Few Americans realize that some of the best Ballet dancers in the world hail from Cuba…
Few Americans realize that some of the best Ballet dancers in the world hail from Cuba…
Conservatives in this country cheer the death of Castro, a communist dictator, but love and elect the pawn of a neo-communist dictator, Vladimir Putin because of racism.
Two of the fiercest congressional critics of Fidel Castro are rejoicing after his death, and laying down a marker for President Barack Obama and his successor: Don’t go soft on Cuba now.
“The day that the people, both inside the island and out, have waited for has arrived: A tyrant is dead and a new beginning can dawn on the last remaining communist bastion of the Western hemisphere,” Florida Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Cuban-American lawmaker and a longtime foe of Cuba’s communist dictator, said in a statement early Saturday.
Ros-Lehtinen added a warning to Fidel Castro’s brother Raul, who has ruled in his stead since 2006 and announced his death on Cuban state television last night.
“Those who still rule Cuba with an iron grip may attempt to delay the island’s liberation, but they cannot stop it,” she said. “Castro’s successors cannot hide and must not be allowed to hide beneath cosmetic changes that will only lengthen the malaise of the Cuban nation. No regime, no matter who leads it, will have a shred of legitimacy if it has not been chosen by the people of Cuba in free and fair elections.”…
All that hypocrisy from the descendants of one of the world’s most brutal dictatorships which Castro overthrew. A group of people whose own ugly racial history has planted them frmly on the Republican plantation, and voting for the Chumph.
Trump gets crazier every day. Today’s story from a Tabloid claims that Republican Candidate Ted Cruz’s father was an accomplice who helped Lee Harvey Oswald murder President John F. Kennedy! Cruz’s dad is an established racist right wing pile of shit – but the evidence here is diaphanous at best.
As Donald Trump reminded the world Tuesday morning, the Republican Party is on the verge of nominating a conspiracy theorist who regularly uses debunked Internet and tabloid rumors to smear his enemies.
In the latest case, Trump seized on a ludicrously thin-sourced National Enquirer story to insinuate Sen. Ted Cruz’s father, Rafael Cruz, was involved in the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
“His father was with Lee Harvey Oswald prior to Oswald’s being, you know, shot,” Trump told Fox News over the phone. “I mean, the whole thing is ridiculous. What is this, right prior to his being shot, and nobody even brings it up. They don’t even talk about that. That was reported, and nobody talks about it.”
Trump’s evidence? A photo, disseminated in fringe circles online and then by the National Enquirer, that conspiracy sleuths claim shows the elder Cruz near Oswald. There is zero evidence the person in question is Rafael Cruz.
“This man is a pathological liar,” Ted Cruz told reporters in response. “He doesn’t know the difference between truth and lies. He lies practically every word that comes out of his mouth. And in a pattern that I think is straight out of a psychology textbook, his response is to accuse everyone else of lying.”
Cruz has a point. Even by normal political standards, Trump’s relationship with the truth is abusive: Politifact named his entire campaign its 2015 “Lie of the Year.”
The GOP presidential front-runner, whether by choice or by nature, appears fundamentally unable to distinguish between credible sources and chain e-mails.
Equally significant, though, is that he uses these falsehoods to elevate fringe conspiracy theories and anecdotes that politicians are normally careful to keep far away from mainstream politics. He’s spread discredited claims linking vaccines to autism, for example — a debunked theory that medical officials say has harmed efforts towipe out preventable diseases.
Trump has an online fan base of white nationalists, whom he sometimes retweets to his millions of followers. It’s important to note that many of the most egregious examples of Trump’s false claims have a strong racial and ethnic component.
Tuesday’s JFK story was a perfect example: A smear whose effect was to make Ted Cruz and his Cuban-born father appear strange, foreign, and untrustworthy. There are many others….Read The Rest Here…
Historic concert last night in Cuba, where the Rolling Stones put on the biggest concert in the country since before the Embargo.
The diaspora after the Cuban Revolution actually did the country a huge favor in terms of race relations. Like other places in Latin America and the Islands who got jobs, ownership of import-export franchises, and business opportunities was largely driven by the racial strata of their chief customer (and sometimes occupier) the United States until late in the 60’s. And that meant the lighter and whiter the better.
As such the Cuban population of first generation refugees look nothing like the population on the Island.
Despite protestations to the contrary, including in the American Press – the Revolution did not entirely kill the Devil. It just drove it underground and made it a bit more nefarious.
One of the major issues of rapprochement, either by the US or European countries is who specifically will benefit from the emerging tourism and product marketplaces. And whether the “new invasion” of foreigners will apply or wittingly or unwittingly support the old color structure. I would guess there is some trepidation in welcoming the Cuban-American diaspora back.
The diaspora aren’t going to be real high on the list for either this, or the next Democrat President, because they, alone among Hispanic and Latino groups in the country have been a reliable voting block for Republicans.
President Obama spoke of his Kenyan heritage. He talked about how both the United States and Cuba were built on the backs of slaves from Africa. He mentioned that not very long ago, his parents’ marriage would have been illegal in America, and he urged Cubans to respect the power of protest to bring about equality.
“We want our engagement to help lift up Cubans who are of African descent,” he said, “who have proven there’s nothing they cannot achieve when given the chance.”
Mr. Obama’s speech on Tuesday, in an ornate Spanish colonial-style hall in Havana, was not only strikingly personal. It was also an unusually direct engagement with race, a critical and unresolved issue in Cuban society that the revolution was supposed to have erased.
For many Cubans, Mr. Obama’s comments were striking for their acknowledgment of racism in both countries. His remarks served as a reminder that their particular kinship with him — as reflected in dozens of conversations and responses to his history-making three-day visit this week — involves not just policy, but also identity.
“It’s a revolution,” said Alberto González, 44, a baker who was one of the few Afro-Cubans to attend a discussion with the president about entrepreneurship on Monday. “It’s a revolution for everyone with a background descended from Africa.”
Defensiveness has long hovered over the subject of race, in part because Fidel Castro said shortly after the revolution that racism had been solved, making the subject taboo.
The discomfort, in part, came from pride: Some of the revolution’s most visible achievements involved ending institutionalized segregation, at beach clubs, at schools and in neighborhoods where the homes of wealthy white Cubans who fled were often given to Cubans of color.
Socialized medicine and education also helped create a society more deeply shaped by interracial interactions and marriages than the United States.
And yet, Cuba is no more postracial than anywhere else. Many Afro-Cubans in Cuba and abroad have been quick to point out that the presence of Mr. Obama, the first black president of the United States, only highlights that the Cuban government does not reflect the demographics of their country.
On an island that is around two-thirds black and mixed race, according to a 2007 study by the Cuban economist Esteban Morales Domínguez, the civil and public leadership is about 70 percent white. He also found that most scientists, technicians and university professors, up to 80 percent in some fields, were white.
“The images of the meetings, the agreements, they’re all shameful for many black Cubans — I’m including myself in this — because it’s difficult to feel represented,” said Odette Casamayor-Cisneros, an associate professor of Latin American and Caribbean literatures and cultures at the University of Connecticut and a scholar at Harvard University.
She added that elements of Mr. Obama’s trip reflected some of the same dynamics: The Cuban-Americans traveling with the president were nearly all white, as were the Cuban officials who interacted with him on the island. Indeed, much of the audience for his speech on Tuesday was white.
In that context, the president — along with his wife, daughters and mother-in-law, who joined him on the trip — offers a clear contrast.
“What you see is confirmation of black empowerment, which has generally been denied in Cuban society,” Ms. Casamayor-Cisneros said. “For black Cubans, the mere existence of Obama is unusual and overwhelmingly symbolic.”
Some Afro-Cubans, like the hip-hop artist known as Soandry, linked the president to “what can be achieved in a capitalist system.”
Other Cubans brought up race more directly, without prompting, arguing that because Mr. Obama is African-American, he understands their country.
Mr. González, whose bakery counter is adorned with photographs of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X, said it was not just the president whom people admire. “Look at that family,” he said, smiling broadly. “Can you imagine? Have you ever seen a more beautiful family?”
The challenge, Mr. González and other Cubans said, is turning that inspiration into something more substantial, starting with a more open conversation about race….Read The Rest Here…
Getting crazy out there. Seems that the same scumbags who challenged President Obama’s have a new target – Sen. Ted Cruz who was born in Canada to an American mother and Cuban citizen father. Even worse, Cruz failed to renounce his Canadian citizenship until just before he announced his run in the Republican Primary. My problem is the fact of the dual citizenship – not where he was born.
Insofar as the State Department –
The “Foreign Preference” criterion (Guideline C) of the December 2005 “Adjudicative Guidelines for Determining Eligibility for Access to Classified Information” makes the “exercise of any right, privilege or obligation of foreign citizenship after becoming a U.S. citizen” a potentially disqualifying condition for a security clearance. Guideline C also states:
And the Department of Defense –
The security concerns underlying this guideline are that the possession and use of a foreign passport in preference to a U.S. passport raises doubt as to whether the person’s allegiance to the United States is paramount and it could also facilitate foreign travel unverifiable by the United States. Therefore consistent application of the guideline requires that any [DoD] clearance be denied or revoked unless the applicant surrenders the foreign passport or obtains official approval for its use from the appropriate agency of the United States Government.
In govermentese that means you cannot get a security clearance in the DOD (Army, Navy, Air Force, National Guard) with a dual citizenship. You must renounce your other allegiance.
Ted Cruz should have been disqualified from being a Senator. Being able to be President is absurd, regardless of the birthright claims – because at no point did he renounce his foreign citizenship…
Until it became necessary for his campaign.
In 2008, they went after Barack Obama. In 2016, they’re going after Ted Cruz.
The originators of the so-called birther movement are leading a charge this campaign cycle with the same accusations they had two campaign cycles ago.
Eight years ago, the loosely-organized group came together other-izing the man who would become the first black president. Now, they’re attempting to do so with the potential first Latino one. And it’s not just isolated fringe bloggers who have taken up the mantle. WorldNetDaily, a site that has touted both Donald Trump and Cruz and been essential reading for their fans, is supporting the cause as well.
The senator from Texas was born in Calgary, Canada to an American mother and a Cuban father. Cruz released his birth certificate in 2013 and renounced his Canadian citizenship a year later in advance of his presidential campaign, in an attempt to put the issue to bed before it reached national headlines in this campaign cycle.
And that might have resolved it, if Donald Trump had not questioned his legitimacy as a candidate.
“How do you run against the Democrat, whoever it may be, and you have this hanging over your head if they bring a lawsuit?” Trump said in an interview on CNN this week. And just like that, with one question, the real estate mogul effectively brought this issue from the far-reaches of conspiracy internet sites to the forefront of American dialogue.
Trump later suggested that Cruz ask a judge for a “declaratory judgment” to definitively prove the status of his citizenship.
This, of course, would likely create a spectacle that could prove politically advantageous to Trump, who is currently losing to Cruz in Iowa, the first primary state.
“I’m doing this for the good of Ted… I like him. He likes me,” Trump asserted.
While this reads as a witch hunt to most eyes—akin to Trump’s previous efforts to get Obama’s birth certificate released—many of the original founders of the 2008 movement seem to agree with the leading Republican candidate. Unlike Obama, they like Cruz and they want him to clear the air on this birth issue before it’s too late.
“I think it does disqualify him,” said Teo Bear (an online pseudonym), who warned about the issue of Ted Cruz’s birth on his site Birthers.org in 2014. “Let me ask you a question, if you were dating a girl and you come to realize that she wanted to get serious and wanted to have children and you didn’t want puppies, don’t you think you should tell her ‘I don’t want puppies?’”…More…
PRESIDENT OBAMA: You remind us that people are only truly free when they can practice their faith freely. Here in the United States, we cherish religious liberty. Yet around the world at this very moment, children of God, including Christians, are targeted and even killed because of their faith. Believers are prevented from gathering at their places of worship. The faithful are imprisoned. Churches are destroyed. So we stand with you in defense of religious freedom and interfaith dialogue, knowing that people everywhere must be able to live out their faith free from fear and intimidation.
Pope Francis immediately dove into the whirlpool of U.S. politics on Wednesday, using his first direct address to the nation to weigh in on deeply divisive issues including climate change, Cuba, marriage and immigration.
The pontiff, speaking before 11,000 ticketed guests at an elaborate welcoming ceremony on South Lawn of the White House, signaled he will take on controversial issues during his six-day visit.
In remarks delivered slowly in accented English, Francis said he was ready to listen to the “hopes and dreams of the American people” and to offer guidance to those charged with shaping the nation’s political future “in fidelity to its founding principles.”
In comments that could antagonize Republicans, Francis endorsed President Barack Obama’s efforts on climate change and rebuilding ties with Cuba after more than half a century of estrangement.
He said it was “encouraging that you are proposing an initiative for reducing air pollution. Accepting the urgency, it seems clear to me also that climate change is a problem that can no longer be left to a future generation.”
“When it comes to the care of our ‘common home’ we are living at a critical moment of history,” he said.
Francis also made reference to one of the central themes of his papacy: that the modern global economy is enriching the few at the expense of the many.
“I would like all men and women of good will in this great nation to support the efforts of the international community to protect the vulnerable in our world and to stimulate integral and inclusive models of development,” Francis said.
But he also delivered a firm defense of traditional values, warning that the institution of marriage and family needed to be protected at “a critical moment in the history of our civilization,” remarks that could irk liberals months after the Supreme Court ruled in favor of same-sex marriage nationwide.
He said that it was right that society was “tolerant and inclusive” but warned that American Catholics were “concerned that efforts to build a just and wisely ordered society respect their deepest concerns and their right to religious liberty. That freedom remains one of America’s most precious possessions.”
Stepping into another delicate political issue, the Argentine-born Francis pointedly noted that he was a “son of immigrants” — a sign that he could step into the debate later in his visit on how to handle millions of undocumented immigrants in the United States that has roiled the 2016 presidential campaign.
Obama and first lady Michelle Obama earlier greeted the Pope at the White House as he stepped out of his small black Fiat, which he is using to make a statement of humility in Washington, a city full of limos and hulking government SUVs.
On a glorious early-fall morning, the President and Pope stood together before an honor guard as a band played the national anthens for the Vatican and the U.S.
Obama paid warm tribute to the Pope as an individual as well as the leader of 70 million U.S. Catholics, saying he displayed “unique qualities” of a leader “whose moral authority comes not just through words but also through deeds.”
The White House has said that Obama will not seek to exploit the visit of Francis for political gain — but the president warmly welcomed the pontiff’s support on climate change and Cuba, for which he is trying to build domestic support.
“Holy Father, we are grateful for your invaluable support of our new beginning with the Cuban people, which holds out the promise of better relations between our countries, greater cooperation across our hemisphere, and a better life for the Cuban people,” Obama said.
The president also said the Pope had offered reminders that “we have have a sacred obligation to protect our planet.”
“We support your call to all world leaders to support the communities most vulnerable to a changing climate and to come together to preserve our precious world for future generations.”…
Slavery in Cuba was aided and abetted by both the United States and England. Today, that history casts a shadow on future US-Cuba relations. The average lifespan of a Cuban slave was only 8 years.
From and Article “10 Things You Didn’t Know About Cuban Slavery”
Working in sugar mills and on sugar plantations was incredibly hard work, and it often slashed the life expectancy of enslaved people dramatically. Based on harsh working conditions, deplorable living quarters, insufficient hours for rest and a variety of other factors, enslaved people who worked in the sugar mills were only expected to live for another eight years at most, according to materials provided by the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies at NYU
Cuban slave masters were particularly cruel when it came to pregnant women. While the owners of enslaved people in the Americas tended to punish women without any regards to their pregnancies, in Cuba their pregnancies were used as part of their punishment.
According to the 1817 treaty that Cuba made with England, slave trade into Cuba was abolished. Unfortunately, this didn’t put an end to enslaved Black people being brought to the foreign land.
Unlike slavery in America, Cuba’s slavery system was gendered, according to “General History of the Caribbean,” Vol III. Enslaved women often had a different set of tasks and responsibilities than enslaved males.
After the Haitian Revolution, slavery became even more profitable for slave traders and masters in Cuba. Without a huge population of enslaved people, Haiti backed out of the sugar market, leaving Cuba to be the only major global force dominating the space.
The population of enslaved people in Cuba started to grow so quickly that there was a serious fear that the number of enslaved people would outnumber the white population in the country. According to “A Companion to Latin American History,” enslaved people comprised nearly 40 percent of the Cuban population. When this number was combined with the number of freed Black people in the country, they easily outnumbered the white population.
Spanish rule actually created laws that would regulate the treatment of enslaved people. There were guidelines on everything from how many times an enslaved person could be whipped to how many hours they could be worked every day. Unfortunately, this set of rules, known as the Código Negro Español or the Spanish Black Code, was largely ignored by those who enslaved people.
There were actually policies in place that would allow enslaved people to obtain their freedom, but they certainly weren’t easy. Enslaved people had the option of buying their freedom, but it was a hefty price that many couldn’t afford. Women, on the other hand, had another option. According to “General History of the Caribbean” Vol III, enslaved women who were raped by white men hoped that they would at least become pregnant after dealing with the traumatic experience because Cuban policies would grant freedom to some enslaved Black women who had a child by a white man.
While Spaniards kept slavery thriving in Cuba, they actually weren’t the ones who introduced it on a major scale. Small groups of enslaved people had already been brought to Cuba before the British took control of the island in the 1760s, but it wasn’t until the British imported thousands of enslaved people to Cuba that it became a major part of their economic foundation.
Both Africans and Chinese people were enslaved in Cuba, but Black people were chosen specifically for their superior strength over other races. According to CubaHistory.org, Black people were often considered to be in much better physical condition than white people, which made them a target for those involved in the slave trade.
The stars and stripes, not the Confederate flag, once represented the sordid system of human slavery in Cuba.
Old Glory is flying once again in front of the U.S. embassy in Havana, Cuba. And at the flag-raising ceremony on Friday, Secretary of State John Kerry did everything he could to remind people of the history that brought it down 54 years ago. “For more than half a century,” he said, “U.S.-Cuban relations have been suspended in the amber of Cold War politics.”
The U.S. punditocracy, meanwhile, weighed in with predictable platitudes about the meaning of it all. Many complained that Cuban dissidents should have been invited to the embassy. The Washington Post called the State Department’s excuses for this failure “lame” and proclaimed, “The American flag is a powerful symbol of the country’s long and noble struggle to defend the values of freedom and democracy.”
Fair enough. But as we’ve learned in the course of this summer, flags can mean many things to many people. And if we want to have a better understanding of Cuba, now that it’s beginning to open up, we should remember that its troubled relations with the United States did not begin with Fidel Castro’s revolution in 1959 or even Teddy Roosevelt’s charge up San Juan Hill. We should understand that for many years the American flag—not the Confederate flag—was, for Cubans, the star-spangled banner of slavery.
Early in the 19th century, Great Britain, the United States, and most of the governments of Europe had passed laws banning the horrific slave trade between Africa and the Americas. The British, who finally emancipated the slaves in their colonies in 1833, moved not only to end their own previously extensive participation in the trade in humans, but to prevent others from carrying out that grim commerce as well. They deployed warships off the coast of Africa and South America to stop, search, and seize suspected slavers, and they used gunship diplomacy more than once to impose their will on weaker nations.
But the United States had gone to war against Britain in 1812 to stop it from stopping and searching any American ships, and steadfastly refused to let the British anti-slaving fleet stop American-flag vessels. Instead, Washington deployed its own feeble squadron off the coast of Africa which did little to stop slavers and much to interfere with the British efforts to do so.
The main market for the slaves—tens of thousands of them every year— was the Spanish colony of Cuba, where it was more profitable to work them to death in the cane fields and then replace them with new, cheaply bought Africans, than it was to keep them healthy and alive. Technically, it was illegal to import them, but the law was ignored.
And, technically, trafficking in African slaves was illegal in the United States as well—it was supposed to be a hanging offense—but the New York ship builders and outfitters figured it was well worth the risk, and when cases were brought before the Southern courts they refused to indict.
Indeed, the pro-slavery faction in the United States had its own designs for Cuba: to buy it or conquer it and turn it into two new slave states, thus assuring control of the Senate and greater power in the House of Representatives. (Slaves had no rights as citizens or as human beings under the Constitution, but counted as three-fifths of a person for census purposes, thus hugely inflating the voting power of the states that held them.) More than a century before the Bay of Pigs fiasco, adventurers in the United States organized invasions of Cuba to “liberate” it from Spain in the interests of American slavery. Those, too, were fiascos.
It is difficult to conceive, today, just how gruesome was the trade carried out under that American banner of “freedom and democracy.” In the 1850s, Southern politicians known as “fire-eaters” were defending slavery—and the slave trade—as a moral good. They were pushing to reopen it between Africa and the United States. And at the epicenter of Southern radicalism, Charleston, many refused to acknowledge the grotesque inhumanity of the Cuban trade even when it stared them in the face.
In late August 1858, the horror that the South did not want to imagine—a slave ship—was right there in Charleston harbor. Vomit and urine and feces and blood had seeped deep into the raw wood of the sunless slapped-together slave decks in the hold, staining them indelibly with filth. Cockroaches by the millions seethed among the boards, and clouds of fleas and gnats rose up from them.
The stench that came from this vessel wasn’t the smell of a ship full of cattle and horses, but that peculiar smell that surrounds humans, and only humans, who are very afraid and very sick, or dying, or dead. The water in Charleston Harbor was still and flat and thick as oil, and the air was stifling hot and heavy. The stinking vessel, a brig called the Echo, had been captured off the coast of Cuba a few days before.
Because it was the summer, the season of disease, many of Charleston’s better-off residents had left the city. For those who remained behind the spectacle of the Echo and its Africans was a disgusting but almost irresistible novelty. Because the transatlantic trade had been banned for 50 years, many had never beheld such a ship before. “You will see by this morning’s Mercury that we have a slaver in our harbor,” one distinguished Charlestonian wrote to a friend. “She has on board about 300 naked native negroes, 60 of them women. Every one of whom is in the family way. Everybody is talking about them. The yellow fever, the cables and every other subject have faded before this. There is really and truly an excitement among these cold, stolid Charlestonians.”
That the Echo had been captured at all was the result of a dawning awareness by the federal government of something that the British consul in Charleston, Robert Bunch, had been explaining to the foreign office in London for years: the fleets of slave ships flying the American flag, supported by money-men in New York, and incited and abetted by the fire-eaters like Robert Barnwell Rhett and Leonida Spratt, posed a growing threat to the authority of Washington and to the Union itself.
The slave traffic was growing fast. Something had to be done before the momentum became unstoppable. So, quietly and against stubborn bureaucratic resistance, President James Buchanan had American warships step up their anti-slaving patrols off the coast of Cuba as well as Africa. And the Echo was their first prize…Read the rest here…
At Nelson Mandela’s funeral today, President Obama shook hands with Raul Castro, brother of Fidel Castro, and current President of Cuba.
Get ready for some furious bloviating apoplexy from the right!
“Secret Muslim, terrorist, socialist, communist” time!
It would seem that growing up, Cornbread didn’t spend much time outside of the back of the bus…
Guess somebody ought to tell him what happens when you mix Cornbread with Cuban Soul food!
This gets very interesting after the “birther” controversy over President Obama. Seems that Marco Rubio may not be a legally born American – and at best would be an “Anchor Baby” in the words of Jan Brewer, Arizona’s Governor.
Even more significant, much of Rubios story about his parents fleeing Castro’s takeover of Cuba turns out to be an outright lie, with his parents having immigrated to the US 2 1/2 years BEFORE Castro seized power. Indeed, when Rubio’s parents left Cuba, Castro wasn’t even in Cuba – he was in Mexico trying to raise money for his revolution.
During his rise to political prominence, Sen. Marco Rubio frequently repeated a compelling version of his family’s history that had special resonance in South Florida. He was the “son of exiles,” he told audiences, Cuban Americans forced off their beloved island after “a thug,” Fidel Castro, took power.
But a review of documents — including naturalization papers and other official records — reveals that the Florida Republican’s account embellishes the facts. The documents show that Rubio’s parents came to the United States and were admitted for permanent residence more than 21 / 2 years before Castro’s forces overthrew the Cuban government and took power on New Year’s Day 1959.
The supposed flight of Rubio’s parents has been at the core of the young senator’s political identity, both before and after his stunning tea-party-propelled victory in last year’s Senate election. Rubio — now considered a prospective 2012 Republican vice presidential candidate and a possible future presidential contender — mentions his parents in the second sentence of the official biography on his Senate Web site. It says that Mario and Oriales Rubio “came to America following Fidel Castro’s takeover.” And the 40-year-old senator with the boyish smile and prom-king good looks has drawn on the power of that claim to entrance audiences captivated by the rhetorical skills of one of the more dynamic stump speakers in modern American politics. Read the rest of this entry »
One of the strange leftovers from communism in Cuba was the prohibition on importing or owning any car which wasn’t in Cuba before 1959. There were literally thousands of 40’s and 50’s American cars in the country prior to that, which through Cuban determination and mechanical skill have been kept running, and fill the streets today. One of the tourist attractions, and local flavors is seeing (or getting the chance to ride in) some of these classics.
Of course the folks who “were more equal than others” had the (dubious) right to buy Soviet made cars that were newer.
Perhaps in 20 or 30 years, Cuba will become “Toyotized”… And with Cuban ingenuity – a few of these will still be running.
Cuba legalized the sale and purchase of automobiles for all citizens today, another major step in the island’s economic transformation and one that the public has been requesting for decades. Unrestricted sales had previously been limited to cars built before the 1959 revolution, one of the reasons Cuba’s streets are about the only place on the planet one routinely finds a multitude of finned American classics from the 1950s, such as Chevrolets Bel Airs and Chrysler Imperials.
The new law will allow the sale of cars from all models and years, and it legalizes ownership of more than one car, although tax rates go up slightly. Also, Cubans who leave the island for good can transfer ownership of their car to a relative or sell it outright; previously, the state could seize the automobiles of those who emigrated. The government announced the move in April, but sales have been on hold until the measure was published into law in the Official Gazette; it takes effect on Saturday.
Yup. You heard that right. Apparently Disco has made a comeback in Havana, Cuba of all places! Not quite the “Last Dance”… Indeed!
In the 1960s and ’70s, Cuba’s Communist hard-liners viewed rock ‘n’ roll, American pop music and long hair as signs of moral decadence.
But some things in Cuba have changed since then. These days, Havana is back in the throes of disco fever.
A resident of Havana, Ricardo Fragela is a huge, lumbering man with a warm smile and an impressive music collection. His living room is an archive of American pop and rock ‘n’ roll.
He holds an autographed CD case as if it were a bar of gold. The pop disco ensemble KC and the Sunshine Band sent it to him from Florida after he wrote a fan letter. Read the rest of this entry »
By JIM KUHNHENN (AP)
WASHINGTON — Days from now, a stately black schooner will sail through a narrow channel into Havana’s protected harbor, its two masts bearing the rarest of sights — the U.S. Stars and Stripes, with the Cuban flag fluttering nearby.
The ship is the Amistad, a U.S.-flagged vessel headed for largely forbidden Cuban waters as a symbol of both a dark 19th century past and modern public diplomacy.
The Amistad is the 10-year-old official tall ship of the state of Connecticut and a replica of the Cuban coastal trader that sailed from Havana in 1839 with a cargo of African captives, only to become an emblem of the abolitionist movement.
Its 10-day, two-city tour of Cuba provides a counterpoint to new and lingering tensions between Washington and Havana and stands out as a high-profile exception to the 47-year-old U.S. embargo of the Caribbean island. Read the rest of this entry »
A group of prominent African Americans, traditionally sympathetic to the Cuban revolution, have for the first time condemned Cuba, demanding Havana stop its “callous disregard” for black Cubans and declaring that “racism in Cuba . . . must be confronted.”
“We know first-hand the experiences and consequences of denying civil freedoms on the basis of race,” the group declared in a statement. “For that reason, we are even more obligated to voice our opinion on what is happening to our Cuban brethren.”
Among the 60 signers were Princeton professor Cornel West, actress Ruby Dee Davis, film director Melvin Van Peebles, former South Florida congresswoman Carrie Meek, Dr. Jeremiah Wright, former pastor of President Barack Obama’s church in Chicago, and Susan Taylor, former editor in chief of Essence magazine.
The declaration, issued Monday, adds powerful new voices to the chorus pushing for change on the island, where Afro-Cubans make up at least 62 percent of the 11.4 million people yet are only thinly represented in the top leadership, scientific, academic and other ranks.
“This is historic,” said Enrique Patterson, an Afro-Cuban Miami author. Although predominantly white Cuban exiles “tried to approach these people before, they lacked credibility. Now [African Americans] are listening.”
A news release accompanying the statement acknowledged that “traditionally African Americans have sided with the Castro regime and condemned the United States’ policies, which explicitly work to topple the Cuban government.”
But more African Americans traveling to Cuba have been able “to see the situation for themselves,” said David Covin, one of the statement’s organizers and former president of the National Conference of Black Political Scientists.
The growing number of Afro-Cuban activists complaining about racial discrimination and casting their struggle as an issue of “civil rights,” rather than “human rights,” has helped to draw the attention of African Americans, said Victoria Ruiz-Labrit, Miami spokesperson for the Cuba-based Citizens’ Committee for Racial Integration.
“The human rights issue did not make a point of the race issue, and now we have an evolution,” she added.
“Cuban blacks moved closer to the term `civil rights’ because those are the rights that the movement here in the U.S. made a point of — the race issues.”
Alberto González, spokesman for Cuba’s diplomatic mission in Washington, said it was “absurd” to accuse of racism a Cuban government that “has done more for black Cubans than any other in all areas, including health, education and welfare.”
The African Americans’ statement was “part of a campaign of subversion against Cuba,” he added, designed to impact the administration of the first African-American president of the United States.
To understand what is going on in Cuba – a bit of History. Slavery wasn’t officially ended in Cuba until 1886. Despite the fact, a number of key figures in Cuban History(Antonio Maceo), and their long fight to be independent of Spain were Afro-Cuban – as the site HistoryofCuba.com documents –
At the time of emancipation, most slaves were employed on plantations, and most free black Cubans were women who lived in the cities. Cuban society didn’t exactly welcome the free slaves with open arms. For example:
- In 1887, only 11% of Afro-Cubans of all ages could read and write (compared with 33% of whites).
- Spanish officials regularly removed the Don and Doña titles from official documents and identity cards issued to Afro-Cubans. In 1893 these titles were returned, according to an article in La Igualdad on December 16, 1893.
- Afro-Cubans were excluded from seats in theatres (except in the gallery), and many hotels and restaurants refused them service.
- The Union of railroad drivers banned Afro-Cubans from the profession altogether, and many job ads specified a race requirement.
- Official government and cultural influence promoted the racial fears that existed in white society to lock out blacks from society.
After 1898, according to Aline Helg in Our Rightful Share, “Only a few outstanding Afro-Cubans who distinguished themselves by very exceptional military abilities or Western educational standards had access to white privileged circles.”
Another bit of interesting history is that of Narciso Lopez, who acted as a puppet dictator for Southern (to become confederate) slave holding States in an attempt to annex Cuba in the 1850’s as a slave holding state like Texas.
Key people in Cuban History and the fight against racism in the country included – Juan Gualberto Gómez, and Martin Morua Delgado – the important point being the Cuban Revolution led by Castro and Guevara didn’t resolve the country’s long standing racial divisions.