A Cancerous Cuban in La Pequeña Habana

Many American voters who campaigned for 2016 Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders are hyperventilating and experiencing withdrawal symptoms with the election of President Donald J. Trump. As a self-proclaimed socialist, Bernie and his supporters have trouble adjusting to an administration that wants to “make America great again.” The failed socialist policies of redistribution of wealth and leading-from-behind foreign policies have been relegated to recycling centers throughout the country – where they rightfully belong. And there are many socialist sympathizers in foreign countries who fear the coming of Armageddon with President Trump in the Oval Office. Their dream of world-government run by the United Nations is over, and many can only find comfort in their socialist prophets like Ernesto Che Guevara.

Below, you’ll find a Cuban by the name of Michael Martínez from La Pequeña Habana in Miami who Sandra Peebles, a reporter from Univision 23, interviewed recently. He is wearing a T-shirt bearing the logo of the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FSLN) – a left-wing political party in El Salvador – and waving a Che Guevara flag to protest the alleged tyranny imposed by President Trump. Naturally, Martínez masquerades his Machiavellian intentions by advocating for the alleged plight of immigrants who have came to the United States illegally. He refers to Cuban-Americans who disagree with his assessment not as members of the “historic exile,” but as a members of “la gusanera de Miami” (nest of maggots from Miami, a pejorative for Cuban-Americans who embrace a hardline posture against Communist Cuba).”

Martínez passionately dislikes President Trump because he labels him as a tyrant and a fascist. He ignores the fact that these definitions are better suited for the Castro Brothers who have oppressed the Cuban population for over fifty-seven years. But when has the truth mattered to socialists, communist, and anarchists?

See: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=akU5erWbDhI

The Abolition of the Wet Foot-Dry Foot Immigration Policy Not A Bad Move

Following is my latest letter-to-the-editor that the Washington Times published on January 20, 2017.

Mr. Antonio Benedí bemoans the repeal of the “wet foot, dry foot” immigration policy by President Obama (“Obama’s betrayal of the Cuban people,” Web, Jan. 17). Said policy puts Cubans who reach U.S. soil on a fast track to permanent residency. He and I disagree on this issue.

First, let’s correct the record. Mr. Benedí indicates that this policy was put in place in response to former President Bill Clinton’s handling of the Elian Gonzalez incident. This is simply not factual. The policy was started in 1995 by President Clinton as a preventive measure against a mass exodus of Cuban refugees after Fidel Castro threatened another exodus of Cubans to protest the U.S. embargo. The Elian Gonzalez incident took place in 2000, long after the policy was firmly in place.

President Obama’s decision to abolish the “wet foot, dry foot” rule was the right one to take, and it’s been long overdue. When most Cubans who benefitted from this policy in the past returned to Communist Cuba repeatedly after obtaining their residency by living for one year and one day in the United States, it transformed them from political refugees to economic immigrants. They ceased to be “political refugees” — people afraid to return to their home countries for fear their lives would be endangered. To afford these Cubans special privileges that were denied immigrants of other nationalities was in itself discriminatory and challenging to our fair-play values. So kudos to President Obama for ending this “pachanga” once and for all.

To restore freedom and democracy to Communist Cuba, it is the Cubans who have to trigger a ‘Cuban Spring.’ The “wet foot, dry foot” policy provided an escape valve to shirk this responsibility. It provided the Cuban government with a lifeline into the future by getting rid of most of the regime’s dissenters. Those dissidents who remained in Cuba were then either locked up in Cuban gulags or killed by Communist thugs. With the repeal of the policy, there will be enough dissidents in Cuba to provide the spark for the liberation movement that will untie the chains that have oppressed Cuban citizens for over 57 years.

To view Mr. Benedí’s op-ed, click on http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2017/jan/17/obamas-betrayal-of-the-cuban-people/

What’s next for Cuba?


While having lunch with a Cuban friend in beautiful St. Petersburg, Florida, he was optimistic that better days awaited Cuba after the passing of Fidel Castro in November of 2016. His hope was that with this strongman no longer on the scene, democratic reforms would be introduced gradually in Cuba.

My Cuban friend is not alone in expecting that hope and change will come to Cuba in 2017. Ben Rhodes, the Deputy National Security Advisor to President Obama, opined that the death of Fidel Castro provided a golden opportunity for a political transition in Cuba.

I disagree with the previous assessments as I am a faithful follower of the saying by the prominent American abolitionist Frederick Douglass:

“If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. This struggle may be a moral one; or it may be a physical one; or it may be both moral and physical; but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.”

Even taking into account Raul Castro’s promise to retire in 2018, Fidel and Raul Castro have planned the continuity of the communist regime by placing key supporters in the armed forces and in the government bureaucracy. The armed forces are in control of 65 percent of the economy, while 14 members of the Politburo are military men. Moreover, the children of Fidel and Raul and their extended families occupy important positions in the Cuban Government. Raul’s son Alejandro is the regime’s intelligence chief, while his son-in-law, Luis Alberto Rodríguez López-Callejas, is in charge of the Cuban military’s business operations. With the majority of them in their fifties, they will remain key players for many years to come. In addition, the Cuban Government retains full control of the Cuban news media, which is well adept at keeping Cubans in the dark.

With all the hoopla associated with President Obama’s new Cuba policy of December 2014, things have not changed for the better in the Caribbean Island. Any political activity or political dissent that are not aligned with the Communist Party of Cuba remain criminal offenses. Dissidents are spied on, harassed, and roughed up by the state-supported vigilante committees. The Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation documented 8,616 cases of politically motivated arbitrary arrests in 2015, and 9,484 arrests through November of 2016 – making possible that the number could reach 10,000. Reporters Without Borders rank Cuba 171 out of 180 countries for press freedom – worse than Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Zimbabwe.

So, in other to restore democracy to Communist Cuba, there has to be a Cuban Spring that mirrors the Arab Spring that spread across the Middle East in early 2011. Cubans living in Cuba have to wake up and say once and for all that they’ve have had enough of lies, oppression, lack of civil and human rights, and totalitarian rule. They have to fill out the streets and plazas with their chants of “no más.” They have to take up arms and be willing to die for the cause of freedom to their homeland. The have to do it by themselves – without expecting to receive the help of Americans, Cuban-Americans, or any other groups throughout the world. No government can withstand the wrath of the majority of its own citizens.

But, in order to ignite the spark of revolution, the escape valve known as the Cuban Adjustment Act has to be repealed. Rather than fight for a Cuba Libre, many Cubans take the easy way out afforded by this law and emigrate to the United States. This provides the Cuban Government with a lifeline into the future by getting rid of most of its dissenters. Those dissidents that remain in Cuba are then either locked up in Cuban gulags or killed by communist thugs. What is left are the frustrated but obedient citizens, and you cannot make revolutions out of this group. With the repeal of the Cuban Adjustment Act, there will be enough dissidents in Cuba to provide the spark for the liberation movement that will untie the chains that have oppressed the Cuban citizens for over fifty-seven years of communist rule.

President-elect Trump has a golden opportunity to help the forces of freedom by demanding — as condition precedents to the normalization process with Cuba — religious and political liberalization, the freeing of all political prisoners, and the payment of the $8 billion debt owed to U.S. businesses after the Cuban Government confiscated their properties. If Raul fails to meet the U.S. demands, President Trump can reverse President Obama’s concessions by rescinding all executive orders on the Cuban policy. The fact that Mauricio Claver-Carone, executive director of the U.S.-Cuba Democracy Political Action Committee (USCD PAC) and Yleen Poblete, former chief of staff for U.S. Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, are now in the transition team are indicative that President Trump will make the right moves to restore democracy to Cuba.

My vote for Donald Trump explained


I’ve had some friends lately who have questioned my vote for Donald Trump in the 2016 election. Others have felt let down and assumed the tenuous hold of my core principles. And one Mexican-American friend stated that I had ignored what The Donald had done to “his people.”

First, a little history about my trajectory. I was a Democrat in the past, and I voted for President Obama in the 2008 and the 2012 elections. When making my final decision on who to vote for in these elections, I thought that he would make a better president. I was totally wrong in my decisions. In retrospect, I now know that U.S. Senator John McCain and Governor Mitt Romney would have been better choices for the top job in our nation.

Nevertheless, the turning point for my assessment of President Obama came on December 17, 2014. On this date, President Obama issued a statement to change the relationship between the United States and Communist Cuba. Subsequently, with a month left before Americans voted in the 2016 election, the President issued a directive lifting the $100 limit on the amount of cigars and bottles of rum that US travelers were allowed to bring back from Cuba, and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Powers declined to oppose a U.N. resolution condemning the American trade embargo against Cuba. These were definitely not smart decisions if the President hoped to get Cuban-Americans to vote for Hillary. When I heard former U.S. Secretary of State and Presidential Candidate say that she supported “the President’s efforts to move the relationship forward [with Cuba],” there was no question in my mind who I would vote for. In the end, 30+ precincts in Miami-Dade County with the highest concentration of Cuban-American voters gave their vote to President-elect Donald Trump won by over 58%.

I do not view the fact that I was once a Democrat in the past as a character flaw or an act of opportunism. Former President Ronald Reagan was once a Democrat, too. I think that he would agree with me that we did not leave the Democratic Party, but, instead, the Democratic Party left us. Most voters have one or two non-negotiable issues before they exercise the right to vote. For some, it’s the right to bear arms as guaranteed by the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. For others, it’s the right to have an abortion. For most Cuban-Americans, it’s the implementation of a U.S. foreign policy that embraces a hardline posture against Communist Cuba. In my opinion, President-Elect Trump’s views on this matter are better aligned with my own.

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Gusano As A Badge of Honor


“Gusano” – which literally means a worm — is a pejorative term coined by government officials from Communist Cuba to refer to all of those Cubans who are not 100% in agreement with the Castro Brothers. After the announcement on November 26, 2016, of Fidel Castro’s death, it was revealed that his remains will be cremated. I guess that Fidel did not envision for his remains to be devoured by any gusanos.

Why Trade With China And Not With Communist Cuba?


Daniel Ruth of the Tampa Bay Times is puzzled with the fact that Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn is enjoying mai tais on a goodwill/economic development trip with China, while turning his back on Communist Cuba where he could be raising Mojitos and smoking Cohiba cigars. (See http://www.tampabay.com/opinion/columns/ruth-tampa-mayor-courts-china-stiff-arms-cuba/2295156). While the argument seems logical at first glance, it is more complicated when delving deep into the facts.

Every politician is worried about one thing only – getting elected and re-elected. Mayor Buckhorn must be looking at the number of Cubans and Chinese in the Tampa area before taking a stand on the foreign policy that he will embrace. According to data from the 2000 Census, there were 14,674 (4.8%) Cubans versus 724 (0.24%) Chinese in Tampa. Moreover, Florida has a U.S. Senator in Marco Rubio who supports taking a hard-line in the U.S. relations with Communist Cuba. Thus, it seems a safer bet for Mayor Buckhorn to side with the conservative, Cuban community in Tampa.

There are good reasons to trade more openly with China than with Communist Cuba. For starters, it comes down to dollars and cents. The Cuban economy cannot be compared with the Chinese economy where China has become the U.S.’s second-biggest trading partner. China’s market economy has been growing since the mid-1980s – promoting faster market growth and expanding the personal freedom of millions of Chinese. In comparison, the Castro regime has not been willing to liberalize the economy and create a free market economy. Free enterprise continues to be highly restricted, while foreign investors are forced to conduct business with the Castro’s regime.

There are other valid reasons for the U.S. policy on Cuba. Cuban officials have granted “political asylum” to several U.S. criminals like Joanne Chesimard who was convicted of killing a New Jersey state trooper. Moreover, the Cuban Government still has not compensated the $7 billion in today’s dollars it owes to U.S. companies and U.S. citizens for confiscating their properties.

I would hope that the U.S. Government looks after the well-being of its citizens first.

It’s Time To Put America First Again!


Democratic Vice-Presidential Candidate Tim Kaine from Virginia stated in tonight’s debate that if you cannot tell the difference between leadership and dictatorship, you need to go back to school to take a 5th-grade class in civics. He followed up later on and said that if you cannot tell the difference between the two, you should not be commander in chief. By his own admission, Tim Kaine disqualified Hillary Clinton as a suitable candidate for the Oval Office and  made President Obama into a failed commander in chief.

President Obama launched a new initiative to Communist Cuba in December of 2014, and Hillary Clinton has repeatedly indicated that she will follow President Obama’s policy on Cuba. Communist Cuba has been oppressed by the Castro Brothers’ brutal dictatorship for fifty-seven years!

It’s time to roll out the Panamanian Boxer Roberto Durán’s policy of “no más”: “no más”hypocrisy, no more double-talk, no more signing deals with enemies of the United States, no more trade deals that leave tax-paying Americans out of good-paying jobs, “no más” putting the lives of Americans in jeopardy.

It’s time to put America first again!

Advising The Donald For His Next Debates



Crooked Hillary hammered The Donald on Monday’s debate by demanding that he should turn over his latest tax returns. I would have responded by striking a deal with her where I  would acquiesce to her demand after she turned over the text of all the speeches that she gave to the Wall Street crew. And, then, when she was off-balanced, I would have followed up by telling her — you want me to submit my latest tax returns, well, I e-mailed them to your private server. Now, go find them!

Carlos and George


“He’s up in years.” Donald Rumsfeld, asked on MSNBC about George H.W. Bush voting for Clinton.

“They’ve done a head transplant on him, or he wants to become U.S. Ambassador to Communist Cuba, or he thinks he can reap big profit margins by trading with the Castro regime.” Jorge E. Ponce reacts to former U.S. Secretary of Commerce under Bush 43 saying that he will vote for Clinton.

Spanish Translation of “Basket of Deplorables”


My good friend Silvio Canto, who has a radio show in Dallas, Texas, asked me tonight what would be the Spanish translation for “basket of deplorables.” It did not take but one second to come up with a reply. It would be “un montón de guaricandillas.” This is why I founded, when I lived in the DC area, the Guarincandilla Social Club — and we just founded a Sarasota chapter recently.

The Life of a Refugee


Analyzing the mindset and hardships experienced by Cuban-American refugees, I’ve come to the conclusion that there are nuances based on different generational groupings. Most belonging to our parents’ generation have never adapted to life under the Anglo-Saxon culture. They either continue living with the hope of returning to a Cuba Libre, or they have given up all hope of a better tomorrow and are just counting their days for a peaceful transition to a better afterlife. I’ve written about this generation at: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/20140521143849-11570625-nostalgia-for-cuba-s-past-a-difference-of-generations?trk=mp-reader-card.

Then, there is my generation – the one who left Cuba as a youngster. I left when I was 11. We have assimilated to the American culture – but, up to a point. We have never forgotten where we came from, and we continue fighting – each, in his/her way based on his/her talent base – for a return of freedom and democracy to our homeland. We do this as a debt owed to the sacrifices that our parents went through to ensure that we grew up in the land of free and the home of the brave.

And, finally, there are those of Cuban-American parents who are born in the United States. Some care deeply about their parents’ homeland, while others develop amnesia as an act of rebellion. Cuban-Americans who have never forgotten where their families come from, like U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, find out that regardless of the fact that they were born in the U.S., others still look at them as foreigners, as not American enough. And, once they find out about this anomaly, they embrace a hybrid identity of “no soy de aquí, ni soy de alla.” They become citizens of the world, where doing the right thing becomes more important than where you or your parents come from.

Following is wonderful ode to refugees by Angelina Muñiz-Huberman – born in France to parents who fled the Spanish Civil War. After living in Cuba, the Muñiz family moved to Mexico City. She holds a Ph.D. in literature.

“MARIA ZAMBRANO. Castillo de Razones y Sueño de la Inocencia” \ Dr. Angelina Muñiz-Huberman

“El exilio es un fenómeno consustancial con el ser humano. Desde el primer exilio, que lo fue de carácter divino – la expulsion del Edén – hasta todos los que le siguieron, de carácter histórico, han sido la piedra de toque de pueblos y personas. Se ha considerado un castigo más refinadamente cruel que la prisión o la de negarle un espacio propio. Adán y Eva adquieren la muerte al perder el Paraiso. Quien sale al exilio, sale en busca de una muerte sin tierra. La condena es el eterno vagabundeo y la conciencia precisa del paso del tiempo. A la vez, adquiere un esperanza inviolable; el anhelo del retorno. De lo que se trata entonces, es de llenar el tiempo, un tiempo que no vale, en un espacio ajeno, para recuperar el verdadero tiempo y el verdadero espacio. Y he aquí que la manera perfecta de llenar ese tiempo y ese espacio es por la preservación de la memoria. Es uno de los sentires del exilado la idea de recrear la vida, del ciclo que se vuelve a empezar, de la rueda de la fortuna incesante. Debe probar ante sí y ante los demás que lo desconocen su propio valor, su proprio signo vital. Cada dia que pasa rehace su identidad. Es un solitario señalado, un Caín inocente. El estado de exilio es un estado privilegiado que pone a prueba lo mejor de cada mente; exacerba la reflexión y la imaginación. El exilado se sabe sobreviviente y como tal debe cumplir con ciertas obligaciones: una de ellas es recoger y transmitir su tradición, su historia, y otra es dejar huellas en su paso. Se convierte en un ejemplo de lo que Maria Zambrano llama el vencido que vence. Y vence con la mejor arma: la inteligencia, la lucidez, y la lejanía.

Poco a poco se despoja de la passion y adquiere la serenidad y la objetividad que solo un trance extremo procuran. Prdríamos decir que el exiliado es un aprendiz de Job que se ampara bajo su sombra. Por algo Maria Zambrano lo escoge como el símbolo de lo que habrá de perdurar cuando llegue el momento, al igual que las simientes del extraño pájaro abandonado en la arena que luego habrán de crecer y elevar su vuelo sobre los demás seres. CUM TEMPUS FUERIT. La apuesta del exiliado es con el tiempo. Para Maria Zambrano el exiliado pertenece al grupo de los BIENAVENTURADOS, como es el título de otra de sus obras. En ella, las palabras adquieren la cadencia de la mística y eligen la vida de la depuración. El exiliado ya no es exiliado en esta tierra. Es el exiliado que adquiere la categoría de la transcendencia. Que ha sido visitado por un rayo iluminador y que ha aprendido a vivir el abandono. Para escalar la cima de la sabiduría y conocer cual es el sentido de su vida, desplazado y despojado, continua desprendiéndose de cada una de las capas de la incongruencia y de la insensatez.

El exilio es el punto final con el pasado: el congelamiento de una forma de la conjugación verbal; es la adquisición de la mortalidad. Pero nunca será la pérdida de la memoria; el pasado es una negación, no un olvido. Y la condena es, precisamente, conservar la memoria. El paliativo, desarrolar el principio de la esperanza y proyectarse hacia otra forma verbal inexistente; la del futuro, donde cabe cualquier sueño de la inocencia. Es decir todo exilio repite la pérdida de la conciencia de un presente desconocido. Sobre todo, expone una herida incicatrizable; la identidad ha sido perdida; en el término mismo – exiliado – está borrado el concepto de nacionalidad, de patria. Ha perdido su identidad y no had adquirido una nueva, llegue a donde llegue ha quedado fuera de lugar. Su ser es un ser expuesto a la vista de los demás.

En palabras de Maria Zambrano: “El exiliado es el que mas se asemeja a lo desconocido, el que llega, a fuerza de apurar su condición, a ser ese desconocido que hay en todo hombre y al que el poeta y el artista no logran sino muy raramente llegar a descubrir.” Carece de geografía, de sociedad, de política y hasta de ontología. O mas bien acomoda en el interior de su ser todo lo perdido como una posesíon inolvidable, la única permitida. En el mejor de los casos, lo transmuta por medio del lenguaje simbólico. Para Luis Cernuda muere la vida en ajeno rincón. Pero también podría decirse que quien nada tiene, lo tiene todo.”