Mariel 1980 and how I got reconnected with Cuba

By the late 1970’s, I had few reasons to think about Cuba.    I was not avoiding Cuba but I was not talking about it either.    Then, the Mariel boatlift began:

“On April 20, 1980, the Castro regime announces that all Cubans wishing to emigrate to the U.S. are free to board boats at the port of Mariel west of Havana, launching the Mariel Boatlift. The first of 125,000 Cuban refugees from Mariel reached Florida the next day.”

By April 1980, the embassies of Argentina and Peru were flooded with Cubans looking for a way out of the island.

It became an international crisis and President Jimmy Carter issued a statement about the situation. He expressed concern about the safety and well being of the 10,800 Cubans at the Peruvian embassy.

Fidel Castro responded by calling on Cubans to leave if they didn’t support the revolution. Immediately, more Cubans rushed to the embassies.

It quickly became an embarrassment, as well as a logistics problem for embassies protecting hundreds of Cubans. Fidel Castro responded again and told Cubans to leave the island.

And thousands did.

Suddenly, Americans saw boats full of Cubans landing in Florida. It soon became a humanitarian crisis of unprecedented proportions.

Then-Rear Admiral Benedict L. Stabile, USCG related the story years later:

The size of the refugee flotilla was staggering.

Trailered boats were lined-up 50 to 100 deep at Key West, waiting their turn to be launched. This went on for 36 to 48 hours; local residence could hear the activity around the clock.

Hundreds of trailers were scattered throughout Key West.

One thousand craft were observed southbound on the afternoon of the 24th.

For the most part, these were Cuban Americans who owned their own boat, typically a 20 to 40 footer relatively well equipped for local pleasure boating.
Reportedly, the tanks in numerous craft had inadequate fuel capacity and the vessels were carrying additional fuel in portable containers.

This, the first wave, resulted in the transit of 1,000 to 1,200 boats to Mariel in relatively short order.

It went on for weeks!

Mariel brought thousands to the U.S. and most of them turned out to be very good additions to Florida. Unfortunately, there were some criminal elements but they were a very small number. Don’t judge “Marielitos” by Tony Montana of Scarface!

Years later, most of the “Marielitos” have contributed much to Miami and the U.S.

For me, Mariel was a turning point in rediscovering my Cuban roots. It reconnected me with the Cuban cause, especially since I saw boats and people leaving the same island that I left as a kid in 1964.

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

We remember Preston Gomez (1923-2009)

Pedro Gómez Martínez was born on this day in 1923 in Central Preston, Cuba. His career as a player was very short or a stint with the 1944 Washington Senators.

We will always remember Preston Gomez for being a manager in the major leagues. He managed the San Diego Padres, the Houston Astros and the Chicago Cubs.

Preston was actually the second Latin manager in the majors. Fellow Cuban Mike González managed the St. Louis Cardinals for 22 games during stints in 1938 and 1940.

As a manager, Gomez had the misfortune of leading an expansion team (San Diego 1969-71) and others during their losing years.

Nevertheless, he will always be remembered as the manager who twice lifted a starting pitcher for a pinch-hitter late in a game although he was throwing a no-hitter:

In July 1970, he used a pinch-hitter for Clay Kirby after he had pitched eight hitless innings in San Diego against the Mets, who led by 1-0. The pinch-hitter, Clarence Gaston, struck out, and the Mets went on to score two runs and get three hits in the ninth for a 3-0 victory.

In September 1974, while managing the Astros in a game against the Cincinnati Reds, Gómez sent Tommy Helms to the plate in the eighth inning in Houston to hit for Don Wilson, his starter. Wilson was seeking his third no-hitter, but the Reds led, 2-1. Helms grounded out, and then the Reds’ Tony Pérez led off the ninth with a single.

Honestly, Preston Gomez was right. His job was to win the game not to promote individual statistics. Nevertheless, they were very controversial moves.

After baseball, he worked as a scout with the Angels.

Who knows what kind of a manager he would have been with a winning organization? His baseball knowledge was respected throughout baseball.

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

We remember Tito Puente (1923-2000)

Maybe it was those cold winters in Wisconsin but I spent many hours of my life listening to the music of Tito Puente.

He was born on this day in 1923 and became quite a musical pioneer, mixing musical styles with Latin sounds and experimenting in fusing Latin music with jazz.

Ernesto Antonio “Tito” Puente was born in New York City, the son of Puerto Rican immigrants and already playing music by age 13.

Tito Puente won 5 Grammys, including “Homenaje a Beny“, a tribute to Beny More in 1978.

April 1961: “The Bay of Pigs” a show from 2011 with Humberto Fontova, author

As my parents recall, much of Cuba was buzzing on this day 56 years ago about an invasion… my own father went into hiding for a few hours because of massive arrests… a missed opportunity is what many in their generation continue to say…

We recorded this chat with Humberto Fontova in 2011, or the 50th anniversary…

we discussed the preparations and the invasion itself…

of course, we salute and remember the courage of the men of Brigada 2506…

Click to listen:  The 50th anniversary of ‘The Bay of Pigs’! 04/17 by Silvio Canto Jr | Current Events Podcasts

“Los rusos” in Nicaragua!

Remember Central America and communist meddling in El Salvador and Nicaragua?

Well, we are not sure what Mr. Putin is doing in Nicaragua these days.

We can safely assume that he is not promoting U.S. interests.

According to Joshua Partlow, visitors to Guatemala are speaking Russian again:

On the rim of a volcano with a clear view of the U.S. Embassy, landscapers are applying the final touches to a mysterious new Russian compound.

Behind the concrete walls and barbed wire, a visitor can see red-and-blue buildings, manicured lawns, antennas and globe-shaped devices.

The Nicaraguan government says it’s simply a tracking site of the Russian version of a GPS satellite system.

But is it also an intelligence base intended to surveil the Americans?

“I have no idea,” said a woman who works for the Nicaraguan telecom agency stationed at the site. “They are Russian, and they speak Russian, and they carry around Russian apparatuses.”

Three decades after this tiny Central American nation became the prize in a Cold War battle with Washington, Russia is once again planting its flag in Nicaragua.

Over the past two years, the Russian government has added muscle to its security partnership here, selling tanks and weapons, sending troops, and building facilities intended to train Central American forces to fight drug trafficking.

The Russian surge appears to be part of the Kremlin’s expansionist foreign policy. In other parts of the world, President Vladimir Putin’s administration has deployed fighter planes to help Syria’s war-battered government and stepped up peace efforts in Afghanistan, in addition to annexing the Crimean Peninsula and supporting separatists in Ukraine.

Well, so what are these Russians up to?

Let’s start by saying that we are watching one of the many examples of Mr. Putin feeling a vacuum created by the U.S.  Under President Obama, Latin America was completely overlooked unless we were talking about illegal immigrants crossing the U.S. border.

Furthermore, Mr. Putin is simply hoping to add a piece to his intelligence apparatus. Why not put an antenna in Nicaragua if the U.S. looks the other way?

What do we do? We don’t have to go to war over Nicaragua but we can remind the Russians that this is our neighborhood and they are not welcome.

Secondly, we can make it very clear to the government in Managua that a Russian antenna in their country is a very bad idea that will have consequences.

From Syria to Ukraine, Mr. Putin discovered that the U.S. under President Obama was into “hope and change” rather than defending our interests. Nicaragua is a perfect opportunity to show the Russians that the new sheriff in the U.S. won’t look the other way.

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

Argentina, Brazil, Mexico and other Latin America stories of the week with Fausta Rodriguez Wertz


Guest:    Fausta Rodriguez Wertz, editor of Fausta’s Blog…….we will look the mess in Venezuela…..Maduro’s weekend with Raúl Castro……..In Argentina, Cristina Fernandez’s 4th indictment…..Down in Brazil, documents show that  Odebrecht paid ex-President Lula $5 million……El Salvador’s VP involved with “Chepe Diablo” (not to be confused with El Chapo)……Kate del Castillo’s new Netflix series, “Ingobernable”…………….Mr. Krause calls on the US to accept Mexicans as a consequence of US-Mexican history from the 19th century……..the latest on the election in Ecuador…….A new post by Fausta about Mexico and Putin………plus more stories………Click to listen:



More “samba politica” in Brazil!

Don’t be surprised if your Brazilian friends refer to every politician as a “crook.” Frankly, he’s got good reasons to reach that conclusion.

Down in Brazil, where the last president was impeached for corruption, the new man is now sitting under a huge cloud of his own.    President Temer faces his own scandal.    It seems that every “politico” in Brazil faces a scandal.

Brazil has been Exhibit A of crony capitalism for some time. It is a terrible drain on the economy, one of the Top 10 GDP’s of the world.

Graft is so common that it is an accepted cost of doing business or no different than having good coffee around when your customers come in for a plant tour.
According to a 2013 report by Forbes:

A 2010 study by the FIESP (the Federation of Industries of Sao Paulo State, in its acronym in Portuguese), the average annual cost of corruption in Brazil is between 1.38% to 2.3% of the country’s total GDP.

The World Bank lists Brazil in its database with a GDP of $2.253 trillion as of 2012, while the OECD expects Brazil to grow 2.5% this year.

If the numbers of the FIESP study are to be believed, just in 2013 something between $32 billion and $53.1 billion can be accounted as “corruption money,” which, it is important to remember, gets out of circulation that hits growth.

To put into perspective, if that money was invested in Brazil’s precarious education system, the number of Brazilian students enrolled in elementary school could be improved from its current 34.5 million to 51 million.

Better schools and better bridges and better roads and so on.

Last, but not least, let’s not  forget about the voters. In other words, they voted for these people. Yes, they voted for them when the economy was booming and there was plenty of money to pay for all of those campaign promises.

The investigation pf President Temer will take months so don’t expect an impeachment or resignation any time soon. Nevertheless, it just makes Brazilians more cynical and they were pretty cynical before all this started a couple of years ago.

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

Not much of a mega march in Dallas.

For weeks, we’ve been hearing about the Dallas mega immigration march. Well, the day came and the march wasn’t mega. In fact, the news reports were not very encouraging:

The turnout was far smaller but more diverse than the crowd that gathered 11 years ago at the first Mega March for immigration reform.

Protesters walked across downtown, from the Cathedral Shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe to City Hall Plaza. There, speakers addressed an audience police estimated at 3,200.

We were told that the march was more diverse, i.e. refugee issues.

The lack of a crowd should sting the Democrats. They probably thought that this march would turn into another display of “Anti-Trumpisms”. Well, that didn’t happen either, specially to the degree that the leaders had planned.

So much for the mega march of 2017!

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

“La Susan” back in the news

Last week, my friend Frank Burke, a fellow contributor to American Thinker, reminded me of an old song.

Years ago, there was a song that went like this:

“If you knew Susie, like I know Susie Oh! Oh! Oh! What a girl….”

Yes indeed!

Our Susan Rice is quite a lady, specially among those of us who don’t think that we always got the truth about the Obama foreign policy, from Benghazi to Fast & Furious to the premature withdrawal from Iraq to the mess that our weakness has created in Syria.

Let’s just say that the Obama Team left a world far more dangerous and unstable than the one that Team Bush left them.

Incredibly, some in the media have circled the wagons around Rice, as Wesley Pruden pointed out:

The bombshell that Susan Rice, Barack Obama’s chief source of intelligence, was guilty of “unmasking” Trump campaigners identified in intelligence findings, unhinged several commentators on the television networks. Colleagues and bystanders couldn’t decide whether to call security or medics.

The Chicken Noodle Network demonstrated why it has fallen on hard times, saying it would not report bad news about its favorite political personalities.

“Let us be very clear about this,” said Don Lemon, one of CNN’s star news readers and part-time house dick.

“There is no evidence whatsoever that the Trump team was spied on illegally. There is no evidence that backs up the president’s original claim.
And on this program tonight, we will not insult your intelligence by pretending otherwise, nor will we aid and abet the people who are trying to misinform you [with] a diversion.”

Mr. Lemon’s viewers who want to know would have to go to another channel for another investigator.

At MSNBC, the leading television network on Planet Pluto, Chris Matthews was more than willing to talk about the bombshell but first he had to find someone to help him get a grip. The bug that crawls up his leg when he thinks about Barack Obama was biting again.

Some in the media have a worrisome lack of curiosity over Rice’s actions or her record of getting things wrong.

We remembered this week that she said this:

According to a recent headline from Reuters, “U.S. intelligence agencies suspect Assad did not turn over all chemical weapons stockpile.” The evidence of the recent chemical attack in Syria makes that declaration little more than stating the obvious.

However, back in January in an in interview with NPR, Obama national security adviser Susan Rice was still touting the Obama administration’s success at removing chemical weapons in Syria:

“We were able to find a solution that didn’t necessitate the use of force that actually removed the chemical weapons that were known from Syria, in a way that the use of force would never have accomplished. Our aim in contemplating the use of force following the use of chemical weapons in August of 2013 was not to intervene in the civil war, not to become involved in the combat between Assad and the opposition, but to deal with the threat of chemical weapons by virtue of the diplomacy that we did with Russia and with the Security Council.
We were able to get the Syrian government to voluntarily and verifiably give up its chemical weapons stockpile….”

Maybe she missed a few weapons!

Or maybe someone just told her to go out and say that about Syria. Who knows? The lady is either lying on her own or just following instructions.

Is the lady just making up things on her own or did someone choose her music sheet? We don’t know but we need to know. After all, unmasking U.S. citizens for political reasons, the most recent allegation, is a crime!

Simply put, many of us know Susie rather well, as the song goes, and have reason to doubt what she says about anything.

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

Cristina singing a new tango

Down in Argentina, where tango is king and fútbol is the national religion, the ex-first family is back in the news:

Former President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner of Argentina was indicted again on corruption-related charges on Tuesday, and this time her son and daughter were also charged in a case involving a family real estate company.

The federal judge, Claudio Bonadio, said there was enough evidence to indict Mrs. Kirchner for conspiracy over allegations that businesses rented properties from the real estate company, Los Sauces, in exchange for public works contracts and other favors.

For the first time, Mr. Bonadio also indicted the former president’s children, Máximo and Florencia Kirchner, in the case that includes charges of money laundering and negotiations incompatible with public office.

The charges could lead to prison sentences of up to 10 years if the Kirchners are convicted. Mr. Bonadio also ordered the freezing of assets of about $8.5 million each for Mrs. Kirchner and her son, and $6.5 million for her daughter.

As my friend from Argentina said yesterday, “diós mío – where did they get all of that money?”  Then he answered his own question: “El sistema.  ¡La corrupción!”

The answer is sadly obvious.  As my friend said, it’s the corrupt system that started many years ago.  We call it “crony capitalism” up here, and they call it “el sistema” down there.

The allegations include kickbacks involving the renting of rooms in a hotel owned by the Kirchner family.  By the way, the name “Kirchner” refers to her late husband, the man she followed in the presidency.

The ex-first family has been indicted on fraud and corruption charges relating to public works projects in Santa Cruz Province in southern Argentina.  I guess there is always a public works project when we talk about corruption in Latin America.

First, there was Evita Perón, although she never became president.  Second, there was the second Mrs. Perón, who did become president in the 1970s and resigned over corruption.  Third, there is now President Cristina, who is apparently going down with her kids as well.

It all makes for some rather remarkable political drama, with President Cristina now tweeting her innocence and calling everything a witch hunt.

At least Evita had a Broadway play named after her.  They still love her down there!  She never became president, and that may have been a blessing.

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

Blame it on Fidel not the Cuban people

The latest Economic Freedom Index confirms who is prosperous and who is not.    It demonstrates that socialism makes you poor and that the rule of law is essential to progress.

There are 180 countries ranked in the index, and the last three are:

#178 Cuba

#179 Venezuela

#180 North Korea

Cuba’s ranking is remarkable, given that the Obama administration tried very hard to encourage business transactions with the island.  It made it easier for companies to start operations in Cuba and encourage tourism as well.

Nevertheless, Cuba’s still a lousy place to do business.  Why?  Because it is still the same communist dictatorship that it was on the day the Obama administration started talking to Castro’s regime.

How is Cuba going to change if the corrupt regime doesn’t change?  I hope President Trump understands that.

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

Correa and “the deep state” in Ecuador just stole an election


We’ve been talking a lot about the “Obama’s deep state”, or the leftovers in the federal bureaucracy waging guerilla warfare against the Trump administration.

Welcome to the “deep state” in Ecuador or how the Correa administration filled the bureaucracy with partisans loyal to him rather than a nation.

In the US, the deep state leaks and unmasks the names of citizens.    In Ecuador, it manipulates votes and steals elections.

Ecuador is bitterly divided over the presidential election last Sunday. Some experts are saying that Ecuador is bucking the movement to the right that we saw in Argentina and Brazil. Frankly, I would not jump to conclusions about an election that half of the country is not accepting. There are some rough days ahead for this little country in South America.

The current score is Lenin Moreno 51%, Guillermo Lasso 49%, with 99% of the vote reported. The raw numbers are roughly 200,000 out of 4.8 to 5 million votes.

Lasso is challenging results because several exit polls had him up, one by 5-6 points.

The right is pointing out that there were serious problems with the official website counting votes, i.e. memories of 1988 Mexico when the official computer crashed.

Furthermore, violence was also reported in some provinces and it may have been related to voter suppression.

The other issue is that the right just does not trust the bureaucracy put together by incumbent President Rafeal Correa, a leftist leader who has divided the country terribly. Let’s call it “Deep state Ecuador style”.

We also learned this:

Part of the problem is the opposition’s distrust of the National Electoral Council, which it says has become an appendage of the executive in the way the electoral board in Venezuela has all but lost independence under President Nicolas Maduro, a key ally of Correa.

“We’re looking at an unprecedented situation: those behind the fraud are the judges themselves,” Lasso told foreign reporters, adding that his campaign would seek a recount once the results are certified. “We expect they’ll deny our requests but in doing so they’ll be confirming the fraud.”

Despite such heated rhetoric Lasso so far has failed to present any evidence of vote tampering except for a single voting act of 248 ballots from a rural area whose tally is says was reversed in favor of Moreno when official results were computed.

The left will probably win this one thanks to the “deep state”.

Again, it’s not what the country needs. Mr. Assange in London may be the only person in the world who feels good about this count.

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

“El dictador” Maduro, the ghost of Chavez & the worthless OAS

maduro_i_love_chavez_venezuela__dario_banegas (1)
Over the last few days, whatever was left of Venezuelan democracy collapsed.   We can finally say that Venezuela is a leftist dictatorship.     Furthermore, the ghost of Chavez is roaming all over!
The bad news is that the rule of law is a thing of the past.   The good news is that the people are not taking it, as Sabrina Martin reported:
Venezuelans are blocking highways and taking to the streets in response to an apparent Coup d’Etat.
Though Maduro’s regime arranged anti-riot measures in several Venezuelan cities, hundreds of Venezuelans turned out to express their opposition to the Supreme Court’s ruling that dissolved the powers of the country’s congress.
Caracas, Los Teques, Vargas, Carabobo and Anzoátegui are just some of the states where protests are taking place.
In Urbina, Caracas — a popular area that has traditionally been faithful to Chavez —  is now flooded with protesters.
“No more dictatorship,” they are reportedly chanting. “We want freedom.”
We are also finally hearing from other Latin American democracies through the OAS.    The US is also speaking out loudly:
The besieged leftist government of Venezuela is under mounting pressure after the United States and 13 of the hemisphere’s other leading nations demanded the release of political prisoners and other pro-democracy concessions.
The Organization of American States, the region’s main collective body, has threatened to suspend Venezuela because of what it called the autocratic repression imposed by President Nicolas Maduro.
Maduro’s foreign minister, Delcy Rodriguez, will appear Monday before an OAS panel in Washington to plead her government’s case. This comes after members of the Venezuelan delegation stormed out of OAS meetings last week, according to diplomats.
OAS Secretary-General Luis Almagro, in a report on Venezuela, noted that Maduro canceled both a referendum that could have recalled his government and later regional elections, after the opposition made huge gains in parliamentary voting in 2015. A Maduro-controlled Supreme Court then stripped the parliament of much of its power.
In addition, thousands of people have been arrested for their political beliefs, Almagro said, including opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez, who has been in jail for three years.
The OAS is demanding Venezuela hold elections or risk suspension from the group, a drastic measure. The last time a country was suspended was when the military and right-wing politicians staged a coup against the elected president in Honduras in 2009.
Under OAS regulations, a country can be suspended when the “democratic order” is “altered.”
Frankly, I don’t put a lot of stock on the OAS.
Over the years, Latin American countries have always been very careful to meddle in their neighbors’ affairs.
As a Colombian professor told me years ago: “We say nothing because we don’t want them to say something about our elections”.   This is why the OAS is nothing but a lunch club where diplomats tell each other how smart they are!

So what happens now?

We will continue to watch the Maduro regime stay in power with whatever means at their disposal.

At some point, I do hope that the soldiers understand that they are the only ones who can bring about change.

Only the military has the power to force Maduro to leave the country or resign.

Last, but not least, I sure hope that all of those “Hollywood movie stars” who embraced Chavez and his socialism stay away from Caracas.  It’s probably not a good idea to be seen in Venezuela as a friend of Hugo these days! 

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