These are the top 20 blog entries of the year arranged in chronological order. George Santayana understood the importance of remembering the past in order to avoid repeating the same mistakes. The first post of the year took a look back at data that exploded a number of false premises about Cuba.
Early in 2016 The Wall Street Journal broke the news that the Castro intelligence services had taken possession of a U.S. Hellfire missile used in NATO military exercises in Europe in 2014 and refused to return it to the Obama Administration despite requests from The White House. On February 24th friends and families of the four men murdered in the February 24, 1996 Brothers to the Rescue shootdown gathered together in acts of remembrance. In March, President Obama and his family paid a state visit to Cuba and legitimized the Castro regime before the international community, the President ended his visit taking in a baseball game with Raul Castro. Following President Obama's visit the Rolling Stones put on a concert in Cuba. April saw a public debate emerge in Miami Beach about opening up a Cuban consulate there and the City of Miami Beach Commission voted against it.
New controversies emerged surrounding the Obama administration's Cuba opening and discrimination against Cuban Americans both by private companies (Carnival Cruise Lines and American Airlines) and the new U.S. Embassy in Havana. Throughout 2016 reports of increased violence and repression were reported with some disturbing pictures becoming public. On July 13th vigils were held in Miami and Washington DC for victims of the July 13 tugboat sinking in 1994 and Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas and Harold Cepero killed on July 22, 2012 . On that same day in a Congressional hearing chaired by Congressman Chris Smith both Dr. Oscar Elías Biscet, and Sirley Avila Leon testified on the human rights situation in Cuba.
In August, Christian Solidarity Worldwide reported a dramatic increase in religious repression in Cuba in 2016 and a former British Ambassador to Cuba lamented the military business empire's takeover of economic activity in Havana. In October President Obama issued a new directive on Cuba that called for American intelligence agencies to cooperate with Castro's secret police that will hopefully be rolled back by the incoming Administration. Candidate Hillary Clinton's support for continuing the Obama Cuba policy led the Bay of Pigs Veterans Association to endorse Donald Trump for President that same month. Long time Congressional critics of Obama's Cuba policy in South Florida swept into office in a wave on election day.
On November 25, 2016 the Castro regime reported that Fidel Castro had died. Celebrations broke out in Miami, Florida to celebrate the tyrant's death.
January 1, 2016
1. Myth: There is a U.S. blockade on Cuba .
Reality: Between January 2001 and October 2015 under the United States Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancements Act the value of authorized agricultural and food product exports to the Republic of Cuba was $5,234,400,000.00 1. It is estimated that US Cubans send $800 million a year in remittances to Cuba. The United Nations Economic Commission on Latin America found evidence for a sharp rise in remittances to Cuba in 1995 and 1996: in 1990 $100 million, in 1993 $300 million and in 1995 $600 million. These figures are in comparison with the country's gross export earnings from sugar ($1 billion), tourism ($1.4 billion) and foreign investment ($200 million). Prior to 1993 it was the Castro regime that prohibited the circulation of U.S. dollars in the Cuban populace. 2.
|Mystery: How did a US Hellfire missile (pictured above) end up in Cuba?|
|Painting of Brothers to the Rescue shootdown|
|Rolling Stones to play free concert in Cuba on March 25th|
The Rolling Stones have announced that they will perform a concert in Havana, Cuba on Friday March 25, 2016. The free concert will take place at the Ciudad Deportiva de la Habana. Before going any further, let me state for the record that I saw the band in concert during the Steel Wheels Tour in Miami, Florida at the Orange Bowl on November 15, 1989 and enjoy their music.
The international press has been dutifully reporting on how the Castro regime "prohibited the sale of the band’s records, considering its music a symbol of capitalism." However, this "cultural liberalization" of permitting foreign rock bands to play in Cuba is not new, but can be traced back to March 2, 2001 when the first major British rock band, The Manics, played in Cuba. Months earlier on December 8, 2000 John Lennon was "politically rehabilitated" on the 20th anniversary of his death, by no less than Fidel Castro who unveiled a statue, and by regime spokesmen who would try to claim him as an ideological fellow traveler.
|Antonio Castro, Cuban dictatorship's point man for baseball business|
|President Obama's official visit to Cuba: Legitimizing Castro or helping democrats?|
|On March 21, 2016 President Obama laid a wreath at Havana's José Martí Memorial|