No sugar in Cuba?

Years ago, my mother got a letter from her sister in Cuba complaining about the lack of food and specially seafood.  So my mother said to her Cuban friend:

Can you believe that?  No fish in Cuba.

And her friend said:    

How can that be?  It’s an island.  I remember going fishing and catching everything.

And my mother responded: 

Yes, I remember that, too.  But this is “Cuba comunista” and the fish have all gone to Miami.

I wonder what my late mother would say about the shortage of sugar in Cuba?  Yes, there is not enough sugar in Cuba today.     

This is the report via my friends at Babalu Blog:      

The production of the 2021-2022 sugar harvest was the lowest in the last 150 years: only 480,000 tons of sugar, not even covering the average annual consumption on the island, which is around 600,000 tons. Of the 35 sugar mills that participated in the harvest, which ended on May 20, only three fulfilled their production plan.

“We don’t even have sugar at the bodegas,” says Alexis, the manager of one in El Cerro.

Once upon a time, Cuba had no problems growing sugar cane, turning it into sugar for domestic consumption or exports.  It was a forgone conclusion that every Cuban would sweeten his strong coffee and light up a cigar, something I saw my father do often.  I can still smell my mother’s Cuban coffee and my father’s cigar!

Read more

We remember President Nixon (1913 – 1994)

We remember that President Nixon was born in Yorba Linda, California, on this day in 1913. We remember Mr. Nixon as the 37th president of the US (1969-74) and Vice President (1953-61). Mr. Nixon was on the GOP ticket in 1952 & 1956 as Vice President and as a candidate for President in 1960, 1968 and 1972.

In April 1959, VP Nixon met the recently appointed Prime Minister Fidel Castro in Washington DC.  It did not take VP Nixon long to figure out the Cuban visitor.

This is an account of the visit from Andrew Glass:

During his stay, Castro placed a wreath on George Washington’s grave, toured the Bronx Zoo, ate hot dogs and hamburgers at Yankee Stadium and generally made a big media splash. Wherever he went, the 33-year-old bearded Cuban leader invariably wore his trademark rumpled green fatigues.

President Dwight D. Eisenhower snubbed him, although the Cuban leader did meet with Vice President Richard Nixon and acting Secretary of State Christian Herter. Nixon later said he came away from the meeting with the conclusion that Castro was “either incredibly naive about communism or under communist discipline — my guess is the former.” On the other hand, after meeting with Castro, former Secretary of State Dean Acheson called him “the first democrat of Latin America.”

With all due respect to the late Secretary Acheson, it was VP Nixon who got it right that day.

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

A Cuban visitor in Mexico raises a few questions

 (My new American Thinker post)

During my time in Mexico, I had lunch with a Mexican businessman and asked him about his country’s relationship with Castro’s Cuba.   I asked him what’s the big deal?  What does Mexico get out of it?  He answered by saying that Mexico-Cuba relations are about keeping the left in the universities happy and showing some independence from the U.S.  He concluded by telling me not to take it too seriously.  

Last week, Cuba’s never-elected “president,” Miguel Díaz-Canel, was a special guest at Mexico’s Independence Day parade.  He even spoke about the long historical relationship between the two countries going back to colonial days.  Of course, he also called for the end of the U.S. embargo.   As always, no one in the media reminded the Cuban leader that the embargo does not stop Mexico or any other country from doing business with the island.  Who cares about the truth anyway?

Díaz-Canel’s visit created a lot of conversation in Miami as expected.  And I was happy to see others join the parade of critics, such as Mexico’s former president, Felipe Calderón:   

López Obrador’s invitation to the Cuban leader generated criticism among the Mexican opposition and Cubans, on and off the island, who have denounced Díaz-Canel’s role in the repression of the anti-government protests that shook the island in July.

“It is unacceptable that a dictator who locks up dozens of Cuban citizens has the leading role in the celebrations,” Calderón posted on Twitter.Thank you President Calderón.  

And thanks to the many others who posted similar comments, such as President Luis Lacalle-Pou of Uruguay.   

Why did López Obrador make Díaz-Canel such a prominent guest?   It’s not for economic reasons.  My guess is that López Obrador is trying to remind the Mexican left that he is one of them, especially as his administration tries to deal with an economic crisis as a result of COVID.  He may also be trying to bring the U.S. and Cuba closer as we saw in the early 1980s when President Reagan accepted to engage in talks with Cuba in Mexico City.  Eventually, those talks ended because Castro had troops in Angola.    

So what did López Obrador get for inviting such a controversial guest?  Not much except that he once again showed that he has a fondness for left-wing causes and the leftist university professors south of the border love that.   Don’t expect any marches in Mexican universities calling on Díaz-Canel to stop beating protesters.  Only Chile’s Augusto Pinochet got that treatment!

Read more

A bit of the Bay of Pigs in Kabul


(My new American Thinker post.)  

Like most Cuban Americans, I grew up hearing stories about the Bay of Pigs from April 1961. Back then, a president made a bad call, left a bunch of men on the beach and the U.S. suffered a humiliating defeat.  My fellow Cuban American Victor Andres Triay wrote a great book about the whole thing.

Of course, Afghanistan may well be more deadly than the Bay of Pigs.   No one cares anymore about the Bay of Pigs unless you are Cuban or a historian researching the Kennedy presidency. By the way, Soviet leader Khrushchev remembered the incident when he met with President Kennedy in Vienna.  In many ways, that little episode on a Cuban beach set the table for Berlin, Laos, Vietnam, The Missile Crisis and the turbulent 1960s in Latin America.   It always happens when the U.S. is weak!

I was also reminded of the Bay of Pigs because of comments in the news, especially the one that Afghans did not fight.  Cubans fought back and so did Afghans now, as General Jack Keane reminded us:   

“Since the Afghans have been fighting the ground war in Afghanistan since 2014, and we’ve been providing air support and intelligence and in other words enablers for them to do that, they have suffered over 50,000 casualties. And in every one of those seven years they have pushed back successfully on the Taliban offensive that’s occurred every year, at a cost of themselves,” he continued. “What happened this year is the United States said to the Afghan Security Forces and to their government that we are no longer willing to support your efforts. We are pulling away from you.”

The reason for the colossal and now-deadly failure, he argues, is the sudden absence of U.S. support, particularly air support. Keane offered, “The Afghans have fought in the past. They are not a strong military by any means and anybody who’s been in Afghanistan knows that. But with us enablers what we were able to achieve was a stalemate.”

Afghans did not fight? There are 50,000 men dead that prove otherwise. President Biden should apologize for saying that.

At The Bay of Pigs, a couple of U.S. fighter jets would have done the trick. In Afghanistan, a residual force of 2,500 men would have sent the right message.

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

Cuba needs a Pinochet-like referendum

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 elections since 1952.  Yes, they vote in Cuba, but it’s a sham because the communist party is the only party in the contest.

Biden should call for such a plebiscite with international observers.  It should also say that 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.

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

U.S. flags on the streets of Cuba

Maybe Cuban kids in the future will remember this weekend’s marches as the beginning of a new chapter in the island’s history.  We certainly hope so.  It looks from here that the government has few options.  They can fight back or do nothing.  Either way the marches will go on.    

We’ve had a lot of debate up here about the U.S. flag. So it was fascinating to read about a certain flag carried by protesters in Cuba.  This is the story:     

Protesters in America: Burn the US Flag, a symbol of freedom, liberty, & justice—ideals that EVERY American possesses but so often ignore.

vs.

Protestors in Cuba: Fly the American Flag & are willing to die for the freedom, liberty, & justice that’s synonymous with the USA.

I don’t know if the wokes, or their indoctrinators in U.S. colleges, understand what this means, but it happened.  It reminded me of Lady Liberty marching in Hong Kong not long ago.

It’s amazing.  On one hand, immature U.S. citizens, spoiled by prosperity and freedom they don’t appreciate, won’t respect the U.S. flag. On the other hand, people brought up in a communist state with no freedom sure know what flag represents their aspirations of freedom. As someone said, a teachable moment if the wokes are smart enough to see it.

What happens next in Cuba?  It’s easy to sit up here and call for more marches. I live in a free country and the people in the island don’t.  However, freedom is difficult to put back in the bottle.  

At times like these, or just about any time that I think about Cuba, my late parents come into view.  They suffered under this terrible regime and know what all of this social justice stuff is really all about.   They saw their beautiful country torn apart by a communist dictator. My guess is that mom and dad are smiling from heaven knowing that the end for that inhumane regime is near.

By the way, I was on Telemundo talking about Cuba. Here is the segment:

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

We remember President Nixon and Cuba

Between trials and border issues, Cuba was in the news this week.  We also remember former President Nixon who was a key figure in those early days of the Castro regime.

First, it was the 60th anniversary of The Bay of Pigs and I remember looking out the window that morning and telling my brother that a plane was in the area.  “The plane, the plane” and it was not Fantasy Island.  It was a real plane dropping leaflets.  My parents in the living room were listening to short wave radio and getting phone calls that something was happening in a place called Giron or where the men eventually landed.

Second, there are stories that Raul Castro is dying of cancer.  He will be 90 soon and stories about alcoholism and bad health have been around for a while.   In other words, his deteriorating health is probably driving him out.  I hear from friends in Cuba that Raul’s medical condition makes it impossible to be in public view for any period of time

Third, we remember President Nixon died on this day in 1994.  Our family was on the way to a baseball game when we heard the news on the radio.  You may remember that Mr. Nixon suffered a stroke earlier in the week and Mrs. Nixon died the year before.  He was never the same after she died or so I hear from those around him.

Cuba, the Castro brothers and Nixon will always be a part of my childhood, from leaving Cuba to growing up in the US.

In 1959, then VP Nixon met the recently appointed Prime Minister Fidel Castro in Washington DC.  It did not take VP Nixon long to figure out the Cuban visitor.

This is an account of the visit from Andrew Glass:

During his stay, Castro placed a wreath on George Washington’s grave, toured the Bronx Zoo, ate hot dogs and hamburgers at Yankee Stadium and generally made a big media splash. Wherever he went, the 33-year-old bearded Cuban leader invariably wore his trademark rumpled green fatigues.

President Dwight D. Eisenhower snubbed him, although the Cuban leader did meet with Vice President Richard Nixon and acting Secretary of State Christian Herter. Nixon later said he came away from the meeting with the conclusion that Castro was “either incredibly naive about communism or under communist discipline — my guess is the former.”

On the other hand, after meeting with Castro, former Secretary of State Dean Acheson called him “the first democrat of Latin America.”

With all due respect to the late Secretary Acheson, it was VP Nixon who got it right that day.In 1968, Mr. Nixon was elected and then re-elected in 1972.  As we know, he resigned in 1974 over the Watergate scandal.

On the subject of Cuba, Nixon was right.  I think that The Bay of Pigs would have turned out differently with Mr. Nixon in The Oval Office.  

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

Mr. President: Remember the Brothers to the Rescue killed 25 years ago today

We hear that President Biden wants to change the tough approach that the Trump administration set against Cuba.  He wants dialogue, whatever that means, with a dictatorship.  How can you talk to a regime that locks up its own people?

From Miami to other cities, Cuban Americans will remember today, the 25th anniversary of a terrible massacre over the Florida Straits. On this day in 1996, four young men on a humanitarian mission were killed by the Cuban Air Force.   

Our friends at Capitol Hill Cubans recalled what happened that awful day.  This is from Senior U.S. District Judge Lawrence King in the civil lawsuit against the Castro regime and the Cuban Air Force (FAR):

“The government of Cuba, on February 24th 1996,in outrageous contempt for international law and basic human rights, murdered four human beings in international airspace over the Florida Straits. The victims were Brothers to the Rescue pilots, flying two civilian unarmed planes on a routine humanitarian mission, searching for rafters in the waters between Cuba and the Florida Keys.

As the civilian planes flew over international waters, a Russian built MiG 29 of the Cuban Air Force, without warning, reason, or provocation blasted the defenseless planes out of the sky with sophisticated air-to-air missiles in two separate attacks. The pilots and their aircraft disintegrated in the mid-air explosions following the impact of the missiles. The destruction was so complete that the four bodies were never recovered.””

What was “the crime”? They were flying over international waters looking for rafters and advising the US Coast Guard.   It was a humanitarian act that posed no threat to the Cuban regime.

The four victims were: Armando Alejandre Jr. (45 years old), Carlos Alberto Costa (29), Mario Manuel de la Peña (24), and Pablo Morales (29).

Three of these young men were US citizens and the 4th was a legal resident.  

On behalf of their families, I call on the Biden Administration to remember that nothing has changed in Cuba. To my knowledge, the regime has never apologized for the criminal act.

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

Keep Cuba on terror list

President Trump leaves one strong accomplishment: The Trump administration designated Cuba as a state sponsor of terrorism.

I agree with Anna Rosa Quintana:  

Managing the Cuban regime will present a key challenge for the incoming Biden administration’s Western Hemisphere policy team. Circumstances have changed from when former President Barack Obama normalized relations and unilaterally conceded on a host of matters. Cuba continued enabling Maduro’s repressive regime, human rights on the island worsened, and dozens of U.S. and Canadian diplomats in Cuba fell victim to sonic attacks.

In other words, President Obama’s Cuba card was a disaster.  

I recall watching President Obama’s Cuba opening speech with my ailing father back in December 2014.  My father’s words were that Raul Castro was looking for dollars and Mr. Obama for a legacy.  My late father turned out to be right that opening Cuba did not work as planned.

The incoming Biden administration will face pressure to erase everything with Trump’s name on it, from the Keystone pipeline to naming Cuba as a terror state.  I hope that common sense prevails and they leave Cuba on the terror list.

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