Nelson Mandela Dies…

mandela castro

South Africa’s first black president has died after a long illness. History will remember his life, to be sure.

While I appreciate and respect Nelson Mandela’s struggles and his being a political prisoner within his own country for a large part of his life, I am not unaware of his post-prison political ideology and all the friendships he held with some of the world’s nastiest leaders. Which leads me to how I cannot help but be struck by the obvious…

The MSM that is now in full honors mode for Nelson Mandela who was a political prisoner for decades, and who fought against apartheid and for freedom in South Africa would be the same MSM that would be in full honors mode if the dictator of the Cuban apartheid, Fidel Castro … who currently holds political prisoners … were to die.

The day that Fidel Castro said: “Yo soy un Marxista Leninista”!

We will celebrate tomorrow that day in 1961 that Fidel Castro made it official:

“”I am a Marxist-Leninist and shall be one until the end of my life.”

He went on to state that, “Marxism or scientific socialism has become the revolutionary movement of the working class.”

He also noted that communism would be the dominant force in Cuban politics:

“There cannot be three or four movements.””

And that was it!

It happened about 7 months after The Bay of Pigs and confirmed that Castro would rule Cuba as a dictator.  It ended any hopes of a multiparty election or restoration of the freedoms that the regime had eliminated by executive decree.

I should add that people were thrown in jail or executed in 1959-61 for calling Castro “un comunista”.

None of those people were ever released after Castro confirmed that he was “un communista”.

 

Marc Masferrer and Cuba getting a seat in the UN Human Rights Council

As you may know, Cuba will now have a seat in the UN Human Rights Council:

“China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Vietnam, Cuba and Algeria won seats Tuesday on the U.N. Human Rights Council, riling independent human rights groups who said their election undermined the rights watchdog’s credibility.

The General Assembly elected 14 new members to the 47-seat Geneva-based council, which can shine a spotlight on rights abuses by adopting resolutions — when it chooses to do so.

It also has dozens of special monitors watching problem countries and major issues ranging from executions to drone strikes.”

This is a travesty but what else do you expect from the UN?  I can’t wait for Cuba to pass judgement on a member country that puts dissidents in jail or harasses citizens marching for freedom.    Let’s see how Cuba votes when that issue comes before the council.

Again, this is a travesty and an insult to our intelligence.

Marc Masferrer has been at the forefront of this battle.   Please check out interview with Marc.

Here is the link: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/cantotalk/2013/11/13/todays-message

 

Watching a documentary about Hungary ’56 reminded me of our Cuban experience

We Cubans have a special place in our hearts for anyone who stood up to communism.

A few days ago, I had a chance to see a documentary about Hungary 1956.  It was the the story of Soviet tanks crushing the democratic aspirations of the people of Hungary.

It made me think of Cuba:  the refugees, unaccompanied children sent to freedom, people being processed at camps and the freedom that we found in the US or other lands.

I wrote a post at American Thinker today remembering November 1956:

“It was a long time ago but the bravery of the Hungarian people is worth remembering.

I am a strong believer in reminding the younger generation that freedom is not cheap. In fact, many have paid the ultimate price to fight for it.

Many Hungarians did this month in 1956!

Before Prague 1968 or Poland 1980, there was Hungary, one of the great chapters of human valor of the 20th century.”

We salute the brave people of Hungary and how they fought for freedom 57 years ago:

Cuban American Orestes Matacena working on a new movie project

It’s always a pleasure to tell you about Orestes Matacena, a fellow “Cubano” who has been making and acting in movies for decades.

His resume is very impressive:

“Orestes first ventured into films at the age of six when he worked as an actor in “The Life of Billy the Kid,” with a cast comprised only of children. The movie was shot at the Mercedes Sugar Mill in Matanzas, Cuba, where he lived with his parents.

Orestes has worked as an actor with high profile directors on films, television and commercials.

As a film actor Orestes has played the antagonist in many Hollywood Studio films such as “The Mask” starring Jim Carrey and “Diggstown” with James Woods and Lou Gossett Jr. just to name a couple.

In the advertising world, Orestes has worked in 37 commercials so far, nine of them directed by Marcus Nispel. The New York Museum of Modern Art has made Mr. Nispel’s body of work part of its Permanent Collection. Thanks to Mr. Nispel’s artistic endeavor, Orestes is part of that wonderful collection.

Orestes is well known for NOT taking “no” for an answer. He raised the capital to produce and direct a feature movie from a screenplay he wrote called “Tainted.” However, he decided that, rather than consuming his time finding investors to bankroll his movies, he would finance them himself and use that time to sharpen his creative vision.

Orestes is, as the French would say, a real film auteur. His body of work to date as a filmmaker includes “In Plain View,” “Sex Guns Money @ 20,” “Cuba Libre,” “Fatal Encounter,” “Tainted,” “James Gilbert Albright and the Haunted Studio,” “The Two Faces of Ruben Rabasa,” “Aguabella” and “Theater in the Parks.” He has written, directed, produced and edited almost all of his work.

In 1968, Orestes wrote his first play, “The Gym.” Since then, he expanded his versatility as a playwright and screenwriter with three plays and more than twenty five screenplays and various television concepts to his credit to date. His writing encompasses a variety of styles: thrillers, dramas, comedies, horror and action-adventures.

“Bitter Sugar,” a movie Orestes wrote for Hollywood director Leon Ichaso about a young couple living under the Cuban Communist Tyranny, opened to excellent reviews and was shown to the Human Rights Commission in Geneva, Switzerland and to the United States Congress. For Orestes this was a spiritual and rewarding experience.

Orestes was born in Cuba to Italian immigrants and grew up on a sugar mill plantation where the country and all kinds of animals, especially horses, were a large part of his life. He describes himself as a “third world country boy.”  But his business partner, Orna Rachovitsky, says he is a “hillbilly in an Armani suit.”

His new project is “Swastika”, a movie about Jewish resistance in World War II:

“We celebrate the “soldiers” of the Resistance for their courage, perseverance and consideration for future generations like ours. They fought for their own freedom, but they fought for our freedom too. And this is why we are making the movie “Swastika” in order to remember and offer the same consideration to future generations.”

You can hear my interview with Orestes here:   http://www.blogtalkradio.com/cantotalk/2013/10/29/todays-message

You can learn more about the movie here:      http://www.swastikathemovie.com/index.htm

 

“El jefe de Babalu” on CANTO TALK

We spoke with Alberto de la Cruz on Wednesday night.

As Babalu readers know, our friend Alberto has done a great job posting about the “fake reforms” and continuing “repression”.

Fausta Wertz, editor of Fausta’s Blog, also joined our panel.  Please check Fausta’s Blog for daily coverage of US-Latin America news.

Enjoy the show:

WEDNESDAY: The latest from Cuba PLUS US-Latin America stories of the week….

Listen in now at http://t.co/VXAjDTkjSv.

 

 

 

 

Una Noche: “I regard it as a bit of a miracle …”

NRO’s Jay Nordlinger writes a rave review about “Una Noche”, a rare realistic movie about the real Cuba under the Castros, and nails to the wall the prior Castro-sycophant filmmakers and celebrities that have whitewashed the truth for decades…

Last week, I went to see a movie called Una Noche — a movie about Cuba. I never would have seen it, but Charles Lane wrote about it, in an article titled “Cuba’s hard truths exposed.” Then Ron Radosh told me about it. (He would write about it here.) So I went.

I regard it as a bit of a miracle — a movie that portrays Communist Cuba realistically. All of my life, I have seen movies whitewash Cuba. Indeed, whitewashing Cuba is one of Hollywood’s minor specialties. I blinked in amazement at seeing Una Noche.

(We had a similar experience in 2000, with Before Night Falls.)

Ever since Castro seized power in 1959, really, the weight of American culture has been in favor of the dictatorship. Journalistically, academically, cinematically — the weight has been on the dictatorship’s side.

I think of Herbert Matthews, the New York Timesman who did for Castro something like what his forebear, Walter Duranty, did for Stalin. In more recent times, I think of CNN’s Anita Snow and the AP’s Lucia Newman. Those names are bitter in the mouths of Cuban democrats.

Academia? Well, let me quickly tell a story I have told before. When I was in grad school, they invited Armando Valladares to speak (which was a bit of a miracle). He was known as the Cuban Solzhenitsyn, for he was a writer who had spent 22 years in the gulag and lived to tell about it (in Against All Hope).

But the university would not let him appear alone — would not let him speak to the kids alone. They had to pair him with a professor, to give the pro-Castro side (i.e., to whitewash).

And who, would you say, is the most frequently quoted professor in articles about Cuba? I’d say Wayne Smith, by miles. It has been that way for, what? Twenty years? Supporters of the democratic opposition get much less ink.

The parade of Hollywood figures who have trooped to Havana to sit at Fidel’s feet — and then promoted him and defended him around the world — is too long to detail. I’ll toss out a few names: Steven Spielberg, Robert Redford, Jack Nicholson, Leonardo DiCaprio, Naomi Campbell, Kate Moss — all the beautiful people.

 

You remember what Carole King did, right? She sang to Castro “You’ve Got a Friend.” He sure does, countless of them, in free countries, especially in the United States.

Obviously, the hard Left has given the dictatorship its full-blown support. But the soft Left has done its part too. I mean people like the editors of the New York Times and Barbara Walters. They count more than some political-science prof at Bennington or wherever.

One of the reasons Una Noche amazed me is that I saw it shortly after the death of Saul Landau — the American leftist who made films glorifying and lying about Castro. If you want to know more about Landau, see what Ron Radosh wrote about him, here. (The two knew each other.)

Obits about Landau, of course, whitewashed his beliefs and his career. The headline in the Times was “Saul Landau, Maker of Films with Leftist Edge, Dies at 77.” Leftist edge! Priceless! “Leni Riefenstahl, Maker of Films with . . .”

Landau, Oliver Stone, Michael Moore — these are the kind of people who make movies about Cuba. They have covered up the reality of Castro’s island for years.

Read more

“El socialismo no sirve” but some keep trying and trying!

How many times does socialism have to fail before people come to their senses?

Some have figured it out.  Chile, for example, has a sound economy and no one lines up at the US Embassy looking for a “work visa”.   On the contrary, Chileans travel to the US to invest, buy our goods and services or do a little sightseeing.  They also have a sound currency and a thriving middle class.

Some are still in the dark, such as Argentina, Bolivia, Venezuela and Cuba.   By the way, I mean literally in the dark, as we’ve heard of the lights going out in Venezuela recently.

It looks like socialism has a new disciple, i.e. the Democrat candidate for New York City mayor in the upcoming election.

Where is Rudy-G when we really need him?

Michael Goodwin explains that the Democrat in New York is running a campaign based on income inequality:

““Fighting inequality and fighting economic injustice,” as he put it, is what he’s all about.

Good luck with that, but before New Yorkers jump onto the Democrat’s bound-for-utopia bandwagon, some history is required. We could start with Karl Marx, but we’d just get lost trying to decode the incomprehensible differences among Marxists, Leninists and Trotskyites.

Instead, let’s look at Cuba, which, strictly by the numbers, reflects the paradise de Blasio describes. Fidel and Raul Castro had their way for 54 years and pulled off the socialist dream: The island nation had the least income inequality in the world, a survey found. North Korea also was off the charts.

Of course, there are some peculiar facts about Cuban exceptionalism.

Everybody is equally poor, with average monthly wages of $19, while children’s shoes can cost nearly as much.

And that much-ballyhooed health-care system? It’s a joke. Bring your own sheets, bedpans and food to the hospital, and pray you don’t die of infections or neglect. True, it is free, so your family won’t get stuck with a capitalist-size bill to bury you. What a relief that must be.

On my visit to Cuba, I was struck by the total breakdown of everything except the police state. Havana’s once-glorious architecture is crumbling, and there are chickens and pigs, but no running water, in large parts of the central city.

Half the cars are owned by the government, and the other half belong in antique shops. Smaller cities look as though they are stuck in the 19th century, with public transportation consisting of a man guiding a horse-drawn wagon. TV and Internet are scarce and tightly controlled. Complaining about any of this can land you behind bars.”

We Cubans know a thing or two about speeches calling for “income inequality”.     As my mom will tell you:  “Yo vi esa pelicula” or “I saw that movie”.

Of course, they will call us “right wing reactionaries”  for calling Mr De Blasio a socialist.  They will say that we see socialism in our soup and just can’t see straight.

What do you call it when the letters in your soup spell socialism?

What do you call a system that takes from those who produce and gives it to those who expect a handout?

We call it socialism. Worse than that, we call it a “‘fracaso” or failure.

Socialism has failed everywhere but there are still people looking for the right formula.   Mr De Blasio is the latest!

P. S. You can hear CANTO TALK here.

 

CANTO TALK goes Babalu this weekend

We had a great time this weekend talking to some of our Babalu friends.

On Friday, it was Fernando Hernandez, (“The Cubans“) Regina Anavy (“Out of Cuba“) and Jorge Ponce.  We discussed their books and Jorge’s article about Hispanic Heritage month and the Obama administration;

On Saturday, Jorge Ponce came back and we discussed his post today about the term “hispanic”:

Enjoy them over the weekend!

Even “El Pais” thinks that Branson was over the top!

We saw Alberto De La Cruz’s post earlier today about Richard Branson dressing up as Che to promote his new business ventures.

I found this from “El Pais” in Spain to be rather interesting:

“Si el Che Guevara levantara la cabeza, probablemente volvería a morirse al ver que uno de los hombres más ricos del mundo, defensor del capitalismo a ultranza que lo ha llevado a la cima de las listas de los más millonarios, ha utilizado su mítica boina, su uniforme y sus gestos más característicos para promocionar la marca que más dinero le ha hecho ganar: Virgin.”

It translates to something like this:  If Che raised his head, he’d be shocked to see a big time capitalist dressed up like him.

We can make fun of the picture but there is a serious side to all of this.

Thank God that Mr Branson was not the owner of an airliner in Cuba when the Castro brothers and Che came into power.

He would have been treated to a very bad case of repression and his business would have expropriated in the name of a corrupt revolution.

Branson is really stupid and lucky.

He is stupid for dressing like a communist to promote capitalism.

He is lucky that he never had to live under the leader that he is glorifying with this stupid rebel outfit.

What’s next?  Is he “going Mao or Stalin” to promote Virgin’s flights to Moscow or Peking?

P.S. listen to CANTO TALK here!

Chile: Happy Independence Day to a real success story in Latin America

Our friends down in Chile will enjoy another anniversary of their independence in 1810:

“Today, September 18 is celebrated in Chile as their Independence Day. It is remembered with the fiestas patrias or “national parties.” The celebrations kick off in early September and can last for weeks. All over Chile, people celebrate with food, parades, reenactments, and dancing and music. The national rodeo finals are held in Rancagua, thousands of kites fill the air in Antofagasta, in Maule they play traditional games, and many other places have traditional celebrations. If you’re going to Chile, the middle of September is a great time to visit to catch the festivities!”

Yes, it’s a great day to eat some good food and dance a little ‘cueca”.  By the way, watching Chileans dance “cueca” is really a treat:

Chile has another reason to celebrate today. It’s economy is the jewel of Latin America, as reported by IBD recently:

“In 30 years, Chile has gone from being a Third World country to a developed one, raising per capita income to $17,000, achieving 6% to 7% GDP growth most years, and attracting billions in foreign investment.

It didn’t happen in a vacuum.

The country was the first nation to try free-market reforms as articulated by the great economist Milton Friedman, whose ideas were still new in 1974.

When Gen. Augusto Pinochet was asked by Chile’s legislature to take over in September 1973, he created a MacArthur-style caretakership and turned the job of cleaning up a ravaged economy over to a group of University of Chicago-trained economists.

Known as “Chicago Boys,” they found a nation that was a mess after the short Marxist dictatorship of Salvador Allende and four decades of bad policy, including state-owned industries, heavy protectionism and massive bureaucracy. Special interests — unions and corporate monopolies — controlled major parts of the economy. Property rights were battered.

The Chicago Boys rescued their country with three critical economic reforms: fiscal control, privatization of social security and free trade. It not only worked, it quietly freed the nation from even the military regime and created the vibrant democracy Chile is now.

First, Finance Minister Sergio De Castro made the central bank independent. He ended subsidies and cut government spending. He slashed bureaucrats from 700,000 to 550,000. It was a painful austerity in the absence of a big private sector.

In the first four years of the new government, Chile’s economy surged 32%.

Next, economist Jose Pinera, Chile’s Labor and Social Security Minister, privatized social security. The plan helped the government balance its books and let workers choose between personal retirement accounts or the bankrupt state-run pension system. Workers could keep their own money, invest it, decide when to retire, and, best of all, owned their pensions as property they could leave to heirs. Some 97% of Chileans switched.

Pinera’s privatized accounts not only outperformed the state system by a factor of 10, but the savings they created provided capital to rebuild the country.

The last step came as Chile slashed tariffs and opened itself to the world. It signed more free-trade pacts than any nation, 58 at last count, which gave it access to 2 billion customers, an outsize market to swim in for a relatively small nation.

That enabled the country to specialize in what it did best — seafood, fruit, wine and its traditional mining exports. Its citizens got rich.

All three pillars upon which Chile’s stunning transformation rests can be duplicated in any country, which is why so many imitate these reforms.”

It is also a stable democracy and that is very important too.

There is a country with prosperity and political stability in Latin America called Chile.  In fact, it also has a few things to teach us, specially its private retirement accounts and commitment to free market economics.

Thumbs up to our Chilean friends and do the “cueca”!  You’ve earned this day of celebration.

P.S. You can hear our look at Chile with Fausta Wertz & Michael Prada here.

Why The Camel Will Never Pass Through The Eye of The Needle

While CAIR celebrates the news that Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) will not be seeking re-election, and those who still insist conservatives/republicans are waging a “War on Women” in our country (when it is obvious where that war is coming from), sometimes the perspective of things, such as not wanting to pay for some lazy and whiney coed’s “free” contraception/abortion, comes into play when you see a real war on women outside this country.

Remember how the Obama admin, the democrats, the GOP, and the MSM got all giddy and hopeful and excited about all that “Arab Spring” bullshit that started in Egypt a couple years ago … even after a female CBS journalist was mob-raped and beaten in the Cairo street but we were told that was just some anomaly, or something, and the same female CBS journalist to this day tells us we are fooling ourselves about these people emerging to power in that area of the world … and influencing this administration?

pharaohs daughter

Is this really what all those celebrating a couple years ago expected it would be in Egypt today…

Salafi MPs made controversial statements during a Shura Council session Tuesday. The Shura Council is currently the sole legislative body in Egypt after the dissolution of the People’s Assembly in June.

An MP of the Salafi-oriented Nour Party called for banning ballet in Egypt, describing it as “the art of nudes,” while another MP from the Salafi-oriented Asala Party suggested disbanding the National Council for Women (NCW).

Salafis have an ultra-conservative understanding of Islam. The Nour Party, established after the 25 January revolution in the coastal city of Alexandria and officially recognized on 12 June 2011, was the first Salafi political party founded in Egypt. There are currently approximately 8 Salafi parties in Egypt.

These groups have become increasingly present on Egypt’s political scene since the ouster of former President Hosni Mubarak, whom Salafis accuse of persecuting them throughout his rule.

Many accuse Salafi political groups of violating one of the doctrine’s central tenets, which says that disobeying rulers is prohibited.

Nour Party member Gamal Hamed said yesterday that ballet performances at the Opera House spread immorality and obscenity to the people.

[…]

In a meeting of the Shura Council’s Human Rights Committee Tuesday to discuss the budget of the National Council for Women, Adel Afifi, MP and founder of the Salafi-oriented Asala Party, suggested dissolving the rights organization. […]

Then there is the Saudi writer who is encouraging sexually molesting women who work in mixed gender businesses in order to force a roll-back of modern cultural advances in Saudi Arabia. Or, how about the killing of over a dozen polio workers (females) struggling to stop the spread of disease in Pakistan? Yet, our ever-watchful MSM eyes never seem to report much, if any, of this particular “war on women”, instead insisting we are just a blood-thirsty horde.

MORE:

“Women Blamed for Islamic Politicians’ Foolish Decisions”

“Report: US-Backed Syrian Rebels Massacre Entire Christian Village”

Dennis Prager: “The ‘Muslims-Killed-by-the-West’ Lie”

Thor Halvorssen: “Not one word, however, about the 55-year Castro dictatorship.”

thor2

From Thor Halvorssen’s Facebook page:

Every year the Cuban and Venezuelan Embassies in Oslo organize a protest outside the Oslo Freedom Forum. This year, after embassy persons put up the posters but before the protesters arrived John Lubbock was able to snap some pictures. Mario Vargas Llosa, Obama, a “Facebook” dollar (Peter Thiel?) and yours truly at the head of the tree and even depicted as British intelligence. Not one word, however, about the 55-year Castro dictatorship. These delusional and sad individuals were protesting an event that featured human rights defenders from Angola to Zimbabwe (!)

“The bus always stops in front of the same building”

That’s a quote by former Cuba tour guide Felix Hernandez in the award winning 1984 documentary Conducta Impropria/Improper Conduct, directed by Néstor Almendros and Orlando Jiménez Leal and produced with the support of French television Antenne 2.

Yes, there have been some cosmetic changes in Cuba, including in the tourism sector, but the underlying structure of State control is the same.

“A tourist coming to Cuba is shown a false, prefabricated view of Cuban reality. From the moment he lands at the airport and takes a luxury bus to a large Havana hotel, a tourist gets to see only well-kept streets. He visits the cathedral in the heart of old town Havana, with its convents and churches, but if he strays, even 200 yards from the planned route, he’ll see that Havana is a disaster area.”

“Tourists are under survelliance by guides, cab drivers, and the employees the moment they reach their hotel.”

Watch and listen in part 7 of the documentary as posted at YouTube:

Elitist, Happy Cuba Traveler “Shocked” at All The Backlash

beyonce

Feh…

Jessica Chasmar @ The Washington Times

Pop icon Beyonce called the amount of criticism she and husband Jay-Z faced for their vacation in Cuba “shocking” in an interview that aired Monday.

“You know, it was such a beautiful trip. I met some incredible children. I visited some incredible entrepreneurs. I learned so much about so many people and the country and [all of the criticism] was actually quite shocking,” the singer said on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

The music power couple celebrated their fifth anniversary in Havana last month, drawing the ire of several politicians. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Mario Diaz-Balart and Debbie Wasserman Schultz have all questioned why — and how — the couple was able to visit the communist country.

I guess Mr. and Mrs. Z only managed to visit the paradise part of Cuba. Truth be told, this pampered princess of the Obama White House could have made a big impact on publicizing the plight of the real Cuban people who suffer everyday under apartheid, and most especially the brave mission of the government abused Ladies in White. But she and her husband instead chose the easy propaganda path so many other American celebrities stroll on while in Cuba.

As Mr. T was known to say, “I pity the fool”.