Cuba today, Brazil update, Ecuador, Venezuela and other Latin America stories

Guests:  Fausta Rodriguez Wertz, the edtitor of Fausta’s Blog… Orestes Matacena, filmmaker and Cuban American activist……we will hear Orestes’ reaction to President Obama’s trip to Cuba as well as efforts to increase travel to the island………Fausta will update us on the impeachment proceedings in Brazil and the deterioration of Brazilian politics…..Venezuela the land of shortages and more shortages……Ecuador and the aftermath of the earthquake…..Puerto Rico and bankruptcy..…and other stories of the week……… to listen:

Smokey looking for Miracles in Cuba?



In the interests of full disclosure, Smokey Robinson is a very talented performer and songwriter. However, he’s a bit naive thinking that music will change Cuba.

Smokey is down in Cuba with other musicians.   It’s part of the latest effort to promote cultural contacts:

The three artists were among a dozen who joined a presidential delegation led by the directors of the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Smithsonian Institution that wrapped up a three day-mission to Cuba on Thursday morning. The purpose was to expand cultural exchanges with Cuba — the latest sign of warming relations in the wake of the countries’ decision to restore full diplomatic ties last year. The U.S. and Cuban cultural leaders announced the delegation’s achievements at a closing forum in the beautifully restored Grand Theater.

The officials’ delicately worded, and bilaterally edited, bureaucratese did not quite match the giddy passion of the artists, but it seemed that some progress had been made, even as the Cubans’ ire at the U.S. trade embargo hovered over the proceedings.

Like others before, Smokey does not understand that the problem in Cuba is Castro not exposure to US music.   In fact, most Cubans are already familiar with Smokey and can hear his music via Radio Marti or an AM station out of Miami.

The real problem in Cuba is a lack of freedom not music.

How did Smokey’s trip promote freedom in Cuba?

It didn’t and that’s the problem!

In fact, Smokey’s music sales in Cuba will enrich the Castro regime.   Castro Inc will share the profits with Smokey and the Cuban people won’t get anything out of this.

Let me paraphrase one of Smokey’s songs (“You really got a hold on me”) and remind everyone that the Castro regime’s really got a hold on the democratic aspirations of the Cuban people.

P.S. You can listen to my show (Canto Talk) and follow me on Twitter.

Trump leading the league in donating to Democrats



In the last 24 hours, we learned that Donald Trump gave $ 25,000 to Terry McAuliffe, the Democratic governor of Virginia.

This is the same Governor McAuliffe who just signed an executive order restoring voting rights to 206,000 convicted felons in Virginia.  We don’t know how these 200,000 plus will vote but President Obama defeated Governor Romney by 116,000 votes.     Would it be fair to say that the governor of Virginia just gave Mrs Clinton a bit of a head start?

Let me add that Governor McAuliffe is very close to the Clintons.   The donation goes back to 2009 when the Clintons’ good friend was running for governor of Virginia.

Here is the bottom line on Mr Trump:  The GOP frontrunner has donated to many Democrats, blasted Governor of Walker of Wisconsin for not raising taxes, has the same position on Iraq WMDs as Michael Moore and spoke against the Reagan tax cuts in the early 1990s.

And he leads the league in donating to Democrats!

It will be fun to watch the debates and see Mrs Clinton remind Mr Trump of all of those donations that he made to her friends!

P.S. You can listen to my show (Canto Talk) and follow me on Twitter.

Earth Day and Vladimir Lenin’s birthday



Before Babalu, American Thinker and websites, I used to write “letters to the editor” in our local newspapers.  It was our only option.

In 1990, I wrote a letter addressing the coincidence that Earth Day 1970 was created on the 100th anniversary of Vladimir Putin’s birthday.


It was published in The Dallas Times Herald, a newspaper no longer around.   In other words, I can not link to the letter but can share the content here.

My letter addressed a couple of points:

First, the environmental movement had become a refuge for the left, specially in 1990 following the collapse of the Soviet empire; and,

Two, it was ironically the cities of communist states in Eastern Europe, Cuba and the old USSR with the worst pollution problems in the world.

In fact, The New York Times wrote this in 1990:

While efforts to restore clean air to the United States have met with partial success, there is a far greater ecological disaster brewing in Eastern Europe, a report on worldwide air pollution said today.

The report, issued by the Worldwatch Institute, a Washington-based environmental group, warned that gains in the West are quickly being negated by the unrestricted burning of high-sulfur brown coal and diesel fuel that is blackening cities across Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union.

My letter argued that the communist world was polluted because of a lack of property rights as well as the absence of freedom or the rule of law.

It’s no coincidence that democratic states, like the US or Western Europe, are more sensitive to pollution or dirty rivers.  In general, elected representatives are more sensitive to the air that their constituents breathe or the water that they drink.

So is it a coincidence that Earth Day and Lenin’s birthday are on the same day?   I doubt the coincidence given the anti-capitalism tone coming from the movement.

P.S. You can listen to my show (Canto Talk) and follow me on Twitter.

President Nixon: A great friend of freedom for Cuba died on April 22, 1994



In 1959, Fidel Castro visited the US and met VP Nixon.

And VP Nixon reacted this way:  Castro was “either incredibly naive about communism or under communist discipline-my guess is the former.

It didn’t take long for VP Nixon to realize that there was a huge problem in Cuba.   And he persuaded President Eisenhower to plan the Bay of Pigs operation.   My good guess is that The Bay of Pigs would have turned out a lot different if VP Nixon had won the very contested election of 1960.

Obviously, there was more to Mr Nixon than meeting with Castro.   He was the 37th president of the US and a very accomplished author.   His book “Leaders” should be read by young people.   “No more Vietnams” is one of my favorite books about the tragedy of that war.

We remember President Nixon today.   He died 22 years ago.   This is my post about Mr. Nixon.


President Obama got “the Raul treatment” in Saudi Arabia




President Obama arrived in Saudi Arabia and got a little of the Raul treatment:

The decision not to dispatch a high-level delegation to greet the President was unusual and intended to send a clear message that they have little faith in him, Mustafa Alani, a security analyst at the Gulf Research Center, told the AP.
In addition, Obama’s arrival was not shown on state television, a perceived action of disrespect.

President Obama has sadly earned this contempt.   His weakness, from the very bad Iran deal to not demanding a single condition from the Castro regime, has emboldened our enemies and confused our allies.

P.S. You can listen to my show (Canto Talk) and follow me on Twitter.

Fidel’s “me muero pronto” speech



We have not seen a lot of Fidel Castro since 2006.  Once in a while, he greets a foreign leader or shows his face at a rally.   This week, Fidel Castro spoke to the Communist Party and it sounded a lot like a man saying goodbye.   This is from The New York Times:

“Soon, I will be 90,” said Mr. Castro, 89, who spoke in a strong but rasping voice at the close of a four-day party congress in Havana, according to official press reports. Mr. Castro’s birthday is on Aug. 13.
“Our turn comes to us all,” added Mr. Castro, who made his longest public address in years clad in a blue track jacket, “but the ideas of Cuban communism will endure.”
While Mr. Castro seemed to take his leave on Tuesday, others in his cohort signaled their intentions to stay put. The Communist Party announced that Mr. Castro’s brother, President Raúl Castro, 84, and the president’s hard-line second-in-command, José Ramón Machado Ventura, 85, would continue to lead the party for at least part of another five-year term.
Their re-election indicates that despite a dramatic shift in relations with the United States and tentative economic changes, the leaders of the Castros’ generation are in no hurry to make room for new blood. It is a blow to younger Cubans who are eager for a more pluralistic system led by people closer to their own ages and unencumbered by socialist orthodoxies.
Cubans are leaving the island in record numbers, tired of waiting for change and worried that better relations with the United States, while creating new economic opportunities, will end the privileges that make it easier to migrate.

They don’t do instant polls in Cuba or put them on the Cuban version of Drudge.   However, my guess is that people in the hall were politely listening and most young people outside were tuned in to a Miami hip hop station.

Castro’s message was to call on Cubans to keep the faith.   However, the reality is that “la revolucion” is broke and desperately looking for US tourists to provide the cash flow to pay bills and keep Castro Inc going another year.

Castro will probably die soon, or so he told the country.  My good guess is that he never thought that a museum to him, and “la revolucion”, would be surrounded by a McDonalds, Office Depot and young Cubans texting non-revolutionary messages to each other.

Fidel Castro’s revolution failed miserably.   I remember today all of those executed or put in prisons for saying that “la revolucion” would fail!

Go die soon Fidel.    There is a very warm place waiting for you on the other side!

P.S. You can listen to my show (Canto Talk) and follow me on Twitter.

We remember Carlos Manuel de Cespedes (1819-74)



Let’s take a moment and remember Carlos Manuel de Cespedes, a Cuban patriot from the 19th century.   This is from a summary written by Juan Perez:

Born on April 18, 1819, Carlos Manuel de Céspedes is considered by many Cubans to be the “Father of the Nation”.

Céspedes, who owned a plantation in eastern Cuba, began the 10 Years’ War when he freed his slaves and asked others to join his armed resistance against Spain. He wanted independence for Cuba, which he announced through the Grito de Yara (Cry of Yara).

Guerilla warfare was practiced by the Cuban troops, whose numbers soon grew. Céspedes became the general in chief. His forces captured the city of Bayamo and made it their capital.

When Spanish troops were sent to take the city, the outnumbered Cuban troops left and burnt it to the ground. Céspedes’ birthplace was one of a few buildings that did not burn.

As the war went on, Céspedes’ major goal was to attain American recognition of the new Cuban government, though it was to be an unrealized goal. Céspedes ran a constitutional convention, which decided upon a representative government for Cuba and proposed the abolition of slavery.

Céspedes was deposed by other revolutionaries in 1873. A year later, he was apprehended by the Spanish and executed.

Eventually Spain reached a settlement with the revolutionaries, but broke many of its promises.

Céspedes also published Cuba’s first independent newspaper, the Cubano Libre (The Free Cuban).

It’s important for young Cubans to hear about men like Cespedes.


The other Bay of Pigs story

(My new American Thinker post)

Fifty-five years ago, my parents and lots of other Cubans woke up to “la invasion,” or the invasion that most of us expected and were ready for.  There were groups in Cuba who had been fighting Castro, from sabotage to confronting the regime block by block.

This is about The Bay of Pigs, an event that most people have forgotten unless you’re a Cuban of my parents’ generation or someone like them who was impacted by it.

The plans for the invasion were passed on to new president Kennedy by the outgoing Eisenhower administration.

The men who invaded Cuba were primarily refugees trained by the CIA in Nicaragua.

They adopted the name of Brigade 2506 in honor of a member killed accidentally during training exercises.

The veterans of the brigade have a museum in Miami, a reminder to the young about the men who were willing to fight and remove communism from the island.

The politically correct explanation is that the invasion failed because Cubans did not rise up against Castro.  Actually, it failed because the total plan was never carried out, and the men were left stranded, as Michael Sullivan wrote:

The invasion force, with four supply ships, landed at dawn, with a strength of 1,400 men. Initially things looked promising, American planes struck at Cuban air force bases and destroyed Cuban planes on the ground.
However, the tide quickly turned on the insurgents.
President Kennedy, anxious to cover up America’s role, inexplicably called off all American air support, leaving the rebels stranded on the beach.
Cuban army and militia units, organized by Castro himself, swarmed the invasion site to block the rebels from gaining the interior of the island.
The Cuban Air Force rallied to strafe the landing site and the supply ships moored in the bay.
One ship sank and the remaining three barely made it out to sea.
Without resupply or air support, the men of 2506 Assault Brigade managed to hold out for two days, until nearly all were either killed or captured by pro-Castro forces. When the smoke cleared, 114 died and 1,189 languished in Cuban prisons.
There they remained for 22 months, until the Kennedy administration paid more than $50 million in food, medicine and cash for their release.
The accusations flew around Washington, as well as Havana, in the aftermath of the Bay of Pigs and an administration struggled to retain its credibility.

It was a bad day, and many Cubans were thrown in jail after that.

It was a worse day for the credibility of the Kennedy administration.  He was confronted by Mr. Khrushchev in Vienna and challenged in Southeast Asia.  He left Vienna a very frustrated man after being pushed around by the Soviet leader, as Frederick Kempe wrote:

As he drove away from the Soviet embassy with Secretary of State Dean Rusk in his black limo, Kennedy banged the flat of his hand against the shelf beneath the rear window. Rusk had been shocked that Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev had used the word “war” during their acrimonious exchange about Berlin’s future, a term diplomats invariably replaced with any number of less alarming synonyms.
Despite all the president’s pre-summit briefings, Rusk felt Kennedy had been unprepared for Khrushchev’s brutality. The extent of Vienna Summit’s failure would not be as easy to measure as the Bay of Pigs fiasco six weeks earlier. There would be no dead, CIA-supported exile combatants in a misbegotten landing area, who had risked their lives on the expectation that Kennedy and the United States would not abandon them.
However, the consequences could have be even bloodier. A little more than two months after Vienna, the Soviet would oversee the construction of the Berlin Wall. That, in turn, would be followed in October 1962 by the Cuban Missile Crisis. Already in Vienna Kennedy was distraught that Khrushchev, assuming that he was weak and indecisive, might engage in the sort of “miscalculation” that could lead to the threat of nuclear war.  He didn’t know then that his prediction would become prophesy.

Over the years, I have personally spoken to many of the veterans of Brigade 2506.  Like my parents, they started their new lives in the U.S., and many served in the U.S. military.  Every one of them tells me the mission would have succeeded if the plan had been carried out.

The lesson of The Bay of Pigs is simple.  Presidential weakness, and confusion, has consequences way beyond the event in question.

God bless the men of Brigade 2506.  They are heroes in my book.

P.S. You can listen to my show (Canto Talk) and follow me on Twitter.

Drama in Buenos Aires and it’s not about ‘futbol’ or tango


(My new American Thinker post)

Former President Cristina Fernandez was back in the news this week.

She is under investigation, as we see in the New York Times:

Former President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner testified in a Buenos Aires court on Wednesday as part of an investigation into allegations of misdeeds at Argentina’s Central Bank during the last months of her administration.
But the court hearing and Mrs. Kirchner’s return to the public eye quickly turned into a display of political theater as she claimed that she was being persecuted by her foes and reignited a debate about the independence of the country’s judges and prosecutors.
“I am not scared of you,” Mrs. Kirchner wrote in a statement she filed to the court. Even as her political capital has been ebbing, Mrs. Kirchner turned the hearing into a show of strength, speaking afterward to a large crowd of supporters outside the downtown courthouse. “We will return,” they chanted.

Frankly, there was indeed a lot of corruption in the last administration. It is the kind of corruption that happens when government has its fingers in everything. We call it crony capitalism. In Latin America, specially Argentina and Brazil, it is the corrupt relationship between a centralized government, public sector unions and big companies happy to go along to protect market share.

My guess is that nothing will happen to ex-President Fernandez. I think that President Mauricio Macri, a good guy, knows that this is a “lose-lose” game. It will turn Cristina into a victim and energized the left after the December defeat.

Here is my suggestion to my friends in Argentina: Get over Cristina and do something about a political system infected with crony capitalism. The answer is to blow up the system not put Cristina in jail.

P.S. You can listen to my show (Canto Talk) and follow me on Twitter.