies" would be candidates and, further, the U. S. could monitor all aspects of the election to make sure it was totally honest. However, what became quickly known to Celia and is now known to history is this: Right-wingers in the U. S. government -- led by Vice President Richard Nixon, CIA Director Allen Dulles, and Secretary of State John Foster Dulles -- concocted a double-cross and arranged for President Eisenhower to be out of town so Nixon would be the one to meet Fidel. 
          Nixon famously startled Fidel by telling him that the U. S. and the Cuban exiles would re-capture Cuba within a matter of weeks. That exchange and this photo in April of 1959 -- a mere four months after the triumph of the Cuban Revolution -- is now history. And it paved the way for such historic events as the Bay of Pigs attack in April of 1961; Celia Sanchez's personal courting of the Soviet Union {especially her admirer Deputy Premier Anastas Mikoyan who had nicknamed her "Spanish Eyes" after an earlier trip to Havana}the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962 that remains the closest the world has ever come to a total nuclear holocaust; the U. S. embargo against Cuba that has been in effect from 1962 till the present day; etc.
      Celia Sanchez had led Fidel Castro to the U. S. on that 12-day visit in April of 1959 to assure and guarantee the U. S. that Cuba would be a democracy with a fall election that the U. S. could minutely monitor. Nixon's outrageous boast to Fidel caught Celia off guard but by the time {above} when she had led Fidel back to Cuba, it was her interpretation of Nixon and the U. S. that counted. And her resolve was this: Whatever she had to do, whatever Fidel had to do, and whatever Cuba had to do, Nixon, the Dulles brothers and the Batistianos would never regain control of Cuba. More than anyone else, including Fidel, she backed up that resolve with unmatched fervor. 
        It is interesting to note that, as with most other key elements in U.S.-Cuban relations since the 1950s, Americans have mostly been propagandized by the narrative spewed out by self-serving Cuban exiles and their sycophants. That's why Americans to this day do not comprehend the significance of this photo, which was taken by Andrew St. George and is owned and copyrighted by Yale University. It shows Celia Sanchez in the hallway of a New York hotel in April of 1959 after she was heartbroken that the United States allowed what she later called "a thug like Nixon to speak for it." Back in Cuba, Celia told Haydee Santamaria, "It was do-or-die for us in the Sierra Maestra, Yeye, and now it's do-or-die for us in Cuba." 
{"Yeye" was Celia's nickname for Haydee}.
     In addition to using the telephone to set up the ill-fated visit to the U. S. in April of 1959, Celia continually used the telephone and cables with important friends and leaders, such as Anastas Mikoyan, whenever she thought it would help Cuba. In the early 1960s Celia talked often with her dear friend Lisa Howard, the beautiful American anchor at ABC-TV News. Lisa helped Celia get in contact with President John Kennedy, whose viciousness against Cuba in the early days of his presidency had been carryover programs -- such as the Bay of Pigs attack and assassinations against Fidel -- from the preceding Eisenhower administration in which the U. S. policy regarding Cuba was dictated by the likes of Nixon and the Dulles brothers. But by the third year of his presidency, 1963, Kennedy had screamed at his top aides such epithets as, "I wish I could blow the CIA and the Cuban exiles to smithereens!" Lisa Howard, a high-profile journalist, arranged for Celia and Kennedy to exchange phone calls and cables in the summer and fall of 1963. Kennedy told her that his top priority was to "normalize relations with Cuba." His top aides including Pierre Salinger and Arthur Schlesinger Jr. confirmed later that Kennedy's top priority in November of 1963 when he returned from Dallas was to normalize relations with Cuba. And the popular young President would have been powerful enough to have accomplished that, if he had not returned from Dallas in a coffin on November 22, 1963. Both he and his brother, Attorney General Robert Kennedy, knew that -- after the Bay of Pigs disaster -- both of them were targets of certain CIA, Mafia, and Cuban-exile elements, especially the Mafia wing led by Carlos Marcello. On July 4th, 1965, even the gorgeous Lisa Howard died mysteriously, and from that day to this day no other American has come close to normalizing relations between the U. S. and Cuba.
       Lisa Howard {above} and Celia Sanchez were heartbroken the instant they learned of President John Kennedy's assassination. It told them that the bad guys would still be in control of America's Cuban policies.
      Celia Sanchez, the petite doctor's daughter, became a chain-smoker beginning when she was a guerrilla fighter in the Sierra Maestra Mountains. She remained a chain-smoker the rest of her life, till she died of lung cancer at age 59 on January 11, 1980. As vividly depicted in Georgie Anne Geyer's seminal Fidel Castro biography, Celia's death was the saddest period of Fidel Castro's long life. He immediately resigned as Cuba's leader. Three nights later his brother Raul walked into a darkened room where Fidel, all alone, sat on a cot with his head still bowed. Raul walked over, sat beside him, and spoke just one sentence: "You should know, Fidel, that the last thing Celia would want is for someone other than you to be the leader of Cuba." Those well-crafted words helped Fidel slowly begin his return to the helm as Cuba's leader. 
    This image shows Celia Sanchez the last time the Cuban people saw her on television. She had requested that appearance to tell them: "I know you are sad for me, but don't be. I have accomplished much of what I tried to do for all of you and, therefore, I am not sad. Somewhere over the rainbow, after the last storm has passed over Cuba, we will meet again. I wish only the best for you till then."
      A truthful appraisal of "The Celia Sanchez Revolution," also known as the Cuban Revolution, would acknowledge and confirm that Celia Sanchez stands the tallest, even above the far more celebrated, and much easier vilified, Fidel Castro.
     It was a female-powered revolution and the two most important guerrilla fighters were the two pictured above -- Celia Sanchez and Haydee Santamaria. Long before Fidel Castro, Che Guevara, etc., ever showed up in the Sierra Maestra Mountains, it was Celia and Haydee who kept the revolution a viable, if implausible, factor.
        Americans to this day are not supposed to comprehend that two female warriors -- Celia Sanchez and Haydee Santamaria -- were more significant in the revolution and in the first two decades of Revolutionary Cuba than Fidel Castro. However, Fidel himself comprehended that fact. The photo above shows Fidel flanked by Celia and Haydee at a period in Revolutionary Cuba in which these two women were more influential decision-makers than Fidel, who never failed to back up those decisions. It is also significant to understand this fact: Shortly after Celia Sanchez died of cancer at age 59 on January 11, 1980, a grief-stricken Haydee Santamaria committed suicide. But for the rest of his life, Fidel Castro has tried to follow the dictates of the two women that were the two most important revolutionary players.
      The Celia Sanchez legacy is best reflected in books like this one.
    Like Fidel Castro, whose father was a millionaire, Celia Sanchez was born rich. Her father, Dr. Manuel Sanchez, owned three farms and was once President of the Cuban Medical Association although he worked in small, isolated Cuban towns such as Media Luna and Pilon. The image above of Celia reading to children depicts how Cubans today remember her -- the greatest proponent of peasant children and the greatest opponent of anyone who would try to harm them.
      Celia Sanchez's incalculable love of peasant children found fruition as she and her father cared for them, free of charge, as best they could. In 1952 and 1953 Celia learned that the Batista-Mafia dictatorship was kidnapping peasant girls as young as ten to use as lures to entice rich pedophiles to gamble in the Mafia-run casinos. That knowledge spurred Celia to begin working in the anti-Batista urban underground, but only as a minor player. Then word came to her from Havana all the way to the eastern end of the island that a ten-year-old peasant girl named Maria Ochoa had been brutally murdered by a protected pedophile gambler. That turned out to be the biggest mistake Batista, the Mafia and the United States ever made on the island of Cuba. The fate of Maria Ochoa transformed Celia Sanchez from a minor player in the anti-Batista urban underground into the most important female guerrilla fighter and revolutionary leader in history. And that fact is why -- from 1959 until today -- the Batistianos, the Mafia and the nearby superpower United States have had no control over Cuba although, of course, such things as the decades-old embargo have severely restricted much of what Celia Sanchez intended for Revolutionary Cuba.
     History, documented by photos like this, reveals what Celia knew: That peasant families in Batista's Cuba lived in abject poverty while the Batistianos, the Mafia and U. S. businessmen -- backed by a strong military -- robbed the island at will.
    From 1959 till today Cuban children, despite the U. S. embargo and other factors that have direly affected Cuba's economy, all Cuban children, such as the ones above, have been guaranteed free educations through college, free health care for life, and free shelter and food. Also, the block-by-block Committees for the Defense of the Revolution have made Cuban children among the world's safest. Those parameters were dictated by Celia Sanchez, Haydee Santamaria, and Vilma Espin way back in 1959, the first year of revolutionary rule on the island.
In 2014 Cuban schoolgirls are a high priority.
      Since 1959 -- thanks to Celia Sanchez, Haydee Santamaria and Vilma Espin -- rosy-cheeked Cuban girls have fared much better than little girls in Batista's Cuba.
The BBC said Cuban girls today are "happy."
      Vilma Espin, Celia Sanchez and Haydee Santamaria -- from left to right above -- are no longer alive. But their revolution -- The Celia Sanchez revolution -- is still alive.
The most beautiful statues in Cuba today honor Celia.
The most beautiful billboards in Cuba today honor Celia.
Celia's life, more than any other, redefined Cuba forever.
          On May 9th, Celia's birthday, Cubans today sit around in front of her native home in Media Luna and discuss what she meant to them.
    And truth be known, Celia Sanchez means everything to Cubans today. By the same token, she has had a profound effect on America's post-World War II democracy. That's because The Celia Sanchez Revolution, also known as The Cuban Revolution, says more about the United States than it says about Cuba. After all, Cuba is an island and the United States is the world's superpower. Yet, the doctor's daughter from Media Luna saw a dire need to boot the United States off the island of Cuba when there was not a chance in a million she could do it. After she did it, she wanted the U. S. back on the island but only if that did not mean a return of the Batistianos and the Mafia. Vice President Nixon in April of 1959 convinced her that a return of the U. S. would also mean a return of the Batistianos and the Mafia. And that is precisely why to this day the U. S. has not been able to return as the dominant force on the island of Cuba. So, it's still Celia Sanchez's island, not America's.



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

cubaninsider: "The Country That Raped Me" (A True Story) : Note : This particular essay on  Ana Margarita Martinez  was first ...