January 18, 2017

Goodbye Fidel, Hello Donald

Did you ever think he would die? Did you think he would turn 90?
Can you grasp what it means that the most sought-after assassination target of modern times (barring Osama Bin Ladden) died peacefully in his bed after a world-wide celebration of his 90th birthday?
Now that he’s dead, is he not immortal? Is he not more dangerous as a myth? Is he not now and forever the man the empire couldn’t kill? But wouldn’t it be worse if we had killed him?
And, more directly, is there a connection between the many harsh lies told to excuse our actions against Cuba and the rhetoric and lack of facts in Trump’s presidential campaign and post-election rhetoric?
As an immigrant, I’ve never hated Castro as much as my indoctrination demanded. Though I’ve never exactly liked him, as I tend to dislike overt, type-A personalities and authoritarian types… especially in uniform. But I still believe that Cuba’s leader should be up to the Cubans in Cuba, not the ones that left.  Just like I’m certain that our Presidential race should be up to Americans, not Russian President Putin.
The constant barrage of antagonism in describing Castro (tyrant, despot, killer, brutal dictator, etc.) resembles Trump’s “crooked” Hillary and “little” Marco and “low energy” Jeb and “crazy” Bernie and “goofy” Elizabeth and “dishonest” media… they speak to the same audience.  
Why push the truth to such extremes? Why embrace such outlandish exaggerations? Are they convinced that “the truth” would not help their case? Boogyfying Castro only served to hide the true suffering caused by the Cuban Revolution, as the separation of families was ignored altogether. Cuban families like mine paid the highest price.
The anti-Castro rhetoric never looked at the whole picture, faithful only to the points conceived by the CIA prior to the JFK assassination.
What about the improved education and healthcare? What about the many Cuban doctors all over the world? And the free vaccines to third world countries?
What about the fact of Cuba helping defeat Apartheid in South Africa and supporting Mandela? (Remember, we were pro-Apartheid.)
Can we honestly blame the failures of the Cuban system on Castro while ignoring our constant efforts to sabotage and unbalance the island?  Can we also pretend Cuban successes do not exist? That’s exactly what we’ve Trump-ishly done for decades.  
We can choose to ignore the truth and replace it with lies and exaggerations, but we’re the only ones fooled… like members of a cult that can only speak with each other and everything said to outsiders is hype.
The world turned out to celebrate Castro’s 90th birthday with exhibitions and concerts and lectures and books… and they turned out to mourn his death.  Now they’re visiting his grave in record numbers.
We may not have noticed all this, as our media has been busy with Trump almost exclusively, and later with the Miami death parties.  
And then there are our methods of opposing Castro. He must be the devil and nothing less, otherwise our actions can be recognized as over-the-top.
The fact that in opposing Castro we’ve embraced and forgiven acts of terrorism by men like Orlando Bosch, Luis Posada Carriles and others, only brings up the fact that Cuba’s leaders should be up to Cubans in Cuba.  The argument over “human rights” was never an issue under Batista, a truly brutal dictator whose police executed people on the streets.  Am I to believe that those that let George Zimmerman walk away from a murder charge in Florida care about human rights in Cuba?
More recently, in South Carolina, a white policeman that shot an unarmed black man (Walter Scott) in the back as he ran away, said in court that he feared for his life. Despite a phone video that clearly shows this as murder, the case ended in mistrial. Scott had been pulled over for a broken tail light.
Can our continuing war against black skin, now chronicled by phone videos and “not-guilty” verdicts, compare to anything going on in Cuba?
Think about how distasteful it is to recognize Russia’s interference in support of Presidential candidate Trump… by what right do they make that choice for us?  That’s how distasteful it is for us to try to control Cuba.  
Had we “accepted” Castro without the harsh anti-movement, maybe there would have been less suffering in Cuba, which should have been our goal all along.
Our hardliners, it would seem, have made their hardliners relevant.
Will anti-Castro hardliners join hands with alt-right activists? The dust that may remain from Martí’s bones rattles with disgust at the mere possibility.
It seems obvious that the anti-Castro movement helped bring out the Trump factor in American politics with over 50 years of heavy-handed lying.
 So be it.
Now that our great country is to be run with the same ideology and lack of truthfulness, my heart goes out to young Americans.
May the force be with us all.

December 27, 2015

No Peace While He Lives

Recently I took an exploratory journey into the mysterious closet at the end of the long hallway and unearthed a long box of comic books that were neatly bagged and packed with utmost care just before the start of the Clinton Administration.
The box sat in back of the closet with other boxes on top for almost 2.5 decades. Inside that box were issues of the new DC comic book “Star Trek” with stories by the great Peter David.
On issue #2 of the series, the Klingons place a “bounty” on Captain Kirk’s head, and pronounce proudly and loudly that “there can be no peace as long as Kirk is alive.”
Almost no one hates their enemy like a Klingon. 
Suddenly, bounty hunters and killers from all over the galaxy are trying to kill or capture Kirk, and the Enterprise (Kirk’s ship) seems to have a big target sign on it.
Sound familiar? It’s not unheard of in sci-fi-action-adventure boy-stories. And this was 1990, years before the embargo against Cuba was embedded into our constitution by politicians who assured that “this legislation will put an end to the tyrant.” And they did so it repeatedly, passing and breaking laws like in a comic book.
Lots of people in positions of authority and privilege didn’t like Captain Kirk... he got in their way, messed things up. But Kirk found surprising allies even after the most powerful (and well dressed) hit man in the galaxy attacked with an assortment of war ships and the bankrupt ideology of anti-movements that try to kill their way to justice.
The cold-war-type attacks and murder attempts continued for issue after issue until Kirk, ever the self-promoting hero, turned himself over to the Federation for a trial in order to “save innocent lives.”
This may not have been the wisest choice, as many eagerly sought the advantages of peace and were willing to trade Kirk (the tyrant) for the profits of new markets.
Issues 10 thru 12 featured “The Trial of James T. Kirk,” and what a trial it was.  His lawyer from the first season episode “Court Martial” returned, as does his still attractive ex-prosecutor. They teamed up to defend Kirk against the well-funded and deep-seated anti-Kirk establishment.
Just like in the last episode of Seinfeld, his enemies were at the trial. And even after Kirk saved the Klingon politician’s life, and the trial brought to an end, their hate for the captain continued.  
Sounding like a Republican presidential candidate, the Klingon Ambassador, in a Trump-worthy moment, exclaimed that “the life of one Klingon is worth a hundred human lives.”  
Even after Kirk saves the Klingon ambassador’s life and the bounty on his head is removed, the cold-war plotting continues between the Klingon Empire and their spies in The Federation.
Sometimes I think I see Cuban history wherever I look.
Along the way Peter David’s story suggested that many Klingons opposed this official anti-Kirk movement, seeing it as unproductive and actually damaging to the Empire, but their voices were quickly silenced... and their voice of hate persists...
If you can’t find these comic books, you’ll have to settle for the December 15 Republican Presidential debate on CNN, which openly embraced the ideology of the Klingon Empire.
A few books after the trial, Peter David stopped writing the series, but the Kirk-haters remained, dedicated to their singular vision.
As other writers take over the helm of this series (which is completely new to me) I fear what the Klingons will do. Moving towards a time in which the Empire and the Federation have established amicable relations (Next Generation) the hangers-on are more dangerous than ever.