Hillary campaigns in Miami by bashing the (so-called) Cuba embargo! No doubt she consulted some polls about Cuban-American attitudes…wonder whose polls???
Wonder if she knows what happened to the last politican to fall for the polls by the public relations agency badly disguised as a polling agency named Bendixen & Amandi. We had great sport with that poor fool here recently.
“Saw DAT, Brian and Keith?!” (looks like they did)
“Saw DAT, Jimi and Keith?!” (looks like they did)
“Saw DAT, Don and Dino?!” (looks like they did)
A fascinating datum by Capitol Hill Cubans that might interest Hillary Clinton:
“Every single Cuban-American elected official — local, state and federal — of all political persuasions, support maintaining sanctions…no candidate who supports lifting sanctions has ever won statewide in Florida, including President Obama, who campaigned on his support for the embargo in 2008 and 2012.”
From the offices of U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen:
Hillary Clinton Joins the Blame America First Crowd in Speech at FIU; Only Embargo That Should be Lifted is the One on Freedom, Democracy and Human Rights That Castro Has On the Cuban People, Says Ros-Lehtinen
(Washington, DC) – U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa, made the following statement in response to Hillary Clinton’s remarks regarding the normalization of relations with Cuba this morning at Rep. Ros-Lehtinen’s alma mater, Florida International University. Statement by Ros-Lehtinen:
“Hillary Clinton’s speech this morning at my alma mater, FIU, is typical of the Blame America First crowd who naively believe that it is the embargo against Castro that has been the impediment to bringing the island into the 21st century. This argument is fatally flawed and backward; it isn’t the embargo that has held the people back, but rather it is the embargo by Fidel and Raul Castro against the people of Cuba and denying them freedom, democracy and human rights that have prevented progress.
“It’s lopsided logic that Clinton and President Obama have no problem acknowledging that change in Cuba will not happen quickly, yet they advocate for changes to U.S. policy towards Cuba to occur quickly? Why the double standard? Why should the U.S. change its policies while the Castro brothers do not have to make any substantive reforms and continue to throw pro-democracy leaders in jail indiscriminately?
“The rest of the world has had open, unhindered economic and political relations with the Castro regime, yet the 11 million Cubans continue to suffer some of the world’s worst oppression under the communist dictators. It is disingenuous to suggest lifting the embargo will do anything other than further entrench and embolden the feckless thugs in Havana at the expense of the Cuban people. The Castro embargo on the Cuban people must be lifted first and we need to see free, fair and transparent elections, freedom of the press, and the liberation of all political prisoners, before we even begin to examine lifting the embargo.”
One of the most annoying problems in our country, as far as services and treatment of the public is concerned, is the humiliation to which we are subjected on a daily basis. This is especially true for women. We are required to leave our handbags, with all our personal belongings inside, in bins set aside for this purpose at the entrances of every store and commercial establishment, even though many of them have no security. This has led to instances of theft, for which the victims receive no compensation.
A few days ago a friend of mine went into a shoe department — located on Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street in Miramar — that was practically outside the shopping complex to which it belonged. Under the circumstances and keeping in mind that she was only looking for footwear, she went inside with her handbag. As soon as an employee noticed this, she told my friend she must leave and deposit the handbag in a bin. My friend replied that she did not see why this was necessary since there was only one of each brand and model number of shoe on display and that she, as anyone could see, had two legs and two feet. Given the employee’s insistence, my friend asked to speak to the manager of the department to explain the situation.
The manager came over and my friend tried to reason with him, offering the same rationale she had given to the employee. He replied with a logic very “a la socialista” that it was his understanding that someone could steal a shoe — one of a certain color, size and model number — then go to another store that carried the same shoe, also on display, with exactly the same features but for the other foot, thus completing the pair. Something completely implausible!
My friend stood there stunned by this explanation and decided to leave the store immediately lest she contract the idiocy virus so common in these places. But before doing so, she let it be known to both the employee and her boss that she, like many others, were fully aware that the majority of such thefts were, unfortunately, inside jobs.
In the old days, during the capitalist period, there was a saying that became famous precisely because it was so sensible: “The client is always right.” Now under socialism the customer is unfortunately treated like a potential criminal.
Bernie Sanders — the New Hampshire Socialist running for U.S. president as a Democrat — has forced the skeleton out of the closet and locked its door.
No further comment necessary.
From Hot Air:
Matthews to DWS: What’s the big difference between a Democrat and a socialist?
Answer: Not much at all, and Debbie Wasserman Schultz knows it. When Chris Matthews attempted to press the DNC chair on whether Bernie Sanders, an avowed Socialist, would get a high-profile speaking slot at the Democratic convention even if he loses the nomination, Wasserman Schultz stammered out an affirmative, which amazed Matthews and prompted him to ask Wasserman Schultz if she saw any significant difference between Democrats and Socialists. Wasserman Schultz tried to duck the question, but provided a very telling answer by doing so (via Newsalert and Mediaite):
Matthews asked Wasserman-Schultz if, even if he loses, Sanders would have a place at the DNC convention, seeing as how he’s really popular with the base and could fire up a Democratic audience before the election.
She said he should get to speak, but Matthews kept prodding away to see if he would be allowed to speak in primetime instead of “when nobody’s watching.”
Wasserman-Schultz talked up his “progressive populist message” that people like, when Matthews asked her point-blank, “What’s the difference between a Democrat and a socialist? I used to think there was a big difference. What do you think it is?”
Wasserman-Schultz ducked the question, but Matthews pressed her and said, “You’re the chairman of the Democratic Party. Tell me what’s the difference between you and a socialist.”
Instead of answering, Wasserman Schutlz tells Matthews that there’s a much bigger gulf between Democrats and Republicans than Democrats and Socialists. And that was precisely Matthews’ point. He’s an old-school Democrat, certainly more sympathetic than hostile to Sanders’ socialist bent, but cognizant of the marginalization that will produce in the general electorate. Embracing the avowed socialist Sanders on the Democrats’ biggest national stage will make it impossible for the nominee to argue that Democrats represent the center of the country. It will lose the Midwest, the Rust Belt, and any hope of making inroads in the interior West and especially the South.
Matthews sounds downright plaintive when he says, “I used to think there was a big difference” between Democrats and Socialists. Perhaps it’s just nostalgia, because the difference has been narrowing rapidly over the past generation, and has all but disappeared in the past six years.
Americans have new hopes to reclaim property seized by Cuba 50 years ago
MIAMI — Across the country, thousands of Americans are storing fading documents that represent a piece of Cuba taken from them by Fidel Castro in the 1960s. They could be worth billions.
For U.S. companies such as Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Colgate-Palmolive and Texaco, those papers list properties nationalized by the bearded Cuban’s revolutionaries after they took control of the island. For movie studios such as Universal and 20th Century Fox, they detail hundreds of confiscated film reels.
In many cases, the documents have been passed down to children and charities. They meticulously itemize homes, ranches, farms, vehicles, cattle and horses seized by the government. A Holocaust memorial library in New York City preserves a document listing paintings by Van Gogh, Picasso, Monet and Renoir that were taken from the Havana apartment of its founder, author Olga Lengyel.
In Miami Beach, a woman has stored away the stock certificates that certify her father’s partial ownership in a manganese mine in eastern Cuba. “I didn’t suspect anything would happen with this in my lifetime,” said Holly Wallack, 69, whose father held a 30% stake in the Cuban mine. “I thought maybe it was something for my children.”
That way of thinking quickly changed after President Obama’s surprise announcement in December that the United States would re-establish diplomatic relations with its longtime foe. Now that both countries have reopened embassies in Washington and Havana, the chance of reclaiming their property, or getting some kind of compensation, is finally possible.
Shortly after Castro’s takeover, the U.S. Justice Department established a Foreign Claims Settlement Commission for American citizens and companies whose properties were confiscated. The commission approved 5,913 claims worth $1.9 billion, roughly $7 billion today. The U.S. State Department says it has approached the Cuban government to begin those talks.
“Reaching agreement on resolving outstanding claims is often a lengthy process, but the department is committed to pursuing a resolution,” said Deputy Assistant Secretary for Public Diplomacy Gonzalo Gallegos.
As in most negotiations with the Cubans, this one faces many obstacles.
For one thing, Cubans claim they are due a big payday from the U.S. government that dwarfs the U.S. claims against Cuba. In 1999, a Cuban court estimated that the U.S. embargo on Cuba had cost its citizens $181 billion.
The United States is sure to reject claims of that magnitude. Even so, at a historic joint news conference in Washington by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez to highlight the new relationship, the Cuban diplomat made clear his country will pursue them. “The U.S. government has recognized that the blockade against Cuba is a wrong policy, causing isolation and bringing about humanitarian damages and privations and deprivations to our people,” Rodriguez said.
Another problem: the $7 billion U.S. claim doesn’t include thousands of Cuban Americans whose property was confiscated before they fled to the USA. The U.S. State Department will negotiate only on behalf of people who were U.S. citizens at the time of the confiscations; Cuban Americans will have to negotiate on their own.
With congressional elections on the horizon, Venezuelan dictator Nicolas Maduro is getting a little nervous.
To increase popular support for his Bolivarian Revolution, he is following the Castro playbook rather than finding real solution’s for Venezuela’s immense problems.
For those of us who lived through the Castro “Revolution” this all seems very familiar. Too familiar.
It’s a lot like looking in a rear-view mirror and seeing milicianos (militia men) swarming businesses and seizing them at gunpoint.
And we know what follows. More misery, more poverty, more disasters, more enslavement, more blame-shifting, and an endless tirade against “evil” capitalists and “imperialists.”
It seems clear that Maduro fears no backlash from the U.S. for this latest crime. He knows that the current occupant of the White House likes what he is doing.
And it also seems clear that those American firms itching to do business with the Castro regime don’t really understand the nature of that beast and don’t care to pay attention to what is happening in the Castro colony of Venezuela.
From The Wall Street Journal:
Venezuela Takeover Order Riles Companies: Maduro’s government wants industrial zone to build housing for poor
The Venezuelan government ordered major food companies, including units of Pepisco and Nestlé Inc., to evacuate warehouses in an area where the state plans to expropriate land to build low-cost housing.
Thursday’s order, delivered by National Guard soldiers and housing officials, gives companies 60 days to clear out of the structures in an industrial zone, workers and company officials said.
These people condemned the move as the latest sign of increasingly hostile relations between the private sector and President Nicolás Maduro’s leftist administration.
Mr. Maduro in recent months has ramped up accusations against companies including the Pepsi bottler Empresas Polar SA, the country’s biggest food vendor, that he blames for Venezuela’s galloping inflation and chronic shortages of basic goods ranging from cooking oil to shampoo. Business leaders deny the allegations and say the economic woes stem from rigid state controls and the government’s mismanagement.
“This is all part of the government’s strategy of blaming third parties for the economic crisis,” Henkel García, director of the Caracas consultancy Econometrica, said, noting how the latest move may further disrupt supply networks for the scarcity-prone Caracas area.
Spokesmen at the Information Ministry and the Housing Ministry declined to comment.
Seven months after President Obama announced his intention to normalize U.S.-Cuba relations, dissidents and human rights activists on the island are already saying they’ve been abandoned. Last week, the Associated Press ran a story headlined “Cuban Dissidents Feel Sidelined as U.S. Focuses on State Ties,” which reported that “more than 20 U.S. lawmakers have come to Cuba since February without meeting with opposition groups that once were an obligatory stop for congressional delegations.”
Indeed, it is not hard to see why human rights have been moved to the back burner. Much of the reporting and analysis of President Obama’s new policy has focused on normalization and reconciliation with the Castro regime as ends in themselves — as in, letting Cold War bygones be bygones, accepting the status quo in Cuba, and, meanwhile, it’s peace and mojitos for our time.
That is not the way President Obama presented it last December, or even at the beginning of July, when he said, “I believe that American engagement — through our embassy, our businesses, and most of all, through our people — is the best way to advance our interests and support for democracy and human rights.”
Yet, somehow, what began as a strategy to support democracy and human rights has morphed into one of building “mutual respect” between the U.S. and the Castro regime, as John Kerry put it in hosting the Cuban Foreign Minister at the State Department last week.
Let’s be clear: supporting democracy and human rights in Cuba and building “mutual respect” with the regime are utterly incompatible, no matter how artfully White House spinsters put it. Interestingly, not a single administration spokesperson has to date been able to articulate just how Obama’s new approach is supposed to work, so let me take a crack.
The administration is taking the Castro regime’s propaganda at face value that the Cuban opposition has been created in Washington and its goal is to promote regime change. By assuring the Castro brothers that Washington doesn’t indeed seek their overthrow, then that will allow a level of comfort to the regime to be more tolerant of opposition and their demands. Meanwhile, supporting existing micro-enterprises will create an inexorable force for change on the island as more economically independent Cubans will begin to petition their government for redress of their grievances and, slowly, peaceful, orderly change will come to Cuba.
If only the world worked as agreeably as a theory developed in an academic lounge.
No matter how you slice it or try to dress it up, the economists at the Association for the Study of the Cuban Economy (ASCE) are interested in only one thing: Finding a way for Americans to do business with Cuba’s murderous apartheid regime and exploit the myriad of opportunities provided by a slave labor force of 11-million+ people deprived of rights and freedom without getting their hands dirty.
The Obama administration has outlined an economic opening designed to increase engagement with the Cuban people, but speakers at the 25th annual meeting of the Association for the Study of the Cuban Economy said Thursday that the policy’s success depends on the Cuban government’s response and the pace and breadth of its ongoing economic reforms.
The theme of the three-day conference at the Miami Hilton Downtown Hotel was “Cuba — What’s Next?” On Thursday, the theme generated more questions than answers.
Vegard Bye, of the University of Oslo’s Center for Development and Environment, said there have been dramatic changes in Cuba in the past 10 years but “today there is more pausa (pause) than prisa (speed) in the reform process, a play on Cuban leader Raúl Castro’s declaration that economic reforms would occur “without haste but without pause.”
“I think there is change, but the question is, of course, is it transformative,” he said.
The Obama opening, which comes with the embargo still in place, allows more trade with Cuba and travel by Americans as well as increases in remittance allowances.
It has raised high expectations, said Carlos Seiglie, president of ASCE and a Rutgers University economics professor. But he said those expectations “are not consistent with the fundamentals underlying the Cuban economy.” Among the factors undercutting opportunities, he said, are an unwieldy dual currency system, an overvalued Cuban Convertible Peso (CUC), restrictions on Cuba’s self-employed and on resource allocation, and price distortions.
Emilio Morales, president and chief executive of the Havana Consulting Group, added a few more barriers to the list: foreign companies’ inability to directly contract Cuban workers, no free access to the Internet, a scarcity of hard currency, weak international reserves, lack of judicial security and Cuba’s non-payment of international debt.
“The Cuban government is the only one that can convert these barriers into opportunities,” Morales said.
A court case in New York involving chimpanzees sheds light on the current “normalization” circus set in motion by the current occupant of the White House.
New York judge Barbara Jaffee has ruled that chimps have no human rights, even though they resemble humans in many ways.
Maybe Judge Jaffee has been following the “normalization” circus too closely, and received inspiration from its details?
After all, is there any real, practical difference between her ruling and the Cuba policies of the White House?
No. The only difference is merely the distinction between de facto and de jure status of Cubans in the eyes of the current administration.
Cubans have not been formally or legally declared to be the property of the Castro regime, but the policies currently governing relations between the U.S. and the Castro regime accept as an unchangeable fact the slavery to which all Cubans are subjected.
Human rights? Fuhgeddaboudit. Geddoutaheah.
The issue of human rights has been kept safely locked away in a very secure vault during all negotiations. Why? Because in the eyes of the White House and the State Department Cubans are no different from chimps.
Current U.S. policies assume that all eleven million Cubans on the island are owned, de facto, by the Castro regime. And — as the current fascination with travel to the Castro Kingdom reveals — their island nation is considered an exotic primate zoo of sorts, where Americans can ogle the sub-human natives in their charming primitive habitat, or a giant laboratory where the effects of socialism on Cubans can be observed.
What judge Jaffee said about chimps applies to everything the White House has been saying about Cubans since December 17: “someday they may get legal rights, but courts don’t embrace change quickly.” Simply substitute “U.S. government” for “courts” and the similarity between Cubans and chimps becomes apparent.
From National Public Radio
New York Court: Chimps Are Still Property, Not People
What has thumbs and no habeas corpus entitlement? Chimpanzees. A Manhattan Supreme Court judge ruled Thursday that chimps are still viewed as property, not people, under the law.
The lawsuit was filed by the Nonhuman Rights Project, a group that wanted two research chimps — named Hercules and Leo — out of confinement.
NPR’s Hansi Lo Wang reports “the animal rights group was trying to get them released to a sanctuary by arguing that the chimps have complex cognitive abilities and should be considered legal ‘persons.’ In the ruling, Justice Barbara Jaffe acknowledges that similarities between chimpanzees and humans ‘inspire the empathy for a beloved pet.’ ”
The judge wrote that someday they may get legal rights, but that courts don’t embrace change quickly. The chimps are held by Stony Brook University.
Correcting the historical record: The Clintons and The Castro brothers
Hillary Clinton is going to Florida International University tomorrow to make a foreign policy speech in which she will apparently call for the end of the embargo on the Castro dictatorship. What is surprising is that this is news because back in June 2014 in her book Hard Choices, Hillary Clinton wrote that she had been urging President Obama to end the embargo on Cuba. Unfortunately, when advocates of normalized relations in 2015 claim that the sanctions policy has been in place for 55 years and that diplomatic relations have been nonexistent overlook some key facts that get in the way of their narrative.
First, Jimmy Carter in 1977 negotiated with the Castro regime the opening of Interests Sections in their respective countries that for all intensive purposes have functioned as embassies until April 20, 2015.
Secondly, Bill Clinton in 1994 initiated regular contacts between the U.S. and Cuban military that included joint military exercises at the Guantanamo Naval base. ( Despite his rhetoric George W. Bush continued the practice during his presidency.) Despite this improvement of relations the 1990s saw some of those brutal massacres of Cubans that are rightly remembered such as the July 13, 1994 “13 de Marzo” tugboat massacre and the February 24, 1996 Brothers to the Rescue shoot down. The shoot down involved two planes blown to bits over international airspace by Cuban MiGs killing three American citizens and a Cuban resident who were engaged in the search and rescue of Cuban rafters. Gerardo Hernandez, one of the Cuban spies freed by Obama on December 17, 2014, was serving a life sentence for conspiracy to commit murder for his role in these killings. Jose Basulto, one of the survivors, who escaped in a third plane accuses the Clinton administration of complicity in the killings.
Portuguese Soccer star Nuno Silvo with his Franco T-shirt.
WHOOPS!…Somebody needs to talk to this boy! None of the “right people” saw this coming! Che Guevara, chico! CHE! CHE! CHE! THAT’S who hip soccer stars wear on t-shirts.. Whatsamatta wit-you!
The face a a TRUE rebel! Nobody has enraged the (genuine) establishment like Nuno Silva. According to Spain’s ABC the establishment is up in arms over Silvo’s gesture and want him silenced! Penalized! Sanctioned!'(naturally nobody is referring to Silvo’s “freedom of expression” or the lust by the “uptight establishment” to “censor” him.
(“Oye, Nuno! Get with the program, chico! Much better for your career!”) advises Diego Maradona
Lest we forget the Spanish Nationalists led by Franco were known in Western liberal circles as “rebels” as “insurgents.” They rebelled against the Spanish Government/establishment of the day….Well? In-your-face social rebellion anyone? GENUINE political and social iconoclasm anyone?
Nobody–but NOBODY!–so rebelled against the leftist pieties of his age and so rattled the politically-correct literary, social and political establishment of his time like Francisco Franco.
Cubanet, Miriam Celaya, Havana, 22 July 2015 — The reopening of the Cuban embassy in Washington finally took place amid extravagant fanfare, and, judging by the profuse media coverage, with catchy headlines and photos on the front pages of almost all the newspapers, it seemed that there was nothing more relevant taking place in the world.
The (re)opening of the Cuban embassy was the recipient of movie star treatment in some of the news media: photo galleries with pictures of before and after, instant ones — not as offensive — of the first opening of the building during the Cuban Republican era, a construction worker, proudly posing outside the newly renovated headquarters, showing off his Che Guevara arm tattoo, an indoor plaque to be unveiled at the time of the opening, and the flag hoisted on the mast; just like all flags at embassies around the world … Undoubtedly, the Island’s proverbial vanity was on a high.
A large official delegation traveled from Cuba, at public expense, to attend the merriment that joyfully celebrated the Castros’ capitulation and which – with that skill for euphemisms — the government discourse coined as a “victory of the Revolution.” These included several representatives of the government “civil society” who offered the embarrassing spectacle of rallies of repudiation orchestrated during the last Summit of the Americas in Panama, who now were awarded a trip of encouragement to the Empire of Evil which provides so many goods.
Not to mention the national news report that aired on Cuban TV which, for the first time in 56 years, turned into a surprising tribute to the northern nation, with laudatory references to the beauty of its landscapes, its natural wealth, its robust economy, its productivity, its strong cultural heritage and the values of its people. If TV viewers had not been able to develop a natural defense against cynicism over decades, they would have convulsed. Combat veterans of the long war against the imperialist enemy have definitely lost their job content.
The opening of embassies have been termed “historical” and they are, indeed, after more than 50 years of confrontations and broken relations. However, beyond the pompous adjectives and the symbolic event of the hasty restoration of the old building that (until recently) was the Office of Cuban Interests in (until just yesterday) the enemy capital, few are asking these questions: “What will really change for Cubans “abroad” and “in Cuba”? How positively will the lives of the common citizen reflect this metamorphosis?
Media comments have not been few about the alleged expectations that have surfaced among the people in Cuba with the opening of both nations’ embassies. Obviously, there is no consensus on the criteria of those who have been questioned about the matter and all who stand for the same interests. For example, artists and academics who benefit from cultural exchange programs are optimistic, and so are those who have relatives living in the United States and look at the opening of the Cuban embassy in Washington as a chance for the viability of immigrant entry permits.
But as “normalization” makes its strides in diplomatic circles, there is concern that US visas will eventually be limited. There are those who are convinced that there has been a drastic reduction in the number of visas issued by the United States Interests Section in Havana. Whether this is true or hypothetical, what is real is that the more tangible expectative of the controversial Obama-Castro romance has to do with the wishes for trips and not with the hope that Cuba’s internal situation will show an improvement.
Of all the people from different nations who have wickedly exploited the Cuban people and enjoyed great pleasures on the island at the expense of the ruthlessly enslaved population, Canadians are by far the worst offenders. Canada has sent everything to Cuba from profiteers to pedophiles, all of them looking for illicit treasures and pleasures they could never find in a country where the rule of law is respected and the people are protected from predators. To those Canadians, Cuba is one big human pie they can gorge on and they are not looking forward to sharing it with anyone else.
As an interesting side note in the following article, observe how even expat Canadians living in Cuba are reluctant to share their last names. Just like the Cubans they exploit and prey upon, they have learned to be submissive and fearful of the vicious regime, which can make them disappear at any moment if they step out of line.
While Cubans ready for American visitors, Canadians in Havana roll their eyes
When a fleet of yachts and schooners from Key West, Fla., sailed into sunny Havana Harbor on May 20, the American flags they flew waved at Cubans lined along the slimy seawall. The Cubans not only waved back but also whistled and flashed two-finger victory signs.
High above in a powder-blue sky, a man in a motorized parasail continuously circled the watercraft like a bird of prey. Only this winged wonder buzzed along with an American flag trailing in the wind, the ultimate one-man welcoming committee.
“This is awesome,” Rio O’Bryan said, shaking his head from the deck of the After Fish, a 36-foot cruiser carrying a crew of 15. “This is so awesome,” the Errol Flynn in “Captain Blood” look-alike repeated.
“This is awesome,” Rio O’Bryan said, shaking his head from the deck of the After Fish, a 36-foot cruiser carrying a crew of 15. “This is so awesome,” the Errol Flynn in “Captain Blood” look-alike repeated.
For the first time since the early days of the Cuban revolution of 1959, the American flag waved in the harbor in which Christopher Columbus and crew once docked. A lovefest between the Cubans and Americans had erupted.
However, not everyone loves Americans in Cuba, especially other foreigners. Canadians and Europeans make up the bulk of visitors to the island long forbidden by the government of the United States. And these outsiders would like to keep it that way.
“There is tremendous resentment toward Americans by foreigners here,” said a man in his 60s named George from his perch in the Pasteleria Francesa, a French bakery in central Havana. Somewhat gaunt and with a good head of grayish hair, George preferred to give his opinion rather than his surname.
The retired educator said he has been speaking with other Canadians, Europeans, and South Americans in Havana over the last 28 years. He sits at his favorite table, from which he surveys everyone at other tables on the patio, and discusses events of the day. The current topic is how President Barack Obama on Dec. 17 announced a plan to restore full diplomatic relations with Cuba and reopen the embassy. This paves the way for Americans to experience that which Canadians, Germans, Italians, Spaniards, Venezuelans, Ecuadorans, Australians, Chinese and Japanese have been enjoying for the last 55 years: heavenly tropical beaches, pristine fishing waters, sublime seafood, original Latin rhythms, sultry senoritas, sweet rum and the best cigars in the world.