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!!
  • Follow us on Twitter … @RJAsPandora
  • Any comments please send to

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The Cost of Life.

We know all about the “Cost of Living” but … what about the “Cost of Life”?

The past is a nice place to visit but not one in which to dwell for long periods of time. That is, unless you suffer from that terrible malady called Alzheimer’s. Then it becomes a state of life. However, as the years do keep on piling on, sometimes it does give us a little comfort in the form of wishful thinking.

The Cost of Life cannot be readily measured in actual cash. We know there are many folk who will swear that “money is important” (yes, it is… to a point) and some even will go as far as saying it is “everything” (no, it definitely is not!) and then, there is another group of folk (including me, I guess…) who will say that the “pursuit of happiness” and the “pursuit of money” are not one and the same.

A simpler life was had by those of us who grew up several (not to say a whole lot of) years ago. In fact, all the goodies which now plague our existence, were created by many who shared this somewhat blissful childhood.

“Going to Play” in those days actually meant getting your duff off the couch and going outside, to look for your friends, to play a game of whatever, to ride a bike… It certainly did not mean sitting in a darkened living room or bedroom, staring at the “One Eyed Monster” (remember that one??…  except that now the name can probably refer to the comp screen) and activating the world through the thumbs and a console. There were times one would actually go to the library and … GASP!!!! … read a book.  
When a friend was needed we had to go to his or her house and actually have a “face to face” conversation… OMG!! With actual words “u knw, nt txt stf”… (for the uninitiated… “you know, not text stuff”).

There was a primary breadwinner in the family. Not to demean anyone in today’s world but Motherhood (yes, with an “M”) was an important endeavor and one which very often was the glue that kept families together and functioning. The mother was the primary care giver, love giver, mother confessor, friend, guide and overall sergeant major. We now, after three generations, seem to be going back to the concept that a present body care giver is necessary; except today it can be either the mother or the father. No matter, the role itself is beginning to, once again, take its rightful place.

The generation that was born from the late 40’s into the mid 60’s, known as the “Baby Boomers”, is responsible for many of the gadgets and advances which now make life simpler… I think, though not truly sure about this last point.

You want to do simple math?  Your phone has a calculator… why bother with the tables?? … You want to communicate something?  By golly text away!! Why talk?? … Is somebody bothering you??... Wow!! just put his/her compromising picture on FB for the world to see… You showed’m!! Do you need a paper to turn in at school?? Well… just Google it and copy! ... Why spend the time and effort to do some research and learn something valuable in the process??  Why go through the trouble of reading something when your computer, tablet or phone can read it to you while you watch TV or listen to music… or play at becoming a Car Thief…

To many, I am sure the above is an advance into the world of “do nothing” and where immediate gratification is never fast enough… To me, well… I think we are on our way to reducing our bodies and minds into total dependence on gadgets. A recent study in England showed that the actual physical posture of man/woman is changing and stooping due to walking around looking at the little screen. Hmmm…

The “Cost of Life”? ... Families in name only where members text each other instead of talking, where both adults are away working so all these "must have" gadgets can be paid for; where children grow up sitting in front of the TV or computer because this is easier to handle than actual parenting; where the pomp is more important than the circumstance; where there is little or no guidance and it becomes the easier rule to condone rather than to correct.

Years ago, children resulting from these families were labeled “misfits”… seems today they might be the norm and children of families where there is love, guidance, boundaries and supervision, may be the misfits in our modern society.

The “Cost of Life”? … Priceless!!!  

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

Monday, March 3, 2014

A Day In Court.

A very special day, when a long awaited dream finally comes through…

As the morning arrived we were up, a little earlier than usual. There was a feeling of anticipation in the air, almost an electric feeling created by events that would take place this particular morning.

After many years of decision making process… of debating pros and cons… of delaying what should have been done long before, my wife was finally becoming a US citizen.

Once we arrived at the court building where the ceremony was to take place, we were greeted by a rainbow of colors and sounds; a mix of people and languages that represented at least 18 countries from around the world.

On a day like this, some 45 years ago, I was in a similar courthouse at the lower end of Manhattan, receiving my oath to become a citizen of this grand country. I relived the feeling of that day, as we waited for the proceedings to begin. I looked around and saw the same eager faces with some of those present trying to hide their anxiety and their anticipation under the sound of silly chit chat…

As the names were called, the largest group was made up of Asian folks… Thailand, Taiwan, Republic of China, India, Laos and the largest group being that of Vietnamese folk. Back when I received my citizenship, I did so for having served in the US Army during the “Viet Nam Conflict” … now there was this group being received as citizens, ready to integrate into and contribute to a society which a generation ago was at war with theirs…

Another indication of the uselessness of wars??

The National Anthem marked the official start of the process, each person having had their documents checked beforehand. As each name was called, sometimes with a great deal of effort on the part of the court’s secretary, the person named walked up the aisle and married his/her new life partner… The U.S.A…. On their faces was a reflection of happiness, a little anticipation, some fear and some sadness as well. No matter what the reason for coming here, there is always the little void in your heart that tells you an important part of your life and of your being is being left behind.

The ceremony itself was short. Each passed to the front, received a document, the congratulations from the court officer on behalf of the US and the small flag which represents their new commitment. Most of those flags will be preserved with a degree of reverence… some will lie forgotten in a corner somewhere…

After the ceremony came the pictures and the leaving of each one, going back to their daily routines… a reminder that in this country of ours we have to produce what we consume.

As for us? … We went to have a glass of wine at our favorite small restaurant, to quietly celebrate a passing…

"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all" ...

Less we forget...

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

Doña América and other memories.

I know she has already been mentioned somewhen along this line of sometimes unhinged memories as they relate to moments of my life , but y...