The Many Faces of Fidel Castro

Photo by Kenya News

Photo by Kenya News

Saint, idealist, rebel, leader, dictator. Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz, or simply known as Fidel Castro, was a controversial man of many faces not just to Cubans, or Cuban-Americans, but to people around the world.

During his teens, his mentors and classmates found him to be a stubborn and deeply religious man, almost saintly. As a boy, he was sent to study at Colegio de Dolores in Santiago de Cuba with Jesuits, and when a priest fell down a stream during a hike it was Castro that pulled him to safety. Together, the two prayed fervently after surviving the ordeal.

In 1945, he joined the University of Havana‘s law school. It was there that Castro read Marxist literature, studied everything there was on Cuban politics and befriended Communist students. At this point in his life, he was simply a strong-willed, idealistic and open-minded man that wanted to fight against the oppression of the poor, but radical ideologies began to seep into his school of thought.

Castro’s father, Angel Castro, influenced him to fight for those in need. Angel, an impoverished Spaniard came to Cuba with nothing but dreams for a better life. In time, Angel Castro owned a plantation and became a landowner.

Castro became a lawyer for the poor once he obtained his degree. Since many of his clients had no money, they paid for his services with food.

It was the early 1950s when he started to struggle with the merits of democracy versus communism. Wanting to do more for those that were suffering, Castro ran for Congress only for the elections not to be upheld because of former dictator Fulgencio Batista returning to the country, taking over the government and destroying what was left of the democratic process in Cuba.

As a rebel with a cause, Castro made an appeal through the court system to take a stance against Colonel Batista’s violation of the Cuban Constitution. When that was unsuccessful, in 1953 Castro and almost 200 hundred followers attacked the military Moncada Barracks. His men were outnumbered 10 to 1 when they lost the element of surprise.

Unfortunately, this only led to Castro and what was left of his followers becoming political prisoners. This experience would go on to shape his future and that of Cuba’s for 50 years.

Believing that Castro and his men lost hope and would no longer be a threat, Batista released the surviving members of the Moncada Barracks attack after one year in 1954 so as not to come off as a dictator. This would prove to be a critical error.

Castro and his men were emboldened after their release. First, Castro retreated to Mexico, but then he came back to Cuba on an old yacht with the Argentine radical Che Guevara. With his power of speech and a group of 80, Castro initiated several guerrilla campaigns against Colonel Batista. By New Year’s Day of 1959, Batista fled Cuba.

Within a few months, Fidel Castro became the very thing he fought against, a Cuban dictator. Castro became paranoid after his coup and proceeded over the execution of 500 of Batista’s former officials.

In 1960, Cuba took over land that was owned by American and British landowners angering both superpowers in the process. This led to the Cuban embargo, in which the United States cut ties with the country. Castro turned to the Soviet Union for financial support.

As a dictator, he helped to increase sugar harvests in the country, attempted to bring about racial equality, and made social progress through medical advancements. However, the downside to his dictatorship was extreme poverty, political imprisonment and the loss of rights for citizens of Cuba, especially the middle class.

No matter what you consider Fidel Castro to be, idealist, rebel, or dictator, he was revolutionary and changed the course of history not only for Cuba but for all of Latin America, for good and bad.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

U.S. Secretly Infiltrated Cuba’s Hip Hop Scene To Trigger Youth Rebellion

Los Aldeanos in their video "No Le Tengo Miedo".

Los Aldeanos in their video “No Le Tengo Miedo”.

It is known that Hip-hop started in the park and not in a U.S. agency’s spy program. Yet, the U.S. Agency for International Development tried to trigger a youth rebellion with anti-government music, reports the Associated Press.

According to an investigation by the AP, the USAID contracted a Serbian music promoter to infiltrate Cuba’s underground hip-hop scene. The promoter, who convinced rappers to hire him, pushed the anti-Castro agenda to groups like rap duo, Los Aldeanos. But the rap group, in 2009, weren’t aware of music promoter Rajko Bozic’s true intentions, which was to “spread democracy” by creating a hostile youth movement in Cuba.

Documents show the U.S. agency continuously put “innocent Cubans and its own operatives in jeopardy despite warning signs.” The report continues to say that Cuban authorities “detained or interrogated musicians” and confiscated computers and thumb drives that linked them to the USAID.

USAID wrote a response to the story stating, “Any assertions that our work is secret or covert are simply false.”

Fortunately, the U.S. secret program didn’t hurt the Cuban underground hip-hop movement that showcases talents like Danay Suarez, who I interviewed and profiled in LatinTrends magazine.

This is not the first time the agency is caught trying to use people to create an anti-Cuban government movement. The AP has reported on how the USAID tried several times to use prominent Cuban musicians and members of the Castro family to create a “revolution”.

Currently, Los Aldeanos, a two-brother rap group, live in Florida. Their music is less political than before, especially in their new single “No Le Tengo Miedo” (I’m not afraid). The song focuses more on conviction as it hit YouTube late August and has over 1.2 million views.

She Combines Entrepreneurship and her Love of Cuban History to Start a Blog in Havana

Digital Newspaper‘Follow your passion’ is a phrase that may be just overused these days whether it is to get a job or to get ahead in your career. Generally speaking, when someone follows their passion, they seem happier about themselves and have a better outlook on life. It is risky to even say that a passion can turn into entrepreneurship.

Some people may be able to find their passion early on in life, others later on in life and some never find it, or never recognize it.

For Cuban blogger Yoani Sanchez, she took her interest in Cuban history and has launched her own independent digital newspaper, ‘14ymedio’. ‘14ymedio’ tells about Cuba from inside Cuba and overall, inform the people.

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It was not only her interest in Cuba that led her to start a digital newspaper, she has become a critical voice recognized outside of the island because of Generation Y.

A challenge that Sanchez faces is that all mass media are controlled by the state. Furthermore, only independent publications that circulate on the island belong to the Catholic Church. What’s more important is that the internet has become a way for people to express their ideas and share what they care about to keep everyone informed.

What You Didn’t Know about Celia Cruz

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Úrsula Hilaria Celia de la Caridad Cruz Alfonso, or for short Celia Cruz, was one of the most accomplished singers of the 20th century. Hailing from humble beginnings in the poor neighborhood of Santos Suarez in Havana, Cuba, her mother knew immediately that she was destined to be a singer.

It was on the radio in diverse Santos Suarez where Cruz would grow up listening to all types of music. Rumba, mambo, guaracha, bolero, cha-cha, salsa and son cubano was apart of her musical education. As a youth Cruz and her sister were taken to cabarets to sing by their aunt. At radio stations, Cruz sang tango “Nostalgias” (unrequited love songs) to win cakes during the “Hora del Te” broadcast, often coming first place.

Her piercing and powerful voice carried a great warmth. At a music conservatory, her own professor took notice of it and told her to drop out and let her talent shine as she was already gaining momentum on the radio for her recorded and live performances in the late 1940s.

Her vocal style was distinctive because it incorporated pregon, the wails of street vendors (usually fishmongers and peanut vendors). As an Afro-Cubana, her early music was influenced by santeria (Cuban blend of Christian and traditional African religious music) songs which used the religious African dialect of Lucumi.

After leaving school she was the singer for a dance group, Las Mulatas del Fuego. In 1950 she was the lead singer of Sonora Matancera, one of the most prominent Cuban orchestras. But that didn’t come easy, because when she joined Sonora, she was replacing a previous singer and she had to gain the public’s support. By her bandmates sticking up for her, Cruz eventually became well love not only in Cuba, but throughout all of Latin America. Slowly, she was becoming the leading female voice of modern salsa at a time when the music was dominated by men.

Soon, Cruz’s life will change forever, for better and for worst in the early 1960s. While travelling with Matancera in Mexico, Fidel Castro came to power turning Cuba into a communist country. With all but one bandmember refusing to go back under such a regime, Castro issued them a lifetime ban. Over a year later she would take up residency in New Jersey and marry Matancera trumpet player Pedro Knight.

In the mid 1960s, she followed the New York music scene which had musicians from all over Latin America and the Caribbean. Outside of salsa, she also sang guaracha and all the other types of Latin music she grew up listening to. This was a time of experimentation when many artists would blend and mix many different musical styles and perform with musicians from different styles of music.

By the 1970s, Cruz made music with Tito Puente, Johnny Pacheco, and the Fania AllStars. She had a catch phrase, Azucar, which she used to energize her audience and band. Also, she became a fashion icon because of her bold, daring, and wild costumes and wigs.

In the 1980s and 1990s, she performed and was featured on songs with Wyclef Jean, Dionne Warwick, Patti Labelle, and David Byrne. By the early 2000s, The Celia Cruz Foundation was created in order to help impoverished students that wanted to study music.

Celia Cruz made music until her death from brain cancer in 2003. Within the 55 years that she made music, she released 75 albums, 23 of which went gold. Throughout her career, Cruz was honored as the Queen of Salsa, La Guarachera de Cuba, and the Queen of Latin Music.

Fun Facts

  • She was awarded an American National Medal of the Arts
  • For the 2015-2016 TV lineup, Telemundo will have a musical drama about The Queen of Salsa
  • While with La Sonora Matancera, Cruz and the group appeared in five motion pictures
  • She sang the spot for WQBA in Miami
  • There is an exhibit in Washinton D.C. dedicated to her

 

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New York’s Havana Film festival. Now Through April 7th

New York’s Havana Film festival Now through April 7th.

HFFNY RUNS MARCH 30 – APRIL 7, 2017

The Havana Film Festival NY (HFFNY) announces two new and hot releases coming from Chile and Uruguay to join the competition for the Havana Star Prize: Vida de Familia (Family Life), a 2017 Chilean drama directed by Alicia Scherson and Cristián Jiménez, which premiered in the World Cinema Dramatic Competition section of the 2017 Sundance Film Festival and El Candidato (The Candidate) by renown Uruguayan actor Daniel Hendler, who recently won Best Director at the Miami International Film Festival.

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Family Life, the collaboration between Chilean directors Alicia Scherson and Cristián Jiménez, is an adaptation by writer Alejandro Zambra of his own story (Jiménez also directed a feature film version of Zambra’s previous novel, Bonsai). A funhouse mirror of self-examination, one that turns intimate spaces inside out and reveals how even the most private corners of our lives are not entirely safe from invasion.

The Candidate, second film directed by Daniel Hendler, delivers a behind-the-scenes tale of a campaign run in an effort to get voiceless millionaire Martin Marchand (Diego de Paula) elected to office. A team of advisors is brought in to shape the image of Marchand, producing social media profiles, commercials and a new public persona. Conflict arises when it is revealed that not everyone is who they present themselves to be. Is fiction mirroring reality or vice versa?

HFFNY will award the Havana Star Prize for Best Film, Best Director, Best Screenplay and Best Actor/ Actress. The awards will be given at the Closing Night Ceremony, April 7 at 6:30 pm at the New York DGA Theater (110 West 57th Street). The recipients will be chosen by three prominent members in the film industry, award winning directors Flavio Florencio (Made in Bangkok), Martin Rosete (Money, Voice Over); and actor Carlos Enrique Almirante (Fátima, Four Seasons in Havana).

The 18th Havana Film Festival New York (HFFNY) showcases the diversity of Latino voices and stories in a program that includes over 35 films. This year, HFFNY pays homage to one of Cuba’s foremost forces in animation and storytelling, Juan Padrón, and the late Argentine director Eliseo Subiela. The festival continues its tradition of presenting the history of Cuban rhythms with a cinematic retrospective on the music, religion and dance of the island. Plus, our audience can look forward, as they do every year, to screenings of critically acclaimed films, many in their World, US and NY debut accompanied by panel discussions, Q&A sessions, and other special events hosted by leading figures in Latino cinema.

 

HFFNY Venues:

  • Bronx Museum First Friday HFFNY Kick-Off at Hostos Center for the Arts & Culture: March 24, 2017
  • DGA Theater: March 30 & April 7, 2017
  • Museum of the Moving Image: March 31 to April 1, 2017
  • SVA Theatre: March 31 to April 2, 2017
  • The NY Film Academy: April 3 & 4, 2017
  • Art exhibition opening & screenings at The Clemente: April 3, 5, 6, 2017
  • AMC Loews at 34th St: April 5 & 6, 2017

 

The presenting sponsor of the 18th HFFNY is NBC/Telemundo 47. Additional sponsorship is provided by El Diario La Prensa, Cuba Travel Network, Roger Smith Hotel, Singani 63, Habanero Films, AMC Independent, New York Film Academy, The Clemente Soto Velez Cultural and Educational Center, Aguijón Films, DGCine, The Mexican Cultural Institute of New York, Funglode, Horns to Havana, Ron Barceló, Lipariri Photography, OnCuba, EnRola TV, QueensLatino.com, Playa Betty’s, Cinefuegos, Matiz Latin Cuisine, Publimax, and Giovanni Quinche. HFFNY is made possible with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts and the Honorable Governor Andrew Cuomo, New York State legislators and supported, in part, by public funds from the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs in collaboration with the City Council.

Detailed information about all festival programs available at www.hffny.com

The Havana Film Festival New York is a project of American Friends of the Ludwig Foundation of Cuba (AFLFC), a non-profit 501 (c) (3) organization building cultural bridges between the U.S. and Cuba through programs in the arts.

 

Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz Have No Love for Fidel

Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz

When it comes to politics, this year proved to be historic in many ways.

A businessman that had no experience holding public office became the president of the United States.

Hillary Clinton became the first woman nominee of a major party and Bernie Sanders  was the first Jewish candidate to receive serious backing for the highest office in America for the Democratic Party.

However, the Republican Party also had two Hispanic contenders that had a strong chance of becoming commander and chief of the United States in Cuban Americans Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz.

Earlier this year in March, President Obama also announced an end to the Cuban embargo, which has slowly been coming to an end, but that might very well change with Trump’s presidency.

Nothing has been more momentous than the recent death of Fidel Castro.

His timely passing comes after half of the Cuban-American population in Florida helped to decide who will become the new leader of their country after being angered by President Obama’s decision to start to lift the embargo, a right they would have been denied if in Cuba.

Of course, this led to many Americans across the country wondering what the two most famous Cuban political candidates in the United States most recent history had to say.

With both Cruz and Rubio having immigrant parents that fled Castro’s rule in Cuba, it wasn’t hard to guess.

Both were angered by Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s condolences to the Castro family and lack of acknowledgment to his political crimes.

Pathetic.”

That was one word that Rubio used to describe Obama’s statement to the Cuban people.

There are thousands upon thousands of people who suffered brutally under Castro’s regime. He executed people, he jailed people for 20 to 30 years. The Florida Straits…there are thousands of people who lost their lives fleeing his dictatorship.”

Rubio was not alone in his sentiments towards Castro, as Cruz tweeted his disgust towards both the dictator and Trudeau who praised el Comandante’s power as an orator over the island nation.

Disgraceful. Why do young socialists idolize totalitarian tyrants? Castro, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot — all evil, torturing murderers.”

Rubio also had choice words for the young Canadian Prime Minister admiration for Fidel.

Shameful and embarrassing.”

 

 

 

EVENSONG: YOU WILL NOT LOOK AT THE HOMELESS THE SAME AGAIN

From L to R: Daniel Prado, Chad Carstarphen# Marie Louise Guinier# #Member of Actor's Equity Association

From L to R: Daniel Prado, Chad Carstarphen# Marie Louise Guinier#
#Member of Actor’s Equity Association

photo credit: Michael Dekker

The vast majority of us live from paycheck to paycheck. If we were to lose our jobs, our soul source of security, most of us would be solvent for perhaps a month tops before savings start to drain to zero. Perhaps some of us would have to leave our apartments or homes, maybe end up in a shelter if help is not readily available.

In Christina Quintana’s play “Evensong” we learn that our view of the homeless, which is the one we know best, the one’s who sit or sleep on the sidewalks, disheveled, asking for dimes or nickels. We think we are not like them. We are wrong. We also carry hidden prejudices for people who are labeled with the homeless tag. “That is the central question in Evensong,” Christina said, “Where do we get these judgements that we make?” Directed by David Mendizabal, the ideas we hold are broken down for view into their smaller components, then splattered across the stage.

Statistically 44% percent of the homeless population actually hold jobs and pursue careers. It’s deceptive. Just such a person is explored through the main character Teo Aguilar, played vibrantly by Daniel Prado.

“The biggest thing about Teo in this play, he surprises us all,” Quintana explained, “He is not who you would imagine to be homeless.”

Daniel Prado (L) and Chad Carstarphen# (R) #Member of Actor's Equity Association
Daniel Prado (L) and Chad Carstarphen# (R)
#Member of Actor’s Equity Association

The first image of the play are the series of empty cots neatly arranged in rows and a buffet of food. We are introduced to Teo, who is a young, gay man from San Antonio, Texas who is fulfilling a dream of visiting New York City while in the shadows of personal setbacks that brings him, a guest, to the church homeless shelter. He is judged in triplicate and it takes it’s toll on his morale. “There is a lot of shame,” Christina points out, “As a man, not living up to his potential.”

He is a proud man who meets Bob, a volunteer, who emphathizes with Teo, but draws the line when he tries to make a move on him. Bob likes Teo and even refers to him as one of “The Good Ones.” Teo takes the rejection negatively. Chad Carstarphen was brillant in his role as an outsider who cares and his chemistry with Daniel Prado is the cornerstone relationship of the play, even without the type of payoff one would of expected after the fireworks that were launched after a couple of intimate kisses. This relationship is a variation on a real life experience Christina spoke about encountering a homeless woman who flirted with her during a volunteer stint. The question of whether she would date her opened up further thought on how as people, the homeless lose their humanity in our eyes. “I found I could be friends and hang out with someone who was homeless but to the point of having a relationship is a whole another level.”

Christina pointed out that though the lead character is Gay, that this is not to be assumed to be an LGBT story. “Yes, Teo is Gay, it’s not what the story is about,” Quintana explains, “It’s about a guy who has found himself homeless and it can be anyone.”

As one can surmise the intent of this play was to explore the inner pain of having had standing in a society and then, in Teo’s case, in an act of love, drain his resources to care for the health of his grandmother. In pursuing his dream, he is relegated by necessity to the underside of city life. He puts up a tremendous front, tries to work through the obstacles, but it is his own prejudices that initially place him above those that occupy what Bob refers to in the play as “The Rolls Royce of Shelters.”

Teo is too embarrassed to admit to family, in particular Beny, his cousin, that he is homeless. He tells his friend Hague and soon regrets it as he is equally pitied and shunned from the circles friends normally share. He has become the elephant in the room.

Daniel Prado (L) and Sai Somboon# #Member of Actor's Equity Association

Daniel Prado (L) and Sai Somboon#
#Member of Actor’s Equity Association

Here we must make a strong mention of Sai Somboon, who showed great vitality and flexibility in playing three roles. He was family member, friend, and lover. A actor who can hold degrees in diverse fields like Dance and Anthropology is just the type who can pull this off so well.

Teo is also put in his place by Gladys, played by Marie Louise Guinier who appears to be mentally off but we learn just has never adjusted to the drastic changes in her lifestyle and is quick to remind Teo that he is no better than her since they share the same situation. Guinier, an IRNE nominated actress who has been on ABC’sWhat Would You Do” showed great depth making Gladys funny but maddening at the same time.

The diverse points of societal punishment Teo encounters reflects the duality challenges of the playwright. Christina was raised in Louisiana and is of Cuban heritage. It certainly had an impact. “It’s a huge part of me. They both inform me as a writer,” Christina recalls,

“New Orleans, Pre-Katrina is a black and white place. Because of that and being Latina, in that environment, I experienced a lot of micro-aggression.”

Christina described herself as obsessed the idea of the American Dream and what it means. She displays this through story examples. For Randy, later Tragedy (Doug Rossi), the homeless subway hobo who spouts poetry and enjoys harassing our lead throughout the play, it was about him and his wife getting out of the shelter system together. Her death ended the dream but his advice, though given while applying a submission hold, brings Teo some clarity.

Rosa and Ricardo, were very much like a modern “I Love Lucy” view of life. Ricardo (Francis Mateo) and Rosa (Arlene Chico-Lugo) displayed a great interaction delving well into how couples struggle when they don’t quite rely on each other. Arlene also did a nice double impressively playing not only a young wife but Teo’s abuela. The contrast was quite believable.

Daniel Prado (L) and Arlene Chico-Lugo # (R) #Member of Actor's Equity Association

Daniel Prado (L) and Arlene Chico-Lugo # (R)
#Member of Actor’s Equity Association

Teo wanted the New York dream. But he has lost his faith along the way and settles for one night stands with guys like “Len” who were physically attractive but little else outside of providing a place with a hot shower. His knowledge of his grandmother’s passing has removed his lone anchor. Bob finds Teo on a sleeping on a park bench while jogging a day after they fought. He offers Teo a chance of a shower before going to the bank teller job he is slaving over, he refuses.

A look at meanings for a moment. The word evensong was chosen when she came about deciding the setting of this play. When you look it up it is defined as “a service of evening prayers, psalms, and canticles, conducted to a set form.” In certain churches it is conducted through song.

“I had an idea of a chorus underscoring what would happen,” Christina shared this insight,

“What is the pulse of the city that connects us and isolates us at the same time? I found that in a sanctuary that had rehearsals which fit what I was looking for.”

Teo hears the singing of just such a service. He likes it. It seems to remind him of his grandmother who even in death appears in his dreams watching over him. He experiences temporary solace.

A box is sent to the wrong address. The couple spoken of earlier has had a personal issue haunt them. Rosa lost a child while pregnant. The name was similiar to the one on the package. She sees this as fate to be fulfilled. She finds Teo at the bank she goes to and puts two and two together.

Teo is quite rude with her but she convinces him to vent his problems with her, a stranger. He is suspicious of her motives but surprisingly complies. “It’a part of this play,” Quintana explained, “I am always amazed how strangers look out for each other here. There are these crazy connections, somehow they happen.” He opens the box and takes out the gloves that his grandmother sent to keep his hands warm. He smiles. Symbolically they seem to represent the helping hand Bob talked about earlier and weaved itself throughout the play.

He tells Bob about a possible job lead. Bob is pleased to hear it. Teo has his faith restored now and as he holds his abuela’s gift, he is reminded that he is loved no matter how he is tagged by society. As Christina was told by one who read the play. “I went outside and looked at everybody differently.” Though each of us take our unique views from what we view, the playright also hopes that the audience can identify hers for a production like this that is quite personal. What did Christina want people to take from this?

“I would like us to be a little aware, open, and more compassionate. What more can you ask for?”

Christina summerizes. Evensong is the first production of the 2016 season of APAC, who is now in their 16th season. The show continues to run at the Astoria Performing Arts Center in Astoria, NY until November 19th, 2016.

Christina, who volunteered at The Friends Shelter whose base is the Friends Meeting House and Seminary in lower Manhattan wants you to know that volunteers are always needed. For those interested you may contact volunteer coordinator Katy Homans at katy@katyhomans.com or via the website www.friendsshelter.org.

WELCOME TO THE HOTEL HAVANA

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We have not been here since 1959. It’s been nearly six decades since an American hotel operated in Cuba. Fidel Castro waved his cigar and foreign businesses were washed out with the revolutionary bathwater. But wait, change is eternal and once the announcement that relations had improved between the United States and the former communist island, the smell of money would mark the return of financial interests.

Starwood Hotels and Resorts made the first splash as the opening of the Four Points Havana was announced. Following this we learned that the U.S Treasury Department will finance monetary transactions aimed at renovating certain properties that surely will be part of the rebirth of economic movement in Cuba.

This September, six airlines will start flying to the island and credit will make its return in the form of the first U.S credit card issued by Stonegate Bank. So it stands to reason by this time next year, we will have long forgotton that these two nations ever had an issue as the distant past becomes merely a footnote.

PRESIDENT OBAMA POSES WITH CHE GUEVARA, AND REGRETS IT

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The first stop of the tour of U.S. President Barack Obama in Cuba, the first since Calvin Coolidge in 1928, began in controversy with a photo. Social media distributed a pic of Obama along with members of the U.S. delegation posing in front of a mural of Che Guevara in the background.

The photo took place in the Plaza of the Revolution in Havana, where Obama laid a wreath at the monument for Jose Marti. But it was the Guevara pic that drew the wrath of those who recalled Guevara as the Marxist revolutionary who joined Fidel Castro in the revolution that overthrew Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista.

Guevara still attracts strong emotions from those who cheered his battle against Capitalism and those who see him as the epitome of the socialism movement that later transformed Cuba into a Communist nation. Many felt it was inappropriate for a U.S. President, the perceived leader of world freedom to be seen and photographed with a figure that many see as the polar opposite.

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Despite that, Obama seemed to rebound well when he attended the Cuban National Team vs Tampa Bay Rays exhibition game yesterday which the Rays won 4-1. Publicly smoozing with Derek Jeter, who is baseball royalty and part of the delegation, didn’t hurt. Obama should be able to ride out this storm if he stays away from posing near landmarks or symbols that can misconstrued.

DEREK JETER AND MLB JOINS CUBA IN JOINT BASEBALL VENTURE

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Derek Jeter is retired but he is forever baseball royalty. Cuba is defined by the same sport. For the first time since 1999, Major League Baseball and Cuba will join together to bring MLB to the island as a gesture of good will.

This is one of the initiatives put into play since President Obama announced the intent of the United States to re-open relations with Cuba in 2014. Obama will be expected to attend this event.

Jeter, who spent 20 seasons with the New York Yankees, will join Cuban legends Luis Tiant and Jose Cardenal, along with commissioner Robert Manfred, and Hall of Famer and MLB’s chief operating officer, Joe Torre.

They will be representing MLB as part of a historical return to the island nation with an exhibition game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Cuban National team, March 22nd, in Havana.

Jeter, who has made it known of his ambition to own an MLB franchise in the future, is already showing a new side of himself in this regard. Cuba, who will probably relax restrictions on players who want to play in MLB, recognize that they can only benefit financially from the exchange as players know they can return home and not be exiled for wanting to play in the United States.

It’s a win-win for both countries, for Jeter, for MLB, and ultimately, for Baseball as it serves once again as a sport of universal appeal and unity where-ever it is played.