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My Cuba. Summer of 2011, 11/24/11

Cuba 1912. Mancillando la memoria de las victimas
, 8/11/11

1912, Breaking the Silence
, 10/31/11

1912: Voces para un Silencio, 10/31/11

The birth and death of a fake man-made feud
, 6/20/11

Myopic policies hurts local economy, 6/6/11

My African Pilgrimage. Part I, 5/14/11

April 19, 2011: A day of Judgment, 4/18/11

A macabre assault on the poor, 4/10/11

No justice for Latin America’s most wanted terrorist, 4/9/11

The Alberto Jones Column XIV -  2011

Dr. Alberto Jones is a member of the West Indian Welfare Society in the city of Guantanamo, Cuba who now resides in northern Florida. He is an activist with strong communal ties to his homeland and is the director of the Caribbean American Children's Foundation as well as a director of the Cuban American Alliance Education Fund, Inc. He writes regularly on issues concerning Cuba, and we present his letters and columns here.  Past columns are in Alberto Jones Column, Column I covering the period 1998 - 1999, Column II, 2000,  Column III, 2001 (Part I), Column IV, 2001 (Part II), Column V, 2002, Column VI, 2003, Column VII, 2004, Column VIII, 2005, Column IX 2006, Column X 2007, Column XI in 2008, Column XII in 2009, Column XIII in 2010, and Column XV in 2012.

Alberto Jones has been featured in Seeing the people, not Cold War politics, Times-Union, 2/07, by Tonyaa Weathersbee, a member of the Trotter Group of Black Columnists.

Born on a plantation in Oriente, he experienced first hand what it meant to be Black in Cuba. Then, thanks to the Revolution, he acquired a degree in veterinary medicine, only to have party leaders accuse him of successfully directing the largest veterinary diagnostic laboratory in Oriente while Black, a crime for which  he served 4 years of an 8 year sentence. He left for the US after being released and built up a successful business from which he is now retired. Fidel recently said, "How could this have happened?", appalled at the miscarriage of  justice.

See also albertojones.blogspot.com


Carter. Ruta de Paz entre los Estados Unidos y Cuba, 4/4/11

Carter’s US-Cuba Road Map of Peace, 4/4/11

How I was drawn into Cuba’s racial issue, 3/7/11

The End of an Era, 2/25/11

A Self-Inflicted Wound, 2/9/11

US-CUBA Relations at a deadly crossroad, 2/6/11


Cuba 1912. Mancillando la memoria de las victimas, 8 de Noviembre del año 2011top

Para cualquier Cubano de mas de 60 años de edad oriundo de Santiago de Cuba, Guantánamo, Yateras, Songo-La Maya o San Luis, el epicentro de la horrenda masacre de unos 3000 hombres, mujeres y niños en Cuba, el articulo titulado “Revelador ensayo de Rolando Rodríguez sobre la masacre de negros y mulatos que tuvo lugar en 1912” por Pedro de la Hoz el 4 de Noviembre del año 2011, debe haber indignado y herido profundamente a miles de Cubanos dentro y fuera del país.

Esta fabula o novela de cuarta categoría, no tuvo el pudor de respetar la memoria de las victimas o implorar perdón a miles de dolientes sin voz que deambulan por nuestras calles y caminos ni trato de evitar el riesgo re-abrir viejas heridas supurantes sin cicatrizar.

Este artero ataque a nuestra historia contemporánea, ha trasgredido los limites éticos, morales e históricos establecidos por la Revolución, que siempre ha sido respetuoso, solidario y aliado de los vilipendiados, abusados y discriminados del mundo.

Este principio es el que ha fundamentado la presencia de soldados, médicos, maestros, entrenadores, artistas, deportistas y técnicos Cubanos en decenas de países en todo el mundo, especialmente los más pobres.

Porque ahora, a las puertas del centenario de uno de los crímenes mas horrendo de nuestro país, se intenta neutralizar, difamar o re-escribir nuestra turbulenta historia?

A pesar de que los libros de historia de Cuba solo le dedicaron dos párrafos o menos a este espeluznante episodio y aun hoy, Wikipedia, la enciclopedia libre de Cuba en el Internet actualizado el 28 de Octubre del 2011, ignora por completo este macabro acontecimiento, este crimen no ha podido ser silenciado ni borrado de nuestra conciencia nacional.

Por suerte para mi y otros muchos en mi etapa juvenil, todavía quedaban en Guantánamo, Santiago de Cuba y otros lugares, miles de veteranos de nuestra guerra de independencia, testigos excepcionales de aquella matanza, siempre dispuestos a compartir sus amargas experiencias con los más jóvenes.

Natalia Ruiz, Popo, Miguel Benavides, Manuel Fournier, Isabel Cayol, Marcelino Vera, Bellita, Papito Baro y otros, nos describieron en los portales de las bodegas de nuestra cuadra, en los parques Pedro A. Pérez, 24 de Febrero y en el centro de veteranos de Guantánamo, historias espeluznantes acerca de las brutales matanzas a mansalva, ahorcamientos y golpizas propinadas por hordas de soldados y voluntarios enardecidos, armados hasta los dientes y provistos de inmunidad o licencia para actuar por los gobiernos locales.

Determinados para aterrar permanentemente a negros y mulatos, los verdugos pasearon los cuerpos de las victimas en lomos de caballos por pueblos y el campo, mostrando jabas de orejas cortadas de los muertos.

Como imaginarnos entonces, que el señor Rolando Rodríguez no hubiera oído o leído estas poderosas evidencias recogidas en el Diario de Cuba de Santiago de Cuba, la Voz del Pueblo de Guantánamo y otros periódicos de la época?

Porque el señor Rodríguez prefirió incluir en el libro su análisis y criterio personal, en lugar de someter a la consideración de sus lectores, miles de paginas de documentos y periódicos que yacen empolvoreados y expuestos a las polillas en diferentes archivos en Cuba?

Como acusar de anexionistas e instrumentos del gobierno de los Estados Unidos, a quienes lucharon durante años por la independencia de la patria, en contra de la segregación, racismo y desigualdades sociales dentro de los parámetros establecidos, por lo que fueron perseguidos, encarcelados y amenazados de muerte, obligándolos a buscar ayuda y protección física en la embajada de los Estados Unidos, la misma embajada que proporcionaba armas y la intervención militar al gobierno del general José Miguel Gómez, a quien el autor jamás califico de anexionista?

Arriesgando la peligrosa repetición de la terrible experiencia del 1ro de Diciembre del año 2009, cuando el Dr. Carlos Moore presento una carta abierta titulada “Actuando sobre nuestras Conciencias”, recavando la firma de prominentes intelectuales negros del mundo con el propósito de condenar al gobierno de Cuba, al cual el acusaba de apartheid y racismo institucionalizado.

Cincuenta y nueve personalidades incluyendo al ilustre Abadías de Nascimento de Brasil fueron persuadidos a firmarlo, dividiendo el movimiento negro internacional, obligando a esta comunidad intelectual a tomar partido con un bando u otro, debilitando su base de sustentación.

Porque servirle en bandeja de plata este manjar, a quienes han postulado desde la década de los 90’s, su compromiso de promover la guerra racial en Cuba?

Durante la conferencia “Afro-Cubanos en la sociedad Cubana, pasado, Presente y Futuro celebrado en la Universidad John Hopkins de Washington, D. C. en Setiembre de 1999, en la que participaron prominentes intelectuales Cubanos, el Dr. Carlos Moore abogo vehementemente por la secesión en Cuba, ubicando a los negros en Oriente, a los blancos en Occidente y dejando a los mulatos sin definir su ubicación o repatriación.

Debido al peligro que estos dos elementos representan para el país, el gobierno de Cuba debe enfrentar enérgicamente y sin dobleces, esta horrible lacra de nuestra sociedad y los factores colaterales en que pudiera apoyarse, consciente de que su única responsabilidad ha sido, el no haber enfrentado antes y con mayor firmeza esta vergonzosa tragedia nacional.

Erradicar este caldo de cultivo en el cual algunos cifran sus esperanzas de que germine el virus de la discordia y la lucha fraticida que destruya nuestro país, como nos advirtieron nuestros próceres, es una tarea inmediata, ineludible e inexcusable.

1912, Breaking the Silence, 10/31/11top

Braving a heavy downpour on Friday October 14, 2011, over fifty diplomats from Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, Haiti, Saint Lucia, Bahamas, Congo, Nicaragua and Bolivia; historians and a handful of especially invited guests were shaken and brought to tears, during the premier of the second chapter of the documentary 1912, Breaking the Silence, at the beautifully restored Casa del Alba in Havana.
 
This powerful documentary was built and supported by the input and analysis of many of Cuba’s most respected historians, researchers, sociologists, educators and a wealth of never before seen documents, pictures, newspapers clippings, first class images and a moving musical background.
 
Like most families or nations with an ugly story, some members of society may choose to believe this event never happened, others may wish it will be forgotten and die, while others may try to keep it hidden under the rug or shoot the messenger.
 
For nearly 100 years, most of Cuba’s history books dedicated two paragraphs or less to describe derogatorily what was known as Blacks' Little War, which was caused by racist, separatist black troublemakers who revolted against a democratically elected government, forcing it to restore law and order in the country.
 
The root cause of this heinous crime in which it is alleged 3000 men, women and children were massacred, the witch hunt that followed, the long lasting fear that was instilled in blacks and mixed raced Cubans through beatings, lynching and murders to conform or else, was never a subject matter of any history department or the media, always ready to denounce similar crimes committed elsewhere.
 
This is how director and producer Gloria Rolando has single handedly made a monumental contribution to Cuba’s historiography, with an honest attempt to help us set our record straight, a plea for justice for the victims and a unique opportunity for our country to begin the healing process without which Cuba will never become the beacon of justice and social equality it must be.

1912: Voces para un Silencio, 10/31/11top

Enfrentando un torrencial aguacero el Viernes 14 de Octubre del año 2011, más de cincuenta personas compuestos por diplomáticos de Barbados, Trinidad y Tobago, Haití, Santa Lucia, Bahamas, Congo, Nicaragua y Bolivia; historiadores y invitados especiales, fueron conmovidos durante la premier del segundo capítulo del documental 1912, Voces para un Silencio, en el bello, recién restaurado Casa del Alba en la Habana. 

Este extraordinario documental se apoyo en los aportes y análisis de muchos de los historiadores, investigadores y educadores más respetados de Cuba, una plétora de documentos inéditos, fotos, reportajes periodísticos, imágenes de primerísima calidad y un fondo musical estremecedor. Al igual que ocurre en algunas familias o naciones con historias bochornosas, algún miembro de nuestra sociedad pudiera pensar que estos hechos no ocurrieron, otros desearían que estos hechos fuesen olvidados y se esfumaran, otros preferirían esconderlo bajo la alfombra y otros tal vez, tratarían de condenar al mensajero. 

Durante casi 100 años, la mayoría de los libros de historia de Cuba dedicaron dos párrafos o menos, para describir en forma denigrante lo que denominaron como la Guerrita de los Negros, supuestamente causado por negros separatistas, racistas, revoltosos, que obligaron a un gobierno democráticamente elegido a restablecer la ley y el orden en el país. 

Las causas de este horrendo crimen, en el cual se alega que masacraron a más de 3000 hombres, mujeres y niños, la subsiguiente cacería de brujas, el terror que instilaron entre los negros y mulatos mediante golpizas, linchamientos y asesinatos para que se sometieran al status quo, nunca fue sometido a un análisis crítico por los departamento de historia o los medios masivos de comunicación del país, siempre dispuesto a denunciar hechos similares en otros lugares. 

De esta manera, Gloria Rolando directora y productora de este documental, ha realizado una monumental contribución a la historiografía de Cuba, mediante un sincero esfuerzo esclarecedor de nuestra historia, el pedido de justicia para las víctimas y una oportunidad sin paralelo para iniciar el proceso saneamiento histórico, sin el cual, Cuba no podrá convertirse en el faro de justicia e igualdad social que le corresponde.

The birth and death of a fake man-made feud, 6/20/11top

In 1999, it became evident that the United States, through its Cuban-American surrogates in South Florida, was introducing a new strategy in their efforts to undermine the Cuban government. 

Having identified a substantial demographic shift in favor of Afro-Cubans in the early 90’s, they realized that a growing economic crisis following the collapse of the Soviet Union and the existence of only a nominal amount of Afro-Cubans living abroad able to help family members with remittances created the perfect mix for their proselytizing projects to take root in Cuba.

Aggravating these factors was a forceful push by Cubans of Hispanic ancestry to co-opt every job earning hard currency in Cuba, monopolize most promotions, travels abroad, improved living conditions, cars and all other material benefits, further deepening the racial and social divide.

Coincidentally, a well intended program in the 2000’s with an unforeseen adverse consequence, consisted of providing emigrants and descendent from Spain, China, Arab countries and Israel with humanitarian assistance from their respective countries or organizations abroad, while no similar humanitarian assistance existed for those of African ancestry.

We discussed these factors extensively in A Worldwide Battle of Life and Death. Part I, 12/25/09

These combined factors created the right broth in which a number of anti-Castro Afro-Cubans in and outside of Cuba proliferated exuberantly, some of whom were recruited as US-AID operatives and front foundations, all with a multi-prong, heavily funded, subversive program, determined to exacerbate racial divisions and civil unrest while eroding the Cuban government’s support base.

Tens of Afro-Cubans unknown until then, such as Dr. Elias Biscet, Dr. Darsi Ferrer, Jorge Luis Garcia Perez, Vladimiro Roca, Guillermo Farinas and others, replaced well established White Cuban dissidents Osvaldo Paya, Elizardo Sanchez and others.

Suddenly, the Cuban American National Foundation, Alpha 66, Unidad Cubana, the Cuban Liberty Council and other lily white counter-revolutionary groups failed the melanin litmus test and were pushed aside by the US State Department.

Many Afro-Cubans living in Cuba were acutely aware of these growing inequalities, which they confronted initially through intellectual gatherings, writings and visual arts, as they navigated a slippery slope by avoiding confrontations with the Cuban government while not giving the impression of being a resonance box for those bent on fomenting internal conflict.

Tens of thousands of people in this hemisphere, who may have escaped death or injury in a potential race war, shall forever be grateful to the vision and tireless work of Dr. Wayne Smith, Senior Fellow at the Center For International Policy, Washington, D.C., who organized a number of educational seminars on these burning and potentially dangerous issues in the United States.

The first International Conference on this matter, "Views of the Afro-Cuban Community," was organized at Barry University, Miami, 1998.

An expanded and more complex second International Conference, “Afro-Cubans in Cuban society, Past, Present and Future” took place at the John Hopkins University, Washington D. C. in 1999.

The Third International Conference, "Questions on Racial Identity, Racism and Anti-Racist Policies in Cuba Today", was hosted by the Center For International Policy at the University of California, Washington Center on June 2, 2011 and lived up to the highest expectation of participants from Cuba and from across the United States after a twelve year hiatus.

A profound and thorough historical description about the evolution of racism in Cuba by two excellent, well documented visiting Cuban scholars was enlightening and defining. A myriad of questions from the audience followed each panel, requiring at times that questions be grouped in order to fit within our tight time constraints.

The past was discussed, the present was dissected and the future has begun to be plotted with all factors in Cuba, knowing that its success is contingent on our ability to bring together every person of goodwill from around the world in this unprecedented, corrective, transformative, far reaching project, which will inexorably turn Cuba into a beacon of social equality and a road map for others to follow.

Cuba, like no other country in the world, has contributed enormous human and material resources for the development of health, education, sports and culture in tens of countries in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and on Blacks in Cuba. 

Much, much more must be done if the victims of slavery, colonialism, ignorance, segregation and other forms of injustices are ever to achieve their full emancipation, development and equality -- new concepts must be developed and implemented immediately.

The new economic development direction that was presented and approved by the VI Congress of the Communist Party in Cuba laid out the groundwork for what may become a complete restructuring of its politics, administration and management of the nation’s economy.

The convergence of these separate national and international interests may become the catalyst our nation needs to achieve its full potential, by joining forces with the underdeveloped world in unleashing the enormous human resource capabilities accumulated in Cuba and elsewhere, on behalf of millions of people who have been victimized for five centuries.

For years, millions of our nation most loyal and unconditional supporters have been overlooked and ignored, presumably because of their limited financial resources and therefore, their inability to participate in large joint ventures in which the country has been engaged for more than two decades.

Today, these new trends open our country to its most interesting development opportunity ever, in which tens of thousands of minorities from around the world, who have stood steadfast by our nation during its most challenging times, are enthused, willing and waiting to be called upon, to share their modest resources and expertise, with our incipient Mom and Pop, small and medium size enterprises in Cuba.

Here too, Cuba can conceive a new transnational, minority enterprise development in which the forgotten and excluded of this world may find a head-start, a true affirmative action that is capable of breaking the yoke of dependency for themselves and their country, by turning this fake, sick, man-made racial feud into a true international solidarity movement.

I am expressing my gratitude to thousands of intellectuals and ordinary peace loving people in and outside of Cuba who dedicated their lives to this just cause of building bridges of understanding, harmony and respect between the US and Cuba. They can rejoice, as the fruits of their sacrifice is now within reach.

Myopic policies hurts local economy, 6/6/11top

During the administration of president Bill Clinton and after, I wrote a number of letters to the editors, took part in gatherings, symposiums and conferences, met with business, health care, political, social and academic leaders across Florida and beyond, hoping to alert them about our misguided political posture towards Cuba.

Under intense pressure from a small group of ultra-right wing Cuban-Americans in south Florida, most of our leaders bought into the confrontational, no-talk, hate-always policy, pretending a nation of 11 million people ninety miles off our shores did not exist.

Fifteen years ago, I met with and brought to the attention of different community leaders in Volusia and Flagler counties, a unique opportunity that was available to us, which could have placed our region on the world map and strengthened our fragile economy by simply applying for and hopefully receiving a US Treasury License, which would have enabled Daytona Beach to join Miami, Los Angeles and New York airports with flights to Cuba.

At the same time that Daytona Beach did nothing, Tampa, Ft. Lauderdale, Atlanta, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Dallas-Ft Worth, New Orleans, O’Hare and San Juan, Puerto Rico did apply and were granted Licenses, while a few others are still pending.

An example of what it means to cater to a million captive Cuban Americans living in the US with family members in Cuba was featured recently in a Time Magazine article which pointed out that the only businesses that are booming and expanding in Miami are those in travel, telecommunications, money transfer, retail and more, catering to Cuba.

Unfortunate as past mistakes may seem, we are at the beginning of a near irreversible thawing process of this fifty year, virulent, antagonistic US-Cuba relationship that has left no winners, only losers.

Coinciding with president Barack Obama’s less confrontational policy towards Cuba since Raul Castro took over the presidency in Cuba, Cuba made a number of overtures to the US, has fulfilled most of our frivolous demands and has refrained from name calling or other unfriendly acts.

Thus far, flights to Cuba have tripled and since January 2011, approximately 350,000 Cuban Americans have been back. Thousands of Americans have resorted to every possible loophole to visit the island nation and many more are waiting for the final US Treasury travel guidelines.

Since the year 2010, no week goes by in which there are no Cuban cultural, sport, scientific, health, historical or environmental event taking place in cities across the United States. Tampa, New York, Minnesota, Washington, Seattle, Los Angeles and Atlanta are just a few who have developed multi-year, two way exchanges as of 2012, as our performing arts centers remain empty or shuttered.

Our community leaders may follow the easy path of accepting the status quo, or they may do what is right, by being courageous and risk the wrath of an aging, dwindling, powerful pressure group of vindictive Cuban Americans. They are like the Inquisition in the XVII century when Galileo was accused of heresy, threatened with torture and forced to publicly recant from saying the sun was the center of the universe and that the world moved, and they will be proved to be just as wrong.

The future of our state and its people may be at risk, as we allow states like Nebraska, Idaho, South Dakota or Nevada just to mention a few with no geographical, cultural, historical or environmental similarities, to take advantage of this incipient opening and develop multimillion dollar business opportunities, as we remain paralyzed in a 1960’s state of mind.

My African Pilgrimage. Part I, 5/14/11top

On Saturday April 23rd, I began a lifetime dream at the Miami International Airport, as I departed on a long journey to Africa from where our ancestors were forcefully kidnapped five centuries ago.

Kept in bondage for over three hundred years in their newly acquired country in the new world, they were never compensated for their sweat, tears, blood and deaths, building everything visible and invisible around us and finally released into racism, segregation and ignorance 150 years ago.

Our seven-man delegation arrived at 5:00 AM at the Leopold S. Senghor International Airport in Dakar, Senegal after an 11 hour flight, where we were warmly greeted with a Welcome Home!! by an efficient and friendly immigration and customs personnel.

After picking up our bags, we got our first taste of the country’s financial ills, as a number of people struggled to carry our bags and begged for money while the general environment was in urgent need of upkeep.

Before arriving at our hotel, we stopped at the enormous, 27 million dollar, 170 foot-tall bronze statute on a hill top with three superimposed figures representing the fresh start African countries made when they declared independence 50 years ago, which has drawn criticism from every sector, especially for not evoking African themes and for having outsourced this entire project to a Korean construction firm, in a country with 50% unemployment.

The hotel was nice with a number of amenities, but once you stepped out beyond its boundaries, there were tens of thousands of people huddled against buildings walls with huge assortment of handcrafts, garments, food, supplies, parts or equipment for sale, where potential customers negotiated, bargained, coerced or left, pressuring for better prices.

Some basic statistics reflects:

Independence April 4, 1960
Area 198,840 Km2
Population 12.3 Million
Without reliable drinking water 31%
Undernourished 17%
Longevity 59 years
Infant mortality 58
Illiteracy 59
Secondary school enrolment 11
GDP 12.6 Billion
Annual Per Capita 1,900 dollars
Employment, primarily in service 56
Below poverty line ($1.25/day) 34%
USAID 2009 119.9 Millions
Socio-economic world standing 144 among 169 nations

As dramatic as these numbers are, they represent a national average. If these were applied solely to the countryside or the periphery of Dakar, which are overflowing with crowded huts without running water, sewer, electricity, open drainage filled with rotting, stagnating water, garbage and every hazardous microorganism, these stats would be far worse.

A visit to a Fulani village in the desert, took us back in time to the Xth century. Scattered thatched huts in a barren terrain are headed by a chief, while most adults are engaged in survival agriculture, fishing or worst, working at the Pink Lake, the most horrendous job on earth. 

This shallow body of water takes a pink hue under bright sun light in which, hundreds of wooden boats with 2-3 men on board, armed with long shovels, digs up a very salty sand which they deposit into their boats and when they are full, they row to the shoreline.

There the cargo is transferred into large tubs, weighing over 100 pounds each, that an army of women haul on their heads and deposit on dry land forming mounds that are left to dry in the sun and for which they are paid in kind, one bag of salt for every ten delivered.

This is how this cruel, sub-human enterprise, which has never been investigated by the United Nations Human Right Commission, enables wealthy, powerful, self-righteous Europe to acquire all the salt they need to de-ice their slippery, snow laden roadways in winter, without ever asking at what human cost.

Senegal has had longstanding close relations with western countries and it is France’s key ally in Africa. Senegal was an anti-Communist bastion during the cold war and has contributed Peace Keeping forces to Haiti, Democratic Republic of Congo, Darfur, Liberia, Ivory Coast and others.

Tens of thousands of Senegalese soldiers fought and died alongside France in WWI whose efforts and courage was not recognized nor were they paid veterans benefits until 2006.

A shocking visit to a fishing village, revealed hundreds of brightly colored canoes beached or unloading tons of the day catch, as thousands of people buys, clean, put in carts or on their heads in frightening unsanitary condition, loads of fish that are rushed out of the area, hoping to find buyers who can help them survive their financial crisis.

But worse was yet to come. The following morning after a 30 minutes ferry ride from Dakar, we landed on the infamous Goree Island, one of the 3 or 4 similar slave concentration camps that under orders of the United Nations are preserved and serve as a grim reminder of the estimated 20 millions slaves that were forcefully ripped away from their lands, incarcerated, beaten, raped, died or sent through the Door of No Return.

As we tour this 23 hectare island of unpaved roads and alleys, government buildings, numerous churches of various denominations, businesses, defensive forts and the slave holding fort, it is easy to recreate the wicked mind of those who conceived of this monstrosity.

After crossing a lift bridge over a body of shark-infested waters, one enters a hall that leads to an open courtyard. Surrounding this courtyard were a variety of cells for males, females, infants, the recalcitrant, death, a chapel and a tunnel leading to the Door of No Return.

Male cells appeared to be approximately 20x10 feet, with no lighting and a single ventilation opening of approximately 1 ½ x 1 ½ feet for 150 slaves. A shallow gutter close to the wall doubled as a toilet. All slaves would be taken out for one hour in the evenings while the area was flushed out with sea water. Slaves weighing less than 60 kilos were not shipped out, assuming they would not endure the two months journey.

Females cells were larger for 400 slaves. Recalcitrant’s cell was a small hole in the wall with no ventilation, which was used for any slave difficult to handle, who would refuse orders or talk back. Any slave who fought back was forced into a similar but smaller cell, where he would be locked-up without food or water and condemned to a horrible death from thirst in 3-4 days. All slaves severely ill or dead were thrown in the shark infested sea outside the walls of the fort.

Because of a host of tropical diseases, most Europeans were single males, leading to widespread rape by the prison guards. The governor’s living quarters was large, spacious, airy and located on the second floor, from where he occasionally would stand on the balcony to review all nude slave females, choose one, who would be bathed and sent up a back stairs to his room.

Those who got pregnant were released from the dungeon into farm-type camps, where their mulatto offspring would be born, sent to school and later allowed to work in the household as “house slave”, further dividing the slave community.

My personal assessment of the socio-economic situation of Senegal is a that of a very complex, intractable social stagnation, that whatever political, social, economic or religious policies have been in place since 1960, have proven to be incapable of addressing the basic needs of its society.

Rampant hunger, poverty, illiteracy, lack of healthcare, widespread transmissible diseases, unemployment and lack of development demands a different approach to fulfill the hopes and expectation of its population.

Because tens of thousands of slaves shipped to all Caribbean islands may have been held in these infamous dungeon at any given time, Cuba has a moral obligation to share its solidarity and expertise with the descendents of those victims by helping them improve their health, education, sports and culture.

Equally important could be an economical boost that Cuba could provide to Senegal by importing its surplus fisheries with insufficient market and/or by installing a fish sub-product plant, which could provide employment to hundreds, as we set an example for the rest of the world and begin erasing our unpayable debt of gratitude to Africa.

April 19, 2011: A day of Judgment, 4/18/11top

In a few hours, the 6th Congress of the Communist Party of Cuba will come to an end after debating some of the most crucial problems afflicting the country. They were acutely aware that the future and survival of our nation depends on their ability to debate, discern and arrive at the most accurate conclusions in this life and death decision-making responsibility.

Cuba’s decision to rise up against what was wrong in 1868, 1878, 1895, 1933, 1959 and 1961 did not require a debate, it was self-explanatory and our people responded in kind. 

The indescribable happiness and hope that engulfed our country on January 1, 1959, when everyone knew that for the first time, Cuba’s Independence and Sovereignty was in the hands of its people, is somehow reflected in today’s nationwide somber mood, when these gains, indescribable sacrifices and deprivations to save our nation may be at risk.

These factors and others to be discussed in the near future leave the delegates and all other government institutions with no other option than to approve and implement the initial steps aggressively, not withstanding that many of the guidelines are limited in this effort to chew away at the periphery of monumental problems and leave intact lots of core issues that are needed to energize and push the economy full speed forward.

During my regular family visits to Cuba, I observed a gradual breakdown of the country’s social, economic and moral fabric, which became alarmingly evident as of the early 2000s. Concerned with these developments, I spoke about it with family members, friends, past co-workers and ordinary people I encountered anywhere. 

Most friends and family advised me to stay clear of this issue, since speaking out against it could allow some narrow-minded people in position of authority to confuse my real intentions and lump me with other Afro-Cubans who had already sold their pen and intellect to foreign institutions bent on destabilizing and overthrowing the Cuban government.

The stakes were high and the risks even greater. Who am I and why should I put the well being of my family on the line, by risking being barred from the country and not being able to be there for them when they needed me most?

Furthermore, they had a powerful, disarming argument in their hands for me to abide by their suggestions and not become a recidivist. Thirty six years ago, for opposing the incipient corruption that was taking hold in the institute of Veterinary Medicine in Oriente, Cuba, I dared to confront its leadership and lost; for which I paid the hefty price of loosing my career, my job, spending 54 months in prison, being turned into a traitor and literally forced out of the country for the past 30 years.

After many excruciating hours weighing the pros and cons, but above all, not being sure which way to go, I decided that the only thing that mattered to me, was to be at peace with myself and my conscience, which lead me to express my fears, concerns and hopes for my country in:

A critical look at the future of Cuba 2/08 & 3/08
A region at risk of famine and the need of a survival strategy 4/08
Big problems demands big solutions 9/08
Preventing a second special period: An urgent imperative 11/08
Caribbean Unification: A non-deferrable reality 11/08
The dawning of America 12/08
Cuba: A recession-resistant nation with a failing economy 7/09
Cuba financial woes risking its future, while sitting on untapped riches 8/09
The handling of the Cuban housing crisis 10/09
The entrenched Cuban embargo 10/09
A worldwide battle of life and death. Chapter 3, 2/10

As could be expected, some friends stopped calling, others kept a safe distance and some close family members could not understand my careless behavior.

And now, after reading the guidelines of this, the most important gathering in Cuba’s modern history, it is reassuring to read how many coincidence is there between both documents.

With this, I am not suggesting or requesting to be vindicated, which is of no personal consequence to me, except for having fulfilled my social responsibility with my country.

Of greater importance would be, if this accident of history would encourage others of wider vision, greater expertise and higher moral standing, to fear not, to come forth, make their thoughts known, defend their views, confront whatever is wrong, challenge the status quo and be yourself on behalf of the future, well being, independence and sovereignty of our country and its people. 

A macabre assault on the poor, 4/10/11top

On August 11, 2006, the Department of Homeland Security announced that, in conjunction with the Department of State, it would allow Cuban medical personnel conscripted to study or work in a third country under the direction of the Cuban government to enter the United States under a new program known as the Cuban Medical Professional Parole (CMPP) program.

Among the aspects contained in its guidelines are:

What is the statutory authority that allows the Department of Homeland Security to parole Cubans into the United States?

How does Cuban Medical Professional qualify for consideration of parole?

Who are Cuban Medical Professionals?

Are family members eligible to enter the United States under CMPP?

What should interested persons be required to submit?

Although there are precedents of similar despicable attacks against the Cuban people such as:

- the Peter Pan Program which literally kidnapped 14,000 teenagers out of Cuba in the early sixties
- the revolting efforts to keep six year old, shipwrecked Elian Gonzalez against the wishes of his father and grandparents in Miami, 

Most refused to believe that such a revolting conspiracy could be enacted forty years after the Peter Pan episode.

Once this sinister plan began to yield its first fruits, Cuban medical professionals, who had defected from a number of countries in the Caribbean, Latin America or as far as Namibia and South Africa, were regularly presented as Olympic trophy to the media in Miami. 

Most if not all of the new emigrants expressed their profound gratitude to the United States government and to the Cuban-American Congressional delegation, headed by the Diaz-Balart brothers and Ileana Ros-Lethinen, who made their journey to freedom possible.

Because I was born and lived in a thatched roof hut without electricity, running water, sewer, jobs, schools or healthcare in Banes, our Cuban Soweto, I could relate easily to the harm that was being done to the poorest and weakest of the world.

Independent, reputable institutions such as the Pan American Health Organization, the World Health Organization, MEDICC, ex President Bill Clinton and others, have written tens of reports which reflect how millions of people in four continents have received clinical, surgical, maternal, dental, physical rehabilitation, genetic, eye surgery, immunizations, high tech diagnosis and others, free of charge.

Horrified by this criminal enticement of Cuban healthcare workers around the world with all sorts of inducements for them to abandon their patients and migrate to the US and become part of the American way of life with all of its wealth, glamour and freedoms, led me to publish A Monstrous and Wicked worldwide attack on the poor 3/11/07.

Although hard figures are not readily available for the success of this well funded project, some reports suggests that between 1000-1500 physicians and 3 times as many other healthcare professionals have joined and most are living in south Florida.

The other tragic side of this horror story is that once these professionals arrive in the United States, the ringleaders are nowhere to be found and then it is when they are confronted with the intractable American Medical Association or AMA requirements, Florida Medical Association and the State Regulatory Institutions with their near insurmountable legal barriers, regulations, boards exams, language barriers, hospital residences, financial support, living quarters etc, which many have not been able to overcome in 10 or 15 years of struggle, frustration and bitterness.

Granted that no job should be seen as demeaning, it is nevertheless heartbreaking to see highly qualified and respected professionals, researchers, professors in Cuba, working as cashiers at supermarkets and pizza parlors, as truck driviers, phlebotomists, nurses aides or elder care attendants, taking orders from people with 1/10 of their education.

The US Department of State, has proven once again its absolute ignorance of historical facts and its ingrained recidivist character flaws. In 1962, in order to create havoc, this department orchestrated the migration of 3500 physicians out of a total of 6000 in Cuba, which failed to bring down the Cuban healthcare system.

And today, when Cuba boosts over 80,000 physicians and can offer their service in close to eighty countries around the world, they childishly come up with the same poorly cooked, ill conceived, repetitive trick, which in the best case scenario, have been able to lure 1 or 2% physicians, as opposed to over 50% in 1962.

An article entitled Hush, Hush the Scandal: US Program against Cuban Medical Assistance, Ichirino worldpress.com 4/3/11 just adds to other failures in the month of April, in which the US has tried to bring the Cuban people to their knees.

No justice for Latin America’s most wanted terrorist, 4/9/11top

In a regrettable travesty of the United States judicial system, Luis Posada Carriles, a long time CIA operative with an extensive curriculum in torture, terror, conspiracy and murder in the United States, Honduras, Guatemala, el Salvador, Venezuela and Cuba, was acquitted yesterday in El paso, Texas, adding another blot to US battered image in its war against terror.

Since entering the US from Mexico, Posada Carriles was accused of illegal entry by Homeland Security, federal prosecutors and others, while no reference was made to his well documented, lifelong crime spree. Venezuela and Cuba have consistently requested his deportation to face charges of torture, disappearances and murder.

Yet, his most heinous crime revolves around masterminding the mid-air explosion of a Cubana airliner off the coast of Barbados in 1976, killing all 73 on board. In the late 90’s, he directed a bombing spree in tourists resorts in Cuba during which an Italian tourist was killed and another 12 were seriously wounded.

Although these issues were made public during his trial through ample documentation, eye witnesses and legal findings, Judge Kathleen Cardone and the Jurors chose to ignore all 11 counts of illegal entry and his well documented crimes.

Prior to his trial, Posada Carriles spoke openly of his deeds on every Spanish speaking AM radio stations and TV talk show in Miami, gave interviews to national media, provided tape recorded interviews for books and investigative journalism, confident of his protection and of the positive outcome of his day in court.

It is extremely difficult to reconcile shoe bomber Richard Reed’s life sentence with no possibility of parole and his three consecutive life sentences for the failed terrorist attempt with Posada Carriles’ being found not guilty, after numerous successful terrorist attacks.

Carter’s US-Cuba Road Map of Peace, 4/4/11top

Once again, former president Jimmy Carter has carved out another road map of peace, when he challenged politically correct dogmas and risked the wrath of warmongers across the world by doing what is morally right when he decided to travel to Cuba in search of peace, harmony and a better tomorrow for all.

Only someone with his strong moral and religious convictions at age 86 would subject himself to such an excruciating pilgrimage in which he met for hours with religious leaders, government officials, journalist and those opposed to the Cuban government, all in return for no personal earthly reward.

Terribly maligned during his one-term presidency, this man of peace, love and hope has demonstrated to the world his total commitment to every human endeavor by bringing cures to millions in Africa suffering from chronic transmissible diseases, returning the Panama Canal to its rightful owners, attempting to create peace in the Middle East, building homes for the needy, through his humble demeanor and respect for others, in teaching many how we can strive for that better world. 

Once his second trip to Cuba became public, he was stridently denounced by right wing fundamentalist groups in the US and elsewhere, who accused him of betraying America’s democratic values, caving into tyrants and dictators or being a useful idiot. No amount of threat or offense was sufficient to move him away from his desire to rebuild a channel of communication or a bridge of understanding between the US and Cuba.

Although a three day visit is a terribly short time in politics, his actions, expressions of love towards the Cuban people and his frank exchange in private and public, may have laid the groundwork for a respectful exchange between both governments, in which, all outstanding issues can be discussed among equal, civilized and respectful individuals.

For the past fifty years, every US administration felt compelled to bring the Cuban people to their knees, have them cry uncle and reverse their achievements back to those of the XIX century, when Cuba’s sovereignty and independence was in the hands of Spain or the United States government.

Cuba resisted, suffered and paid a hefty price, but in so doing, it was consequent with its history and the teachings of our forefathers. Today, we are much older, mature and both governments have come to acknowledge, that some basic principles are non-negotiable and just as it is with other nations, a relation of equals is the only game in town.

No matter what our personal opinion may be, president Barack Obama is of a different extraction, with a different set of life experiences and presumably with a different perception of the world . As opposed to his predecessor, he has seen hunger, sickness, inequalities, hopelessness and injustice. Few others in his position are equipped to incorporate, assimilate, extrapolate and come up with the right answer to this political debacle. 

Like most of the world, the United States is going through its worst financial crisis, it is involved in two wars Obama inherited from the previous administration and one he initiated recently. The US is dealing with severe unemployment, a housing crisis, vicious political divisions, rampant social violence, massive drug abuse, illiteracy, a crumbling penal system and other problems, which have made his administration one of the most complexed in history.

Cuba on the other hand, is located less than 100 miles off the US mainland. Its land mass and population are 80 and 60% respectively of the state of Florida and although Cuba’s natural resources, beauty and geographical diversity are far greater than Florida’s, its GDP is 25 times smaller.

These overwhelming, pragmatic arguments re-enforce the overall understanding of the mutually damaging effects that this ill-fated embargo has exerted on both countries and their people.

President Carter’s timely visit to Cuba has served to highlight, what patience, justice, courage and an honest desire to help both countries find common ground to discuss and resolve their differences can do.

Carter. Ruta de Paz entre los Estados Unidos y Cuba, 4/4/11top

Una vez mas, el ex-presidente Jimmy Carter ha tratado de tallar una ruta de paz entre los Estados Unidos y Cuba, cuando reto a dogmas políticamente correctos, se expuso a la ira de los belicosos del mundo, por haber hecho lo que es moralmente justo, al decidir viajar a Cuba en busca de la paz, armonía y un mañana mejor para todos. 

Solamente una persona con sus fuertes convicciones morales y religiosas, se hubiera sometido a una extenuante peregrinación en el cual se reunió durante horas con líderes religiosos, dirigentes del gobierno Cubano, periodistas y aquellos opuestos al gobierno Cubano, todo, a cambio de ningún beneficio personal. 

Denigrado vergonzosamente durante su periodo presidencial, este hombre de paz, amor y esperanza, le ha demostrado al mundo su total compromiso con todos los empeños humanos, bien sea, aportando una cura a millones en África afligidos de enfermedades transmisibles crónicas, la devolución del canal de Panamá a sus legítimos dueños, su intento por alcanzar la paz en el medio oriente, la construcción de viviendas para los desposeídos o simplemente a través de su postura humilde y el respeto por lo demás, nos ha ensenado como luchar por un mundo mejor. 

Cuando se hizo publico su segunda visita a Cuba, este fue denunciado en forma estridente por grupos fundamentalista ultra-derechistas en los Estados Unidos y otros lugares, acusándolo de haber traicionado los valores democráticos de Estados Unidos, de haberse sometido a tiranos y dictadores o por ser un tonto útil. Ninguna ofensa o amenaza fue suficiente para alejarlo de su deseo de reconstruir canales de comunicación o puentes de entendimiento entre los Estados y Cuba. 

Aun cuando tres días de visita política es un tiempo efímero, sus acciones, expresiones de amor hacia el pueblo Cubano y el intercambio franco en publico y en privado, ha podido sentar las bases para un intercambio respetuoso entre ambos gobiernos, en el cual, todos los asuntos pendientes pudieran discutirse entre iguales en forma civilizada y respetuosa. 

Durante los últimos cincuenta anos, cada administración de los Estados Unidos se han sentido obligados a tratar de arrodillar al pueblo Cubano, llevarlos a pedir perdón y revertir sus logros al siglo XIX, cuando la soberanía de Cuba estaba en manos de España o de los Estados Unidos. 

Cuba resistió, sufrió y pago un precio alto, pero fue consecuente con su historia y las enseñanzas de sus próceres. Hoy, somos mayores, maduros y ambos gobiernos reconocen que ciertos principios básicos no son negociables, tal cual ocurre con otros países, en el cual, una relación de iguales es la única opción. 

Nada importa la opinión personal que pudiéramos tener del presidente Barack Obama, quien es de una extracción diferente, que posee una serie de vivencias distintas y presumiblemente posee una concepción distinta del mundo. Al contrario de su predecesor, el ha visto el hambre, enfermedad, desigualdades, injusticia y perdida de fe. Pocas personas que han ocupado su puesto, están tan bien equipados para incorporar, asimilar y determinar, el mejor mecanismo para responder a esta debacle política. 

Como la mayoría de los países del mundo, los Estados Unidos están atravesando una de sus peores crisis económicas, esta envuelto en dos guerras heredadas de la administración anterior y otra recién iniciada por el. Los Estados Unidos sufre un grave desempleo, una enorme crisis de bienes raíces, una feroz división política, violencia social generalizada, masiva drogadicción, analfabetismo, el desmoronamiento penal y otros males sociales, lo cual ha hecho que su administración se la mas compleja en la historia reciente. 

Cuba por el otro lado, se encuentra a menos de 100 millas de las costas de los Estados Unidos. Su masa territorial y población son un 60 y 80% del estado de la Florida, pero a pesar de que Cuba posee mayores reservas naturales, bio-diversidad y bellezas, su PNB es 25 veces menor. 

Estos argumentos pragmáticos, aplastantes, demuestran categóricamente como este fatídico embargo ha servido para perjudicar a los pueblos a ambos lado del estrecho de la Florida. 

La atinada visita del ex-presidente Carter a Cuba ha servido para resaltar lo que es posible lograr con paciencia, justicia, coraje y un deseo honesto de ayudar a ambas naciones a encontrar un medio común, donde podrían discutir y resolver sus diferencias a favor de sus pueblos.

How I was drawn into Cuba’s racial issue, 3/7/11top

Because of the lack of the right person to fill a slot, I was honored with an invitation from Dr. Wayne Smith from the Center for International Policy, John Hopkins University in Washington DC, to be part of a panel in a conference entitled, Miami and US Policy: A New Look, which took place in that city on October 31, 1998.

Notwithstanding the prevailing Eurocentric, racist mentality in this city, approximately 120 participants were presented with views, opinions and concerns, never uttered before in such a setting.

Elated by this unprecedented event, I was catapulted into writing Un hito en la lucha contra el racismo (A landmark in the struggle against racism)11/12/98), notwithstanding the fact that I had no formal training in this complex field.

The organizers of the event were so pleased with the results of this experience that on September 16-17, 1999, they convened a second conference, Afro-Cuban in Cuban Society: Past, Present and Future. This time, the panel was re-enforced with intellectuals from Cuba, England and the United States. Mr. Barrada and myself, were the only two neophytes on this panel.

The papers that were presented in the morning session, were of far higher caliber than those in Miami and elicited profound discussions and analysis about the presence and impact of Africa in the formation of the Cuban nation.

The evening session turned out to be a bombshell that nearly ruined the entire conference. A strident paper presented by an Afro-Cuban living abroad concluded that, after 500 years of abuses, segregation, racism and a failed effort of Hispanic Cubans and Afro-Cubans to cohabitate, we can no longer live together, for which reason seceding was the only option, with Afro-Cubans living in eastern Cuba and Hispanic Cubans living in the west. No provisions was included for the other ethnic groups.

A mix race Cuban intellectual female from Cuba on the panel angrily confronted this outlandish statement by saying that her maternal grandfather was from Spain and her maternal grandmother was black. Her paternal grandfather was Chinese and her paternal grandmother was Cuban. She further stated categorically, that I am a Cuban Mulata, I live in Havana and I am not going anywhere!

For some participants, this bitter exchange was seen as a simple acrimonious, academic, literary confrontation, which enabled this gathering to come to a successful conclusion the following day.

For me however, this event was a stark reminder of the mid fifties, when thousands of students across Cuba, fought and won a decisive battle against the Cuban and United States government , who were bent on building what was known as the Canal Via Cuba, which would have split our country in two in Las Villas province, in order to shorten the shipping route between the US, central and south America.

A discussion over dinner with other panelists about the chilling statement made earlier in the day revealed a concerted effort that was underway by the US State Department to study, research, highlight, disseminate and exacerbate racial divisions in Cuba.

Some time after, I noticed a 180 degree change in the formatting of most Cuban-American radio stations in south Florida and others beaming their transmissions to Cuba, in which Afro-Cuban issues suddenly became the centerpiece of their programming by constantly inserting the race card.

The traditional white leader and membership composition of all counterrevolutionary groups in south Florida, New Jersey and Cuba, suddenly became irrelevant and ignored. An open push to enlist every black and mixed race individual into these groupuscles and place them in the most visible positions was aggressively pursued.

Every educated Afro-Cuban they could get their hands on, who presumably had a bit of charisma, leadership potential and a minimum dose of anti-Castro sentiment, fit their basic requirement.

A number of predominantly Black colleges, civil rights groups, labor unions and others across the United States were offered hefty grants by US-AID and NED to create special courses in human rights, democracy, peaceful demonstration, web site moderation, computer technology, communications skills, public relations and much more.

Hundreds of Afro-Cuban books, documentaries, websites, conferences appeared out of nowhere. Comparative Afro-Cuban and US demographics studies became prime subjects.

Upon graduation, they were instructed to create groups throughout the United States and capitals around the world under pompous names such as Human Rights, Labor Unions, Independent Journalists, Independent Farmers and Independent everything else, from where they created their branches in Cuba. More important than the number of members of each group was the use of their names and logo for promotional purposes.

Many Afro-Cubans suddenly became household names by posting articles on the web or becoming regular callers to Radio Marti, south Florida AM radio stations and European media. Others were encouraged into acts of civil disobedience, even hunger strikes, one of whom sadly died in the process. None of these actions were encouraged nor were they able to find members willing to do the same outside of Cuba.

Much hyped have been the Ladies in White, who some have shamelessly tried to equate with Mariana Grajales, for flaunting their lily white linen dresses and pink gladiolus, in a country where clothing is in short supply and the equivalent value of each of these flowers is badly needed by the average Cuban family to purchase cooking oil.

In the US, most of these pseudo leaders are easily identified through their lifestyle, for not holding a job in decades, for their occasional run-ins with legal institutions and for defrauding and misusing monies assigned to them by US-AID, NED and others to support the work of their subordinates in Cuba.

Dissenting or expressing one’s displeasure with their government or their actions is an inherent right of all citizens for their country of birth. Laws in every country have spelled out in their constitutions, how, when and where these expressions can take place and the penalties for not upholding or breaking the law. Depending on how these measures are applied, there are a variety of internationally accepted categorizations to describe and/or denounce governments reactions against these individual rights.

What is universally condemned is when any individual holding real or perceived grievances against their government or their country, does so under orders or instructions of a foreign government, making it morally and legally punishable. This behavior becomes more despicable when any citizen knowingly and willfully injects racial, ethnic or religious divisions into a political issue, intent on inciting social strife.

As sons and daughters of Africa, we have an endless trail of pain, suffering and death, deriving from our forefathers’ horrendous voyage in the hull of slave schooners where most died and where survivors were rewarded with 350 years of slavery in the most inhumane conditions in our newly acquired homeland, where beatings, hunger, being hunted down like wild animals, rape and forced labor lead to the death of so many. Accordingly, we hold a genuine, indelible, moral grievance against the perpetrators, entities, communities or nations for their acts; this must be addressed if our country is ever to become morally whole, by cleansing its horrific past and un-payable debt of gratitude with its children. 

When our country was called upon to free itself from the claws of its colonial powers, blacks joined in mass, suffering the bulk of the dead and wounded, only to see their sacrifices ignored, abused, segregated and overwhelmed with hopelessness by the pseudo republic puppet government of 1902.

Desperately in search of justice, Afro-Cubans began to organize politically following the established norms of others, for which thousands were brutally massacred in 1912. Terrorized thereafter and forced into the worst living quarters of the nation, deprived of education, healthcare, jobs and dignity, we were encapsulated into the lowest denominator of the Cuban society.

Whatever faults attributed to Cuba, shortcomings, unfulfilled promises and injustices there may be and having a very long way to go towards achieving full social justice and racial equality, no one can honestly deny that under the present Cuban government, Afro-Cubans have made more advances in every field than during the previous 450 years.

Still, there is no reason for comfort, celebration or having a feeling of mission accomplished! Far more important than what has been achieved is what remain to be done. Five hundreds years have been a long wait and time is running out.

Therefore, Afro-Cubans must continue their steadfast defense of the fatherland’s sovereignty and integrity, no matter the price to be paid. We must never allow ourselves to be dragged into traps that have been set up by those who despise us most, while never renouncing our just struggle for equality, in an honest, frontal demand that would make our forefathers proud and our dead rest in peace. 

The End of an Era, 2/25/11top

For the past weeks, a constant call went out of Radio Mambi 710 AM to all Cuban-Americans and people from all nations living in south Florida, to gather en mass on Calle 8 on February 24th, not to celebrate the defining event that took place in Baire in 1895 under the guidance of Jose Marti, but rather, to send a clear message to the island that this vibrant, partisan, anti-Castro community was ready to take command of Cuba.

In order to energize its followers, boost the attendance and raise the level of hatred against their country of birth, a transmission between the Cuban Air Force pilots and their control tower before, during and after the downing of two planes belonging to Brothers to the Rescue on February 24th, 1996 was played non-stop for weeks.

Leading this march and concentration was the best and brightest of Unidad Cubana, Cuban American National Foundation, Liberty Council, The New White Rose, FIU Cuban Research Institute, Municipalities in Exile, CID, Presidio Politico, Alpha 66, Assault Brigade 2506, Command L, UMAP, Brothers to the Rescue and many others.

A smiling photo-op on Univision Home Page of Lincoln and Mario Diaz-Balart, Ileana Ros-Lethinen, Perez-Roura and others symbolizes the human material that was present at this gathering, which the Miami Herald and others have placed at or around 3,000 out of a community of over 800,000 Cuban-Americans or a shameful participation of 0.3%

Not even resorting to the lowest human denominator was sufficient to change the embarrassing outcome of this tragic-comedy gathering -- using over and over 1) the tragic death of these four pilots, who had been warned repeatedly by the US and Cuban authorities about the hazards associated with their hostile incursions into the Cuban airspace, as well as 2) the first anniversary of the death of hunger striker Orlando Zapata Tamayo, suddenly turned into a martyr by this well documented racist, segregationist, anti Nelson Mandela community, 

Equally puzzling is the non-response of the policy makers of the governments of the US and Cuba, who refuse to recognize that this tiny, reactionary, right-wing community is on life support in intensive care, suffering from a terminally ill pathology, whose confrontational and frequently aggressive behavior in Cuba and the US should have no impact on how other Cuban-Americans are perceived and treated on both sides of this artificial divide.

After fifty years of Cuba being forced to be in the trenches, defending itself from real or imaginary aggressions coming out of the US and after having lived to see an impossible dream come true with an Afro-American becoming president of the United States, what can possibly hinder both sides from coming together and solving the minor issue of improved relations between our nations, as compared with those stated above?

No well-wishing, peace-loving humanist should sit silent in these trying moments of massive world upheaval and not demand from both governments our inalienable right to live in peace; by putting away false pride, arrogance and grudge, by focusing of the enormous, mutually beneficial advantages that are readily available for both neighbors, if peace, justice, respect and friendship could prevail.

A Self-Inflicted Wound, 2/9/11top

Although the US Chamber of Commerce had a rocky relation with candidate and later president Barack Obama, in his quest to create jobs, re-energize the nation’s economy and get the country moving forward, he did not hesitate to meet with and speak to this semi friendly group, where he expressed his willingness to meet with anyone, anywhere, anytime to achieve his goals.

Unfortunately, this commitment to create employment and strengthen the economy, may not be shared by some business and political leaders in our state.

For decades, the US government have presented to Cuba a laundry list of demands among which, freedom of speech, multiparty election and free enterprise occupied a salient position, if there would ever be hopes of improving relations between both countries.

Shortly after Raul Castro became president of Cuba in February 2008, he made a number of overtures to the US government, he released most of the so called political prisoners and have taken baby steps towards relaxing a predominantly government controlled economy.

In the summer of 2010, the Cuban government took its most dramatic economic reform in half a century, when in hopes of energizing its stagnated economy, a massive employment realignment was set in motion by which, 500,000 government employees will be released from their current jobs in the coming months.

In order to absorb hundreds of thousands of these workers, a number of measures are being instituted. Idle farmlands are being given in usufruct to every able body, small business such as cafeteria, barber shops, beauty parlor and others are being leased, privately operated bed and breakfast and restaurants are blossoming across the country

An initial list of close to 200 job descriptions and more to come have been issued, leading tens of thousands of people to gobble up every self employment licenses. Agriculture cooperatives are rapidly expanding from previously owned government enterprises and foreign investment is being strongly encouraged.


A steady stream of high ranking government officials from around the world, are flowing into Cuba on a daily basis, trying to position themselves and forming Joint Ventures with the most desirable enterprises. Real estate, which until recently was off limits, will now be available on a 99 year lease-agreement.

Giants such as China, Brazil, Venezuela, Russia, South Africa, Malaysia, Canada, Spain and others, are leading the charge, while the United States is no where to be found.

Bound by a fifty year old fossilized embargo that have failed to achieve its objective, while proving its immense capacity to inflict unspeakable pain, suffering and death on innocent people in Cuba, it is now the main obstacle standing between any improved relations between both countries, effectively shutting out the US from a burgeoning market 90 miles off our shores, when our economy needs it most.

Ignoring the best interest of our state and nation, a handful of ultra-right-wing Cuban American politicians in south Florida, have high jacked our foreign policy especially now, when US Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lethinen became chair of the all powerful US Congress Foreign Relations Committee and is enjoying a wide support among many rabid Republican Party extremists.

For the past 20 years, I owned and operated an environmental health business in NE-Central Florida. I am eternally grateful to, and wish to express my heartfelt gratitude to the healthcare community for their unqualified support, which made our success possible.

Having to visit on a regular basis Duval, Clay, St. Johns, Putnam, Flagler, Volusia, Brevard, Osceola, Orange, Seminole, Lake, Alachua and Polk counties, allows me to reasonably assess the financial strength/weakness of each county. By living and working in Flagler and Volusia counties, it is easy for me to admit, that neither are the wealthiest in our state.

It is therefore imperative, that our less wealthy counties jump to the forefront of this potentially lucrative market, just as Orange, Palm Beach, Broward, Hillsboro and Monroe Counties are trying to do.

All Cuba-related businesses in Miami, its International Airport and especially NW 20th St in that city, are hiring, expanding and opening new business in a boom, that was worthy of a feature article in time magazine, in what some see as a prelude of better days to come.

Unfortunately, our local business and political establishment seems to be operating under a 1960 guideline, in which, we pretended Cuba did not exist by removing it from the map, we did not speak to each other and distortions and lies were the guiding light.

The world have changed dramatically since and the new reality suggests, that although Florida has the closest geographical, historical cultural and economical ties with Cuba, it is presently loosing out to non-related states such as Iowa, South Dakota, Illinois, New Mexico, California, New York and others.

Ironically, in the year 2008, at the height of our financial downturn and Detroit falling apart, Cuba purchased 10,000 buses, 300,000 TV set, 1,000,000 rice cookers, 100,000 refrigerators and much more, thousands of miles away in China, although Cubans still prefer those made in USA.

With Cuba’s urgent need of acquiring thousands of trucks, cars, construction equipment, farmland machinery, electrical fittings, plumbing supply, furniture, appliances, computers, millions pieces of auto parts, every medical equipment/supply, office/school supplies etc., we may be able to empty every used car lot, warehouses and distribution centers in our state and beyond, or,

We can continue to sit on the sidelines, we can say what is politically correct for south Florida politicians, we can watch our labor force shrink, our foreclosures and bankruptcy rise or our school budget suffer deeper cuts. 

The choice is ours!

US-CUBA Relations at a deadly crossroad, 2/6/11top

Since writing the first chapter of this article in the month of December, millions of peace-loving people interested in the US-Cuba antagonistic relations, were pleasantly surprised by President Barack Obama’s courageous decision on January 14, 2011, to rescind most of the Cuba travel restrictions.

Described as Purposeful Travel to enhance contact with the Cuban people and support civil society including religious, cultural and educational travel, the President has directed that regulations and policies governing purposeful travel be modified to:

· Allow religious organizations to sponsor religious travel to Cuba under a general license.
· Facilitate educational exchanges by allowing accredited institutions of higher education to sponsor travel to Cuba for course work for academic credit under a general license; allowing students to participate through academic institutions other than their own, and facilitating instructor support to include support from adjunct and part-time staff.
· Restore specific licensing of educational exchanges not involving academic study pursuant to a degree program under the auspices of an organization that sponsors and organizes people-to-people programs.
· Modify requirements for licensing academic exchanges to require that the proposed course of study be accepted for academic credit towards their undergraduate or graduate degree (rather than regulating the length of the academic exchange in Cuba).
· Allow specifically licensed academic institutions to sponsor or cosponsor academic seminars, conferences and workshops related to Cuba and allow faculty, staff and students to attend.
· Allow specific licensing to organize or conduct non-academic clinics and workshops in Cuba for the Cuban people.
· Allow specific licensing for a greater scope of journalistic activities.
· Remittances: To help expand the economic independence of the Cuban people and to support a more vibrant Cuban civil society, the President has directed the regulations governing non-family remittances to be modified to:
· Restore a general license category for any U.S. person to send remittances (up to $500 per quarter) to non-family members in Cuba to support private economic activity, among other purposes, subject to the limitation that they cannot be provided to senior Cuban government officials or senior members of the Cuban Communist Party.
· Create a general license for remittances to religious institutions in Cuba in support of religious activities.
· No change will be made to the general license for family remittances.
· U.S. Airports. To better serve those who seek to visit family in Cuba and engage in other licensed purposeful travel, the President has directed that regulations governing the eligibility of U.S. airports to serve as points of embarkation and return for licensed flights to Cuba be modified to:
· Allow all U.S. international airports to apply to provide services to licensed charters, provided such airports have adequate customs and immigration capabilities and a licensed travel service provider has expressed and interest in providing service to and from Cuba from that airport. The modification will not change the designation of airport in Cuba that are eligible to send or receive licensed charter flights to and from the United States. 

Beyond these welcome decisions which can increase people-to-people relations between our nations, the only other options that are available to President Barack Obama are, to extend travel rights to Cuba to everyone living under the United States jurisdiction and not to have included every U.S. citizen right to send up to $2000.00 a year to non-family members in Cuba, which can be perceived as a subversive way of undermining the Cuban government.

Still, the culprit, the cancer, the embargo/blockade which is a major thorn in our bilateral relations and which have caused unspeakable pain, suffering, death and destruction in Cuba is, and will remain intact beyond the reach of today‘s and future presidents of the United States.

Thanks to the shameful political pay-back maneuvering of President Bill Clinton in 1996, the embargo was codified and placed into the hands of the US Congress. In order for it to be lifted, it would require a near impossible 2/3 supporting votes of both legislative body.

Cuba is therefore, effectively condemned to live indefinitely with this monstrosity, especially now with the strengthening of the ultra-right, reactionary, xenophobic, fundamentalist wing of the Republican Party, firmly in charge for the foreseeable future.

With this dire scenario facing the Cuban people for decades to come, should they prepare themselves mentally to see tens of thousands of their women, children, elderly and handicap, slowly waste away for lack of food, medicine, shelter and all other means of survival, because of the devastating effects this criminal measure will exert upon them?

Is it not time for the Cuban people and its institutions, to develop a different approach from those failed efforts in place for the past half a century, which may be capable of isolating friends and foe and defining the battleground, as the only way to shake off this asphyxiating stranglehold?

Is it not doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results, one of mankind most frequent blunder? Some thoughts:

With the upcoming small business development plans to be enacted in Cuba, I am hoping Cuba will offer all Cuban-American business owners without links to violent acts against their country, an option to participate in the formation of Joint Ventures (51/49% ownership) in their field of expertise, which could generate hundreds of millions of dollars in income for the country, create thousands of jobs and put an end to corruption, misappropriation and waste.

Cuba could further offer Cuban-Americans and others from every nationality without a violent past, the opportunity to lease for 50 years a 100’ x 100’ (¼ acre) lot to build their homes in modest, mid and luxury locations throughout our country, providing a safe living environment for 500,000 senior citizens, generating billions of dollars, creating thousands of jobs and strengthening our international bonds.

Cuba could also offer every country in the world, the opportunity of creating Joint Ventures (51/49%) with the Tourist, Airline, Railroad, Energy, Chemical, Biotechnology, Agriculture, Construction, Mining, Harbor, Fishing, Wholesale, Public Transportation, Banking, Merchant Marine, Heavy and Light Industry, etc., whose face value could be measured in trillions of dollars and the creation of hundreds of thousands of jobs for our youths.

Cuba’s urgent needs of acquiring tens of thousands of trucks, automobiles, construction equipment, buses, farmland machinery etc., could make a special offer to hundreds of used equipment dealerships in Florida and elsewhere, loaded with excellent equipments sitting on their lots, with no sale prospect now and far less in the future.

Should we add to this shopping cart, tens of unsaleable aging airliners, ferries and freighters rotting in our waterways, every piece of school/office supply, medical equipment/supply, electrical fittings, plumbing supply, furniture, appliances, computers, TV and millions of pieces of auto parts, emptying all distribution centers and retail chains in the state of Florida and beyond?

Selling billions of dollars of these equipment at wholesale prices, would be a dream come true for these entities on the verge of bankruptcy, a huge gold rush for the impoverished state of Florida, the stabilization of thousands of jobs and fulfilling President Barack Obama stated promise to go anywhere, anytime and speak to anyone, in his job creation quest.

By the same token, Cuba cannot continue graduating tens of thousands of its youths in all fields of knowledge, only to see them migrate and offer their expertise around the world for lack of resources, meager wages or technical stagnation at home?

Let’s welcome back those who left! Let’s allow everyone to travel wherever they wish! Let’s remunerate appropriately everyone for their skills! Let’s pay off all of our outstanding debts! Let’s share some of this enormous wealth with all Cubans living on the island, by giving every child under the age of 15, a $5000.00 and every adult a $10,000.00 CUC equivalent Thank You bank credit, in recognition for their suffering and patriotism during these difficult and trying years.

The huge material and financial resources that will be available to our privileged country, combined with its greatest asset of hundreds of thousands of highly educated citizens, will bring to an abrupt end, years of need and suffering and position Cuba to become to Latin America and the Caribbean, what Malaysia and Singapore are for Asia. 

Contacting Alberto Jonestop

Email: albertoj_AT_afrocubaweb.com [replace _AT_ with @]

 

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