Mr. Hershey and Hershey, Cuba

We remember Milton S. Hershey who was born in Derry Township, Pennsylvania on this day in 1857. Over time, he built the world’s largest chocolate manufacturing plant. Hershey died in 1945. 

In 1916, Hershey built a large sugar refinery in Cuba as well an adjoining village to house his workers and their families. 

He named the place Hershey and it included about 160 homes, a public school, a medical clinic, shops, a movie theater, a golf course, social clubs and a baseball stadium where a Hershey-sponsored team played its home games.

The factory became one of the most productive sugar refineries in the country, if not in all of Latin America. Furthermore, the village was the envy of surrounding towns for its quality of life.

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

Cuba, the Voice of America, and Duke Ellington (1899-1974)

Image result for voice of america duke ellington images

We remember Duke Ellington who was born in Washington DC on this day in 1899. He died in 1974.

Duke was a jazz giant. However, I first heard of him many years ago when my father used to listen to The Voice of America in Cuba.

Duke’s “Take the A train” was the intro-music for Willis Conover’s jazz show broadcast to the world on short wave.     

Conover broke the Iron Curtain, The Berlin Wall and came into Communist Cuba, too.    

It was a very catchy tune and millions around the world came to know Duke that way.

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

Argentina, Cuba and other US-Latin America stories with Fausta Rodriguez Wertz

GUEST:  Fausta Rodriguez Wertz, editor of Fausta’s Blog, a prominent blog on US-Latin America stories.

We will look at the situation in Argentina, the US-Cuba deal, Ecuador and other US-Latin America stories of the week.

CLICK to listen:

Cuba as a carnival prize

I’ve previously written about the disconnect of liberal Jews supporting Israel hating, Castro loving, politicians, promoters, etc, etc, etc. I cannot understand how any Jew, in the wake of the Holocaust can ignore the barbaric cruelties of a dictator that among other atrocious acts destroyed a nation’s Jewish community, and who has supported terrorists for more than a half century. It is pathological and beyond reason. I’ve read from several pundits that that liberal Jews have abandoned God in favor of “leftism”. Whatever the reason, it is an abomination. As principle, I’m against attacking “your own”, or airing family “dirty laundry”. However, in this case, I believe the moral bankruptcy within the liberal Jewish community, and the damage it causes demands exposure and denouncement.

I stongly comdemn and denounce these shameful events:

The announcement that the director of ORG funded by Nazi collaborator is to head the ADL.

The Los Angeles Jewish Federation sponsoring “Missions” to Cuba, click here for pages of disgusting links. One can understand that that among these participants, uneducated and misguided though they may be, there are at least some who possibly have good intentions, who hold a desire to help the local, via our own Humberto Fontova, “Jewish Community. But this, when I saw this, it was the last straw. Once again, Cuba and Cuban’s offered up as spectacle, this time merely a trinket in a contest, such as a carnival prize. How fun! Sign up to win a trip to see the zoo, and pretend the inhabitants are just animals, unworthy of consideration, ignore cages of repression and suffering. Of course they don’t include that description in the promotion, no need, there’s fifty-five years of more blatant propagandist advertisement, by now, everyone knows what fun there is to be had in Cuba if you’re willing to check your humanity upon arrival.

If we hadn’t already known more than enough of mankind’s depravity, surely this willingness by the one people on this planet who must be held accountable for the words “never again” to dehumanize an oppressed other is a new low.

Win a trip to Cuba, or a “cool” GoPro camera (sic) as the prize in a Los Angeles Jewish Federation promotional contest.

Share your Federation story – win a trip to Cuba. Send a 30-second video about why you are the Federation, send a picture of yourself or share your story in words and you’ll be eligible to win a trip to Cuba with us in 2015 or a cool GoPro® camera. You are the Federation!

I feel like pounding my head against a rock…

Antonio Rodiles: “The time for our fundamental rights has come”

Antonia Rodiles of Estado de Sats, continues fighting for the God-given human rights of the Cuban people.

Capitol Hill Cubans:


Rodiles: We Must Accept Nothing Less Than Fundamental Freedoms
at 9:21 AM Thursday, October 30, 2014
Excerpt by Cuban democracy leader and head of the independent think-tank, Estado de Sats, Antonio Rodiles:

The temptations of some political actors to enter into a political dialogue with the regime and defend a quasi-unconditional reconciliation can be many. Some dissidents, like [Catholic activist] Dagoberto Valdes, defend this thesis. Yet, it’s important to note that without a broad social base to exercise sustained pressure against the old elite and its allies, it would be very difficult to advance in the direction of political changes. Venezuela, where the Cuban regime has already shown its cards, is a good example. They used those who decided to dialogue in order to silence and weaken the student movement and — once that movement was under their control — they ended the supposed dialogue as well.

The Cuban situation can become even more complicated. Missteps would create conditions that would place us on the path to becoming a failed state, whereby in addition to our current economic and social disaster under iron-fisted political control, we would have high levels of insecurity and the establishment of criminal organizations. The embargo, like every other international sanction, should be a tool to pressure the regime to accept the substantive measures necessary to prevent the tragic experiences that many former Communist republics encountered on this journey. Why repeat the same mistakes?

We are faced with a regime on a regressive count, but with the ability to transmute. It’s not the time to grant anything to oppressors who treat their citizens with such disdain. The time for our fundamental rights has come — a simple and powerful idea, which should not be overshadowed by any other argument or supposed strategy. We are weary of those who would be satisfied by less or who wish to “dialogue” for less. Politically, the door should not be closed, but neither opened to the point where we become a loyal opposition.

That every Cuban, inside and outside the island, can fully exercise their fundamental rights. That we obtain a firm commitment with respect to our freedoms by ratifying and implementing the U.N.’s human rights conventions. Only then would we be talking about real reforms.

Cuba’s battle shy cowardly dictator couldn’t find the entrance

It was always others who shed their blood for the dream of a democratic revolution, never the power mad psychopath bent on destroying the island of his birth.

From Translating Cuba, by Angel Santiesteban, Cuban dissident writer, blogger, and political prisoner.

The “Hero” Who Couldn’t Find the Entrance
by Angel Santiesteban

A great truth was revealed at the VIII Conference of the National Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba (UNEAC, by its Spanish initials).

We have to admit when our detractors speak the truth. There’s no other option than –for the sake of honesty– to accept how right they’ve been. Therefore, I have to admit that, yes, “The UNEAC is the Moncada of culture”*. It’s impossible to state it any clearer, for we know well the political, human, logistic, and leadership failures that the assault on the Moncada Barracks in 1953 symbolized, when the immature and terribly suspicious Fidel Castro stationed a select group to practice their aim in Santiago de Cuba. With neither suitable arms nor adequate preparations to confront the army, he sent them to a certain death.

How can intellectuals pretend not to recognize Fidel Castro’s cowardice, who — in spite of having gone to school in that city and having planned the attack — couldn’t find the entrance to the barracks, when those who had never been there were able to get behind its walls?

It is infuriating to watch that documentary where Fidel Castro, leaning on a car of that era, explains how he was unable to find the entrance, yet the cars traveling ahead and behind him managed to penetrate the garrison, whose entrance is of such a size that a blind man could find it! But we already know that there’s nothing worse than one who doesn’t want to see what’s in front of him.

That wasn’t his only mistake. We know that, throughout the entire struggle of the Rebel Army, he never participated in a single battle; and he advised Raul Castro to do likewise: while leading his comrades in the midst of combat, the latter would abandon the fight only to appear days later when the town square had been taken. Fidel Castro not only couldn’t find the entrance, he was unable to follow the sounds of gunfire on that fateful morning, nor could he redirect himself towards other posts during the shootout. On the contrary, he remained huddled, waiting for the end, and when he learned his soldiers were dead or captured, he sought shelter in a hole in order to finally turn himself in to the Catholic Church (which he never thanked for saving him), and reemerge as the hero.

Certainly, seen as a failure (the only way to comprehend this event), without a doubt, as the president of the UNEAC, Miguel Barnet, put it: “The UNEAC is the Moncada of culture”. He’s never been more right.


Angel Santiesteban-Prats

Lawton Prison Compound. April, 2014

* Santiesteban is referring to the speech by Miguel Barnet at the opening of the VIII UNEAC Conference.

Translated by: Yoyi el Monaguillo

Sign the petition so that Amnesty International will declare the Cuban dissident Ángel Santiesteban a prisoner of conscience.


For further reading, I highly recommend The Moncada Attack: Birth of the Cuban Revolution by Antonio Rafael de la Cova available at Amazon.


Cuban healthcare quote of the day

“No one who speaks or writes about the magnificent Cuban health system has had to have their illnesses or those of their loved ones treated here. Furthermore, many Cuban bigwigs prefer to seek treatment in other countries, even that of the enemy. There must be some reason for this.”

Translating Cuba:

Solidarity or Propaganda?
Fernando Damaso

I wish I could be happy about the quick response by the Cuban government to the request for assistance from the World Health Organization and the UN general secretary in their efforts to combat the Ebola epidemic, but I cannot.

I am all too aware of the deteriorating state of our hospitals, the lack of hygiene, the poor medical care — provided mainly by students rather than doctors — the poor nutrition provided to patients, the shortage of drugs and many other problems.

I am referring, of course, to the medical centers which serve the average Cuban, which are the majority, not to the specialized centers catering to foreigners, VIPs or people who can pay for their services in hard currency.

A similarly rapid response should be applied to the serious problems that have afflicted our health care system for years. We make the mistake of trying to solve the world’s problems without due regard for our own. This seems to have paid off in that at least it generates a lot of free propaganda.

However, no one who speaks or writes about the magnificent Cuban health system has had to have their illnesses or those of their loved ones treated here. Furthermore, many Cuban bigwigs prefer to seek treatment in other countries, even that of the enemy. There must be some reason for this.

At a press conference in Geneva, Cuba’s minister of public health took the opportunity to propagandize about the country’s achievements and to emphasize yet again how many medical personnel have provided and are now providing care in other countries.

He also talked about the thousands of overseas volunteer workers, though without mentioning how much Cuba charges in dollars for this service — currently one of the country’s main sources of foreign exchange — or how doctors, nurses and other specialists are not being properly paid.

At one point during the press conference the minister stated that the Revolution did not wait for its health services to be developed before beginning to provide assistance to other peoples.

He neglected to mention that Cuba’s health services were already well-developed before 1959 and were among the best not only in the Caribbean but in all of Latin America. One need only look to official statistics from international organizations of the time to confirm this.

Given these questions, I am concerned that what we are dealing with here has more to do with propaganda than with solidarity.

#Cuba #SOS Opposition leaders Jorge Luis García Pérez “Antúnez” & Yris Pérez Aguilera violently arrested


The Castro dictatorship continues violating the human rights of its citizens, and its policy of violence and intimidation against peaceful dissidents.

From The Directorio, (my transalation)

Placetas, Cuba, 11 de June de 2014. Directorio Democrático Cubano. In early hours this morning, 11 de June de 2014, the opposition leaders Jorge Luis García Pérez “Antunez” and his wife Yris Pérez Aguilera, both of the Frente Nacional de Resistencia Cívica Orlando Zapata Tamayo, were arrested with violence and their house was raided in the city de Placetas, Villa Clara province.

Continue reading the Directorio press release in Spanish.

A chat with Orestes Matacena & Fausta Wertz about Cuba today

A few days ago, Alberto introduced some of our readers to Orestes Matacena, the very successful Cuban-American filmmaker:

“His most recently produced screenplay was “Bitter Sugar,” a love story that takes place in today’s tyrannical Cuba.

It opened to excellent reviews and has done extremely well at the box office both in the US and internationally, “Bitter Sugar” has been shown to the Human Rights Commission in Geneva, Switzerland and to the US Congress.

For Mr. Matacena that was spiritually rewarding.”

Check out Alberto’s post from a couple of days ago:   Cuban-American actor launches campaign calling for anti-communist protests in Cuba

We spoke with Orestes on Wednesday’s show PLUS Fausta Wertz, the editor of Fausta’s Blog.

The show link is below: