Latin America vs. USA

With Cuba Caught In The Middle
Wednesday, August 27, 2014
      This photo was taken by Enrique De La Osa and was used yesterday to illustrate an article by Reuters. It shows 8-year-old Marlon Mendez meeting his idol Fidel Castro, who turned 88-years-old earlier this month. Fidel had been told that Marlon worshiped the revolutionary leader and not only could recite his revolutionary exploits but has pictures and newspaper clippings on his bedroom walls and also often dresses like Fidel, minus a fake beard on orders from his mother.
      Fidel invited Marlon to his home and they had a long chat in the Castro living room. Impressed with Marlon's knowledge of the revolution, Fidel gifted him with the above book that featured a hand-written page dedicated to Marlon. The Reuters website includes a video that shows Marlon's bedroom and also includes the young Cuban discussing his meeting with Fidel. He said, "I felt a lot of emotion meeting Fidel. The whole family hugged him. My mother was shaking." The video also included Marlon's grand-mother who said she was amazed how healthy Fidel appeared. The grand-mother, on the Reuters video, added, "We want Fidel around for a long time."
Note: The Reuters article about a young Cuban and his family worshiping Fidel Castro was most interesting because the grand-mother effusively updated Fidel's health, which is why the article made international headlines. By the way, Fidel watchers are studying his hand-writing above to judge his physical and mental state, both of which appear to be excellent, especially for a man who is 88-years-old. As you can see, he began his dedication to his fan Marlon with these words: "Para mi gran amigo Marlon..." {"For my great friend Marlon..."}. Of course, causal observers of Fidel Castro will consider the Mendez family, as worshipers of Fidel, to be unusual on the island of Cuba. However, if they were in the minority as opposed to the majority on the island of Cuba, Fidel would not be alive at age 88 and the Cuban Revolution would not be alive into its 55th year. That conclusion is not based on a pro-Castro prism but on a fact-based belief that, admittedly, differs sharply from that of the legions of anti-revolutionary Cubans.
       Costa Rica is an awesomely beautiful, thriving little country in Central America. Strategically located, Costa Rica is bordered by Nicaragua to the north and Panama to the south with the Pacific Ocean to the west and the Caribbean Sea to the east. It has a population of just over 4-and-a-half million people. Yet, in this summer's World Cup in Brazil, the Costa Rican soccer team went further than the heralded, lushly funded United States squad. Costa Rica proudly proclaims that "it has been without an army for over sixty years." It is also a very safe country for its citizens and for tourists or foreign investors. And this week feisty little Costa Rica poignantly reminded the U. S. that no longer do U.S.-backed dictators do America's bidding in the Americas.
     This is Mariano Figueres. He is Costa Rico's Director of Intelligence and Security. This week he told the United States to cease using Costa Rica as a part of its ongoing program to destabilize or overthrow the Cuban government. The Associated Press, in a Friday article from the Costa Rican capital of San Jose, wrote: "The Costa Rican government will investigate undercover U. S. programs operated from the Central American country and using its citizens in a ploy to destabilize the government in Cuba. USAID and one of its contractors, Creative Associates International, used the cover of health and civic programs, some operating out of Costa Rica, in hopes of provoking political change in Cuba. The AP found the program continued even as U. S. officials privately told contractors to consider suspending travel to Cuba after the arrest of Alan Gross, who remains imprisoned after smuggling in sensitive technology. Figueres said, 'It's a matter of sovereignty and respect and we're very alarmed that they used Costa Rican citizens and put them at risk.'" 
     Costa Rica this week pointed out that Latin America is no longer controlled or dominated by foreign governments who for decades used proxy, vile domestic dictatorships to rape and rob helpless indigenous populations. Costa Rica has worked hard for its well-earned sovereignty. It is a prosperous and safe nation that is home to some of the world's most gorgeous scenery and about 5% of the world's most diverse and amazing species, such as the red-eyed frog depicted above. Costa Rica has no army and no programs designed to harm any other country. And this week Costa Rica told the United States to stop using either Costa Rican soil or Costa Rican citizens in its unceasing efforts to harm the island of Cuba or Cuban citizens.
     Luis Somoza was the U.S.-backed dictator of Nicaragua when the Cuban Revolution overthrew the U.S.-backed Batista dictatorship in Cuba on January 1, 1959. In an effort to regain control of Cuba, the U.S. used its friendly dictators, like Somoza, to try to assassinate or overthrow Cuba's leader Fidel Castro. After multiple assassination attempts failed, the U. S. selected highly paid Cuban exiles to train in Nicaragua for an attack on Cuba. In April  of 1961 six U.S. warships left Puerto Cabezas on the Nicaraguan coast to attack Cuba at the Bay of Pigs. Luis Somoza famously stood on the dock and loudly shouted to the departing ships: "Bring me back some hairs from Castro's beard." {If you Google that exact quote, you can learn more}
     As it turned out, Fidel Castro not only rushed to the front-lines to lead the successful defense of Cuba at the Bay of Pigs, his exploits in Cuba inspired other rebels -- like the bespectacled young Nicaraguan Danny Ortega. The Somoza family dictatorship continued to control Nicaragua deep into the 1970s until the Sandinista Revolution, led by Danny Ortega, defeated the Contras who were backed by the U. S. {Oliver North, Cuban exiles, Iran-Contra scandal, etc.}. Since then, Danny Ortega has been elected and re-elected President of Nicaragua in a reconfigured Latin America.
       Thus, in 2014, President Danny Ortega of Nicaragua has joined a long line of democratically elected Latin American Presidents who regularly fly to Havana to pay homage to their idol Fidel Castro who turned 88-years-old this summer. Americans, who have been taught to vilify Castro since the 1950s, are now taught to vilify democratically elected Latin American Presidents who honor Castro. At the same time, Americans are taught to dis-remember the U.S.-backed dictators from Batista to Trujillo to Pinochet to Somoza that gave birth to young rebels like Fidel Castro who in turn spawned more young rebels like Danny Ortega. As a democracy-loving American, I remember those memorable dictators because I believe that never again should the American democracy create or support such dastardly dictators.
     This is a young John Kerry congratulating a young Danny Ortega. After a stellar career in the U. S. Senate, John Kerry today is the U. S. Secretary of State. Danny Ortega today is the President of Nicaragua. Oh, my, how things have changed!
     The rebuke this week of the United States by little Costa Rica is in stark contrast to the bygone era when murderous U.S.-backed dictators such as Trujillo in the Dominican Republic, Pinochet in Chile, Somoza in Nicaragua, etc., saturated the Caribbean and all of Latin America. Rafael Trujillo, for example, was the dictator in the Dominican Republic from 1930 till 1961. Trujillo was so ruthless that historians are still amazed that he slaughtered as many as 20,000 Haitian laborers because he blamed them for a lower-than-expected sugar harvest. Georgie Anne Geyer, Fidel Castro's seminal biographer, graphically explained that Fidel, while he was still a college student, was so angered about Trujillo's treatment of the Haitian peasants that Fidel and a couple of college buddies used a speedboat to overtake Trujillo's yacht. They boarded it and searched in vain for the dictator who happened to be elsewhere that day. Later, it has been well documented that Trujillo worked hand-in-hand with the U. S. in efforts to assassinate Fidel and to overthrow Cuba's revolutionary government.
     The well-known slaughter of thousands of Haitians in the Dominican Republic did not lead to the demise of the Trujillo dictatorship. However, the murder in 1960 of the three beautiful Mirabal sisters did derail Trujillo's support from the United States and other benefactors. It has been widely reported that the U. S. even participated in the bloody assassination of Trujillo in 1961. The grisly murders of the Mirabal sisters still resonates across Latin America, as do the memories of vile dictators like Trujillo. One of the many outstanding books about the Mirabal sisters is Julia Alvarez's "In the Time of the Butterflies" and the 2001 movie that starred Salma Hayak vividly recounted the heroic but fateful resistance to Trujillo that cost the brave sisters their lives.
     This photo shows Richard Nixon with his friend Rafael Trujillo. American right-wingers, like Nixon, who supported murderous dictators, like Trujillo, have never, to this day, been held accountable by the American people for installing and/or supporting a myriad of vile Latin American dictatorships from the 1950s deep into the 1970s. But this week's rebuke of the United States by gritty little Costa Rica was a reminder that democratic sovereignty, not foreign-backed dictators, now rule Latin America. And it is a reminder that Americans should understand why, in the year 2014, many of the democratically elected Presidents across Latin America credit Fidel Castro's Cuban Revolution with reminding them that their nations did not have to forever remain under the yoke of foreign domination. This is not to suggest that Americans should belatedly become fans of Fidel Castro. But it is to suggest that Americans should become bigger fans of their democracy. We can do so by researching some history of the U. S. involvement in the Caribbean and Latin America from the 1950s through the 1970s. That history would reveal why America's influence and reputation throughout its own region is not what we democracy-loving Americans would like it to be. In other words, I would prefer that today the democratically elected Presidents in Nicaragua, Brazil, Bolivia, Venezuela, Argentina, etc. thought more of President Obama and the U. S. than they do about Fidel Castro and Cuba. One reason for that is this: Americans since World War II have simply not had the knowledge, the guts, or the patriotism to hold people like the two pictured above -- Richard Nixon and Rafael Trujillo -- accountable for their anti-democracy actions. Fidel Castro was born on August 13th, 1926 but Fidel Castro was created by the U. S. support of the vile Batista/Mafia dictatorship in Cuba. Americans too ignorant or to unpatriotic to comprehend Latin America's history also don't try to comprehend why Fidel Castro's influence in Latin America today, and the influence his legacy will have, in many areas supersedes and will continue to supersede that of the superpower United States. There is something today called the Google Search Engine. That's where Americans should get their Latin American, Fidel Castro, Fulgencio Batista, Richard Nixon, Henry Kissinger, Bush dynasty, and Rafael Trujillo data, not from two generations of the most zealous Cuban exiles. One place to start is by studying the above photo of the joyous embrace of Richard Nixon and Rafael Trujillo. To thousands of murdered Haitians, to the three murdered Mirabal sisters, and to the millions of innocent people who have suffered from such gratuitous, effulgent smiles, defenders of the U. S. democracy have been sorely lacking. And that besmirches America's reputation, which was by far the best in the world coming out of World War II. In 2014 once again the world looks to the U. S. to save it from the abominations of powerful terrorists groups. And that is the America we should be, not an America that conveniently forgets the decades of the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s when the U. S. supported vile dictators like Trujillo, Batista, Pinochet, etc. while, to this day, the self-serving perpetrators are given free passes by suppliant U. S. citizens. The nexus of a Richard Nixon with a Rafael Trujillo belittles democracy. In a very troubled modern world, history -- Nixon, Trujillo, Batista, etc. -- should not be ignored.


Can Batistianos Capture America?

Before They RE-capture Cuba?
Saturday, August 23rd, 2014
     Mariela Castro, the daughter of Cuban President Raul Castro and Cuban revolutionary heroine Vilma Espin, has been besieged by the media this week. She is an elected member of Cuba's 612-member National Assembly. She voted against a Workers Rights bill that her father strongly supported. Reminiscent of her guerrilla-fighting mother, Mariela has always been a rebel. In college she performed topless in a play to the chagrin of both her father Raul and her uncle Fidel. This week, after the brouhaha over her National Assembly vote, the unperturbed Mariela said, "Good heavens! Cuba is already as democratic as a lot of democracies that have a lot more turmoil than we have here. When we are fully democratic, I guess these reporters will follow me to the bathroom and thrust their microphones under the stall door!"
     Rusney Castillo {above} has joined the large pantheon of Cuban baseball players who have quickly become instant multi-millionaires in the United States. Rusney is 27-years-old, 5-foot-9 and weighs 205 pounds. He is a speedy outfielder. The Boston Red Sox Friday signed Castillo to a 7-year, $72.5 million deal. {Yes, every penny is guaranteed whether or not Castillo turns out to be a Major Leaguer} The Red Sox are expected to quickly put Rusney in their outfield alongside Yoenis Cespedes, the Cuban who has become a star after being originally guaranteed $36 million by the Oakland A's. The instant success in the U. S. Major Leagues of players like Cespedes, Yasiel Puig and Jose Abreu has greatly enhanced the bidding for players like Rusney, and starkly increased the pipelines of scouts and agents vying to get Cuban players off the island. The LA Dodgers guaranteed Puig $42 million and consider that a steal; the Chicago White Sox guaranteed Abreu $68 million and consider that a steal. In his first season in the U. S., Abreu leads the Major Leagues in homers; back in June Cespedes won the Home Run Derby at the All-Star Game. The U. S. has 30 Major League baseball teams and obviously not enough talent to fill those rosters without a plethora of players from Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Japan, and Venezuela. Thus, if players like Rusney Castillo can get off the island of Cuba, which is easy to do these days, than they will have 30 Major League teams bidding for them. Rusney's agent is billionaire entertainer Jay-Z, the owner of the Roc Nation Sports Agency.
And speaking of Jay-Z: He and his superstar wife Beyonce made other Cuban-related headlines this week. Thursday (August 21st} a headline in USA Today blared this news: "Beyonce and Jay Z's Trip to Cuba Declared Legal." The United States government, according to the first paragraph in the USA Today article, made that ruling "despite questions raised in Congress." Of Course, those "questions in Congress" were raised by the Cuban-American anti-Castro congressional zealots who routinely belittle the U. S. democracy by thrusting their anti-Castro venom down everyone's throats while, perhaps, they should be devoting their time and energy to deal with a myriad of American problems not remotely related to Cuba. Yes, Beyonce and Jay-Z visited Cuba in April of 2013 and, thanks to the dictates of ultra-powerful and rich Cuban exiles, Cuba is the only place in the world that Beyonce and Jay-Z could have visited and then had to wait months before finding out whether or not they would be charged with a criminal violation of U. S. laws, such as the infamous Cuban exile-fueled Helms-Burton Law. Amazingly, the U. S. government, in declaring Beyonce and Jay-Z innocent, stated that the billionaire couple's visit: "served the U. S. foreign policy goal of helping the Cuban people by facilitating exchanges with them and supporting the development of independent activity and civil society." Wow! The U. S. government's "foreign policy goal" is to help the Cuban people? Or did it indicate that the U. S. government didn't charge Beyonce and Jay-Z because the ultra-rich entertainers could have spent unlimited amounts of money on teams of lawyers that would have easily contested the ridiculous charges? What do you think?
       Nicolas Maduro, the 51-year-old President of Venezuela, paid a surprise visit to Fidel Castro this week. This photo was taken by Fidel's son Alex Castro in the living room of the Castro home in western Havana. President Maduro said it was a "belated birthday visit to honor the Commander whom I think of everyday." {Fidel turned 88-years-old on August 13th} Fidel later told cubadebate.com that President Maduro "surprised me with three gifts -- himself, a basket of fruit, and a track suit."
Now...can Batistianos Capture America?
Let's take a look:
    Hillary Clinton's book "Hard Choices" was officially released this summer. It was an opening salvo of her official bid to become President of the United States in 2016. Pre-release publicity revealed that Ms. Clinton is now advocating for the U. S. to end its embargo against Cuba, which has been officially in place since 1962, much to the chagrin of America's and democracy's best friends around the world. While Ms. Clinton can have the Democratic presidential bid for the asking and the U. S. is in dire need of a female President, there are far better feminine candidates, such as Elizabeth Warren and Kathy Castor, who are not in lock-step with the moneyed minority that has bought-and-paid-for the American democracy. Ms. Clinton's self-serving but belated sanity regarding Cuba merely reflects that her advisers read both the tea leaves and the polls, which reveal that even the vast majority of Cuban-Americans in Miami now advocate an end to the embargo against Cuba. Of course, a yearly UN vote reveals that, in an interconnected world, all of the global nations, including America's best friends, are against a U. S. Cuban policy designed solely to appease and benefit only a handful of rich and revengeful Cuban exiles, mostly from the Mafia havens of Miami and Union City {NJ}. This situation has existed now through two generations of exiles from the over-thrown Batista-Mafia dictatorship. Those exiles were first led by Cuban-born Jorge Mas Canosa and Cuban-born Rafael Diaz-Balart but now are led by Cuban-born Lincoln Diaz-Balart, Miami-born Mario Diaz-Balart, Miami-born Marco Rubio, and Cuban-born Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. Massive, self-indulgent collaboration since the 1960s by the unending Bush political dynasty and other self-serving sycophants have greased the political and economic skids for the Cuban-exile machine that, essentially, constitutes a self-sustaining government deeply embedded within the sacrosanct bowels of the U. S. government.   
       So this is the montage you should pin on your wall as the 2016 presidential election cranks up in earnest for the next couple of years, with billions of dollars being amassed to pay for unending streams of nauseous television ads mindlessly extolling the "virtues" of these three politicos while insulting {to sane Americans} negative ads will belittle and demean their opponents. In the above montage, that's Hillary Clinton, a Democrat, on the left. In the middle is Republican Jeb Bush and on the right is Republican Marco Rubio. From now till 2016 realms of data on this already over-hyped threesome will be rammed down the throats of unwitting Americans who will be victims of billions of dollars of campaign contributions, most of it from wealthy trolls bent on purchasing what little remains of the cherished American democracy. If Ms. Clinton wins the presidency in 2016, it will be the same bought-and-paid for "democracy" Americans have become accustomed to. If either Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio wins, it will create this revolting situation: THE BATISTIANOS WILL HAVE CAPTURED AMERICA BEFORE RE-CAPTURING CUBA. No one, absolutely no one, would have predicted that! Except, possibly, two trutly outstanding women: A Cuban named Celia Sanchez and an American named Penelope Purdy.
    Penelope Purdy, surely one of North America's greatest Latin American experts, included this sentence in a famous Denver Post article: "The U. S. Cuban policy for all these decades has been conducted with the IQ of a salamander." No sane, unbiased human being can deny the succinct accuracy of that sentence. Ms. Purdy devoted the rest of that long article to pointing out by name the vile Latin American dictators -- Batista, Videla, Trujillo, Somoza, Pinochet, etc. -- that the U. S. had installed and supported, sometimes backing murderous coups that overturned decent, democratically elected Presidents, such as Salvador Allende in Chile, to install fiendish, U.S.-backed dictators such as Augusto Pinochet. If you study Ms. Purdy's article, you would understand, I believe, that she was pointing out how ignorant, cowardly, and undemocratic the majority of we Americans have been since the 1950s to allow this to happen. When she referenced "the IQ of a salamander," Ms. Purdy was not demeaning the intelligence of either the vile dictators or the equally vile Americans who backed them. Indeed, those collaborators were actually very smart Americans -- such as the Bush dynasty, the Dulles brothers, Nixon, Kissinger, etc. And the most vicious dictators, such as Pinochet, were all smart individuals who benefited enormously both politically and economically from all those U.S.-backed Caribbean, African, and Latin American dictatorships that mowed down decent government's like Allende's that wanted to use their national resources to benefit their indigenous majorities instead of having them usurped by Mafiosi thieves.
     Celia Sanchez, the petite doctor's daughter who happened to be the most important player in both the Cuban Revolution and Revolutionary Cuba, penned, in addition to Penelope Purdy's definitive quotation, the other most salient Cuban-U.S. quotation: "The Batistianos will never regain control of Cuba as long as I live or as long as Fidel lives." She first made that proclamation in April of 1959 after returning from a 12-day trip to the United States. No one, of course, believed her then. But in August of 2014 -- the month Fidel Castro turned 88-years-old -- everyone believes her now. At the same time, Americans in 2014 have little or no cognitive comprehension of the vast significance of those two historic quotations made by Penelope Purdy and Celia Sanchez. The following photo delineates precisely why that is a pertinent, true fact.
      This photo was taken by Andrew St. George in April of 1959 in the hallway of a New York hotel. The photo is owned and copyrighted by Yale University. If Americans understood the ramifications of this photo, they would have been in a much better position to properly influence America's involvements with Cuba. But such understandings would have resisted an unfortunate U.S.-Cuban relationship that has existed since the 1950s to benefit only a self-serving minority that has ranged from Batista, the Dulles brothers, and the Mafia in the 1950s to the Bush dynasty and a second generation of Diaz-Balarts in the summer of 2014. So, what is the meaning of this photo? Answer: In January of 1959 Celia Sanchez took off her guerrilla uniform to assume her role as the prime decision-maker in Revolutionary Cuba, with the total support of Fidel Castro. In January, February and March of 1959, despite all she had on her plate in Cuba, Celia Sanchez was constantly on the phone speaking to whoever would talk to her at the U. S. State Department and the American Society of Newspaper Editors. Americans need to know about her many phone calls.
      Celia Sanchez finally derived fruition from her persistent telephone diplomacy in the early days of Revolutionary Cuba in 1959. For the sake of Cuba, she realized that she needed the nearby superpower United States to be Cuba's friend and its major trading partner. The very last thing she wanted was for her beloved island to have the United States as an enemy. She fervently believed that Cuba's resources should be used to help Cuba's peasants, not utilized to defend the island against the awesome might of a superpower. In the first week of April-1959 the U. S. State Department assured Celia that, if Fidel Castro met and convinced President Eisenhower that Cuba would soon hold democratic elections that the U. S. could closely monitor, President Eisenhower would meet face-to-face with Fidel, who at the time was very popular in America. Celia joyously jumped at the offer. She immediately arranged to forsake everything else she was doing on the island in those halcyon days to arrange for Fidel to fly to the United States to meet President Eisenhower. As it turned out, the U. S. government blatantly lied to Celia and it is a lie that has shaped, colored, and predicated U.S.-Cuban relations from April of 1959 to the present day. It would be helpful to Cubans, Americans, and people around the world if Americans -- still capable of influencing their democracy -- knew that Celia Sanchez and Fidel Castro, in April of 1959, did not come to the United States on a sight-seeing mission.
    Historians are abundantly aware that this photo encapsulates and chronicles the lie the U. S. State Department made to Celia Sanchez in April of 1959. The wing of the Eisenhower administration led by Vice President Richard Nixon and the Dulles brothers {Secretary of State John Foster Dulles and CIA Director Allen Dulles} arranged for the decent but malleable President Eisenhower to be out of Washington that fateful week in April-1959 so the diabolical Vice President Nixon could be the one to meet Fidel. Nixon was not interested in hearing about an upcoming democratic election in Cuba. Instead, Nixon sanctimoniously told Fidel that the U. S. {along with the Mafia and the Cuban exiles, of course} would re-capture Cuba "in short order." Celia Sanchez was heart-broken. Her unbroken heart had amazingly been strong enough to boot the Batistianos and the Mafiosi off the island -- all the way to Miami and Washington, as it turned out. Would her broken heart be able to keep them off?
     After 12 days in the United States in April of 1959, Celia Sanchez led Fidel Castro back to Cuban soil. She would continue, with his blessing, as the island's prime decision-maker. And now...she took Richard Nixon at his word. She had been a do-or-die fighter to defeat Batista; now she would be a do-or-die fighter to thwart the plans of Nixon, the Dulles brothers, the Cuban exiles, and the Mafia to re-capture the island "in short order." The Bay of Pigs attack on Cuba in 1961, the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, the U. S. embargo in 1962, and numerous assassination attempts against Fidel Castro quickly followed Celia's arrival back in Cuba. Celia's revolutionary plans for Cuba called for a democratic election that would have benefited the island she loved. The trip to the U. S. in April of 1959 convinced her that the United States would not permit that to happen. The crucial parameters that had kicked Batista, the Mafia and the United States out of Cuba were laid down by Celia Sanchez. The crucial parameters that continued to protect the island from foreign domination were also laid down by Celia Sanchez. Americans do not understand that basic, crucial fact. If Americans were allowed to understand the above photos -- Celia's telephone diplomacy, Celia in New York, Fidel meeting Nixon, Celia's mindset when she and Fidel flew back to Cuba in April of 1959, etc. -- Americans would be able to understand Celia's proclamation in 1959 as well as modern-day conclusions by experts such as Penelope Purdy. But such realizations have not been possible because, since the epochal year of 1959, a mere handful of two generations of self-serving Cuban exiles have dictated the Cuban narrative in the U. S. government and the U. S. media. 

However, understanding the role Celia Sanchez played in the Cuban Revolution and in Revolutionary Cuba would mitigate against the greedy viciousness of the policy makers in Washington and Miami that have predicated and orchestrated America's Cuban policy since the 1950s. Yes, it is a policy that to his day severely hurts 11 million innocent Cubans on the island. But mostly it is a policy that hurts democracy and the image of the United States throughout Latin America and around the world. It has been proven that a superpower loaded with record amounts of money and weapons can sustain that policy decade after decade even with the United Nations and the vast majority of America's friends around the world detesting it. As Celia Sanchez, Penelope Purdy and other worthy souls seemed to realize, the reason such perniciousness can persist in the world's most powerful democracy is simply because the vast majority of Americans have neither the intelligence nor the guts to challenge a few self-indulgent benefactors. In other words, America's Cuban policy personifies a troubled world in which the wisdom and leadership of decent people such as Celia Sanchez and Salvador Allende fall victim to the more powerful but far more pernicious designs of people like Richard Nixon, Henry Kissinger, and Augusto Pinochet. The significance of Celia Sanchez, strategically unknown to Americans, reflects perhaps a fatal weakness in America's democracy.
     At the top of this essay the question posed was: Can the Batistianos capture America before they re-capture Cuba? The answer is yes, perhaps as early as the 2016 presidential election that includes wannabees like Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, and Ted Cruz. Two things the U. S. democracy has permitted combine to make it possible: {1} The U. S. teaming with the Mafia to create and support the thieving, brutal Batista dictatorship in Cuba in the 1950s; and {2} the U. S. creating and supporting the most visceral Cuban exiles that fled the victorious Cuban Revolution in the first hours of January, 1959. Fulgencio Batista's dictatorship in Cuba had two co-dictators -- Lucky Luciano and Meyer Lansky, the two absolute leaders of the ultra-powerful U. S. Italian-Jewish Mafia. In this montage, that is Batista in the upper-right, Lansky in the lower-center, and Luciano in the upper-left. They all three died as very rich and very free old men thanks to their safe exodus from Cuba in their lushly packed airplanes, ships, and boats. The sudden influx of all that money and political connections, through two generations now, has overwhelmed Miami, Union City, Washington, and the democratic fabric of the United States. It was no problem for Cuban-exile leaders, Canosa and Diaz-Balart, to align with sycophants such as Jesse Helms, Dan Burton, and Robert Torricelli to pass self-serving laws such as the Helms-Burton Act and the Torricelli Bill that, to this day, benefit the economic, political and revenge motives of a few while harming everyone else, including foreign nations and companies that remotely exercise their sovereign right to do business with Cuba. And, of course, uniquely, the Cuban-government-within-the-government has passed laws -- such as the infamous Wet Foot/Dry Foot policy that relates only to Cubans and the incessant Radio-TV Marti boondoggle that apparently, since the 1980s, has achieved just one function -- enriching and ingratiating select Cubans while costing American taxpayers billions of unchallenged dollars. Not only are controversial politicians such as Helms, Burton, and Torricelli readily aligned to the Cuban-exile zealots but less notorious politicos typically tether themselves to Cuban-exile extremists in quid pro quo deals that saturate Congress and thus the universe. The shifting sands of politics usually mean that a democracy can rearrange irrelevant, disastrous, or harmful legislation, but not when it comes to Cuba. Thus, there is no safety net regarding America's Cuban policy. Therefore, the three men pictured above -- Batista, Luciano, and Lansky -- established a Cuban policy back in the 1950s that prevails to this day. That is a fact that has been pointed out by much more decent, democracy-loving individuals -- such as Celia Sanchez and Penelope Purdy, dos mujeres excepcionales. {"two exceptional women."}  Two exceptional women indeed!


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.

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 ...