Cuba needs a real referendum

We remember that Augusto Pinochet was born on this day in 1914. He died in 2006. Back in 1988, General Augusto Pinochet had run Chile for 15 years.  He overthrew President Salvador Allende in 1973 and took over a country in total chaos.  His free market policies turned Chile around and created an economy that was the envy of the developing world.  Unfortunately, he never had the legitimacy of an election.  So he did something strange.  He asked the people if he should continue, and they had a “plebiscite.”  Pinochet lost and left power.  This is the story:

Gen. Augusto Pinochet’s bid for eight more years in power ended in defeat today, as a united opposition beat him soundly in a presidential plebiscite of Pinochet’s own design.

After a long night in which the opposition continued to announce returns showing a 60-percent vote against Pinochet and the government gave out practically no totals at all, a government spokesman announced early this morning that with three-fourths of the vote officially counted, Pinochet was losing with 53 percent of voters rejecting him. There would be no further vote totals until midday, he said.

Later, Interior Minister Sergio Fernandez, who had run Pinochet’s campaign, announced that the regime would recognize the results of the vote, which he characterized as still provisional. Because of the democratic process that had transpired, “the great winner is the country,” Fernandez said. Pinochet himself made no statement.

Chile said no, and Pinochet accepted the verdict.  Let me add that it was time for Pinochet to go as much as I admired his economic accomplishments.  As a Chilean told me back in 1988, Pinochet did a good job, but it was time to get our democracy back.

Down in Cuba, the situation is ripe for such a plebiscite.  Cubans have never voted in a free and multi-party election.  Yes, they vote in Cuba, but it’s a sham, because the Communist Party is the only one on the ballot. President Biden should call for such a plebiscite with international observers.  It should also say the U.S. will recognize the winner as the legitimate government and end the embargo immediately.

Will the Castro regime accept the challenge?  No, but let’s keep the pressure on.

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Communion and ‘comunismo’

Like many of you, I will go to Mass today and take communion.  It’s easy and simple here, but not so easy and simple in Cuba. Down on the island, the church relies on flour donations to serve Communion.  It’s shocking but true.

This is from Catholic News Agency via Babalu:

The Carmelite nuns in Cuba announced that thanks to the donations of wheat flour they have received in recent days, they will again be able to make the Communion hosts to supply the island’s churches.

In a Nov. 14 statement, the Discalced Carmelite Sisters of Havana expressed their joy for having “experienced once again that the barque of the Church is the Lord who leads it.”

The Monastery of the Discalced Carmelites of St. Teresa in the Cuban capital had informed all the dioceses Nov. 2 that it could no longer produce any more hosts because it had run out of wheat flour, a product that has been in short supply for months in the island.

Just days later, Father José Luis Pueyo of the Diocese of Villa Clara told the newspaper 14ymedio that they would have to break their remaining hosts into several pieces in order to provide for the faithful. 

However, on Tuesday, the nuns expressed their surprise to see that the news of no flour had gone viral, even reaching remote places.

“The impressive thing about all this is how it has moved the hearts of so many people of goodwill who, like the widow in the Gospel, have offered little or much so that the work can continue,” the nuns said in the statement published in Vida Cristiana, a Jesuit-run weekly.

“Flour has come to us from our simple townspeople, from institutions, from Miami, Puerto Rico, Spain, and also the allocation that we have from the State,” they reported.

The Carmelite sisters said that “the one who multiplied the loaves has shown his power with the multiplication of the flour.”

“Now we resume work to be able to offer this service to the Church that is on pilgrimage in Cuba as soon as possible,” they announced.

Happy ending, and maybe a miracle.  At the same time, this is another example of what we hear about Cuba these days.  The economy is a disaster, and it took a viral message to get flour for the hosts.  How many more flour donations will it take for Cubans to have Communion easily — something that we take for granted here?

As always, these horror stories remind me of my late parents, who would be angry and shocked.  It strengthens my conviction that the left destroys everything, even Communion on Sunday.

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Keeping up with DiMaggio in Sagua La Grande

In 1941, my father was 15 and spent most of his time at Colegio Jesuita in Sagua La Grande.  He was joined there by his two younger brothers and cousin Ignacio who later spent a dozen years in a Cuban political prison.  All 4 wonderful men are gone now but I can still recall hearing those stories of “Sagua”.

My father followed major league baseball by reading the Cuban newspapers and catching a few radio reports.  They would also follow the news with those newsreels between movies at the local “teatro”. 

Like many other Cubans, my father followed the DiMaggio hitting streak.  It was a big topic of conversation among the kids and teachers at “los Jesuitas” as he called the school. 

On this day in 1941, the amazing Joe DiMaggio singled in the sixth inning in the first game of a doubleheader to tie George Sisler’s A.L. consecutive-game hit record of 41 games. 

In the second game, he set the record at 42 games with a single in the seventh inning.   

What makes DiMaggio so great is that he’d play doubleheaders.  My guess is that the manager offered to give him a game off but he went out and played.

After getting # 42, his next goal was the N.L. record of 44.    As you probably know, he got to 44, 45 and finished at 56. 

As my late father used to say, “ese record no lo rompe nadie”.      It still stands 79 years later!

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The Beatles that Cubans didn’t get to hear or watch on TV

We celebrate another anniversary of The Beatles landing at JFK Airport and appearing on The Ed Sullivan Show.

It was one of those events that changed music, radio playlists and the length of our hair. My mom used to call them “los bitles” or her “Cuban accented” pronunciation. It was also her disapproval of the hair or my desire to look like that.

However, I did not know a thing about Beatlemania until our family got here. In early 1964,  we were in Cuba waiting for “el telegrama” to leave the island. Up here, The Beatles were in New York and being introduced by Ed Sullivan.

The Castro dictatorship censored The Beatles and their music was not heard on local radio. The “ban” came from the to the very top:

“Fidel Castro’s government frowned on Western music as a ‘decadent’ influence in the decades after his 1959 Cuban Revolution.

Many Cubans recall being harassed for wearing long hair or listening to rock and pop music from Europe or the United States.”

Eventually, the Castro regime liberalized rules so Cubans finally got their taste of The Beatles.

We arrived in the US in September ’64 and all of those Cuban kids in Miami were singing their songs. I remember “A Hard Day’s Night” movie signs everywhere.

Now in Miami, waiting to travel to Wisconsin, I heard that it was a British group and a girl showed me her copy of “Meet the Beatles.” It was the first time that I had seen a picture of the group or heard their music.

A few years ago, I spoke with a 50-something Cuban who left the island recently. We spoke about the repression, censorship of the press and the food shortages.

Then he said this: “You know one more thing I really hate the Castro dictatorship for… they denied me The Beatles… I never got to enjoy it like you did in the US.”

Thank God for freedom was all I could say! All of a sudden I realized that freedom is “a free press” and my copy of “Abbey Road.”

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

# 60 as bad as the other 59…..

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Down in Cuba, “lo mismo de siempre”!    “Mas miseria y mas mentiras” or my mother’s favorite description of the regime that destroyed the island that she was born in.

As appointed head of state Diaz-Canel gets ready for the 60th anniversary of what they call “la revolucion”, the regime has little to show for it.

In other words, 60 years of “revolucion” have been great for Castro, Inc. and the party elite who send their wives shopping to Montreal or Mexico City.   (By the way, I saw this in Mexico City during my time there.  They were usually driven to expensive boutiques by cars from the Cuban embassy.  Again, I saw it)

The rest of Cuba lives in a different reality, or a “Special Period” that never stops.

This is the latest from the Cuban economy, according to The Miami Herald:

Cuba’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew by slightly more than 1 percent in 2018 but the growth “still does not help the people like what we need,” Díaz-Canel told the National Assembly at year’s end. The government predicted a 1.5 percent GDP growth in 2019, but its figures are not comparable to the rest of the world because Cuba includes spending on health, education and social services.

“Cuba’s productive machinery does not totally collapse, but it also doesn’t create economic progress in the last 30 years,” economist Pavel Vidal wrote in an article published on the digital site, Cuba Posible.

The island has still not recovered from the withering economic crisis in the 1990s known as the Special Period, Vidal added, “but it must be acknowledged that it is a system that has proven to be effective at managing the crisis and avoiding economic collapse, just as it has been ‘effective’ at limiting private initiative, innovation and increases in productivity.

“It is a system that holds the record for the lowest levels of investment in Latin America,” he added.

Díaz-Canel’s recent visits to Russia, China, Vietnam and other Asian countries — with stops in the United Kingdom and France — also did not bring the expected benefits. For 2019, the confirmed foreign investments will account for barely 6.2 percent of all planned investment in the country.

So Diaz-Canel is having trouble selling Cuba to foreign  investors? Wonder why?

Diaz-Canel faces a difficult challenge. You can’t reform Cuba without admitting that the whole system is a failure. You can’t improve the lives of Cubans without dumping the system.

Another “Enero primero” comes and the band will play the usual tunes. My guess is that most Cubans are not paying attention at all.

How much longer can this madness go on? I’ve been wrong before but we are down to the end.

My guess is that the lack of “foreign investment enthusiasm” in Cuba is a sign that most countries know that the end is coming.

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

Change? Don’t forget that they are still “comunistas”

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We were very skeptical a few years ago about President Obama’s opening to Cuba. It made little sense because we got nothing back. It was the Cuban version of the Iran nuclear deal without the $ 1 billion in cash flown in at night.

The latest from Cuba is that taxes and controls are going up, as we saw in a post in Babalu this week:

The Cuban government issued new measures on Monday to limit the accumulation of wealth by Cubans who own private businesses on the island.

The provisions stipulate that Cubans may own only one private enterprise, and impose higher taxes and restrictions on a spectrum of self-employment endeavors, including the arts.

The government announced that it will start issuing licenses to open new businesses — frozen since last August — but established greater controls through a package of measures intended to prevent tax evasion, limit wealth and give state institutions direct control over the so-called cuentapropismo or self-employment sector.

The measures will not be immediately implemented.

There is a 150-day waiting period to “effectively implement” the new regulations, the official Granma newspaper reported.

Cubans who run private restaurants known as paladares, for example, will not be able to rent a room in their home to tourists since no citizen can have more than one license for self-employment.

My Chilean friend who just visited Cuba explained what he saw. He said that Cubans have caught the “self employment” fever and want more of it. As a result, some Cubans are getting rich. The Cuban Communist Party does not like that and sees “entrepreneurial” Cubans as a threat to the revolution, as they like to say.

It’s hard to see how this new effort at controlling Cubans will end well. On one hand, they need to promote self employment in Cuba. On the other hand, they want to limit self employment and prosperity creation.

Of course, what else do you expect from a communist regime accustomed to controlling every corner in the island?

Or as my late father used to say whenever he heard about reforms in Cuba. He would caution me: “Son comunistas” translated to they are communists!

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

Requiem for a Badass

Another old Cuban exile died today. He will be buried in Miami not his beloved homeland.

I am not writing this to bury him, but to praise him.

This man spent his whole adult life doing anything he could think off to free his country, and I mean anything.

His name, as you might have guessed, was  Luis Posada Carriles. He is described in the media today as controversial, at best or a terrorist, at worse.

We live in an age where the moral relativity of political correctness considers one man’s terrorist another’s freedom fighter. In reality, there is good and there is evil. Fighting against evil is noble and just.

Make no mistake, this man was fighting Castro, his secret service, the KGB, the Stasi or any other evil that tried to enslave people under the jack boot of communism. Period.

He was incarcerated, many times, persecuted, betrayed by his adopted country, shot up and turned into a pariah because he fought for mankind’s freedom.

He believed that Castro’s regime could only be eradicated from this earth violently. I concur. Communism doesn’t bend or give an inch peacefully. It is a dangerous delusion to think that the tactics of Gandhi or Martin Luther King, Jr. will work on Godless monsters with no morals or conscience. Just ask Boitel, Paya , Tamayo or Pollan. Even the Michael the Archangel resorts to violence to defeat Satan and evil forever in Revelation.

In the days ahead, the Castro regime’s lies and propaganda decrying Posada Carriles as a terrorist will be repeated as fact. The only facts are that Posada Carriles was never convicted of any of the trumped up charges and atrocities that the Castro agents and their useful idiot allies in the American media and even government claim he perpetrated. The most famous of these is the bombing of Cuban commercial jet out of Barbados that killed 73. He was arrested, tried and acquitted of these charges…twice. Double Jeopardy be dammed! The Castro regime or the KGB have never, ever killed civilians or framed their enemies. Never.

Real terrorists, those that took up arms against America and its Constitution, like Bill Ayers, Bernadine Dohrn, Oscar Lopez Rivera, Angela Davis, Joann Chesimard, (who lives in Havana), just to name a few, are folk heroes, college professors and friends of American Presidents. Le Zumba. These Marxists thugs that wanted to burn America to the ground, were financed by the Soviets through the Cuban operatives in the USA who wanted to fulfill Che Guevara’s dream of “two, three, many Vietnams.” These thugs are terrorists.

Posada-Carriles was fighting for the American values of life liberty and the pursuit of happiness in a global struggle against death, slavery and the spread of misery spearheaded by Castro and his murderous minions. He fought evil. And that is why he is hated and will be maligned. He was nobody’s terrorist. He was Castro’s worst enemy:

Castro whines about Posada-Carriles

He was a freedom fighter.

More than that , he was a Badass; a real live action hero.


“Nuevo comunista” same as “viejo comunista”

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In a few weeks, Cuba will have a new leader or a different guy using Raul’s corner office.

Unfortunately, it will have the same communist party and economic regime that devastated the island. This is from the latest party meeting:

The Communist Party of Cuba (PCC) will maintain the “leading role in Cuban society” and socialism will remain “irrevocable” after the Constitution reform, now underway on the island, is concluded this week by the 5th Plenum of the Central Committee of the Communist Party, the only political organization allowed on the Island.

The promised reform of the Electoral Law, announced by Castro in early 2015 to be completed in time this legislature, was not addressed during the 5th Plenary, or at least any discussion of it has not been mentioned by the official press.

Chaired by Raúl Castro Ruz, first secretary of the PCC,the plenary session held in recent days is the last before the next president of the Council of State is appointed on April 19, a position that is expected to fall into the hands of the current first vice president Miguel Díaz-Canel.

The meeting was dedicated to assessing the obstacles to the implementation of economic policy, an analysis that comes at a time of uncertainty for the private sector, which as of last August has seen a halt on the issuing of new licenses for the most important activities.

So post-Castro Cuba will still be communist, or so they say!

The problem with maintaining a communist path is that Cuba’s economy needs massive change. It needs to create a more flexible economy to do business with most countries even in Latin America. It will have to show more respect for private property if it wants to end the U.S. embargo. It will have to create more jobs if it wants to employ all of those unhappy young people.

On the surface, Cuba will say that it will stay communist. In reality, it can’t if it wants to survive economically. Maybe they will wait for Raul to die before they admit what everybody knows: the system stinks!

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

Fidel and Justin: Who knows?

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Over the last few weeks, the Canadian media have reached an important conclusion:

In the darker corners of the internet dwells a theory as outlandish as it is compelling: That the real father of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is the late Cuban dictator Fidel Castro.

The theory falls apart after only a cursory look at the historical evidence, but it persists for one reason alone: Justin Trudeau’s appearance is strikingly similar to that of the late Cuban dictator.

Preposterous!” Canadian historian Robert Wright told the National Post.  (He also requested that the word ‘preposterous’ be printed in bold and italic).

Wright’s 2007 book, Three Nights in Havana, is an account of the relationship between Castro and Pierre Trudeau.  While the Trudeaus did indeed develop an unusually cozy relationship with the Cuban dictator, Justin Trudeau was already toilet-trained by the time his mother, Margaret Trudeau, first met Castro in 1976.

“Their biographies just don’t intersect at all,” said Wright.

Like a lot of internet theories, this one will hang around for a while.  They always do.

The story was made a bit more complicated because of another rumor: Fidel Castro’s son committed suicide and allegedly left a note referring to Mr. Trudeau as his half-brother.

So what do we have here?  We have P.M. Trudeau, who does look like Fidel Castro.  And his parents had a cozy relationship with Fidel Castro and spent time down in Cuba.

The rumor is probably not true, but the physical similarity is obviously there!

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

Jose Marti and “La niña de Guatemala”

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Many of us learned about Jose Marti listening to our parents or doing a little o four own research.   Back in the mid-1980’s, my cousin Mayte introduced me to this album based on Jose Marti’s writings.   I loved it immediately and added a bit more to my understanding to this man born on this day in 1853:

“Quiero, a la sombra de un ala,
Contar este cuento en flor:
La niña de Guatemala,
La que se murió de amor.

Eran de lirios los ramos,
Y las orlas de reseda
Y de jazmín: la enterramos
En una caja de seda.

…Ella dio al desmemoriado
Una almohadilla de olor:
El volvió, volvió casado:
Ella se murió de amor.

Iban cargándola en andas
Obispos y embajadores:
Detrás iba el pueblo en tandas,
Todo cargado de flores.

Ella, por volverlo a ver,
Salió a verlo al mirador:
El volvió con su mujer:
Ella se murió de amor.

Se entró de tarde en el río,
La sacó muerta el doctor:
Dicen que murió de frío:
Yo sé que murió de amor.”

Raul Castro’s “se te cayo el tabaco” moment

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A day or so ago, I found this great post on Babalu  about Raúl Castro’s decision to extend his term just a little bit longer.  It was originally written in Spanish, but my “amigos” in Babalu translated it for us.

Read the whole post and this is a bit of the translation:

On the morning of 21 December 2017, it became known in the international media that “the Cuban Parliament” – whose most outstanding feature is not having decided anything at all in its more than 40 years of existence – has “just decided” to extend the presidential mandate of General Raúl Castro until 19 April 2018………….

Time will tell, but this writer is correct, in my opinion.

Fidel and Raúl Castro built a dictatorship based on eliminating threats to their power and giving military leaders huge homes and lavish lifestyles.  They also built a huge enterprise, known as Castro Inc., where they had their hands on any foreign exchange that comes into the island.

Raúl’s son, Alejandro, is now running that family business, and he must be wondering how long he can hold on if real reforms follow.  Castro Inc. works because it is your only option if you want to build a hotel in Cuba!

What happens to all of this preferential treatment the day Raúl Castro fades away?  Or dies, because he is not a young man?

I think that the Raulistas are worried that their benefits and lifestyle will fade, too.

Who would have believed this?  Fidel is dead, and Raúl is left to watch and preserve the imploding structure.

As Beny More would say:   “Se te cayo el tabaco mi hermano se te cayo………….”

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