Cheers for Nebraska teaching kids about communism

As someone very familiar with the evil of communism, let me say thumbs up for the good people of Nebraska.  This is from Fox:   

“The Chinese Communist Party is recognizing their 100th anniversary, and they are going to talk about all the things the Chinese Communist Party has done in a very positive light. But it’s also important to remember that whenever communism has been implemented across this world, what he have seen is a lot of human suffering,” Ricketts said, noting that communist governments have been responsible for the deaths of nearly 100 million people.

“And China really is no different,” he continued, “the Chinese Communist Party we can see till this day continues to oppress people like the Uighurs.” Ricketts also recalled Chinese treatment of Tibetans, people in Hong Kong and religious groups like Falun Gong.

Ricketts, a Republican, also pointed to Chinese practices such as intellectual property theft in addition to alleged human rights abuses.

It’s time to look at the whole picture.

First, teach students about the crimes and political executions.   From Lenin to Castro to North Korea to China, there are millions dead and;

Second, the tactics of the left have to be understood.  We saw this in Cuba.  They preach social justice, then they turn schools into centers of indoctrination, then they erase history to justify their excesses and finally they accuse you of some “…ism” if you are not on board with the party line.

I recall my parents talking about this.  The state took over everything.  Baseball games were now completely politicized, from slogans all over the stadium to saying that the “sacrifice,” a baseball play to advance a runner, was now part of what citizens had to do to promote the revolution.

In schools, they threw away the old books and replaced them with a new version of history.   People were actually erased from photos, especially people who stood up to communism.    

Yes, let’s talk about the executions but let’s not forget the execution of their plan.  

P.S.  You can listen to my show (Canto Talk).  

May 20, 1902: Happy Cuba Independence Day

(My new AT post.  See the post for links and references)

It was 119 years ago today that the Cuban flag went up in the island after the four-year U.S. occupation and 400 years of Spanish rule.   By the way, both of my paternal grandparents were born in 1892, and their birth certificates showed that they were citizens of the Spanish Crown, or whatever was left of it by that time.  Let’s just say that the late 19th century was not the highlight of Spain’s history.  They lost most of Latin America to independence and hung on to Cuba by a bit.

This is also a good day to remember what my late parents told me about Cuba. They recalled the elegance of Havana and how nice the country was. They never said that it was perfect, but certainly not “the underdeveloped country” narrative that Castro & the left have been preaching for years.  

That was pre-Castro Cuba, as Mark Milke wrote:   

Of the many myths that some offer up about Fidel Castro’s Cuba, one tale is that despite Mr. Castro’s repression, he improved a few social programs.

Thus, in his statement on Mr. Castro’s death, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau asserted “significant improvements” in Cuban health care and education under the totalitarian tutelage of Fidel Castro.

An inconvenient fact: Pre-Castro, Cuba was already better off than most Latin American countries on such indicators. 

Also, Mr. Castro’s rule knocked Cubans to the near-economic bottom of all Latin American countries, with subsequent negative effects on Cuba’s much-vaunted social model.

In other words, pre-Castro Cuba was a much better place to live than post-1959.

On behalf of the many who have died in political prisons or were executed by the Castro regime, let me say that we are looking forward to another independence day.   

P.S.  You can listen to my show (Canto Talk).

A word about José Martí (1853 – 1895)

Jose Marti was born in Cuba on this day in 1853.  At the time, Cuba was a Spanish colony and Marti’s generation played a major role in the long and very costly Cuban War of Independence.   My father’s grandfather was part of that generation and stood up to Spain in the second half of the 19th century.  My grandmother’s cousin actually fought in that conflict.

Marti was more of an intellectual than a warrior.  His poetry and books are read in universities all over the world.  In 1966, one of his poems or “Versos Sencillos” became the lyrics for “Guantanamera” the pop song recorded by The Sandpipers.  (“Yo soy un hombre sincero de donde crece la palma” or “I am a truthful man from the land of palm trees”)

Marti was killed in 1895 in a confrontation with Spanish troops.  It happened a couple of years before the Maine exploded in Havana’s harbor and the U.S. intervened.    

From our early days in the U.S., my father had a picture of Jose Marti on the wall of his home office where he’d play chess. It was next to a pre-Castro “peso bill” with Marti’s picture framed on the wall.  It was nostalgia and a reminder that the pre-Castro peso actually had the same value as a dollar. My father was a banker in Cuba, so he knew a thing or two about the exchange rates.

Marti’s picture was a part of our family pictures on the wall.  It was there between our First Communion photos, my parents’ wedding, the grandparents and other souvenirs from Cuba.  My guess is that most Cuban families have a picture of Marti on their walls too. 

My parents also had a Marti quote on their wall:

“Nunca son más bellas las playas del destierro que cuando se les dice adiós.”

It loosely translates to “The beaches of the exile are never more beautiful that when you wave good-bye to them.”  It’s a reminder that many Cubans came to the U.S. hoping for a return to a free Cuba.  As my mother used to say, the quote took her back to a beautiful and lovely place called Cuba.

So we remember Jose Marti today and all of those conversations that I had with my late father about the man he called “The Apostle of Cuban independence.”

P.S.  You can listen to my show (Canto Talk).

May 19, 1895: We remember Jose Marti

Jose Marti was killed on May 19, 1895.   His death on the battlefield came after years of speeches, articles and contributions to the cause of Cuban independence from Spain. 

His life was short but very consequential, from writing poetry to articles about Cuban independence to earning the title of “The Apostle of the Republic”.

There will be remembrances of Marti’s death in Castro’s enslaved Cuba and among Cuban Americans living in the US.    

My conviction is that Marti’s spirit of freedom for Cuba will be with those of us who want to end this totalitarian regime run by the Castro family. 

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

Cuba in the early 19th century: Alina Garcia-Lapuerta, author of ‘La Belle Creole’

Are you looking for a good book to read in this “down time”? Let me recommend the story of Mercedes Santa Cruz y Montalvo, also known as “la Belle Créole.” She was a Cuban-born star of 19th century Parisian society. She befriended aristocrats and artists alike, including Balzac, Baron de Rothschild, Rossini, and the opera diva La Malibran.

And her life was rather interesting. We chatted with Alina a few years ago and found her book fascinating.

This is the 2014 interview, where I was joined by Fausta Rodriguez-Wertz for the discussion:

1947: Jackie Robinson opened the door to many Cuban players

For years, black Cubans played in The Negro League in the US, usually playing winter ball on the island and then up here in the summer. Silvio Garcia and Martin Dihigo were among them.

On this day in 1947,  baseball changed when Jackie Robinson opened the season playing first base with the Brooklyn Dodgers.

Robinson was one of the key players in those Dodgers’ teams that won the NL pennant in 1947, 1949, 1952, 1953, 1955 and 1956.  The Dodgers finally beat the Yankees in the 1955 World Series.   

Robinson and his teammates spent spring training in Cuba in 1947. It gave many Cuban fans a chance to see the man that would open the door for so many players from the island.

Jackie was followed by black Cuban baseball players, from Orestes Minoso to the many others who followed.

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

March 13, 1957: Jose Antonio Echevarria killed in Cuba

My parents’ generation lived through this day. My late Tio Pepe was at La Universidad de La Habana and remembered the events vividly.

Jose Antonio Jose Antonio Echevarria, president of the FEU (Federation of University Students) was killed on this day many years ago. He was a student leader and critic of Batista. No one knows what would have happened had Echevarria not been killed that day. It’s one of those great “what if” stories of Cuban history. 

No matter what, it was a tragedy for this young man to die.

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

February 16, 1959: The day Fidel Castro declared himself Prime Minister of Cuba

Time flies and we recall another day in Cuban history:

“On February 16, 1959, Fidel Castro is sworn in as prime minister of Cuba after leading a guerrilla campaign that forced right-wing dictator Fulgencio Batista into exile. Castro, who became commander in chief of Cuba’s armed forces after Batista was ousted on January 1, replaced the more moderate Miro Cardona as head of the country’s new provisional government.” (History)

Castro followed this move with a trip to the US.  He met with Vice-President Nixon, was a guest on “Meet the Press,” and spoke before The National Press Club.

He got very favorable press. I think that most of the media in the US was caught up in the “revolutionary story,” or the tale of the charming bearded man destined to turn into some kind of Cuban George Washington.

Back in Cuba, Castro still enjoyed vast support.  However, it started to erode in 1960 when radical steps were implemented. Castro went after the private schools, the newspapers, and the media.  Elections were never held and repression was everywhere.  

Finally, Cuba became a huge issue in the 1960 election and then Senator Kennedy beat up Vice-President Nixon because the Eisenhower administration had been too easy on Cuba.

In January of 1961, or two years after Castro became prime minister, the US broke diplomatic relations and that was followed by The Bay of Pigs and The Missile Crisis.

You know the rest of the story.  

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

The late Don Larsen and “el perfecto” from 1956

By the fall of 1956, Cubans were watching The World Series on TV in the island.

As my father told me, they watched Game 5 and Don Larsen’s perfect game against the Brooklyn Dodgers.  My father said that they had a little TV at the bank and caught the game.

It is still the only post-season perfect game in major league history.

We learned that Don Larsen passed away.  He was 90.  Larsen was born in Michigan City, Indiana, back in 1929.

Don played 14 seasons with various teams: 81-91 with a 3.78 ERA.  He stood out on October afternoon in New York!

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

Remembering one sad January 1st in Cuba

It’s another January 1st and a time to celebrate a new year but also remember one very sad day in 1959.

No one understood that morning what it all meant. We certainly had no idea that a communist dictatorship was coming.  At least, my parents did not.

Within months, Cuba began to change: mass executions, mock trials, political prisons, attacks on the press and the radicalization of the regime. 

Elections never came and Castro quickly started to blame the US to distract Cubans from all his broken promises.

We eventually moved to the US and this is now my adopted country.  I am a very proud citizen of the US. Our 3 sons were born here and the youngest served in the US Army. We are very proud of his service!

No one saw this coming that morning of 1959. My parents were actually optimistic in those early days, but like so many others, that changed and they left the country.

We were the fortunate ones who got to grow up in the US.  Some were not so unfortunate.  They had to stay in Cuba or saw their fathers executed or spend time in a political prison.

A sad anniversary for Cubans, and for truth and freedom. 

It turned out to be a terrible morning for the people of Cuba.

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