Cuban Dictator Raul Castro and President Barack Obama
Watching Air Force One roar above Cuba’s dilapidated streets en route to Havana’s airport is indeed an imposing and historic sight to behold. It represents the culmination of more than two years of the Obama Administration’s efforts to warm and normalize relations with our hemisphere’s only remaining dictatorship.
The American left is giddy, as it always has been at the notion of finally embracing an “often-misunderstood neighbor.” The American right, on the other hand, remains divided about whether normalizing relations with Cuba and repealing the embargo is a good idea.
Many self-described libertarians, for example, view the embargo as an outdated, pointless barrier to free trade and capitalism. Others on the right favor lifting sanctions simply because they’re seeing dollar signs — for themselves, the political jurisdictions they represent, or of course, their campaign benefactors. Meanwhile, most mainstream conservatives believe the embargo promotes genuine political change on the island, beyond mere economic development.
Regardless of their particular motivations, proponents of normalization and lifting the embargo almost always make a moral argument, which usually goes something like this: Continue reading →
Yesterday one of my Twitter followers alerted me to the fact that the League of Women Voters Florida Chapter was visiting Cuba this week. While I had heard that they had indeed visited Cuba in the past, I figured it was a one-time thing they did as some sort of civics outreach project. I was wrong. So I decided to go ahead and dig a little deeper into their activities, and what I found was downright shocking and outrageous. Apparently, the League of Women Voters, which fancies itself a voting rights group, among other things, has organized multiple “delegation trips” to the Communist island since 2011 after Obama legalized so-called “person-to-person” travel. Traveling to Cuba under this system involves arrangements with U.S. and Cuban government-authorized operators and strict schedules of “educational” and “cultural” activities that are organized and led by Cuban government-approved tour guides. This is evident by the very videos, online brochures and other information that the League of Women Voters Florida has put out to promote these trips. A promo video released just three days ago by the League’s official YouTube account includes pictures of beautiful Cuban scenery, happy natives, impressive old buildings (built before Castro, of course), classic cars (American, and before Castro, of course) various tourist spots, smiling children in communist pioneer uniforms, and several images glorifying Communist butcher Che Guevara. Missing were pictures of dilapidated buildings, gulags, empty grocery store shelves, beaten dissidents, ration cards and food lines. I guess the tour guides didn’t take them to where the regular natives live. Oh, but the video does end with a web link to instructions on how to visit Cuba. Here’s the promo video: Continue reading →
To be clear, that never happened. At least not that I know of. But imagine if it had.
Imagine if an American celebrity supercouple chose South Africa–of all the countries in the world–to vacation in the 1980s at the height of the Apartheid era during rampant human and civil rights abuses.
Imagine them staying at hotels reserved only for whites, dining at restaurants that only allow whites, dancing and partying in clubs where only whites are welcomed, and infusing thousands of American dollars into a regime that will only use that money to continue oppressing its people.
And if all that wasn’t enough, imagine the regime covering and touting these celebrities’ every move on state television, showing what a great time they had as a propaganda ploy to distract from its own oppression and undermine dissidents’ efforts to call international attention to their plight. Continue reading →
When Florida state legislators Senator Rene(cito) García (R-Hialeah) and Represenatative Manny “El Bueno” Díaz (R-Miami Lakes) each filed legislation in their respective chambers that would prohibit graduates of Cuban medical schools from practicing medicine in Florida, my initial reaction was to commend them (I always encourage anything that kicks the Castro regime in the teeth).
That being said, I also decided to dig a little deeper to investigate where they were coming from.
But before I get into that, here is a summary of their proposed legislation: Continue reading →
I was recently tinkering with a new device I purchased that allows me to digitize old VHS cassettes and home movies. My first project was to digitize the 1994 Concert of the Americas that I recorded on VHS when I was in 10th Grade.
The concert held at Miami’s James L. Knight Center was the culmination of that week’s Summit of the Americas where the United States played host to all of the western hemisphere’s democratically-elected heads of state.
The concert brought together the greatest talents of the Americas, and is probably the best I have ever seen. I may eventually post it in its entirety on Youtube. In the meantime, I uploaded my favorite part, which is a rendition of Guantanamera performed by Celia Cruz and an all-star salsa band consisting of the greatest musicians of that genre, including Nestor Torres, Tito Puente, Arturo Sandoval, Sheila E. and Luis Enrique, among others.
Interesting note: during the performance, Celia Cruz goes off-script and begs the heads of state gathered there: “Please, on behalf of my compatriots, I ask you not to help Fidel Castro any more so he can go away and leave us a Cuba free of communism.”
I personally asked her about this years later before she died. She said that all the invited artists were asked to refrain from expressing political messages. Always the vocal opponent of communism and the Castro dictatorship, she just told me she didn’t care and did it anyway.
“¿Qué me van hacer?” (“What could they do to me?”)
She was definitely a patriot and a lover of freedom up until her death in 2003.