Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The Year is Fast Fading…

2014 is nearing the end; perhaps before its time, perhaps too late in coming but… ready or not, the New Year is ready to roar to life…

A review of the year’s happenings is a “de-rigueur” thing to do about this time. Every radio or TV program has its own mini history reduced into a few thousand pixels or sound bites of what went on during the year.

On a TV show I saw recently for a few minutes, there was a review –with graphic pictures- about the deaths of several renowned actors and singers. Seems people can’t get enough of their idols, live or dead…

As citizens of a country which has grown to accept violence as a somewhat normal day-to-day issue, Mexicans have adjusted to living in this uncertainty… but even they were shocked into action by a mass murder which took the lives of 43 young students for expressing themselves against abuses of the local political czar.

Not too far south, Venezuela has become the second most dangerous country in the world, under the totally inept leadership of Chaves’ handpicked successor. Like in other so called “neo-socialist” governments in Latin America, leaders are more concerned about building up their personal power base and bank accounts than about running the countries they lead.

Chaves at death was worth almost 2BillionUS$; the Castro family has several accounts estimated at well over that figure. Kirchner’s son lives in a huge sprawling ranch in the outskirts of Buenos Aires valued at well over US$2M and so on… All this while the average person in some of these countries has to stand in long lines just to get his/her hands on the basic daily foodstuff items for their families.

We all hope this next item will fall into the “looking into the bright side” category: after 56 years there has been a beginning of a change in the US-Cuba relationship. The concept is welcome; however, the execution of the initial process has been highly criticized by most knowledgeable pundits; it lacks of any type of review, guarantees for the common people, monitoring of developments; freedom for political prisoners or a promise of –at least a possibility- of free, internationally supervised elections at any time soon. The jury will be out on this one for a while… At least this juror.

The rest has been business as usual… terrorists killing each other, old eastern bears trying to regain glories past at the expense of others, while here in the US, politicians are beginning to put themselves into position for the 2016 run at the presidency… On the virtual front, people are relying more and more on all the last minute electronic gadgets that didn’t exist a few years ago but without which, life would be considered null and void now.

As for me… well, I am a year older but not necessarily –I think- wiser (yes… I’ll say it before you do…) Every step along the way has become a teacher of some sort, showing me that much is not what I thought was, that a new lesson is just waiting around the corner… and that there are many, many corners to be turned yet.

Have a grand new year; I truly hope it brings us all the reality of our dreams, the ability to help others improve, a big bright smile and some health and love in the company of family and friends.

Be Well … Be Back!!!

Final Notes:
·       Pray for those who are fighting an illness which may take them away from their loved ones… Every request is heard, and counts!!
·       Follow us on Twitter … @RJAsPandora

·       Any comments please send to otherboxp@yahoo.com

Thursday, December 18, 2014

The Emperor is Bare

Much like the emperor of fabled fame, President Obama was left with no clothes on and saying thanks for the memories…
 Yesterday was another day in a week which promised to be just another week, filled with regular, routine days. Yet, we were given some news which broke this uneventful moment; news which, in a different context and parameters, would have been welcome.

As the President spoke from the podium, we were informed that there had been an agreement to exchange prisoners and to re-establish relations with Cuba, after 50+ years of diplomatic void. There would be new business avenues open, and even the status of Cuba as a terrorist sponsor nation would be subject to revision. All this, in exchange for basically… nothing.

What happened was that with one unilateral (and probably unconstitutional) decision, Obama has given a new lease on life to a tired, sagging regimen that has oppressed 11M citizens, caused massive people flight and has germinated untold deaths through their fostering of guerrillas in Latin America; Sendero Luminoso, Putumayos, Sandinistas, FARC (group which is now in Cuba “negotiating” a very one-sided peace treaty with the Col. Govt) and the list goes on. All given in exchange for nothing.

Where is the agreement to free political prisoners, to guarantee human rights, freedom of speech, freedom of expression and thought; freedom of movement. Where are the monitoring structures to guarantee that whatever comes in will -at least in part- go to the direct benefit of the people? Not just to the government and to the already bulging bank accounts of the hierarchy? Sorry Mr. Obama. You were invited to a party, were made to pay for it and got the leftovers. Bad move. This grandstanding is not the way to retake the initiative lost in the midterm elections.

A change in the relations would have been welcome, but with some of the above issues included as must-deal-with issues. The Cuban communist hierarchy is a government which has shown absolutely no intentions of leaving the country or the power it wields over its people. This is a government which has, while yelling “Foul”, completely subjugated a people, keeping them in emotional, physical and intellectual misery. They have used every excuse in the book, blamed everyone but their own actions and terrible mismanagement, accusing the very Yankees who would now become their de-facto saviors, of being the cause of all their ills and misery. All this while filling their personal bank accounts to the point of obscenity.

Maybe the midterm election debacle left a very bad taste in the mouth of our defeated president. I wonder if this is an in-your-face slap to that 65% of voters who turned their back to his own mismanagement and mistakes, and to his use of an almost dictatorial mania in decreeing what he thinks right, without really accounting to those who disagree.

If this is the case, it will be left to those who will now come to reestablish the rule of law to review and not to shelve, but to restructure what could be a positive beginning, but which must include benefits for the people of both the US and Cuba.

Be Well … Be Back!!!

Final Notes:
·       Pray for those who are fighting an illness which may take them away from their loved ones… Every request is heard, and counts!!
·       Follow us on Twitter … @RJAsPandora
·       Any comments please send to otherboxp@yahoo.com

Friday, October 10, 2014

Fall Is Coming.

Fall Is Coming.
It has always been my favorite season of the year. That is, since the first time I experienced seasonal changes as a teen, after coming to this country.

This affinity, however, is now taking on a different meaning for me. I cannot help but understand and accept that as time passes on, my life is a very much like a one year calendar which is becoming a little faded but yet comfortable to hold and to read, and that the approach of the fall season is very much like the approach, in my own life, of that period when an invisible barrier is passed and one accepts the fact that a good part of an existence has passed on, much like those pages on that calendar. Not morbidity, just reality.

Those older sheets in that calendar are choke full of notes and anecdotes; of happy notations and very sad marks… sometimes just a dark exclamation point on specific dates that mark painful moments; moments which leave a memory forever. Some of those pages are relatively blank. I don’t really know why. Perhaps they mark periods during which not much happened; those moments which just simply existed with not much to make them memorable. Too bad…

Much like the leaves on the outside trees, the hair changes color and, yes, sad to say, also begins to thin out and disappear. Eventually it withers from the cold and the harsher winter months. The difference being that the promise of a renewed and renewing spring is not there, like it is for those trees and flowers outside my window. Mother Nature keeps her promise of life to her children; to those which can renew their cycles on this earth, as well as those who will not… who cannot. But she has kept her promise to me… a life to be lived and enjoyed if that was to be my choice. Some of us have made that choice to rejoice, some of us have not.

This calendar has yet many pages to be filled. Perhaps with a sense of knowing and understanding that everything that is written may eventually fade and disappear but, nonetheless, filled they will be.

Years ago I was asked whether it would be good to know when that last page might be filled… I remember answering “Hell, No!” … Knowing this would take away all the beauty of the surprise, the hope, the anticipation, even the desire to explore and do.

I promise myself that whatever and how many pages there are to be filled, will be so. There won’t be any blank spaces left at the end; no more of those “unremarkable” moments which leave an unmarked space. Can’t afford many more of those; every moment has to count ad be counted.

Fall is indeed my favorite season for it is full of color, change, promise and just pure wonderment. But I also look forward to winter. As it will eventually and inevitably approach and yes, arrive, its cold winds and caresses will be just as beautiful and as welcome as those of spring, summer and fall have been.

Be Well … Be Back!!!

Final Notes:
·       Pray for those who are fighting an illness which may take them away from their loved ones… Every request is heard, and counts!!
·       Follow us on Twitter … @RJAsPandora

·       Any comments please send to otherboxp@yahoo.com

Saturday, September 13, 2014

An Approaching Birthday

In the beginning, birthdays were the stuff of presents, cakes, friends… as I explore the second half of my life, they become reminders of a sort.

Very soon I will be reaching my 68th birthday; almost at the seventh decade portal. I sit here today, alone, staring at this typewriter, and my mind (yes Virginia, there is a mind inside there, somewhere…) wonders about, unfettered and unhinged from any and all the pertinent pressures of daily living. Not a small accomplishment, mind you.
Maria Jose

So, I thought I would give myself a gift and return to these blog pages, an area of my liking which I have left unattended for a long time. I stare at Maria José, who is my daily companion, a beautiful plant which sits there giving me her company (yes, “her”) without uttering any complaints or endearments, for that matter. I hope she gives me a clue about what to write… but, like a good psychiatrist, just listens, stares and says nothing…

I look at two of my father’s paintings which also accompany my days or, at least the time I spend here sitting at the computer. His living presence comes to mind; his love for Bohemian Life (no, not the beer… the lifestyle) which, somehow was passed on to me unknowingly; there is truth in saying that genes do not lie… Within me, all my life, there has been an internal strife between those paternal genes which espoused love, life, and the pursuit of relative happiness and the maternal ones, which predicated practical issues and thoughts… Hmmm… how is that for a perfect balance… or imbalance?

Small reminders of life’s passing are at my fingertips… like my driver license renewal, due at my birthday and letting me know the state will only trust me to handle the intricacies of driving around their roads for periods of 5 years or less from now on… lest I become a veritable menace to other citizens… even those who may be sharing those very same roads the authorities so want to protect while they drive stone drunk or, just plain stoned…

Over the past 3 months, I had the opportunity to visit with two of my aunts. One on my father’s side and one on my mother’s side, this last happens to be my godmother as well, and whom I had not seen in some 20 odd years. They both had about the same age (never ask or divulge the age of a lady, although once past 80… does it really matter?) and living a very different lifestyle.

Tia Marta R.I.P.
My paternal aunt, a widow for some 25 years, had received the news that a small cancer point had been discovered, for a second time, in her lungs. She, at the time of our visit and as always, was cutting a figure larger than life; easy going, content and looking forward to whether one day or one decade of life lay ahead. Unfortunately, she passed on. I say unfortunately, for she leaves a void in the heart of those who loved her. Yet, to the last minute (I spoke with her 5 days before what would be her last day) she was happy and accepting of her life as well lived, for indeed it had been.

4 Generations. My GM on the right
My godmother, also widowed for some 25-30 years, seemed a bit diminished physically… then, I am over 6 feet tall and she, following some bone issues, seemed to have become smaller and dependent on a cane to be able to get around. But, don’t let that fool you for a minute!!! She insisted on walking the two city blocks (my cousin, her daughter, tells me she walks around every day…) to the restaurant where we were going to have lunch and, a couple of times when I quietly slowed down to allow her to keep up… she would almost hit me with her cane while telling me she was “no old lady who couldn’t move”… That pretty much summarizes her life to now… and, hopefully, for some time to come…

All this comes together as I sit here, trying to build a mental mosaic of where I am now, at almost 68… then, the realization comes that I simply am who I am and that this is great… now beginning to explore the second half of my life in relative good health and looking forward to the one day, the one decade or the whatever number of years the Good Lord will still let me roam this earth in good stead…

Be Well … Be Back!!!

Final Notes:

  • Pray for those who are fighting an illness which may take them away from their loved ones… Every request is heard, and counts!!
  • Follow us on Twitter … @RJAsPandora
  • Any comments please send to otherboxp@yahoo.com

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

For Whom The Horn Blows

…a mini fairy tale… or not?

Once upon a time, not too long ago, there were two brothers who roamed the plains, searching for great deeds to accomplish (apparently not much else to do for these folks) as well as some fame and, above all, a little fortune. Maybe even a Holy Grail thrown in for good measure. This would be considered the BIG prize… and they were both willing to do anything to get it, even if it meant doing in brother number two (always the other one is number two)…

In their case, this big prize was a job. Understand this was not a common job… no sir!! This was a job which gave prestige, fame, position and –above all- power… power to control all those who lived on the plains… The embodiment of all those rare levels that very few could even dream of achieving.

So… how would you go about getting this plum of a job? I’m sure you are by now asking yourself… As it turns out and, very surprisingly, there are no real black and white qualifications needed… the important issue is that others “see” you as qualified; perceived qualifications… There are no human resources managers to screen your application… in fact, there are no applications known to exist. The garnerer of the plum is actually pegged by a committee of people who, on listening to the applicants, will either buy or not what they have to say… truth be damned…

Imagine Inny and Minny (real names withheld for protection… or ours…) had to convince their fellow Plainers as to their respective capacities…

-“He/She doesn’t know…” would shout one, to whoever was nearby…
-“He/She has no clue…!!” would answer the other one…
-“He/She lies…!!” would be heard from one camp…
-“He/She wouldn’t know what truth is…!!” the other camp would shout in glee…

And so would the discussions go on endlessly… real issues absent. The funny thing is that these stompers would actually pay people to write those brilliant retorts… speech writers, I think these folks are called. Their job is to create enough noise to drown out the total silence of lack of substance.

Whenever you see and/or hear Inny and Minny (or any of their counterparts) remember this is part of one of the greatest shows on earth… Music, noisemakers, make believe, bands, songs of promises and a whole lot of supporting clowns…

Look beyond the lights and the noise… find those real issues that concern all of us here in the Plains and don’t let the show confuse your attention, and lull you into blind confidence, as it is intended to do.

Remember,,, he or she who blows harder won’t necessarily make the loudest noise… but will probably be short of breath…  Let’s hope that whoever grabs on to that plum job, will have enough wind left to help his or her fellow plainers go on the right path…

Be Well … Be Back!!!

Final Notes:

  • Pray for those who are fighting an illness which may take them away from their loved ones… Every request is heard, and counts!!
  • Follow us on Twitter … @RJAsPandora
  • Any comments please send to otherboxp@yahoo.com

Monday, May 19, 2014

A Beautiful Thought.

Recently I read somewhere in FB a short recounting of a chance meeting

I wish I could think of who posted it to give the appropriate credit, but I can’t. Yet, the message really stayed with me and I wish this could become part of my mind frame, of my thought process.

How often have you met, perchance or intentionally, with someone you know and on parting utter a simple “be well” or “glad to see you” or worse yet… “Yes, we have to get together for lunch sometime…” knowing this will never come to pass… We have learned to behave in a routinely manner, a manner which takes little effort on our part to just “carry on” and present a civilized front, allowing us to get through the day or, in the end, to get through the routine of our lives.

Perhaps this is the reason that, when something comes across our senses, something different enough to rate a dissonant chord, we (I) pay attention. And sometimes, this something is impacting enough to stay with us, to maybe even effect a little change in our hearts.

This is a recounting of a chance goodbye heard in an airport; as a younger, yet middle aged woman, was leaving and an older lady was staying behind. As they were saying their very heartfelt goodbyes, the older lady kept telling the younger one “I wish you enough…”  “I wish you enough”. The younger woman, with moist eyes, repeated the same back to whom turned out to be her mother… “I wish you enough…”

After the pair parted, our interlocutor, his (or her) curiosity level at a high point… approached the older lady and said… “I couldn’t help but hearing your goodbye…” “What does –I wish you enough- mean?”

The older lady explained that she was approaching the end of her life tenure and this would probably be the last time she and her daughter would be together, for she lived overseas and it was too expensive to come back to visit. As for the “I wish you enough”, this was a catch phrase of a small “wish poem” that was part of the family’s tradition and lore… This is what the complete “I wish you enough…” would read:

"I wish you enough sun to keep your attitude bright…
I wish you enough rain to appreciate the sun more…
I wish you enough happiness to keep your spirit alive...
I wish you enough pain so that the smallest joys in life appear much bigger…
I wish you enough gain to satisfy your wanting…
I wish you enough loss to appreciate all that you possess...
I wish you enough hellos to get you through the final good-bye."

A lifetime of wishes in a few lines… Something to think about in this frenzied world of ours…

I wish you all enough…

Be Well … Be Back!!!

Final Notes:

  • Pray for those who are fighting an illness which may take them away from their loved ones… Every request is heard, and counts!!
  • Follow us on Twitter … @RJAsPandora
  • Any comments please send to otherboxp@yahoo.com

Monday, May 5, 2014

Promises Made… Promises Broken…

As a follow up to the last entry (many responses to that one) this is a word and picture testament to what a misguided and power hungry government can do to those it is supposed to serve.

Children learning to worship the leader
Even though I was barely a 13 year old youngster when the current government took what would turn out to be an unrelenting hold of my country –Cuba- I remember that many held the hope this would be a change for the good. A change on the political front, because on the overall economic front the structure was working pretty well. At least, that is what independent stats show for the times.

Nothing to do and all the time to do it in
I remember a bearded leader who came from the mountains surrounded by priests and bodyguards and who, in what turned out to be his MO, sent others ahead to make sure the way was clear so as not to expose himself to any unforeseen dangers or threats. As a good demagogue, he has been a “leader” with words, not in action. But then, it is a lot easier to look back than to see what is in front of your nose.

Housing gone bad
Many promises were made; promises of a Utopian society, where all would share and all would have. Promises of a country where there would be no distinctive social classes and all would have an opportunity. Promises of an educational system where all would learn in order to collaborate with the structure and produce more on behalf of all. Promises of a society where all would have freedom of choice and expression… Promises… promises…

A country that exports medical care
often has little for its own.
And as all political promises are wont to be, these turned out to just that: empty words which when promulgated over more than a half a century of neglect, totalitarianism, censure and mismanagement, have created a society of apathy and hopelessness; a society where the system will not allow that promised freedom of speech, of thought, of personal growth. On one front, it delivered: all share an equal lack of goods and opportunities, although not the party favorites who have all they could possibly want.

Some inequalities just have no price
There are two Cubas: the one that is marketed through the awesome marketing machinery of the government and which promotes the awe and congratulatory posing of fools who don't care to delve any deeper than they have to and the other one, where the common citizen has to carry out a daily struggle just to survive the day; where houses and buildings are falling down in disrepair for lack of material, where there is no hope in a system that does not allow for this concept to exist … and where all can read and write but only what the government allows them to.

There are those who will not give up
even in the face of despair.
This is reality; this is what the socialist utopia looks like after half a century of missed opportunities, all in search of the personal empowerment of their leaders and because of unbridled greed of money and total control.

There is really no system which can be called perfect. When it comes to governing people there will always be those for whom there is never enough done. But a regime which fails to deliver on any of its promises or worse, on any of its responsibilities, can only lead to the destruction of those who are unfortunate enough to be under its power and control.

Be Well … Be Back!!!

Final Notes:

  • Pray for those who are fighting an illness which may take them away from their loved ones… Every request is heard, and counts!!
  • Follow us on Twitter … @RJAsPandora
  • Any comments please send to otherboxp@yahoo.com

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Random Thoughts Number …?

Originally, this blog was meant to touch on memories… times long past and moments of joy … or sadness. Or, whatever came to mind… As usual, last one won out...

As it often happens, when I come face to face with the computer all plans go out the window. Usually taking with them all the words and thoughts I had … oh, so ready… they all seem to fly out the virtual window in the back corner of my mind… as I watch, totally powerless, and see them disappear into the vastness of nothingness…

Oh My! … What should we write about? … Notice as the royal “We” gently rolls out of my fingertips while these deftly play the letter keys of this non-musical piano-like board on the computer…  

So, which way to go? Should I fall gently into the past and dig a bit deeper around those repressed memories that still abound? Or go boldly into the future and create memories to be? … Perhaps these last can be a bit sweeter and warmer than some of the ones life has actually created… but then, they wouldn’t have much weight to them… Oh well!!

I look around at what is going on in the world today and marvel at the sheer blind foolishness of mankind … I won’t go into the shallow idealism of “Why can’t we all get together?" cry of the late 60’s, when we lived an era that was shaped by an “in your living room, full color war” being played out courtesy of the evening newscasts, in the meanwhile consuming vast amounts of mind altering drugs, gyrating to the rhythm of some fool banging away on a tambourine, creating arrhythmic sounds… or maybe it was just noise which to our addled senses sounded like manna from heaven (or is it Manna from Mexico?)…

/// Here we are, several days later and not much the wiser…

The political landscape is as muddled as always; we are two and one half years away from the next presidential elections but the midterm elections this year are being called “stage setting” elections; do or die… on the one side, people are less happy with the current president’s results and directions than was expected by their own pundits and even the huge government marketing machinery can’t hide this. On the other side, however, potential contenders can’t shake the negative labels imposed on them by a mainstream media that insists on supporting the “liberal” government… do or die. It looks to be, in the political arena, a continuing war zone for the next two years.

And as these folk try to solve their own issues we, the people, pay more and more the consequences of all the created interests that come into play. But then … you knew that, didn’t you?

Our president keeps crying “foul” at the Russian president on the Ukraine issue and the other guy looks at him (and us) and basically says… Up Yours!! … What are you gonna do ‘bout it??? … He knows, we know, he knows we know and ... yes ... we know he knows we know the answer to that is … nothing.

As we see this crisis and others unfold on the international stage, we have to sadly accept that this presidency has managed to, in a few years of bumbling inefficiency, totally destroy the image of “friendly protector to our allies” our country had built over years and years of sacrifice and work…

I am readying myself for a constant mainstream media barrage of announced government “achievements” over the next few months, building up to the November elections; there is much negative groundswell that has to be quelled somehow. My only hope is that the average voter can see this for what it is… a basic “whitewash” of the real issues that are pressing more and more each day: inflation, real job issues; real exorbitant cost of the vaunted “Obamacare” structure, lack of budget control; foreign crisis that go unanswered or are mishandled… loss of faith, face and trust on the part of our heretofore staunch allies… and so on…

We will see…

Be Well … Be Back!!!

Final Notes:

  • Pray for those who are fighting an illness which may take them away from their loved ones… Every request is heard, and counts!!
  • Follow us on Twitter … @RJAsPandora
  • Any comments please send to otherboxp@yahoo.com

Monday, April 14, 2014

What Happened in Cuba?       
This is a question we have asked ourselves for the better part of a half a century. We still don’t have an answer. A friend (not Cuban) sent me a list of what he called “historical Cuban achievements” he had found on a website, of which the following is a partial listing, and asked the same question… I still did not have an answer… 
  •     First Iberian American country to use vapor powered machinery and ships was Cuba in 1829
  •    The third country in the world (after US and England) to have railroads was Cuba, in 1837
  •     First ether based anesthesia applied in the Spanish speaking world was by a Cuban MD in 1847.
  •  The first public electric light system in the Spanish speaking world was completed in Havana in 1889
  •  Cuba eliminated bullfights before the end of the 18th century, because they were “unpopular,        sanguinary and abusive with the animals”
  •  The first Latin American Trolley service was established in Cuba in 1900.
  •  The first city in the world with a direct dial (no operator) telephone system was Havana in 1906. 
  •   In 1915, the first Cuban Peso was minted; with values identical to the US dollar and until 1959, at times being worth 1-3 cents more the US Dollar
  •  The first Latin American country to approve a divorce law, in 1918. 
  •  In 1928 Cuba already had 61 radio stations, 43 of them in Havana, being the 4th radio market in the world at the time. Only the US, Canada and the Soviet Union surpassed Cuba.
  •  In 1937 by government decree, Cuba becomes the first country in the Spanish speaking world to have 8 hour work days, minimum salary and university autonomy.
  •  In 1940, Cuba becomes the first country in the Spanish Speaking world to have a black citizen elected as president, at a time when the population in Cuba was 75% white. 
  •  In 1940, Cuba approved the most advanced of all the Constitutions of the world at the time: women’s rights to work and to vote, equal rights of the sexes and races.
  • The first hotel in the world built with central air conditioning, was built in Havana: The Hotel Riviera, in 1951.
  •  In 1954, there was one cow per inhabitant in Cuba; it had the 3rd highest per capita consumption of beef after Argentina and Uruguay. 
  •  In 1955, Cuba has the second lowest infant mortality rate within the Spanish speaking world.
  •  In 1956 UN recognizes Cuba as having the second highest alphabetization level in the Spanish speaking world
  •  In 1957 the UN recognizes Cuba as having the highest per capita (1 per 957) number of Medical Doctors in the Spanish Speaking world; the highest % of households with electricity and the highest caloric consumption per person per day (2870).
  •   In 1957 Havana becomes the second city in the world to have 3D movies and multi-screen movies.
  •   In 1950, Cuba was the second country (after the US) to have TV transmissions; in 1958, Cuba is the second country in the world to transmit TV in color and has the third color TV station in the world.  
  •  In 1958, Cuba has the highest number of automobiles in the Spanish Speaking world (one per 38 inhabitants or 160,000); the highest number of electrodomestic equipment, the most Km of railroad and is the second in radio receptors.
  •  During the decade of the 50’s, Cuba fluctuated between 2nd and 3rd highest in per capita income in the Spanish speaking world; higher than Italy and doubling that of Spain.
  •  Despite being small in size and having only 6.5 million inhabitants, in1958 Cuba had the 29th strongest economy in the world
  •   In 1959, Havana was the city that had the most movie houses in the world (358). More than NYC and Paris which were #’s 2 & 3 respectively.
Our Caribbean island was not a perfect country; none is. We had ups and downs, inequalities and troubled times with folks who were not happy about how things may have stood. Still, after many years of traveling around the world, the memories I have of what was available as I was growing up in that island, surpass much of what I have come to see and witness in these travels, years after.

What happened?
We have been trying to answer that question for some 55 years now… there is still no real answer... and rhetoric is NOT an answer…

 “Socialism is the philosophy of failure; the creed of the ignorant ant the preaching of envy. Its one virtue is the equal distribution of misery”     Sir Winston Churchill

Be Well … Be Back!!!

Final Notes:

  • Pray for those who are fighting an illness which may take them away from their loved ones… Every request is heard, and counts!!
  • Follow us on Twitter … @RJAsPandora
  • Any comments please send to otherboxp@yahoo.com

Friday, March 7, 2014

A Tragedy That Must Not Be Ignored.

Ukraine has the front seat in the news yet, closer to home in Venezuela, a massacre in the making is largely ignored by the national media.

Venezuela is not my country of origin; I come from the other one, the one which is basically causing all the trouble over there. Including flying shock troops by the planeload to “show” the Venezuelan army and thug police how they must deal with the dissidents. No matter these are unarmed students and mothers whose only political sin is to ask for their basic freedoms and question the terrible state in which their country and society are, as well as give voice to their utter hopelessness for a better future.

The current government cannot give coherent answers to these questions for the simple reason they don’t have any to give; the same government which created the chaos cannot possibly give hope of a better future when they can’t even manage the present. Faced with this, students and protesters refuse to back down, despite the fact these protests have already caused the death of some 20 young people at the hand of the cowardly masked thugs supported by the government. The arrival of Cuban troops promises to make this a much worse situation.

Venezuela has been traditionally a peaceful country, with warm and friendly people who tremendously enjoy(ed) a lifestyle which includes(ded) great music, food, laughter and just having a good time, after a hard day’s work. That was before this government came in. In the 80’s and early 90’s, during my very frequent visits there, several of my hosts became dear friends who proudly showed me their country and who were very willing to share its beauty with a working visitor like me. The last remembered time when people took to the streets goes back to the 50’s, when a military dictator also overplayed his hand and then, like today, it was the students who showed the way and who eventually raised the people’s conscience and got rid of him.

What I see on the reports and what I hear from friends fills me with dread for these folks, for I know the Castro government cannot afford to lose the Venezuelan oil and gold and will do whatever they think necessary to quell the people’s shouts, even if it means killing a few hundred… or thousand… after all, they have a lot of experience doing this in Cuba and in other countries which have fallen prey to their ways and lies; they have no scruples whatsoever about doing this. The Cuban thugs know that if this country’s financial wherewithal is lost to them, it could well mean the end to their more than half a century old dictatorship.

When a friend called me to tell me about the first planeloads of Cuban troops landing, this news did not surprise me at all. After all, there have been Cuban troops in Venezuela for quite some time. However, this is the first time the arrival is in mass and openly done. Desperation must be setting in. And this is not good.

As I write this, there are some news that a full garrison has turned against the government and sided with the dissidents. If this is confirmed, it may well be the beginning of the awakening of the professional armed forces in Venezuela or… what is left of them by now; they are the only hope the dissidents will have to survive and triumph before the Cuban troops they will have to face. This conflict may turn into a full-fledged civil war. Unfortunately, this may be the only way of ridding the country of this cancer that is inexorably destroying it.

I pray for my Venezuelan friends, their families and for a country that received me as a visitor and which gave many of my countrymen refuge from the very regime which now wants to make their country an extension of the Havana created systemic rape. International opinion can’t hide their inaction behind the false veneer of a so-called “democracy” which is anything but. They only have to look at the Cuban government and at the fact that just in the month of February this year, over 1,000 people were put in jail for the horrible political sin of voicing discontent or for questioning the obvious inefficiency of their mandates and rules; this group of controlling thugs is hell bent on holding on to power.

Godspeed my friends… this may be the only chance you will have to get rid of this regime. No dialogue will work and the voting process has been clearly shown to be contaminated and controlled as well.

“!El que se cansa primero, pierde!”

“He who tires first, will lose!”

Be Well … Be Back!!!

Final Notes:

  • Pray for those who are fighting an illness which may take them away from their loved ones… Every request is heard, and counts!!
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  • Any comments please send to otherboxp@yahoo.com

Doña América and other memories.

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