The latest on US-Cuba talks with Jorge Ponce

GUEST:  Jorge Ponce, Cuban American writer and contributor to the Babalu blog, joins us for a discussion of US-Cuba talks………there are still very controversial issues dividing the two nations, such as Joanne Chesimard, the woman who killed a New Jersey state trooper and escaped to Cuba…..the Venezuela rift……human rights violations in Cuba…..concerns in the US Congress about normalization with Cuba…….

Click to listen:

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/cantotalk/2015/03/30/the-latest-on-us-cuba-talks-with-jorge-ponce

A Babalu PSA: Rabies Alert

Ted Cruz Declares His Candidacy for President
Ted Cruz Declares His Candidacy for President

So finally the Miami Herald mentioned Ted Cruz’s presidential candidacy in the main page of their online edition.(!)

(I wouldn’t know about the print edition because I confess I haven’t looked at that fish wrap since April of 2000.)

And it goes something like this:

A Cuban, a Canadian, a white supremacist and a Chihuahua with rabies walk into a bar and the bartender says: “What will it be, Mr. Cruz?” … Then, he turns around and tells all the white trash in the bar to run for the hills.

It came in the form of a cautionary opinion hit piece by Andres  Oppenheimer warning Republicans, because you see, the well being of the Republican party is his primary concern, bless his heart, that if you sleep with dogs , you wake up with fleas. As we all know, it’s in the Miami Herald’s rich journalistic tradition to look out for the Republican party and to denigrate Cubans using canine metaphors.

Here’s the money quote: (emphasis mine)

The Canadian-born son of a Cuban father and a U.S.-born mother, Cruz — a first-term Republican senator from Texas — is one of the most rabid critics of President Obama’s executive action to regularize the legal status of up to 5 million undocumented immigrants, most of them Hispanic.

So, how does this newspaper stuff work anyway? Does the Herald call Oppenheimer and ask him to write an opinion piece on Cruz because he’s Latino Hispanic a Spic and Oppenheimer is also a Latino Hispanic a Spic and he can get away with saying he’s “rabid” without the risk of being called racist? Or is it that Cruz’s candidacy isn’t important enough to get an opinion hit piece by a real opinion journalist?

I mean there are so many more pressing issues going on for this niche Latino Hispanic  Spic commentator to expound upon. There’s the food shortages and long lines for essentials in Venezuela, the anti-government demonstration and unrest in Brazil,  the scandalous and suspicious  suicide  murder government hit of Alberto Misman in his own birthplace, Argentina, lots of stuff. But…I guess warning the Republican Party about evils that can befall it by associating with such a “rabid” Cuban-American trumps all these very Latino issues.

Oh well, like they say…you can’t teach an old dog new tricks…

Here’s my cautionary opinion hit piece: If you’re Cuban, please don’t buy the Miami Herald. If you need to wrap your fish or line your bird cage that badly, do it with one of those free real estate magazine things they give way at Publix. Or ask for paper and not plastic and use cartucho, por favor.

The latest on US-Cuba talks with Jorge Ponce

GUEST:  Jorge Ponce, Cuban American writer and contributor to Babalu Blog…..we will look at the latest developments in the on-going US-Cuba talks…..we will also get Jorge’s perspective on government employees using personal accounts to do business….Jorge spent over 35 years in the US federal government….and is the Obama administration out to get Senator Menendez for criticism of US-Cuba talks….

Click to listen:

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/cantotalk/2015/03/11/the-latest-on-us-cuba-talks-with-jorge-ponce

Do Younger Cuban-Americans Think Differently Than Their Parents on Cuba?

Art Linares

There are many out there in fantasy land who justify the Obama/Castro Accord of December 17, 2014, by saying that a majority of Americans – and they put special emphasis on the younger members of the Cuban-American community – support the opening. 

Well, here is a speech by the Cuban-American Connecticut State Senator Art Linares (Republican) on his feelings and aspirations for the homeland of his parents and grandparents. He makes Cuban-Americans and freedom-loving Americans very proud. 

Linares dispels the lies propagated by most media outlets whose main interest is propaganda. When it comes to the restoration of freedom and democracy to Communist Cuba, the majority of the Cuban-American community is of one-mind. This is self-evident not only in the election of Cuban-American congressmen who embrace a hardline on Cuban matters, but in the many Cuban-American households who teach their children that there is price to be paid for democracy. 

Linares succeeded ten-term Democratic State Senator Eileen Daily for the 33rd Senate District, and, thus, became the first Republican to hold this seat since 1992.  At age 26, he is one of the youngest state senators in Connecticut history. He co-founded a commercial solar energy company, Greenskies, while majoring in entrepreneurship at the University of Tampa. Middletown-based Greenskies recently scored a $30 million contract to install solar panels at 27 Wal-Mart stores in Massachusetts. 

To listen to State Senator Linares’ speech, click on https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Ngf9XVyjKk&feature=youtu.be

 

Cuban-Americans: Who They Are and How They Are Perceived

http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-image-usa-cuba-flag-image7153626

Cuban-Americans, primarily those belonging to the Historic Exile (1959-1979), have been the target of insults lately after President Obama announced a new opening to Communist Cuba on December 17, 2014.

They have been called all kinds of pejoratives – Batista sympathizers, inveterate hardliners, cavemen, reactionaries. They don’t deserve these slanderous labels. Those who mischaracterize them do not really know the story of one of the most successful immigrant groups in the United States.

Indeed, most Cuban-Americans have taken umbrage at multiple racist cartoons that several national newspapers have published in the past. Two come to mind immediately – one by Oliphant and the other by Herblock. Pat Oliphant’s cartoon depicts Uncle Sam sending a bunch of Cuban-Americans on a raft back to Cuba for fear that they would interfere with the 2008 presidential election, and asking them to say hello to Batista. Herblock’s cartoon issues a warning to Cuban-Americans who are dissatisfied with U.S. laws to purchase a one-way ticket to Cuba. Both of these cartoons are slanderous to Cuban-Americans – a minority group that is more conscious than the average American of the supremacy of laws because they left a homeland that became lawless. Regarding Cuban-Americans returning to Cuba in 2008 and saying hello to Batista, this shows the utmost ignorance by Oliphant. Fulgencio Batista left Cuba on January 1, 1959, and died in 1973. Thus, it would have been impossible for Cuban-Americans, or for anyone else, to interact with Batista – which goes to prove that racism is based on ignorance and unfounded stereotyping. Anti-intellectualism may be an American tradition, but when mainstream cartoonists embrace ignorance, we are all diminished as a Nation.

Moreover, some media outlets indicate that the majority of these Cuban-Americans are Republicans and mostly whites. And, you can rest assured that these characterization are not complimentary.

Ignorance and prejudice are sins against humanity! Although they may not know much about Cuban-Americans, they have seen them or interacted with them in the past. When they’ve gone to the movie theaters, they’ve seen Andy García playing leading roles in “Godfather, Part III” and in “When a Man Loves a Woman.” They’ve watched television anchor and correspondent Soledad O’Brien report the news and interview guests in multiple shows in CNN, HBO, and Al Jazeera. They’ve seen journalist José Díaz-Balart interview the President of the United States. They’ve read or watched the film “The Mambo Kings,” written by Oscar Hijuelos (the first Hispanic to win the Pulitzer for fiction). They’ve listened to the magnificent interpretations of jazz classics by Grammy-winning saxophonist Paquito D’Rivera and pianist/trumpeter Arturo Sandoval. They’ve danced to the catchy tunes of Celia Cruz (the Queen of Salsa), and rapper Pitbull. They’ve read about those who served in the President’s Cabinet: Carlos Gutierrez, former U.S. Secretary of Commerce, and Mel Martínez, former U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. They’ve been entertained by the incomparable Sammy Davis, Jr., whose mother was of Afro-Cuban descent. They’ve celebrated special occasions by drinking Bacardi Rum and Grey Goose Vodka, both owned by the Bacardi Family.

Cuban-Americans are highly educated. According to the Pew Research Center, they have higher levels of education, as of 2011, than the Hispanic population overall. Twenty-five percent of Cubans ages 25 and older—compared with thirteen percent of all U.S. Hispanics — have obtained at least a bachelor’s degree. After losing all their personal possessions when they left Communist Cuba, they learned that the one thing that no totalitarian government could take away from them was a good education and a university degree.

And, Cuban-Americans wield immeasurable power in the realm of U.S. politics. While being less than one half of 1 percent of the U.S. population, they make up 3 percent of the U.S. Senate and more that 1 percent of the U.S. House of Representatives. In total, there are eight Cuban-Americans in the U.S. Congress – five in the House, and three in the Senate. They speak for four states – Florida, New Jersey, Texas, and West Virginia. They belong to both political parties. And, when it comes to issues regarding Cuba, they speak with one voice regarding the restoration of freedom and democracy to this Caribbean Island, the Pearl of the Antilles.

But, one thing that the majority of Cuban-Americans are certain of is never to trust a Castro. Fidel and Raul have subjected the Cuban population to 56 years of totalitarian rule. With the average monthly salary of a Cuban employee being $20 and with many Cuban youngsters having to resort to prostitution to feed their families, most Cubans have lost hope of a better future. They cannot complain to anyone or participate in protest rallies for fear that they will be ignored, arrested, receive lengthy jail sentences, or assassinated. Two prominent political dissidents, Laura Pollán and Oswaldo Payá, disappeared under mysterious circumstances. Requests made to the Cuban Government to investigate these cases have fallen on deaf ears. No one pays attention to their cries for justice, as the Cuban Government is not interested in finding the truth, but only in hiding it.

So, are Cuban-Americans Batista sympathizers? Some of them are, but they are a minority and have to play by American rules while living in the United States. Although I’ve been called this designation in the past, I could not be a sympathizer of any political figure as I was 11 years old when I left Cuba. This shows vividly that these people who dislike Cuban-Americans so much are not interested in logical debates, but in ad-hominem attacks. In 1959, the majority believed that Fidel was the best hope for a better Cuba, only to regret it shortly after. This majority made up the cream of the crop of Cuban society – the professionals, the businessmen, the entrepreneurs, the entertainers who wanted a better life as a reward for their talent. They are the sons and daughters of this generation of Cuban-Americans who rose to prominence in American society because of the example that their parents gave them that it took hard work, dedication, and determination to achieve the American dream.

Are they cavemen? Not by any stretch of the imagination. They want nothing else than freedom and democracy for Cuba. No one would dream of calling former President Franklin Delano Roosevelt a caveman for fighting to restore freedom and prosperity to our allies during World War II. No one would dare to call Nelson Mandela a caveman for fighting to remove the apartheid plague from South Africa. Freedom is an equal-opportunity dream.

Are they reactionaries? No, again. They are champions of progress who have exceeded in all areas of American culture – the arts, humanities, sciences, and business. Instead, it is the Cuban Government officials who merit the reactionary label. They sentenced former USAID contractor Alan Gross to fifteen years in prison for simply distributing cell phones and computers to the island’s small Jewish community to connect it through the Internet with the outside world – not a crime anywhere else. In 2014, only 3.4 percent of homes in Cuba had Internet access – one of the lowest rates in the world – and it was largely limited to government employees and expensive pay-by-hour public access. Among the things that the Cuban Government fears the most is providing access to unfiltered information to its population. Keeping Cubans in the dark is the safest way for the Cuban Government officials to remain in power in perpetuity.

Are they inveterate hardliners? This, they are. Many of them believed Fidel Castro when he promised them in 1959 a revolution “as green as Cuba’s palm trees” with national elections in three months. They remember Fidel saying in July of 1959 that “I am not a communist and neither is the revolutionary movement,” and doing an about-face in December of 1961 by stating “I am a Marxist-Leninist, and I will be a Marxist-Leninist until the last days of my life.” They do remember Raul Castro giving the order in 1996 to shoot down two Brothers to the Rescue unarmed civilian planes in international waters, killing three U.S. citizens and one Cuban-American resident. They resent the Cuban Government for giving the title of national heroes to the Cuban Five Spies on February 24, 2015 — the nineteenth anniversary that Cuban Migs shot down two planes belonging to Brothers to the Rescue. And, they became aware on January 28, 2015 of Raul Castro’s ludicrous demand of requiring the U.S. Government to compensate Cuba for the estimated $1 trillion in damages for the U.S. embargo. And, yet, it was the Cuban Government that triggered the U.S. embargo when they confiscated the holdings of U.S. businesses shortly after Fidel rose to power in 1959 – which originally were valued at $1.8 billion, and which at 6 percent simple interest translates to nearly $7 billion in 2014. It is incomprehensible for Cuban officials to expect compensation from the victims of their illegal behavior.

Are the majority of Cuban-Americans affiliated with the Republican Party? Well, the United States is a free country, and no political party has an advantage over the other. Membership in one is determined by the confluence of ideology and platform with voters’ core values. And, the majority of Cuban-Americans think that the Democratic Party has betrayed their ideals. Most Americans are familiar with the three-strikes-and-you-are-out rule of baseball. Well, the Democratic Party has struck out with most Cuban-Americans. First, in 1961, President Kennedy crushed the hope to bring back freedom to Communist Cuba when he betrayed them at the Bay of Pigs Invasion. Second, President Clinton betrayed the aspirations of Elizabeth Broton Rodríguez to have her son, Elián González, raised in freedom in the United States. Elizabeth drowned in the open sea, but Elián was miraculously rescued by two fishermen and turned over U.S. Coast Guard. In 2000, President Clinton returned Elián to Communist Cuba. And, on December 17, 2014, President Obama announced his decision to relax travel, trade and economic restrictions with Communist Cuba. The deal was made after 18 months of secret negotiations in Canada and the Vatican, while keeping U.S. congressmen in the dark. There was a reason for the lack of transparency in this deal. President Obama knew that U.S. congressmen from both sides of the aisle would have objected to this unilateral deal with Communist Cuba.

After being called out on strikes, most Cuban-Americans opine that the Democratic Party considers them the enemy or not important enough to care about getting their votes. It was not like this before. There were many Cuban-Americans whose views were more compatible with those held by Democrats. But, it has come to this now. Just look around at how many Cuban-Americans get nominated to political appointments in the Federal Government when a Democrat wins the White House. Let me answer this rhetorical question for you: NOT MANY!

Are the majority of Cuban-Americans who came to the United States from 1959-1979 primarily whites? The quick answer is “yes.” According to the 2012 census, conducted by the National Office of Statistics of Cuba, the Cuban population was mostly white (65.1%), minorities included mulatto and mestizo (24.8%) and Afro-Cubans (10.1%). Within a century after the landing of Christopher Columbus in Cuba in 1492, the indigenous people were virtually wiped out due to Eurasian diseases and cruelty of the Spaniards. During this time period, the Cuban Government inundated the air waves with news about the rampant discrimination in the United States. Alabama Police Chief Bull Connor and his police department’s use of fire hoses, police dogs, and night sticks to break up civil rights demonstrations got as much air time as the speeches of Dictator Fidel Castro. After listening and viewing to these sound bites, most Afro-Cubans decided that the United States of America was not a welcoming place for them. And, ironically today, the majority of human rights dissidents in Cuba – from Dr. Oscar Elías Biscet to Jorge Luis García Pérez (better known as Antúñez) – are Afro Cubans.

At a hearing on February 2, 2015, before the Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations of the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the U.S. House of Representatives, Antúñez indicated that he had “been subjected to torture, arrests and raids on my home by Castro’s political police for denouncing the human rights situation in Cuba at international forums.” He went on to say that the Obama-Castro Accords “are considered by a vital segment of the Cuban Resistance as a betrayal of the aspiration to freedom of the Cuban people.”

There is an African proverb that reads “Not to know is bad. Not to wish to know is worse.” Finding out why the majority of Cuban-Americans think that the Obama-Castro Accords are treasonous to the cause of freedom in Cuba is something desirable for the citizens of the last bastion of freedom on Earth. You can find from me, a Cuban-American who left his homeland at age 11, or you can find out from Antúñez, who served a seventeen-year sentence for calling out for political and economic reforms in his country. But, find out you must! It a crime to let the enemies of the United States to do the thinking for you!

Cuban-Americans want nothing more than a Cuba Libre. A Cuba without any political prisoners, where Cubans can participate in free and fair elections conducted under the supervision of internationally recognized observers. A Cuba that recognizes human rights and basic freedoms as set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to which Cuba is a signatory nation. A Cuba that allows the establishment of independent trade unions and the creation of independent social, economic, and political associations. A Cuba that does not include Fidel Castro, Raul Castro, or any member of this family. A Cuba of the Cubans, by the Cubans, and for the Cubans.

[I submitted the above op-ed to multiple national newspapers, and all came back with multiple excuses for not publishing it. Out of frustration, I posted it on my LinkedIn account. As of today, it’s been viewed by 18,005 readers and growing].

Remembering Luis Aguile 1936-2009

We remember that Luis Aguile was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on this day in 1936.   He died in 2009.

Back in the 1960s, our family spent many cold winter nights in Wisconsin listening to “Cuando sali de Cuba”.  It always put a tear in my parents’ eyes.

Thanks to the late Luis Aguile for that wonderful song!

 

Alain Castillo remembers a very sad day

Alain Castillo is a young Cuban American living in Texas.  This is what he wrote today to remember the events of February 24, 1996.   It’s great that a young man like Alain is writing about Cuba.  It’s a pleasure to introduce you to Alain….

BROTHERS TO THE RESCUE ANNIVERSARY

BY ALAIN CASTILLO

Today marks the 19th anniversary of the Brothers to the Rescue shoot down.

As we carry on this day and remember those brave heroes who risked their lives to save others, I reminisce on the impact that this caused in my life in Miami and the US.

At home, my dad would at times yell at the television set whenever a picture of Fidel or Raul Castro was shown. And although the news reports were critical, he took the time to scream obscenities to these monsters because of the pain that they caused him and our family.

Nonetheless, he had a right to do it without political retribution – not economic plight—because none of his neighbors would tell state police. We were in the decent part of Hialeah, Florida—no less.

One of the best things that I remember was how he taught me to know about Cuba’s history and politics and in essence, be part of the struggle. The first major event that I can say I was a part of was the debate between the communist dictatorship’s Ricardo Alarcon and Cuban American National Foundation’s Jorge Mas Canosa in 1994.

Yet, what impacted me the most in that time period was the shoot down of four civilian, unarmed planes from the Brothers to the Rescue.

To me, this was one of the most horrific and in-your-face atrocities that any government can do to Americans. This was an example of extreme terrorism pre-9/11 and it has never been officially condemned by the US government and prosecuted in International Court.

At the time I attended Ben Sheppard Annex, a public elementary school, which housed fifth graders from the area for that year. (Miami Dade Public School had zoning and budget issues back then.)

Within a few days of the shoot down, our school held a gathering where all the fifth grade students and teachers attended. The student and teacher population was predominantly Cuban-American, but we had students and teachers from different backgrounds, including many African-American, Mexican-American, Dominican-American and African-American, Jamaican-American and Anglo-American teachers as well.

Yet, for that time period, we were all Cuban Americans, standing next to each other in prayer and in silence remembering and honoring the four victims of a grave injustice: Armando Alejandre Jr., Mario de la Pena, Carlos Acosta and Pablo Morales.

We sat down, with a sunny-day over us, in memoriam of the lives taken over international waters. Although we never knew them, we were all saddened by the news and were taught how to show solidarity and union to support the fallen pilots.

In recent years, Telemundo 8 in Miami continued investigating the shoot down and found a Cuban MiG radio communication that broadcasted the celebratory reaction of these Cuban pilots who shot them down.

We know that General Raul Castro gave the order because at the time no one flies without his permission. In essence, no one shoots without his permission either.

Why has this not been officially condemned by the US government at the time and now?

In 1996, the Clinton Administration was involved in their own politics in Central and Southeastern Europe with another tyrannical egomaniac (Slobodan Milosevic—remember him?), genocide in Africa and a re-election campaign in the US.

To them, the Cuban problem, despite its proximity, would be another intolerant and turbulent black hole.
Instead, evidence and the courts condemned to lengthy prison terms the spies that infiltrated the Brothers to the Rescue organization who have – you guessed it—been released as part of the new “course” on Cuba.

Yet, given this new life-line given to the Cuban government for free, America can still act bold and take advantage of the situation. Although the key figures of the shoot down were trialed, jailed and now released, the US can use this in the bargaining table.

So given the mulligan, will the US take the ball and run with it and condemn Raul Castro, or will they fumble?

Will the real US please stand up?

 

U.S. Senate Subcommittee Holds Hearing on the New Cuba Policy

On February 3, 2015, the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere (chaired by Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL)) held a hearing entitled: “Understanding the Impact of U.S. Policy Changes on Human Rights and Democracy in Cuba.”

The first panel to testify before the Subcommittee was made up of: Roberta S. Jacobson, (Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, U.S. Department of State) and Tomasz Malinowski (Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, U.S. Department of State).

The second panel was made up of: Ms. Rosa Maria Payá (Cuban Christian Liberation Movement and Daughter of Slain Dissident Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas), Ms. Berta Soler (President, Cuban Ladies in White), Ms. Miriam Leiva (Human Rights Activist and Independent Journalist, Havana, Cuba), and Mr. Manuel Cuesta Morúa (Spokesperson for Progressive Arc and Coordinator of New Country, Havana, Cuba).

Among the news that came out at this hearing was an announcement by Mr. Morúa that Cuban human rights activists planned to host parallel summits in Havana and Panama for Cuban-Americans and Cubans to air their visions for a democratic Cuba. He indicated that he had met with Cuban-Americans from Miami, New Jersey, and Puerto Rico. Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela stated recently that the doors “are open” for Cuban dissidents to potentially attend a key forum during the upcoming Summit of the Americas, which will be held in Panama in April 2015.

Another news of interest is the differentiation made by the panelists from the U.S. State Department between “the restoration of diplomatic relations” and the “normalization of relations” between the United States and Communist Cuba.

Ms. Berta Soler was the only member of the second panel that spoke in support of TV and Radio Martí.

According to the State Department’s Malinowski, the Cuban Government has undertaken 140 new detentions of human rights dissidents since December 17, 2014.

Senator Rubio’s questions for the first panel are found in slots 49:51 through 58:46 and slots 1:50:48 through 1:55:30. Senator Menendez’ questions are found in slots 1:14:39 through 1:21:37, and slots 2:01:51 through 2:06:26.

The testimonies of the second panel start at slot 2:11:00, while the question-and-answer session starts at slot 3:12:20.

To listen to the hearing, click on http://www.foreign.senate.gov/hearings/understanding-the-impact-of-us-policy-changes-on-human-rights-and-democracy-in-cuba (Note that the hearing starts at slot 23:50).

In defense of ‘white and privileged’ Cuban-Americans

(MY AMERICAN THINKER POST)

It’s time to put the left on suicide watch, because they are saying and writing some rather stupid things.

The latest is Ann Louise Bardach, author and columnist.  She just wrote an article over at the NY Times (where else?) about Cuban Americans:

Most Americans are under the impression that the Republican Party is unequivocally opposed to amnesty for immigrants. In fact, it has long backed a blanket amnesty — but only for Cubans. For every other hopeful immigrant, the party’s message has been clear: “Deportations, deportations, deportations,” to quote Jorge Ramos, the Walter Cronkite of Spanish-language television. Why?
One answer is that the 2.1 million Cuban-Americans have been, until quite recently, a rock-solid Republican constituency. There is also a race and class issue. Unlike most of Central and Latin America, Cuba does not have a distinct indigenous population (the Spanish slaughtered almost all of the native Indians of the island). Hence those fleeing the Castro regime in the 1960s and ’70s were almost entirely white, educated and middle or upper class.

I guess that Ms Bardach is saying that we Cubans are too white and “GOPish.”  This is apparently why white GOP members of Congress give Cuban Americans special immigration consideration.

As I recall, those measures were passed under the Kennedy and Johnson administrations.  They also had bipartisan support.

Did Ms. Bardach miss the Cold War? the Missile Crisis? Cuban troops fighting wars in Africa? a North Korean ship stopped in Panama after leaving Cuba with weapons in violation of U.N. agreements? Cuba on U.S. State Department list of terrorist nations?

Yes, Cubans were treated differently because we were leaving a communist dictatorship.  That’s not the case for other Latin American countries.  We were treated like political refugees rather than those who come here for work.  (I’m not saying anything critical about those who want to come here to work.  I’m simply explaining that our situation was different, and seen differently by the U.S. Congress.)

First of all, I’m sure that my parents, and so many like them, will be shocked to learn that they were privileged.  My father, like so many others, worked two jobs, including a night job as a bellboy at a hotel.  My late uncle picked tomatoes in Florida.  I’m talking about men who had professional careers in Cuba.

The US simply gave us an opportunity, and my parents took it.  That’s not privilege!  That’s America!

Second, there is a reason why so many Cubans, like my parents, were educated and middle-class.  The answer is the pre-Castro Cuban economy that Ms. Bardach does not know a darn thing about.  Maybe Ms. Bardach should stop learning Cuban history from the Castro regime or The Godfather II.  (Great movie, but very inaccurate Cuban history.)

Before Castro destroyed the Cuban economy with “hope and change,” the island enjoyed a lot of prosperity, or the kind of economy that would produce middle-class and educated people who would leave communism if they could.

Let’s check out Cuba before Castro:

In the 1950’s Cuba was, socially and economically, a relatively advanced country, certainly by Latin American standards and, in some areas, by world standards.

  • Cuba’s infant mortality rate was the best in Latin America — and the 13th lowest in the world.
  • Cuba also had an excellent educational system and impressive literacy rates in the 1950’s.
  • Pre-Castro Cuba ranked third in Latin America in per capita food consumption.
  • Cuba ranked first in Latin America and fifth in the world in television sets per capita.
  • Pre-Castro Cuba had 58 daily newspapers of differing political hues and ranked eighth in the world in number of radio stations.

Health

  • Cuba’s infant mortality rate of 32 per 1,000 live births in 1957 was the lowest in Latin America and the 13th lowest in the world, according to UN data. Cuba ranked ahead of France, Belgium, West Germany, Japan, Austria, Italy, and Spain.
  • In 1955, life expectancy in Cuba was among the highest at 63 years of age; compared to 52 in other Latin American countries, 43 in Asia, and 37 in Africa.
  • In terms of physicians and dentists per capita, Cuba in 1957 ranked third in Latin America, behind only Uruguay and Argentina — both of which were more advanced than the United States in this measure. Cuba’s 128 physicians and dentists per 100,000 people in 1957 was the same as the Netherlands, and ahead of the United Kingdom (122 per 100,000 people) and Finland.

Education
Cuba has been among the most literate countries in Latin America since well before the Castro revolution, when it ranked fourth.

So why are so many of our Cuban parents educated?  Maybe it’s because they came from a country with high levels of education!

We’ve never said that pre-Castro Cuba was perfect.  We just remind you that people leaving in rafts was not a part of that Cuba that my parents grew up in.

It is true that most of the Cubans who left were white.  The answer to that is that 64% of Cubans are white, according to the CIA Country Report.

 It should not come as a shock to anyone familiar with Cuban history that there are so many white Cubans, or people like me whose grandparents settled on the island.  Cuba benefited from large numbers of Spanish and other European immigrants, who came to the island in the 19th and 20th centuries, as related by Dr. Carlos Eire:

Between 1900 and 1930, the first three decades of Cuban independence, about one million immigrants flooded into the island, mostly European, and mostly northern Spaniards.
This population tsunami also included Asians, Levantines, and Jews.
These immigrants doubled the population of the island and changed its complexion, literally. Tens of thousands of immigrants continued to flow into Cuba every year after that, up to 1958. Immigration from the U.S. was comparatively slight, but in 1958 there were more Americans living in Cuba than Cubans in the U.S.A. Emigration from Cuba was minimal during this half century.

By the way, it was a lot of those Americans living in Cuba who had their properties and investments confiscated by the communists.  They are still waiting for compensation!

To be fair, it may be time to revise the policy that allows Cubans to have special consideration.  However, Ms. Bardach would get more support by making her case rather than relying on that tired race card that worked so miserably for the Democrats in 2014.

Memo to Ms. Bardach:  Drop the race card.  It’s boring – really old and boring!

P.S. You can hear my show, CantoTalkor follow me on Twitter.

Joe García and President Obama can’t fool Cuban-Americans

Joe Garcia 2014

A man, a president, a politician, and just about anybody else who cannot keep his word cannot be trusted to look after the welfare of others. If you are president of the United States, you cannot be trusted if you keep flip-flopping on your promises to them. The “audacity of hope” becomes nothing more than empty rhetoric!

President Obama suffers from a credibility problem. Back on October 25, 2014, he said “I am president, I am not king. I can’t do these things just by myself.” Then, on February 14, 2014, he said “I’m not the emperor of the United States. My job is to execute laws that are passed.”

Subsequently, on November 20, 2014, he rolled out immigration reform through executive action.
For years, Obama promised millions of Americans with health insurance that “if you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan” under his health care overhaul. He did not keep his promise.

And, as a candidate for president, Obama vowed to Florida voters that his policy toward Cuba would “be guided by one word: Libertad.” He indicated that while he favored engagement, there would be no quid of normalization until there was a quo of democratization: “Don’t be confused about this.” “I will maintain the embargo. It provides us with the leverage to present the regime with a clear choice: If you take significant steps toward democracy, beginning with the freeing of all political prisoners, we will take steps to begin normalizing relations. That’s the way to bring about real change in Cuba.” And, once again, he has not kept his word to the freedom-loving Cuban-Americans and Americans.

As President Obama gets ready to deliver the State of the Union address on January 20, 2015, a group of 78 signatories have sent him an open letter praising him for his new Cuba policy, and urging him to lift the U.S. embargo on Cuba.

Among the signatories, you’ll find the usual suspects within the Cuban-American community: both Fanjul brothers and Saladrigas. But, I want to highlight one in particular: Joe García.

When running against Carlos Curbelo for Florida’s 26th district, Joe García expressed his support for keeping the U.S. embargo. But his actions spoke louder than his words, and the Cuban-American community did not believe him. So, this community rewarded Carlos Curbelo with their votes. And they did the right thing.

You see, now that he is not a U.S. representative and does not need the Cuban-American votes, García has shown his true colors by signing the above letter that calls for the lifting of the U.S. embargo “to reflect 21st century realities.”

Cuban-Americans elected in Carlos Curbelo an honest and ethical man. They elected a representative who supports the U.S. embargo, and who means it.

On the other hand, Obama and García are like Puerto-Rican Poet Lola Rodríguez would say “de un pájaro las dos alas” (the two wings of the same bird). Both are individuals who don’t keep their promises.

To read the letter, click on http://www.supportcubancivilsociety.org/letters/2/