Overwhelming Cuba With Love

Obama Unleashed A Tsunami
       U. S. President Barack Obama's historic friendship showered on Cuba and its 83-year-old President Raul Castro has unleashed a torrent of love that is now inundating the island nation. Mindful of America's unmatched military and economic influence, most nations around the world have, since the 1960s, largely succumbed to the U. S. antipathy towards Cuba. Obama has, at least momentarily, changed all that.
          This past weekend in Rome, Pope Francis was so demonstrably friendly that Raul Castro told the international media that he is seriously considering reverting back to Catholicism "and start praying."
            While in Rome this past weekend, Cuban President Raul Castro was also showered with warmth and friendship by Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi. The two leaders had a long chat at the state palace.
        Adalberto Roque took this photo Sunday night {May 10th} of French President Francois Hollande arriving at Jose Marti International Airport in Havana. President Hollande will meet with Cuban President Raul Castro today, Monday, and he said he also hopes to meet with Cuba's 88-year-old Fidel Castro.
      This Desmond Boylan/AP photo was used today -- Monday, May 11th -- to illustrate an Associated Press article, written by Anne-Marie Garcia at the AP bureau in Havana. The photo shows an influx of tourists trying to "experience Cuba before the Yankees get it back." Today's Anne-Marie Garcia article was entitled: "Diplomats, Business People Flood Cuba Amid Warmer U. S. Ties." Obama opened those flood gates.
     Since the 1960s a long line of U. S. Presidents have recognized that the entire world disapproves of America's Cuban policy, especially the insidious embargo that is considered an imperialist infringement on sovereignty, but President Obama is the only U. S. President out of the last eleven that has had both the guts and the insight to confront the contentious issue that has been solely dictated for decades by a small but ultra-powerful contingent of self-serving Cuban-Americans from the Miami-Union City-Washington axis.
President Obama envisions a non-embargoed, prosperous Cuba.
 His visions for Cuba are sane and decent.
His opponents view Cuba as a piggy-bank and punching bag.
For Cuba's sake and America's sake, Obama's visions need to prevail.


Miami vs.Tampa

Different Views of Cuba
       Lizette Alvarez, a Cuban-American, was born in Miami in 1964. She graduated from Florida State and Northwestern, then was an award-winning journalist for the Miami Herald. Since 2011 Ms. Alvarez has been the Bureau Chief in Miami for the New York Times. Her coverage of the U.S.-Cuban conundrum is both excellent and fair despite her strong emotional ties to it. This month she penned an insightful article entitled "Going Way Back with Cubans, Tampa Leads Push Forward." Sharply contrasting Tampa with Miami, she wrote: "Today, Tampa sees itself as pivotal to Cuba once again: The city is taking the lead in the Obama administration's effort to rekindle diplomatic ties with Cuba, a move that runs counter to the anti-engagement orthodoxy of Miami and Florida's state government." {New York Times; May 2nd, 2015}
         Lizette Alvarez in the NY Times made it plain that Kathy Castor, Tampa's representative in the U. S. Congress, exerted a major influence on President Barack Obama's decision to normalize relations with Cuba. The President took special interest in Congresswoman Castor's 2013 trip to Cuba on behalf of Tampa businesses that seek business with Cuba. Ms. Alvarez wrote: "Tampa politicians have lobbied for closer ties for years. A turning point came in 2013 when Representative Kathy Castor, a Tampa Democrat, called for the end to the economic embargo and traveled to Cuba on a fact-finding trip. Calling the 5-decade embargo a failure, Ms. Castor said she had decided the best way to help Cuba's citizens and push the country toward more openness and democracy was through closer contact. Her position played a role in Mr. Obama's decision, political and business leaders said." Congresswoman Castor confirmed that she and Tampa had influenced the President. Ms. Castor told Ms. Alvarez: "I think the Tampa community gave him greater political space and support to turn the page." Quietly, she opposed the more publicized and moneyed Miami radicals. 
         This Melissa Lyttle photo was used to illustrate the aforementioned article by Lisette Alvarez in the New York Times. It shows a mural in Ybor City, a section of Tampa that lavishly celebrates its Cuban heritage. Ms. Alvarez pointed out that Jose Marti in the 1890s and Fidel Castro in the 1950s frequented Tampa to gain support for their revolutions -- Marti's vs. the Spanish domination and Castro vs. the Batista dictatorship. But long before that, Cuba's ties to Tampa were paramount. In fact, Cuba to this day owns some land in Ybor City. Ms. Alvarez wrote: "The land is home to Jose Marti Park and the Tampa deed still reads 'Estado Cubano,' the Cuban State." A rich Cuban back in the 1950s had donated the land to Cuba.
Tampa is 331 miles from Havana.
As this map indicates, Tampa is due north of Havana.
Travel Weekly envisioned this Tampa-to-Havana ferry.
     As I have said many times in this space, U. S. Congresswoman Kathy Castor of Tampa has long advocated the sanest, most decent, and most democratic approach to U.S.-Cuban relations -- a policy that would benefit her constituents, most Cubans, most Americans, and most Cuban-Americans. It is unfortunate, I believe, that U. S. televisions "news" networks pretend they don't know Kathy Castor exists while they fall all over themselves letting the Miami members of Congress vent their vitriol endlessly. I have stated before that President Obama was greatly influenced by Ms. Castor's recommendations. So I am glad that Lizette Alvarez, the New York Times Bureau Chief in Miami, has acknowledged the positive influence Kathy Castor has so bravely and decently rendered on President Obama and on U.S.-Cuban relations.
Kathy Castor for President?
Well, she's not owned by Wall Street or radical billionaires. So, she gets my vote.
{At least as a write-in candidate!}


The Guantanamo Albatross

Around America's Neck
          Ernesto Samper {Photo courtesy: Reuters/Carlos Garcia Rawlings} is still an influential man throughout Latin America. The 64-year-old Samper was President of Colombia from 1994 till 1998. He is now the Secretary-General of The Union of South American Nations {UNASUR}, which is comprised of twelve nations plus two observer nations. He is providing strong advice to Josefina Vidal, Cuba's Minister of North American Affairs, during her diplomatic negotiations aimed at normalizing relations with the United States. Mr. Samper's advice: "Do all of Latin American a favor by insisting on the return of Guantanamo Bay to its rightful owner, Cuba." In fact, as the leader of UNASUR, Mr. Samper maintains that "South America should reassess its relations with the United States if all of the U. S. military bases in the region are not closed. The U. S. is still fighting the non-existent Cold War in this peaceful region while it should concentrate on dangerous conflicts elsewhere. Instead of projecting its imperialist power in the Americas, the U. S. should point to a new agenda by eliminating its military bases in the region, starting with acknowledging the bully-theft of Guantanamo Bay from Cuba. That's the place to start making amends."
        Actually, in her three official diplomatic meetings with her American counterpart Roberta Jacobson, Josefina Vidal has stated conclusively that Cuba would never agree to fully normalizing relations with the U. S. as long as: {1} Cuba remained on the U. S. Sponsors of Terrorism list; and {2} the U. S. was unwilling to discuss the return to Cuba of the lush port of Guantanamo Bay. The first prerequisite, removing Cuba from the terrorism list, has been accomplished because the Cuban-American zealots in the U. S. Congress have admitted President Obama has the power to do that. But the second prerequisite, returning Guantanamo Bay to Cuba, is something the Cuban-American zealotry in the U. S. Congress can continue to dictate.
       Even in casual meetings, such as this one, Josefina Vidal has made these points to Roberta Jacobson: "Not only Cuba but the entire region demands that Guantanamo Bay be returned to Cuba. Frankly, Roberta, I am surprised that the United States is willing to endure the insult Guantanamo Bay attaches to your country. Like an Albatross around your neck, don't you realize that everyone except a few anti-Cuban extremists fully understand that the imperialist United States stole Guantanamo Bay from Cuba just because it had the power to do so? The Bush-installed prison at Guantanamo Bay is still called 'the gulag of our time' by Amnesty International and others. Guantanamo Bay makes the U. S. look like an imperialist bully with a wounded democracy that can't deal with it. What about asking for a majority opinion in your democracy?"
Guantanamo Bay, Cuba!!
Not Guantanamo Bay, USA!!
And by the way.................
      This riveting portrait is back in the news, reminding Americans of America's Greatest Generation. The incomparable Norman Rockwell created this masterpiece for the Saturday Evening Post on May 29, 1943. He called it "Rosie the Riveter." It helped America and its allies win World War II. The patriotic Mr. Rockwell was showing how American women replaced the U. S. men in the factories while the men were off fighting the world-domination plans of vile dictators in Germany, Japan, and Italy. This poster was used to raise millions of dollars in war bonds while American women were making vital war machines...tanks, planes, etc...needed to win the war. The reason this poster is back in the news relates to Mary Doyle Keefe. Mary was a 19-year-old telephone operator in Arlington, Vermont in May of 1943 when Norman Rockwell asked her to pose for the portrait. For years thereafter, he apologized for needing to make her look so "bulky."
      Mary Doyle Keefe, Norman Rockwell's "Rosie the Riveter," died recently at age 92. She was always proud of the portrait and "how much it helped my country." This photo of Mary standing beside the iconic painting was taken at the Norman Rockwell Museum in August of 2012 in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. The original painting in 2002 sold for $4.9 million and has since been sold for much more than that. But regardless of which museum it is in, it proudly remains an integral part of America's "Greatest Generation." 
       Norman Rockwell is one of the all-time greatest Americans because he lavishly shared his enormous talent with everyone. He died at age 84 in 1978 in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, but the lives instilled in his paintings will live on forever. He painted the Greatest Generation, including "Rosie the Riveter." 
          No titles or captions were ever needed to explain Norman Rockwell's paintings. They spoke for themselves. After getting beat up by a boy, this girl was taken to a doctor and then called to the Principal's office. But study the smile on her face. Yes, the boy beat her up but..."wait till you see what he looks like!"
         To this very day, I still subscribe to "The Saturday Evening Post" because the magazine still features paintings by Norman Rockwell. To me, Norman Rockwell personifies the Greatest Generation, the generation that preceded the generation that shamefully aligned America with the Batista-Mafia dictatorship, the remnants of which to this day makes the Greatest Generation that much more memorable.


True Heroines Saluted

Above & Beyond Self-ordained Heroes
I believe this lady, Vivian Mannerud, is a true American heroine.
Vivian owned an airline brokerage business in the Miami area.
         This is Vivian the morning after she was bombed out of business. A brave lady, Vivian had been warned about how dangerous it is to own a business that might...just might...benefit the island of Cuba. That wasn't her plan necessarily. She was more interested in making an honest living...and helping Miami's Cuban-American community that, unlike other Americans, could legally fly back-and-forth to Cuba. Still, she was bombed out of business, not unlike many car-bombs and business-bombs in the Miami area had discouraged anything that could, even remotely, be associated with benefiting Cuba. Later, Vivian herself told me that she was not surprised that the crime that put her out of business was not "seriously" investigated.
         This week Vivian Mannerud took particular notice that President Obama's administration, in bravely attempting to normalize relations with Cuba, licensed four ferry companies in Miami, Orlando, and Fort Lauderdale to travel back-and-forth from Miami to Havana, if Cuba approves, for the first time since 1960. AND GUESS WHO RECEIVED THE VERY FIRST LICENSE FROM THE U. S. GOVERMENT TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF SUCH TRAVEL RELATED TO CUBA?  If you guessed Vivian Mannerud, you would be correct! On her Facebook page Wednesday Vivian wrote: "Got my ferry/vessel/ship license. 1st one issued. Yippie."
       This is the confirmation letter Vivian received from the U. S. Government this week confirming she and her "Airlines Brokers Company, Inc." as the very first licensed recipient with permission to conduct travel between Miami and Havana. Was the brave and decent President of the United States remembering how Vivian's Airlines Brokers Company had been bombed out of business? I think he was. What do you think?
 And Speaking of heroines.............
   Ruby Bridges {Wikipedia} is a true American heroine although she is not nearly as well known as many self-ordained  American heroes who too often are fueled primarily by nepotism and greed. Ruby was born 60 years ago in Tylertown, Mississippi. She attended William Frantz Elementary School in Tylertown and later graduated from Tulane University in New Orleans. The elementary school in Alameda, California, is named for her. A beautiful song -- "Ruby's Shoes" -- was written by Lori McKenna to honor Ruby. An inspiring 1998 movie was entitled "Ruby Bridges." In 2001 President Bill Clinton honored Ruby with the Presidential Citizens Medal." Today Ruby and her husband live a quiet, successful life in New Orleans with their four sons.
       In 1960 when she was 6-years-old Ruby Bridges bravely and stoically became the first black child in the segregated South to attend an all-white elementary school.
      With "a simple act of courage" in 1960 Ruby Bridges made the United States of America a better place. That was over 54 years ago, and she is still a true heroine.
Norma Rockwell's portrait of Ruby Bridges.
   Toya Graham is a true American heroine. Her fame has nothing to do with nepotism or self-ordained patriotism. Toya is a citizen of Baltimore, Maryland. She is a church-going single mother of six -- five girls and one son. She worked two jobs and bought a home but lost both jobs and was struggling, as many single moms are. The day another young black man died at the hands of police resulted in demonstrations and criminal activity that set much of Baltimore on fire as the world watched. Out of that conflagration the world saw an everyday mom, Toya, emerge as a heroine. Toya noticed her teenage son Michael was not at home and she raced to the dangerous, smoky streets to find him. He wore a hood and a mask but she recognized him and his baggy sweatpants. She screamed, "Drop that brick!" Then, as the world has witnessed over-and-over on video, she slapped and assaulted her son to save him and perhaps save a policeman that could have been the victim of the brick. 
      The images of what Toya Graham did on behalf of her son and the city of Baltimore will remain seared in the consciences of people around the world -- at least for a few days. After that, true American heroines like Toya will be forgotten, especially by well-off politicians who realize that everyday heroines like Toya are not going to contribute a penny to their precious PACs {Political Action Committees}.
         Yong Soo-Lee {Photo: AFP/JIJI} is a South Korean heroine of the first order. In the last week of April she flew from her home in South Korea to Washington. She is 87-years-old. When she was 14 she was captured and spent the next two years in Japanese custody. As a "comfort girl" she was repeatedly raped daily by Japanese soldiers, as were hundreds of thousands of similarly captured Korean and Chinese girls. Yong Soo-Lee's trip to Washington coincided with the arrival of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. She is appalled that Japan, a close U. S. ally, has not fully owned up to the World War II tragedy that so unfairly disrupted or ended the lives of so many Comfort Girls. Ms. Soo-Lee sat and listened as Mr. Abe apologized to President Barack Obama for the Americans killed during World War II. But he didn't apologize to Ms. Soo-Lee who, he knew, sat nearby in a wheelchair. She was later interviewed by Pamela Constable of the Washington Post and many other American journalists. She told Ms. Constable, "I'm not going to die until we resolve this issue." Many others have apologized to her. In Virginia's Fairfax County near Washington there are 42,000 very successful Korean-Americans. Last May, near the Fairfax County Government Center, a beautiful memorial to the Comfort Girls was opened to honor and to apologize to them. Pamela Constable called Yong Soo-Lee "a study in grim dignity." She is that and more. She is a heroine of the first order...like Ruby Bridges, Toya Graham, and so many other everyday women who navigate in a misogynistic world that would be a far better place if they, and not the other gender, were the world's prime navigators.
Which reminds me of:
 Celia SanchezCuba's all-time greatest heroine.
Rachel Carson: America's all-time greatest heroine.
A butterfly visiting a Black Eyed Susan flower.
{Photo by: Mike/racingbear 88; courtesy: Birds & Blooms Magazine}


Celia Sanchez's Cuba

As Opposed to Fulgencio Batista's Cuba
Updated for: Sunday, April 19th, 2015
     Although Americans are not supposed to know it, a petite doctor's daughter named Celia Sanchez -- "The Flower of the Cuban Revolution" -- was by far the most important player in the Cuban Revolution. In Cuba's Revolutionary War and then in Revolutionary Cuba, she stands alone as the top recruiter of rebels and supplies, a fearless guerrilla fighter, and the only revolutionary decision-maker that routinely over-ruled Fidel Castro, her primary disciple. Her greatest contribution to Cuba and to history was kicking the U.S.-backed Batista-Mafia dictatorship off the island and then laying down parameters that have, for almost six decades, kept them from recapturing the island, even with the financial and military aid of the superpower United States. As the prime decision-maker in Revolutionary Cuba in 1960, she proclaimed, "The Batistianos will never regain control of Cuba as long as I live or as long as Fidel lives." She died of cancer in 1980 but Fidel Castro still lives, and thus...so does her proclamation. Americans are not supposed to know either her iridescent significance or her actual existence because the Batistianos she chased out of Cuba have, since 1959, controlled the Cuban narrative from safe havens in the U. S. Unable to vilify the child-loving doctor's daughter, the Batistianos choose to re-write Cuban history where the all-time greatest female revolutionary is concerned. That being said, it was interesting this week -- in the middle of April, 2015 -- that England's top newspaper -- The Guardian -- made prominent mention of another contribution Celia Sanchez made to Cuba and to history -- Coppelia Ice Cream!!
        England's top newspaper, The Guardian, used this Lisette Poole photo to illustrate an article this week entitled "Cuba's Ice-cream Cathedral." Written by Jason Matlagh, is also illustrated the difference between Celia Sanchez's Cuba and Fulgencio Batista's Cuba. Typically, this "ice-cream cathedral" in Havana's Vedado neighborhood was fully occupied with a mix of Cubans and tourists. It is, after all, the flagship branch of Cuba's famed Coppelia Ice-cream Parlor. As Mr. Matlagh points out, Coppelia ice-cream was one of Celia Sanchez's gifts to the Cuban people "right after rebel forces ousted Fulgencio Batista, a U.S.-backed dictator who turned Havana into a playground for the Mafia." The insightful article gave Celia Sanchez full credit for creating the ice-cream parlors and pointed out that "she named it Coppelia after her favorite ballet." Since the 1960s, Coppelia ice-cream has been thoroughly enjoyed by Cubans and by tourists. I am also reminded that such frankness by the British press is routine but the America media seems to want Americans to believe that Batista was a veritable Mother Teresa-type, not "a U.S.-backed dictator who turned Havana into a playground for the Mafia." I suppose that lie is designed to justify Cuban exile-fueled antagonism against the island from 1959 till this month of April, 2015. Of course, in addition to Coppelia ice-cream, Celia Sanchez -- the most important revolutionary in defeating the Batista dictatorship -- also quickly, beginning in 1959, gifted the island with such still-vibrant things as the block-by-block Committees for the Defense of the Revolution and The Federation of Cuban Women, positive features that have contrasted quite sharply with the Batista-orchestrated brutality heaped on Cuban women and children.
         The Guardian used this Lisette Poole photo to illustrate a typical Coppelia table.
          This Lisette Poole photo for The Guardian shows a young Cuban couple leaving the Coppelia Ice-cream Parlor. Americans are told that Cubans exist on about $18 per month. All Cubans get a small monthly stipend but they are also guaranteed free educations through college, free health care for life, free food if needed, and free shelter when needed. Many Cubans actually work and many also receive financial help from relatives living abroad. I have traversed the island, making it a point to live with everyday Cubans. I never met one that wasn't friendly to Americans and I never met one existing on $18 a month. That myth is the product of Cuban exiles who have succeeded in denying everyday Americans the freedom to travel to Cuba, apparently so they can distort the island to perpetuate their own financial and political agendas.
Celia Sanchez
May 9th, 1920 -- January 11, 1980
       This AFP/Getty Images photo was taken this week in Celia Sanchez's Cuba. It shows a young Cuban man wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with an image of U. S. President Barack Obama. Polls show that Mr. Obama has an 80% approval rating among Cubans. They are enamored of him with reason; he has shown more guts and integrity concerning Cuba than the ten previous U. S. presidents since the 1950s, and he has done so while confronting a cowered right-wing U. S. Congress in which Cuban policy is dictated by six vicious and self-serving Cuban-Americans. By the way, two U. S. polls this week revealed that the U. S. Congress has an 11% approval rating in the U. S. and that, apparently, is the 11% that have bought-and-paid for it.
      This photo shows Cuban President Raul Castro in a sit-down meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper last week at the Summit of the Americas in Panama City. Note the smirky, holier-than-thou smile on Harper's face. The leaders of 35 nations were in Panama and Harper was the only one who showed disrespect for Cuba. When he met Raul Castro, the Canadian press was not notified and the only photo was released by Cuba. Harper is an unabashed right-wing conservative who, at age 55, has been Canada's Prime Minister since 2006. He had earlier sided with the George W. Bush administration to form a two-man forum that kept Cuba from attending the previous Summit. With the pragmatic and decent Mr. Obama now the U. S. President, Harper is the only one of the 35 leaders in the Americas exercising an archaic right-wing view of Cuba. Over a million Canadians visit the island each year, almost 40% of the overall total tourists, but their leader represents the randomness of right-wing zealots who continue to make life very difficult for innocent Cubans.


Let Cuba Be Cuba

So America Can Be America!!
{Updated: Thursday, April 16th, 2015}
        As he promised Cuban President Raul Castro last weekend in Panama at the 7th Summit of the Americas, U. S. President Barack Obama this week -- April 14th, 2015 -- proposed to remove Cuba from the U. S. State Department's Sponsors of Terrorism list. The U. S. Congress now has 45 days to block that move but it is unlikely that, even in an easily malleable and readily purchased Congress, Cuban-American zealots can amass enough veto-proof votes. Mr. Obama's decision is a necessary step towards thawing U.S.-Cuban relations that have been, to say the least, icy for decades. Cuba was first put on the terrorism list in 1982 by the Reagan-Bush administration and kept there ever since by the Bush dynasty, Cuban-American extremists, and the U. S. Congress. Such enmity towards Cuba has very sharply and adversely affected America's respect and influence throughout the Caribbean and Latin America. Mr. Obama's action yesterday is the bravest and most decent thing any American President has risked since 1959, and there will, for sure, be repercussions. There remains in the U. S. an ultra-powerful Cuban-American contingent, always bolstered by easily acquired sycophants in the Congress, that will thwart most of what President Obama plans to accomplish related to Cuba, but his bravery and decency, in a world often intimidated by powerful miscreants, crowns and targets him as America's bravest and most decent President since the 1950s.
The handshake in Panama paved the way for Tuesday's announcement.
      Josefina Vidal, Cuba's powerful and highly respected Minister of North American Affairs, made Cuba's official response to President Obama's decision to remove Cuba from the Terrorist list. Her exact statement: "The Cuban government recognized the fairness made by the President of the United States to eliminate Cuba from a list it never should have been included on, especially considering our country has been the victim of hundreds of acts of terrorism that have cost 3,478 lives and maimed 2,099 citizens."
       Both Reuters and the AP Tuesday quoted Cubans across the island as welcoming the gesture from President Obama declaring that Cuba should not be on the terrorist list. The girl on the left said, "We love peace, not terrorism." The girl on the right said, "We have never been terrorists and the U. S. knows it."
     Dana Milbank is a top columnist for the Washington Post and I believe he penned the best out of what has been a multitude of recent articles related to U.S.-Cuban relations, especially since Presidents Barack Obama and Raul Castro went on television in their countries on Dec. 17-2014 to announce attempts to normalize relations, and particularly since last week's Obama-Castro camaraderie in Panama. Mr. Milbank earned the top spot, maybe even a Pulitzer Prize, with his column entitled "Marco Rubio Fury Over the Cuba Shift Shows Why Obama Made the Right Move." If you Google that literary masterpiece, you, of course, can decide for yourself what makes it Pulitzer-worthy but, in my opinion, Mr. Milbank has done the best job of explaining the ridiculousness of the Cuban-American extremists who insist on dictating America's Cuban policy to whet their appetites for revenge, wealth, and politics at Cuba's expense and democracy's expense.
    The aforementioned Dana Milbank column reached its zenith when he mentioned that Senator Marco Rubio, one of Miami's multiple Cuban-American contributions to the U. S. Congress, went into rages about President Obama's plans to challenge the Cuban-exile dominance of America's Cuban policy. When Mr. Rubio was reminded that polls showed the majority of people, including Cuban-Americans, favored correcting America's failed and flawed relations with Cuba, Mr. Milbank quoted Mr. Rubio as raging, "I don't care if the polls say that 99 percent of the people believe we should normalize relations in Cuba. I don't care if 99 percent of people in polls disagree with my position. This is my position." For many, many decades America's Cuban policy has been designed solely to benefit a few miscreants -- Americans, Cubans, Cuban-Americans and Mafiosi -- while harming everyone else. Since the 1950s, and especially since the first day of January in 1959 when the Batista-Mafia leaders were chased back to the U. S. by the Cuban Revolution, the sheer impunity with which the Batistianos, aligned with sycophants such as the Bush dynasty, have dictated U.S.-Cuban relations shames both the United States and democracy.
        You may or may not agree with Dana Milbank's column entitled: "Marco Rubio Fury Over the Cuba Shift Shows Why Obama Made the Right Move." That is your prerogative. You may or may not vote for Marco Rubio to be President of the United States in 2016. That is your right too. But I believe that you should agree that even a Senator from Miami, and certainly a President of the United States, should be respectful of what "99 percent" of Americans desire. Instead of blissfully riding the coattails of the Tea Party, the Bush dynasty, Fox News, and South Florida billionaires like the Fanjul brothers and Norman Braman, Mr. Rubio should be held accountable for such things as permitting his bio to claim his parents fled the Castro tyranny in Cuba for Miami when, in reality, they fled the Batista tyranny in Cuba for Miami. And for sure, Mr. Obama should be held accountable for so boldly stating that the views of "99 percent" who oppose him on a particular issue don't count. The views where 1% percent dictate to 99% percent is not what the United States is all about, at least it wasn't prior to 1959. As Dana Milbank's column opined, President Obama evoked Rubio's "fury" by trying to inject a majority viewpoint into the enigmatic U.S.-Cuban equation.
      Even in a presidential campaign in which young fledgling Cuban-American right-wing radicals Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio are official candidates, U.S.-Cuba Relations should not be a major factor in the race for the White House. America should allow Cuba to be Cuba because the U. S. democracy should not be tarnished by either out-dated imperialism or unacceptable mafiosi traces. And besides, the United States has a plethora of problems not related to Cuba. For example...........................................

       ...........this photo depicts a memorial service held recently in Denver. The girl in the white dress was Jessica Hernandez. Alone in her car, she was shot to death by policemen. She was unarmed. Three shots fired by two Denver policemen killed her. Never heard of Jessica? That may be because the national news media in the United States has become so saturated with many other instances of minority Americans being gunned down by police it is understandably hard to keep account. I mention Jessica's death, and such seemingly unending violent mayhem in the U. S., not to condemn policemen in the United States because, for sure, their job evokes danger and split-second decisions. But in particular Jessica's fate reminded me of a recent comment made by Josefina Vidal, Cuba's Minister of North American Affairs, who, by the nature of her work, is an expert on all things Cuban and American. Ms. Vidal apparently read the Denver Post coverage of Jessica's death because she mentioned it at a news conference: "I can't believe the American people put up with that. Since the revolution, Cuba has not put up with it." {4 Photos: Andy Gross/Denver Post}
     Death is final and irretrievable. These young friends of Jessica truly understand that although they don't comprehend exactly why it happened. They are holding a candle-light vigil at the spot where Jessica died and they are wearing Jessica T-shirts to honor their friend. Unnatural deaths, especially young people, should not happen and, if they do, they should be thoroughly and fairly investigated. In the United States, a lot of politicians continually rave about problems in Cuba, which is almost devoid of crime. They should, perhaps, rave a bit more about problems in their own country, at least before they throw deadly stones or lethal hand grenades at other countries.
       Young people who die unnatural deaths are remembered for happier times, like this photo of Jessica on Christmas Day 2013 when she visited Santa wearing her University of Nebraska jacket to show that she was a huge "Cornhusker" fan.
        The family of Jessica Hernandez, as this graphic indicates, was not pleased with the explanation of her death as provided by the Denver Police Department. That parallels the often-televised thoughts of many other American families. Mentioning Jessica Hernandez is not a condemnation of Denver, a beautiful city, or America, a great nation. But it is a condemnation of holier-than-thou propaganda casting aspersions on others while, perhaps, the propagandists should first be staring at a mirror and then looking inward at themselves. It was the above graphic about Jessica Hernandez that reminded me of a persistent point that Cuba's Josefina Vidal makes, a point that resonates throughout Latin America but not in sacrosanct America.
       No, young people should not die and if they do because of unnatural and unnecessary causes it should be investigated fairly. Young friends of young victims know that death is final but that's sometimes all they know. Take, for example, this young girl and her mother. They are Cubans. On Oct. 6-1976 they were waiting at Jose Marti Airport in Havana for the return of Cubana Flight 455 that had carried two dozen teenage Cuban athletes to Caracas, Venezuela, to participate in a Central American tournament. When this photo was taken, this girl and her mother had just been told that Cubana Flight 455 had crashed into the ocean and all 73 souls on board had perished. One of those souls had belonged to the beloved son and brother of this mother and sister. The mother had worried about the flight, as all mothers do. But the girl had not. Girls her age, unless it confronts them directly, don't think about such things. Although it was a Cuban civilian airplane, both the victims and the families of the deceased deserved a thorough and fair investigation. But it occurred during a period -- from 1959 into the year 2015 -- when well-trained Cuban-exile terrorists, acting with impunity from U. S. soil or U. S. embassies or military bases in Latin America, believed terror acts against Cuba were fully justified because they would hurt or overthrow Fidel Castro. Indeed, in Miami after word spread about the Cubana Flight 455 disaster, the most resounding declaration broadcast by the Miami media was: "It's the biggest blow yet against Castro!" Not exactly. While to this day Americans know little about Cubana Flight 455 or its significance, such terrorism against innocent Cubans helps explain such things as...Fidel Castro is 88-year-old and his soon-to-be legacy will impact Latin America for decades to come; and it helps explain why all Caribbean and Latin American nations today strongly oppose the U. S. embargo against Cuba, an island viewed as a victim of terrorism as opposed to being a perpetrator.
      The 73 victims of Cubana Flight 455, such as the young girl in the lower-left, have been forgotten in the U. S. but remain very much unforgotten throughout the Caribbean and Latin America. The young Cuban girl waiting at the airport on Oct. 6-1976 is now a woman. She hasn't forgotten. And, from time to time, newspapers and magazines throughout the Caribbean and Latin America still tell their readers about the first civilian airplane ever downed by terrorists in the Western Hemisphere.
     As confirmed by realms of de-classified U. S. documents, the U. S. within hours was well aware of the Cuban-Americans involved in the bombing of Cubana Flight 455 and other such anti-Cuban endeavors. Many in the Caribbean and Latin America cringed at the nexus of Oct. 6-1976 with Dec. 18-2014. On December 17-2014 President Obama announced grandiose plans to normalize relations with Cuba. On December 18-2014, the next day, the Cuban-American who will forever be tied to the bombing of Cubana Flight 455 led an anti-Obama rally in the streets of Miami. Americans are not supposed to understand that paradoxical nexus, but millions of people in the Caribbean and Latin America completely understand it.
      There are Cuban experts and there are American experts. But, for sure, there is no expert in this world who knows as much as Josefina Vidal knows about both Cuba and America. She knows about America's unique greatness and, as indicated by this photo, some of her heroes are Americans. But as a prime protector of Cuba's sovereignty, she also knows about "the darkness that courses through all that American goodness -- Batista, the Miami Mafia...Cubana Flight 455..." She believes the Cuban Revolution that overthrew the U.S.-backed Batista-Mafia dictatorship on the first day of 1959 was spawned not only by American greed and American imperialism but by "the counter-productive murders of young Cubans, murders that were intended to support all that American greed and imperialism on a perceived helpless island."
    Indeed there are countless black-and-white photos of the female marches that spawned the Cuban Revolution. Brave Cuban mothers took to the streets to protest the gruesome murders of their children, murders aimed at warning the Cuban people not to resist the wholesale thievery taking place on the island by Batistianos, Mafiosi, and U. S. businessmen. Such outrage as displayed here convinced Fidel Castro that...hey!..."with the total support of the female half of the population, we can win!"
       The street marches continued, especially when Fidel Castro was in a Batista prison from 1953 till 1955. The Cuban madres {mothers} didn't like the asesinatos {murders} of their hijos {children and brothers}. Had there been no such murders in Batista's Cuba, Fidel Castro would probably have been a lawyer in Santiago de Cuba and the Batistianos would still be totally in charge of the nearby island of Cuba.
    Women not only marched to tell the world what was happening in Batista's Cuba, women were the fiercest revolutionary guerrilla fighters. Study the expression, as they marched to battle, on the faces of Cuba's two greatest female warriors -- Haydee Santamaria and Celia Sanchez. In order for Batista to remain in control of Cuba, he would have had to kill women like Haydee and Celia...and he couldn't kill them all.
       This photo shows Cuban female guerrilla fighters riding into Havana right after they had chased the Batistianos and the Mafiosi to safer havens, especially the U. S. cities of Miami and Union City. On the left in this photo is the legendary Tete Puebla. Barely in her teens, she became a do-or-die warrior in the Sierra Maestra against Batista soldiers. Her inspiration: She had seen Batista's Masferrer Tigers come into her village and burn people to death in a locked shed and a gas-soaked gunny sack.
     This is General Tete Puebla today. She is a General in the Cuban army. She is still inspired. She is a kind lady but be gentle if you ask her about the Masferrer Tigers.
     Rolando Masferrer, the ruthless leader of Batista's Masferrer Tigers, chose not to hang around and fight Tete Puebla's all-female unit that was charging toward Havana in the closing hours of 1958. Masferrer reportedly escaped Havana on his getaway boat with at least $10 million in cash. He quickly resurfaced in Miami as the head of his anti-Castro paramilitary unit that got additional funding from the U. S. government, Mafia kingpin Santo Trafficante Jr., and Jimmy Hoffa, among others. Masferrer called his Miami militants the 30th of November unit. Also, it was well-known that Masferrer extorted money from Cubans in Miami "to help finish Castro." But, like other anti-Castro paramilitary units, Masferrer had no trouble with the authorities although his terrorist activities against Cuba were known to all. Masferrer was born in Holguin, Cuba in 1918. A car-bomb killed Masferrer in Miami on Oct. 31, 1975 when he turned the ignition in his car at his home. Car bombs were a specialty in Miami for years, many never seriously investigated. But it is believed that Masferrer was killed by rivals who, like him, had lofty visions of being the next leader of Cuba as soon as they could get rid of Castro and use their U. S. support to recapture the nearby island.
      This photo was taken by the legendary Cuban photographer Alberto Korda on May 1, 1960 -- barely a year after the triumph of the Cuban Revolution. It highlights reminders that Cuban women, after the revolutionary war, remained at the forefront of the island's defense, making sure that the Batistianos like Masferrer and the Mafiosi such as Traffcante did not regain control of the island. In April of 2015 General Puebla and Minister Vidal are continuing the tradition of Cuban women defending Cuba.
      Therefore today -- in April of 2015 -- I believe it is fitting that a dedicated and determined Cuban woman, Josefina Vidal, is at the forefront of defending Cuba against threats poised off her shores. The murder of 17-year-old unarmed Jessica Hernandez by three police bullets in Denver, on the heels of many other such events recently in the U. S., elicited this thought from Josefina Vidal: "I believe Cuba is one of the safest places in the world today. Apart from the war-torn places around the world...Gaza, Syria, Iraq, Nigeria, Libya, and the like...American newspapers constantly remind me how unsafe U. S. cities are, even from police attacks. Therefore, I wish Americans would find it strange that so much of their tax dollars are being spent to create turmoil and dissidence on Cuban streets where otherwise there would be no turmoil or dissidence, or at least very little. Heaven forbid if a Cuban soldier or policeman even accidentally bumped someone and knocked them down and some U.S.-paid dissident got it on film and sent it to Cuban agitators in the U. S. Congress or to that channel...what is it, Fox? If so, I guess they would cease all other activity for three weeks while they were encouraging the U.S. government to attack Cuba for such a human rights violation. Are unwarranted police shootings human rights violations? I think so. I also think if a Cuban policeman intentionally bumps an innocent, unarmed person on the arm just for meanness, it is a human rights violation. The Hernandez girl in Denver? Such a thing would be an anomaly in Cuba. I want that always to be so. And I think those U. S. tax dollars aimed at creating havoc where it does not exist on this island is a ludicrous distortion of how U. S. tax dollars should be spent. Moreover, I think the rest of the world, in this digital-Smart Phone age, now understands all that."


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 ...