Thursday, March 26, 2009

Crossing Borders with the Afro-Cuban All-Stars

Thank you Foxessa. for informing me about this situation.

By Larry Blumenfeld (The Village Voice)
Tuesday, March 24th 2009 at 3:04pm

When Juan de Marcos González brings his 14-piece Afro-Cuban All-Stars to Town Hall on March 28, they'll include residents of eight countries, from Mexico to Sweden, Spain to the United States. But none from Cuba. No musician living there (and planning to return) has played here since December 2003, when pianist Chucho Valdés headlined the Village Vanguard. After that, the Bush administration effectively shut down all U.S.-Cuba cultural exchanges.

González has contributed mightily to that cut-short exchange. Best known as the architect of the Buena Vista Social Club, he assembled that band with musicians drawn from the first edition of his All-Stars. (Their debut CD, A Toda Cuba Le Gusta, released simultaneously with Buena Vista's, was the better recording.) But he soon went his own way, turning down offers for more retro-styled recordings, or what he called "la onda de los viejitos" ("the fad of the old-timers"). He's been cleverly crossing stylistic boundaries with his latest batch of All-Stars ever since, blending traditional and contemporary Cuban sounds. His 40-city tour is equally resourceful in terms of border crossings: The band's members, all with roots in Cuba, have passports in other nations, thus sidestepping the rules that exclude Cuban musicians.

"This band is bringing a message," he says. "Cuba is here, independent of any politician or policy. Our music and our influence cannot be stopped. And it's time for the policy to catch up with the reality."

Such change may be afoot. Tucked into the recently approved Omnibus Appropriations Bill, despite vociferous objection by such hard-liners as New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez, are provisions that liberalize travel for Americans to visit relatives in Cuba. However, the bill does so essentially by defunding the Treasury Department agencies that police such activity, which is different from legal sanction—besides, it expires in six months.

"But Mr. Obama is a smart guy," González adds. "He's going to open the doors wider, at least to cultural exchange."

To that end, the President's inbox holds the urging of more than a thousand noted artists, educators, and cultural leaders via signatures on a letter calling for, among other measures, the elimination of restrictions that prevent Americans from traveling to Cuba, and Cuban artists from performing in the United States. (See it at "I shouldn't have to ask permission of my government to travel anywhere," says Louis Head, co-founder of the U.S.-Cuba Cultural Exchange, which orchestrated the letter campaign. "Historically, cultural expression in the U.S. and Cuba are joined at the hip, and it's time to respect that vital connection."

"The letter is very important," Grammy-winning pianist Arturo O'Farrill told Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! "For us to be denied access to this source of cultural sustenance is absolutely insane."

The "Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act" (H.R. 874 in the House and S. 428 in the Senate), a more effective and lasting option than the Omnibus add-on, is attracting a growing list of co-sponsors and, if passed, would permit all U.S. citizens unrestricted travel rights. That should allow, for instance, O'Farrill to realize his dream of bringing his Afro-Latin Orchestra to Cuba to perform the music composed by his father, Chico, in the home Chico left in 1958, for good.

Still, we need the door to swing open both ways, so that, as Alicia Alonso, director of the Ballet Nacional de Cuba, wrote in a 2007 open letter to American artists, "a song, a book, a scientific study, or a choreographic work are not considered, in an irrational way, a crime." González envisions bringing a 30-piece band to the U.S., adding such musicians as pianist David Alfaro, who lives in Cuba. No one should stop him.

Juan de Marcos González and the Afro-Cuban All-Stars play Town Hall March 28



tony said...

One of the things i like about the Internet is the fact that instead of boring just a few people with my holiday snaps I have the potential to bore THE WHOLE WORLD with them!To this end, HERE are photos i took of a visit i made to Habana in 1997 (dig the Bay Of Pigs Museum!).
My visit doesnt make me any sort of expert on Cuba, but it does make me an advocate of open borders.

Ducky's here said...

"The letter is very important," Grammy-winning pianist Arturo O'Farrill told Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! "For us to be denied access to this source of cultural sustenance is absolutely insane."


What is most troubling about the hard liners is that by now they have figured out that they aren't going to return to the good old days of Socarras (Batista is a mixed bag) with Meyer Lansky and Lucky Luciano returning to give all the old guard their stuff back.

What the hard liners can do is stop improved relations, limit human rights and stop us from hearing some of the best piano jazz in the world.

Foxessa said...

But we can hear Arturo O'Farrill! His series at Symphony Space has been outstanding, as well as all the work he does in music education with young, aspiring musicians and the various communities for whom latin jazz matters. He too, like so many other working-themselves-into-early-heart attacks jazz greats -- like Donald Harrison, for instance, need our support so much. They don't get that 'official art' net that the Marsalises do from Lincoln Center, etc.

Love, C.

Foxessa said...

By the way, that concert with Chucho mentioned in the piece -- I was there too, as well as hearing him often in Havana.

Love, C.

Nevin said...

What is interesting is that the "hard liners" Ducky is talking about are the Cubans themselves. It's the Miami Cubans who were kicked out of their country after the revolution. It's the rich and powerful MIami Cubans that need to soften up... but their resentment lies so deep that, they want nothing to do with Cuba as we know it today...

Unknown said...

What a shame that we let politics stifle the spread of art. *sigh*

SecondComingOfBast said...

Yeah, let's be friends with a brutal, oppressive regime so we can hear some of that good piano jazz, especially since we quite obviously could never hear it from any source other than communist Cuba.

Nevin said...

Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could enjoy music from all over the world, regardless of the narrow minded attitude of (certain) nation(s) political bulls**t?

Just a thought....!

tony said...

"Yeah, let's be friends with a brutal, oppressive regime so we can hear some of that good piano jazz..........." Yes,I,ve been to Chicago Too (but forgot to take my camera!)

K. said...

By now, all but the most deluded -- and Rep. Menendez isn't one of them -- know that Cuba is not going to return to the pre-Castro political-economic system. The thing that has always amazed about the hard-line Cuban exiles is that by cutting off trade and travel to Cuba, they cut off their noses to spite their faces. After all, they stand to profit the most when trade with Cuba is restored.

K. said...

Does anyone have a link to 2009 tour dates? The official web site goes through 2006...

Frank Partisan said...

Pagan: There are problems in Cuba that need criticism. It is not a brutal oppressive regime. That's not accurate.

Tony: The photo of the hotel where Graham Greene wrote Our Man in Havana was great.

Ducky: It's nor commonly known, that Castro offered to buy expropriated businesses, based on the values claimed in tax returns. The other thing that is not commonly known, is the Stalinist Communist Party of Cuba, opposed Castro's expropriations.

The hardliners are grandparents.

Foxessa: There is no discussion of post revolutionary Cuban music, without discussing you know who.

Nevin: The hardliners are grandparents. They are increasingly isolated.

Brother Tim: I agree. That goes for rightist artists as well.

K: Foxessa would possibly have a link.

I'm overall against the tactic of embargo. It was a myth that it brought down apartheid in South Africa. Cubans in Angola, did more to end apartheid according to Mandela.

Graeme said...


tony said...

Re Your Comment K about Cuban-Exiles "cutting off their noses."......I heard a lot of North American accents in Habana.Which was quite strange to my British ears.......given the USA's ban on its citizens travel to Cuba.......... 'turned out they were Canadians.Not "Freedom Fighters" but Businessmen putting markers down for when the embargo is lifted.

SecondComingOfBast said...

From what I understand, any country can trade with Cuba that wants to. The embargo is against US businesses doing trade with Cuba. The US government, no matter how badly it might wish otherwise, can not restrict travel to and from Cuba regarding any country in the world, nor can it prevent trade. If all of the countries in the world can not help Cuba develop a decent society and lifestyle for its people, that makes a pretty god damned sad statement about the rest of the world. But that is just not the case.

The US is not the be-all and the end all of every god damned thing in existence. It should not be that vital that the US engage in trade and diplomatic relations with the island. The fact that Cuba is such a hell-hole speaks volumes about its political-economic system, not the fact that the US is maintaining an "embargo", which is a fucking joke to begin with.

People tend to gloss over that this is a country that sought to allow the Soviet Union to use it as a base of operations by installing missiles, during a time when the USSR was governed by a man who advocated that the next major war should be fought with tactical nuclear weapons-which he admitted in his memoirs.

I like music as much as the next person, but to try to use something as relatively trivial as music and other such cultural exchanges as an excuse to advocate for a change in Cuba policy is pretty damn weak, IMHO.

The Castro brothers know what they have to do to change things and improve relations with the US. They have their choice. They can do what they need to do or they should shut the fuck up about it.

Craig Bardo said...

How many Cubans would stay on the island if they were permitted to leave? How many would prefer Guantanamo, Santiago or Havana to Los Angeles, Chicago or Miami? Get serious!

If you asked Celia Cruz before her death in exile, who was stopping the cultural exchange of Afro-Cuban son, mambo, pachanga, rumba, she certainly would not say nor did she believe it was the repressive regimes of the United States. You all need to put down the crack pipes. . . . Azucar!

Unknown said...

CB-- I think you would be shocked at the numbers who would stay. Not all peoples of the world share the avaristic mindset of the Americans. Many have a great love of their ancestry, culture, and homeland.

Frank Partisan said...

Pagan: Cuba never was comfortable with the Soviets. It goes back to the Cuban Revolution when the pro-Moscow Cuban Communist Party supported Batista. They also opposed Castro's expropriations. The US drove Cuba into the hands of the USSR. It's not that Cuba allowed the Soviets to have their missiles there, they had no choice. The relations between Cuba and Russia were always shakey.

Batista was 100% dependent on the US. All the machinery was made with US parts. The embargo was and is, a factor hurting Cuba. The US blocks Cuba from getting digital wiring.

If capitalism was restored the first thing to go would be universal healthcare. The next thing would be free schooling. The Florida crowd would turn Cuba into Haiti. Now longetivity is higher than Brazil, and more of the population is literate.

I'm for allowing opposition parties, provided they oppose private property.

Tony: The word I get from Floridians, is after Fidel Castro is gone, the embargo is dead. Even Floridians want it gone, except for the elderly.

CB: Cubans have it much easier to leave than Haitians or other minorities.

What was Celia Cruz's problem? She left.

Brother Tim: When the Soviet Union fell, Cuba kept the socialist direction, because people didn't want to return to Batista days.

Graeme: That music is great.

SecondComingOfBast said...

"Pagan: Cuba never was comfortable with the Soviets. It goes back to the Cuban Revolution when the pro-Moscow Cuban Communist Party supported Batista. They also opposed Castro's expropriations. The US drove Cuba into the hands of the USSR. It's not that Cuba allowed the Soviets to have their missiles there, they had no choice. The relations between Cuba and Russia were always shakey."

All this might be true to a point, but Castro and Khruschev were two leaders who seemed genuinely friendly. They even vacationed together. When it came to the missiles I'm sure the Soviets didn't have to twist Castro's arm too much. I'm not interested in Castro's phony self-serving excuses now.

"Batista was 100% dependent on the US. All the machinery was made with US parts. The embargo was and is, a factor hurting Cuba. The US blocks Cuba from getting digital wiring."

Again, possibly true to a point, but again, the US is not now nor can it prevent Cuba from trading with any other country in the world, nor can it prevent travel to and from the island from any other country. So what's the problem? Could it be possibly that nobody in their right minds wants to tie up a lot of money there? Who would want to invest in a place like that? If you had ten million dollars, what percentage of it would you invest in a place like that? I'm asking you to think like a capitalist now.

You might invest in certain kinds of research facilities, or garment making, or maybe in tourism interests, but that's about it. Nobody with a brain the size of five or six marbles is going to invest tens of millions of dollars or more in any kind of manufacturing, industrial, technological, etc., where real money stands to be won or lost.

"If capitalism was restored the first thing to go would be universal healthcare. The next thing would be free schooling. The Florida crowd would turn Cuba into Haiti."

Pure supposition. You can't possibly know how it would turn out, there's too many variables involved, depending mainly on who gains control and how they run it, who is willing to invest in it, and what kind of political-economic system they adopt. Is Sweden like Haiti too?

"Now longetivity is higher than Brazil, and more of the population is literate."

Castro probably just wants to make sure everybody understands his long-winded speeches. Does that guy know how the hell to shut up? Who ever heard of somebody making a speech for so many hours on end that he collapses from exhaustion? If I was a really religious person I'd say that son-of-a-bitch is possessed.

What good is being literate when you're constantly force-fed a steady diet of propagandist bullshit.

"I'm for allowing opposition parties, provided they oppose private property."

Then you don't really believe in opposition parties. What you said is like saying I believe people should be able to live their lives however they want as long as they don't smoke, drink alcohol, have pre-marital or extra-marital sex, watch r-rated and x-rated movies or television, listen to music with dirty or violent lyrics, play violent video games, read pornography or violent novels, or eat fattening foods.

Pretty soon freedom to live one's life boils down to the freedom to choose between carrots and broccoli for dinner and whether to exercise one or two hours a day. What good is it?

"Tony: The word I get from Floridians, is after Fidel Castro is gone, the embargo is dead. Even Floridians want it gone, except for the elderly."

I don't necessarily agree with all aspects of the embargo. I think people should be allowed to visit the island and help out their struggling family members to an extent, and I'm for limited diplomatic engagement, but the Castros need to make some changes before it goes beyond that.

Castro is upset mainly because we won't allow him to buy from our farmers on credit. Shit, credit based on what, cigars? He doesn't have any credit, why should he get farm credits or any other kind?

"CB: Cubans have it much easier to leave than Haitians or other minorities.

What was Celia Cruz's problem? She left."

I don't know anything about Celia Cruz, but the only reason Cubans have it easier to leave than Haitians is because we allow Cubans to stay the minute they touch US soil when they get here on their rickety makeshift boats they've made in their desperate, last-ditch attempts to get away from that hell-hole.

"Brother Tim: When the Soviet Union fell, Cuba kept the socialist direction, because people didn't want to return to Batista days."

Like they had a choice.

tony said...

(Re:some of the comments above)
To Me, Its not just a matter of "right" or "wrong"."good" or "bad".in Cuba.The Issue can be be seen in terms of what gives People in The States the Authority to make moral judgements about other,independent countries? God Knows, The State's foreign policy over recent years has been aweful.A little humility towards others might not come amiss ?

Frank Partisan said...

Tony: The Issue can be be seen in terms of what gives People in The States the Authority to make moral judgements about other,independent countries?

The Monroe Doctrine and the Cuba specific Platt Amendment.

Craig Bardo said...

Celia is probably the second most famous Afro Cuban artist ever behind Damaso Perez (The Mambo King). I think this might give her view a smidgen of credibility, ya think? She was touring the US during the revolution and did not return, who in their right mind would?

The only Cubans that would remain in Cuba if they could leave (which speaks volumes, damn it people, they are not allowed to leave!!!!! GET REAL) are those that benefit from their party affiliation, the elderly and the scared. That island would be emptied because of the lack of liberty which translates to tyranny. They would leave a paradise with bountiful natural resources as would Haitians because of the tyranny of an all powerful government.

It is not the United States that prevents the cultural exchange of this important genre, it is the few that control the many on that island paradise.

Larry Gambone said...

Canada has always traded with Cuba as has Europe. The problem with the US blockade is that ships that dock in Cuba are forbidden to stop at US ports for 6 months. This obviously makes shipping a problem. What ship owner wants his ship to cross 3000 miles of ocean and unload cargo in only one small country?

Many Canadians visit Cuba and it is not uncommon for us Canucks to have Cuban friends. Cuba is admired in Canada for standing up to the Great Bully. While Cuba is a one-party dictatorship in cannot be compared to even the former Eastern Bloc, let alone real terrors like N. Korea. Right now there is an open discussion in Cuba as to whether to introduce worker coops or workers management in nationalized companies. Trotsky's works are published and sold. (I don't know if any anarcho-syndicalist works have been allowed, but given the aforementioned debate, it should not be totally out of the question, given the success of the worker-run factories in revolutionary Spain 1936.) This sort of thing would never happen in a hard line Stalinist regime.

SecondComingOfBast said...

And it wouldn't happen there either if they weren't desperate to try something-anything-to make their economy semi-functional. So what's stopping investment in Cuba now? Foreign investors looking to make a profit aren't going to concern themselves with how long their ships have to wait before they come to the US. Nor would there be any problem whatsoever purchasing goods and raw materials once those investments are on hand. If it is, I have a thought, why not go to the US first, leave, then go to Cuba, then go home. Sounds like a pretty lame excuse to me.

As for this "Great Bully" nonsense, the next time you visit Cuba get off the beaten tourist track and ask a regular street Cuban (you know, the kind you are unlikely to see where you might usually tend to go) who they think is the biggest bully, the US or Castro.

Be sure you bring a hearing aid.

Foxessa said...

Actually? The most universally famous Cuban musician was and still is Benny Moré.

I know personally many, many, many Cubans. Like those who grow up in Louisiana, Cubans are never really happy anywhere other than in Cuba. I have many Cuban friends who have had the opportunity, and still have it, to come to the U.S., legally. They haven't taken it. Cuba is their home and they love their home and are loyal to their home.

Cuba is not perfect by a long shot. But it's no less perfect than the U.S., and the way things are proceeding here, the U.S. is getting less perfect all the time.

Shutting off artistic and intellectual contact with nations is on the part of shutting off scientific interaction. It shows weakness, fear and ugliness on the part of those who doing the shutting off, and keeps one's own citizens in ignorance and virtual incarceration.

I want to visit my friends and family in Cuba. I want my Cuban friends and family to visit me here. Yes, these friends and family are artists, intellectuals, and musicians. As well as doctors and lawyers and spiritual practicioners.

Love, c.

SecondComingOfBast said...

Like I said, tell it to the Castro brothers, they're the problem. When they do what they need to do, things might change, otherwise, probably not. Cuba is not Zimbabwe, they are too damn close to our shores to put up with their nonsense.

? said...

I had not heard of this band. Thanks for the update on the comrade.

Larry Gambone said...

Pagan, the "Great Bully" is how most Canadians view the US govt and its corporations. Though nothing even approaching the extent of the Cubans and other Latinos, we have suffered at the hands of the Great Bully as well and are pleased when a little country takes the bully down a peg.

Foxessa said...

Cubans don't keep us out of Cuba.

The U.S. keeps us out of Cuba.

Cubans don't keep Cubans from coming to the U.S.

The U.S. keeps Cubans from coming to the U.S.

Because the Miami Mafia doesn't want it otherwise. Though even their undergarmets got wadded up when the bushites made the laws so so draconian even they couldn't send money to their families any longer. (No, Fidel did NOT kick them out. They left because they thought the U.S. was going to kick Fidel out FOR them, and they'd be returning within weeks.)

Love, C.

SecondComingOfBast said...

I agree the US government and many of our corporations are legitimately classified as Great Bullies. As I've said, I am no great fan of the American government. It is corrupt, bureaucratic, and even to an extent oppressive. Many of our corporations, though by no means all of them, are controlled by greedy sharks who would eat their own mothers alive to secure their yearly bonuses.

The Castros are an entirely different matter. Just because I have issues with "my" government doesn't necessarily follow that I have to applaud the likes of them, and I won't, nor will I uphold or defend them in any regard.

As much as I might enjoy the music of the Buena Vista Social Club, and I'm sure I would if I ever heard them, using something that relatively trivial as an excuse to advocate for a change of relations with Cuba is about the most trite argument I've ever heard in my life. It's like saying we should all love the French because they make great bread. You all actually sound pretty ridiculous, don't you?

Again, Castro knows what he has to do. I'm talking about Raoul now. He has made tentative baby steps in the right direction, but he needs to do more. A lot more. Fidel had multitudinous chances over the years to make things right, but he pissed the opportunity out every window that was open to him, and believe me, plenty of windows were open to him, and have always been.

Look here, the US government is not that hard to get along with when it comes to money. All they would have to do would be guarantee the rights and properties of any potential investors, make some form of restitution to those whose lands and businesses were expropriated, and this would probably have been settled long ago.

All this shit about religious rights and freedom of the press and speech rights and all of that bullshit is just that, bullshit. That's the kind of crap the government spoon feeds the hoi poloi here to justify their policies. The Realpolitik of the situation is, it's all about the Benjamins, and national security, and that latter is as true today as in the heyday of the Soviet era.

Speaking of which, we damn sure had no problem trading with the USSR, or the Chinese post-Nixon, etc. Sure, it took some time in both cases to negotiate terms, but the fact is, it happened. Why? Money! The last time I checked, China was still a one-party dictatorship. But they're a one-party dictatorship with a functioning brain.

With Castro, there's no one home, I don't give a shit how often you knock. It's too bad the Cuban people have to suffer, and that gives me no pleasure whatsoever, but the truth of the matter is, if they come here, the minute they set foot on our soil, they are home free. I have yet to hear a case of one of them voluntarily leaving here and returning to Cuba. They don't do it flying first class, and they certainly don't do it by way of rickety-assed makeshift rigs. What kind of person gets on something like that and braves those ocean waters? I call it a pretty damn desperate person myself. Think about it, when you're out there on those waters on one of those so-called boats, for the time you are out there you are good for one thing and one thing only-shark bait.

No, this is on Castro, and to blame it all on the US is nonsense. Bottom line, if you want investment in your country, you have to engage in some give and take. Capitalists don't give a shit about freedom and ideology. They just want to make money, and they know they can't under Castros ideologically perverse economic system just like no bank loan officer with the sense of a snail in heat is going to loan me one hundred thousand dollars anytime soon if I don't give him some kind of assurances of some kind of tangible returns in a timely manner. For all he knows, he would be doing no more than propping up my profligate lifestyle for a few years-or months-before I went through it all and left him with nothing but a bad taste for his efforts.

It's also the reason Hugo Chavez is eventually going to crash and burn. Bottom line, when somebody makes a good faith investment in your country, then by God whether you like it or not you had damn well better hold up your end of the bargain.

Frank Partisan said...

Big Green Serpent: They are very good.

CB: Foxessa is one of the foremost authorities on Cuban and New Orleans's music.

Cuban immigrants have it tons easier to arrive in the US, than other immigrants.

With the economy as it's, people would reconsider coming to the US. Cubans may come, as would Guatemalans, El Salvadorans, Colombians etc.

Castro doesn't care if reactionaries leave.

Bush made family visits harder.

Pagan: Castro offered compensation for what he expropriated. Why should he give them more than what they said the businesses were worth on tax returns? That is fair for a poor country.

Too many people are alive from the Batista days, to allow property rights as you state. Dark skinned Cubans have more power, than before the revolution.

There would be investment, if the embargo was gone. Big business is salivating to get in.

Castro didn't start as a socialist. He was forced into it. Every democratic reform was opposed. He hated the Cuban Communist Party. It followed Stalinist policy, and supported Batista. They opposed him on expropriating the businesses.

Chavez's only danger is within his own party.

Private enterprise will destroy Cuba's health and education system.

As for Cuba's future, Larry G had a good post.

Foxessa: How does Celia Cruz rate, in your opinion?

Larry G: I agree.

We got our books distributed I believe with Celia Hart's help.

Celia was never formally expelled from the Cuban Communist Party, but had opposition. I don't really know the story.

Larry Gambone said...

Pagan, If the US corporate State were so easy to get along with, explain why all the coups, terrorism etc against reform - not revolutionary - governments. Why they even tried to take out Pepe Figueres of Costa Rica - a moderate social democrat!

As a Canadian I assure you the US is not easy to get along with - they play hardball always. With the Gringos it always works this way "When the regulations work in the USA's favor - they push them to the enth degree. When they work in Canada's favour - they ignore the regulations."

Craig Bardo said...


I'll be in Minneapolis this week but am booked solid from the time I land until I leave. I'll check in with you and JAE next time, it looks like I might be there quite often over the next year or so.

SecondComingOfBast said...


Yes, US businesses are salivating to get a foot in the door, which is understandable. I would be all right with such tentative baby steps and with limited diplomatic engagement. A presence on the island would be helpful, and as it is now once the Castros are gone we are starting from scratch.

As for Castro's seemingly generous offer, did he also offer to reimburse them for the next ten years in projected profits? I kind of doubt it. Companies lose out on such deals because they have investors they have to answer to, and it usually results in a drop in stock value in cases where a great lot of money is involved.

Gambone-I don't know about all those coups, maybe you're right, but I have an idea our people there didn't by any stretch of the imaginations create the conditions that led to the coups, they just took advantage of and manipulated the prevailing conditions at the time.

I'm not saying its right or that I agree with it in all cases, but the fact is, they had to have the potential to take advantage of, and it would have to be considerable, which means that in most cases the overthrown governments were for the most part unstable.

If the US conducted such a coup, in other words, they just tipped them over the edge they were already teetering on. They didn't drag them to that edge themselves.

It might interest you to know also that the CIA is more closely aligned with the Democratic Party than the Republican. They have never been a conservative organization. Even when they are under the control of a Republican Administration, the CIA chiefs tend to be left-of-center Republicans like George H W Bush, whom most conservatives consider a RINO.

The CIA was founded by Truman, a Democrat, and they tend to be most loyal to Democratic politicians, which was the true actual reason for the whole Valerie Plame fiasco. Plame's husband was a Kerry supporter.

Bottom line, they are not the James Bond types of popular imagination, they are bureaucrats, and as such they tend to go off the rails more so than usual. They are by no stretch of the imagination a right-wing conservative entity.

As for problems with Canada, I don't know a lot about that, I'll have to look into it, but I have an idea the biggest problem Canadian businesses have is not the US government, but the Canadian government. What's the corporate tax rate there? What kind of regulatory agencies are in place, and how do they function?

A sick and dying person can only take so many blood transfusions, and I have an idea you'd better look to the cause of the illness instead of worrying about the life-support systems.

Foxessa said...

Ren -- Celía was an incredible voice. Her early story is very interesting also -- a jibero who rose to stardom. But she never had the fame that Benny Moré still has, or the influence on other Cuban and international music that Benny Moré had. His innovations changed Cuban music. That she included references to the orishas in her popular performance repetoire followed what Benny had already broken the ground doing, for instance.

oo late for the U.S. There's massive investment by other countries in Cuba, and has been ever since the the Soviet sugar daddy disolve nearly 20 years ago, particularly with joint Spanish-Italian (as well as other European nations), Venezuelan and Chinese ventures.

However, the Cuban state regulates that investment, including environmental impact regulation, etc. They are not allowing their nation to be taken over by outside interests the way it was by the U.S. corporations and the mafia prior to the Revolution.

Compare the percentage of Cuban population's incarceration with that percentange of U.S. population living incarcerated.

People who are paid by the U.S. to bring the Cuban government are dangerous traitors in the eyes of the state and are often sentenced to prison. But they are not tortured. They are not hidden in secret prisons.

When it comes to torture and polital imprisonment our own record is far, far worse than what went on in Cuba post the Revolution, and now does not go on.

Larry Gambone said...

Pagan, the Democratic Party means nothing to me. I am aware of the connection with the CIA and this (and the CIA's love of right-wing dictators) is more evidence that the DP is a party of the right.

As for the US corporate state there is a whole history of involvement in a host of countries which you can look up. Greece 1947-50, Italy 1948, Operation Gladio, the Iranian coup 1953, the Guatemalan coup 1954, the Brazilian coup 1964, Indonesia 1966, the Greek coup 1967, Chile 1973 etc.

Larry Gambone said...

And if taxes were such a problem for business in Canada, how come our economy has been swallowed up by US corporations?

Anonymous said...

obama stay @ home. pls

Foxessa said...

Ren -- Ack. That should be jibera, not jibero.

Love, C.

Foxessa said...

The world is concerned with the enormous negative impact the U.S. economic and military and legal behaviors has had everywhere, particularly during the last 8 years.

The world is not anxious about the effects of Cuban behaviors upon their economies or upon their governments.

Cuba for the U.S. has consistently been a game of smoke and mirrors for the establishment-as-is-in-D.C. and Corporate boardrooms, to divert attention away from what is really going on, both at home in the U.S. and in the world in general, and what we are doing here and other parts of the world.

This is another reason the previous regime in particular blocked face-to-face contact of us with Cubans, in their home. They don't want us to see for ourselves.

This Homeland Security terrorist bs that has made travel so difficult for anywhere? That's not about Fortress America, that's about Prison America. We're kept in at least as much as anyone is kept out. The less we see and experience of the world outside, the more ignorant and bigoted we become -- which has led to us becoming the laughing stock of the world for our ignorance and bigotry.

Yes, many of us individually are not that, but as a national culture, alas, she weeps by the River of Babylon, we are. It's shaminng, what we've come to.

It wasn't Cuba that did this to us. It was U.S./ us -- though the Miami Mafia sure did help, particularly with getting the ball rolling for subverting the Constitution.

Love, C.

SecondComingOfBast said...

Gambone, if the Canadian economy has been swallowed up by US corporations like you say, how do you think that could have happened? If you have an oppressive government with high taxes and an oppressive regulatory regime, who do you think that hurts the most, companies that are trying to build their profit margin, or companies that already have tens of billions of dollars at their disposal?

Do you think its possible that the Canadian government forged an agreement with these American companies in regards to tax breaks in return for their investments? Well, I say its not only possible, but probable.

That's how states like Kentucky attract business, or try to, by offering tax and other incentives.

Our governor is now trying to attract investment from the motion picture industry. That's right, Kentucky might well be the next Hollywood. Now, if some dumb ass Louisville liberal tried to tax the industry at the same rate they are already taxed in California, what do you think is the likelihood the industry would be coming to Kentucky any time soon? I have this strange idea the chances wouldn't be that great.

REALITY, Gambone. I'm going to keep repeating it until you hear it in your sleep at night.

I'm not going to let you ignore it, or also my point about the coups. What were the conditions in these countries you are so concerned about. The US didn't create these conditions, again, they merely manipulated them and exacerbated them. But they had to have an opening. The CIA is not some all-powerful entity that can at the slightest whim overthrow a stable regime in a prosperous nation. They had plenty to work with.

Finally, I know you have no love for the Democratic Party, I just wanted to point out not only to you but to others that this is more complicated than conservative versus liberal, and that the CIA is by no stretch of the imagination a conservative or a right-wing entity. I am afraid that way too many people labor under the sadly mistaken assumption that it is.

Larry Gambone said...

Only in the USA would the DP be considered anything but right-wing, Pagan.

And you exaggerate the amount of corporate taxation in Canada.

As for Latin America, progressive govts were elected in various countries only to have the CIA conspire with right-wing and military elements to overthrow them. This is all very well known.

Larry Gambone said...

That should read "Only in the USA would the SP be considred left wing"

Larry Gambone said...

Furthermore, we do not have "an oppressive govt." and "oppressive regulations" by comparison to the USA. Quit getting your info from Fox News.

Every day I give thanks that I was moved to Canada at the age of two and did not end up a USian. Why? Because we have more real freedom than you do.

SecondComingOfBast said...

How could I exaggerate Canada's tax policies when I don't even know what they are? I'm just offering this as something you might want to look into. If Canada's tax rates are higher than America's then bottom line, they have to be way too high because America's is way too high. My favorite drink besides coffee is probably Coca-Cola, and I am reasonably sure if the company was founded not until after the forties it would never have grown into the giant, successful corporation that it has been. It might not have grown period. It just thankfully happened along during a period of time when high corporate tax rates were unheard of.

A lot of bad things happened during the Cold War, things I don't necessarily approve of or agree with, as I've already said. But again, the CIA did not create the conditions, they just exacerbated and manipulated the current prevailing conditions at the time.

SecondComingOfBast said...

Furthermore, we do not have "an oppressive govt." and "oppressive regulations" by comparison to the USA. Quit getting your info from Fox News.

I'm not getting anything from Fox News. What's this about any program aired on Canadian television has to have so many minutes of Canadian characters or Canadian news or issues, etc? That used to be a running joke on Second City television, one of their skits was created around that law. What kind of dumb ass government has that kind of law?

How many guns can you buy or own? Ten? Five? Three? One? None (probably)? If somebody breaks into your home and you shoot them, can you get in trouble for owning a gun? How many missing people are there in Canada, by the way? I know if I lived in a place like that and somebody broke in on me there would sure as hell be at least one that would mysteriously vanish from the face of the earth never to be heard from again.

What's your corporate tax rate?

"Every day I give thanks that I was moved to Canada at the age of two and did not end up a USian. Why? Because we have more real freedom than you do."

Yeah, Mr. Canadian patriot, tell that to me if you ever get pissed at somebody and end up charged with a hate crime for saying something nasty to them in an unguarded moment. Nobody with hate speech laws on their books has any business criticizing the US. Wasn't there a newspaper or magazine in Canada charged with hate speech and dragged before the courts? How did that one turn out? How much money did it cost them to defend themselves? Were they reimbursed?

Don't talk to me about freedom in Canada unless you follow it up with a smiley face.

Foxessa said...

Breaking news -- in Louisiana it has been determined that the cost to the state in lost tax revenue, etc. to the film business to attract to Louisiana is greater than the income for jobs and other revenue lines that supposedly come into the state with the film business that is given every tax break and other facility possible.

The residents of Louisiana are not happy about this.

Love, c.

SecondComingOfBast said...


Tell that to the residents of Shreveport, they would probably feel the opposite. I'm sure the film industry, which is located mainly in that city, has been a very huge boon to it. I can't imagine the state has lost that much income. This is probably exactly what I've been afraid of happening from Louisville liberals, cooking the books to come up with an excuse to dig their greedy mitts in the pockets of film producers.

Even if it was true, bear in mind this is just a snapshot in time. The film industry in Shreveport is a relatively recent concern. In time, if it is allowed to grow and flourish, it might be an entirely different story.

Or, go all out to tax them to the hilt. They will be more than welcome here in the good ol' Bluegrass state.

? said...

I have checked them out again. These guys are excellent. Also I have done a post explaining the changes my blog has been going through...hope you will finally agree with me

Anonymous said...

Not my cup of tea. I'm more of a Gloria Estefan fan. I also like mike salsa sin el pico de gallo.

Anonymous said...

Of course, to those Cubans who pledge, "Hasta siempre, mi comandante" I have to ask, "Hasta cuando?"

Frank Partisan said...

Rising From The Ashes: I added your blog to my links last night. It's not smart to keep changing the name of the blog, particularly since I told you that yesterday. Most people still have your link from several years ago still up. It's annoying to constantly change your name and blog address.

Foxessa: Interesting about Celia Cruz.

The question is what will Cuba be, after Fidel is gone. This period seems to be a period of discussion.

Conservatives want every state to be like Texas or Mississippi. In Ft. Worth the street lights are shut down at 6pm. In America the higher the taxes, the higher quality of life. In the 1950s the taxes were higher, and the economy was stronger.

Pagan: Taxes are not what breaks a deal with movie companies. They have ways around them. They have been forever using CA for movies. Many are shot in high tax New York.

Cuba doesn't owe for future profits. They were willing to pay expropriated companies, fairly for a poor country.

FJ: I don't dislike Estephan's music. It is ok. Not because she is reactionary. I don't think politics determines artistic taste. Artists need to be judged as artists first. Estephan is ok, nothing great.

CB: That is good news.

Frank Partisan said...

Larry G: If taxes were the deciding factor, a state like Mississippi would have more investment.

You're not going to get an educated workforce, without taxation.

The last 8 years shows what happens when you don't tax corporations. What is interesting nobody said wealth trickle downs.

Craig Bardo said...

Jibara/jibaro is the Puerto Rican term for country bumpkin or hillbilly, I forget what the Cuban term is.

Craig Bardo said...

Guajiro por los Cubanos, Jibaro por los Borinquenos. I lived in Miami for several years and have several Cuban friends, my first wife was from Ponce, Puerto Rico.

Frank Partisan said...

CB: Both countries speak Spanish.

? said...

Unfortunately since I am not as smart as you think, I'll stop following your blog.
Best wishes with blogging

SecondComingOfBast said...

Ren, people who live indifferent countries might speak the same language, but they might also have their own different unique terms for certain things.

And as for taxes and movie companies, why is it that the major topic for discussion about establishing a base for the movie industry in Kentucky involves tax breaks and other incentives? It is obviously of importance, or it wouldn't come up.

There are a lot of reasons why some Southern states are far behind in development. In many cases a lot of it has to do with one party control. The Democratic Party had an iron grip on politics in these states for years and like a bad husband kept their citizens barefoot and pregnant, and ignorant, so to speak.

This was true of Kentucky, until-guess what? That's right, the Republican Party grew in influence and actually became a competitive party. Once the Democrats realized they didn't have a solid lock on the votes of two-thirds of Kentucky residents, things started to improve. They had to, before either party would remain competitive.

Still, Kentucky definitely still has a long way to go yet, as does many other states. The effects of decade after decade of corruption doesn't vanish overnight. It takes time.

As for why the movie industry still functions in Hollywood and New York, you said it yourself. There are ways around things. But the fact that so many films are now shot on location or in other areas outside the narrow confines of Hollywood speaks volumes.

That is especially true of our technologically advanced, digitally enhanced age, when a movie shot on a Hollywood lot can be made to look as authentic as one shot "on location".

About trickle down, bear in mind I don't believe in laissez-fairre. Never did, never will, so your argument as applied to mine is in fact inapplicable. Some regulations, and arguably some degree of corporate taxation, is necessary and even desirable.

But just because you might need some kind of strong medication to deal with a condition doesn't mean you should take more of it than as good for you. So it goes with taxes and the economy. With some, its never enough, and that's the problem with government in the US, particularly with Democrats. To them bozos, there can never be too much taxes, however much in denial they might be during election times. Just like with any other addict it doesn't take the truth long to come out.

Foxessa said...

Why do people in the U.S. keep thinking Cuba's structure is going to radically change in the future? It has deep structure already in place. It is working. Cuba isn't a static nation, just holding its breath until the U.S. comes in to save it from -- what? And with what?

Cuba doesn't even use dollars. The U.S. currency is so devalued, what does it have to invest with? Obama's big job right now is to persuade some of the G-20 nations that there is some validity left in the dollar, that there is no need for an alternative international currency to deal with global situations. To view Cuba this way is so 20th century, and useless.

CB -- Duh -- of course! You're right. Brain futz. I could try and excuse it by saying truthfully that I've been spending intense time with Puerto Ricans lately -- but also with Haitians -- and Dominicans -- but not Cubans. But that doesn't matter!

Love, c.

Larry Gambone said...

Pagan, not being an “idealist” , I am more concerned with the freedoms or restrictions that effect me and the people around me. Since I am neither a Holocaust-denier nor a racist, restrictions on publishing this sort of hateful clap-trap do not effect me. As for fire arms, I don't own one and have no intention of doing so. Besides it is very unlikely that anyone is going to break into my house. You see, we still have a sense of community where I live, so crime is not a major problem. Because of social democracy, Canadians do not have the same level of fear and insecurity that Americans do. Furthermore, we have a political system which allows for a much greater ideological range in parliament than the US Congress where, other than the rare individual like Bernie Sanders, the choice is only between center-right and far-right. And we are allowed to travel anywhere in the world, something your vindictive, infantile government has not allowed its citizens.
Don't think I hold up Canada as an ideal. Many European countries are even more advanced and therefore have greater freedoms. One of the ways we have suffered is the influence of US right-wing authoritarianism on our government and economy. We have seen our freedoms erode over the past two decades because of this.
Gert, Daniel and I may differ on whether socialism is needed or not, but we do all agree that social democracy is a positive thing for the ordinary person. And I will go so far as to say that if I could not have a libertarian socialist world, I would be quite content with a genuine (not "Turd Way") social democratic one.

? said...

Ren, on a serious note, I think its still too early on but by the time Obama and Castro understand each other we will start to see some amazing changes in policy on both sides which will clear up a lot of these. And with this kind of music the country will be saved.

Frank Partisan said...

Pagan: I read about movie financing. The methods are so creative, they cause your brain to explode. Kentucky is not only competing with Hollywood, it is competing with other countries. If a producer is smart, it's paid for before it hits theaters.

Foxessa: Raul Castro has expressed support for the China model. That is a fact.

He is naive if he thinks that will happen, without the health system and school system privatized.

Rising: It's mostly Florida grandparents, who are the core of the anti-Castro groups.

Obama is making family travel easier, not ordinary travel.

Larry G: Liberals in the US, when mad at conservative politicians, always say they are moving to Canada. What do conservatives say? I'm moving to Singapore?

Ducky's here said...

How many Cubans would stay on the island if they were permitted to leave? How many would prefer Guantanamo, Santiago or Havana to Los Angeles, Chicago or Miami? Get serious!


cb, you can make that argument about any country in Central America or the Caribbean.

Of course now that our economy is completely in the shitter it's not as appealing.

It isn't Castro that has kept the entire region poor.

SecondComingOfBast said...

"Pagan: I read about movie financing. The methods are so creative, they cause your brain to explode. Kentucky is not only competing with Hollywood, it is competing with other countries. If a producer is smart, it's paid for before it hits theaters."

The problem isn't just taxes, of course, it's actor's and union salaries. But taxes that cut into the profit margin to too great a degree is going to insure that not a lot of great movies will be made. That's why Hollywood is so formulaic. They are under so much pressure to make a certain level of profits they try to stick with what works, therefore you have these runs of action-thrillers (most of which are pretty bad) and schmaltzy "romantic comedies". Just ask yourself, what kind of movies do I like and why don't I see more of them?

As for they are already paid for by the time they are in the theaters, of course, nobody is going to work for nothing on something that might not be a hit, or for that matter might not even pull even. The problem isn't paying for the movie, the problem is making the money back and making a profit. A movie made at average production costs and that makes forty million dollars is considered a minor hit.

As for Kentucky competing with other countries, that's just the point. If California wasn't making it so difficult, there wouldn't be any chance of Kentucky or any other place competing with Hollywood.

The desire for location filming is a big draw for some areas, including New York and California in some cases, and in the latter case the weather is a factor, of course, but as time goes by, location filming is going to be less and less of a factor in this digital age where eventually computer graphics can make scenes shot in a makeshift warehouse set look virtually as real as any location shoot.

The kind of film splicing that looked phony as hell forty years ago will be an entirely different technological process. Eventually it will get to the point that you won't be able to tell the difference.

When that day comes, it won't matter where a movie is filmed, and expenses will be the overriding factor in deciding where to go. And of course taxes are going to be an even bigger incentive.

Frank Partisan said...

Ducky: I agree.

Pagan: Clint Eastwood's last movie, was written by a Minnesota writer, about the Hmong community in St. Paul. He casted from the Hmong community in St. Paul, and filmed in Michigan. Eastwood was a Detroit autoworker, in the movie.

Capitalism isn't national anymore.

SecondComingOfBast said...

"Capitalism isn't national anymore"

Was it ever? The US has been making trade agreements with foreign nations since the days of the country's founding. We had trade agreements with Britain and France, but we were smart enough back in those days to stay neutral and not involve ourselves with their internal politics or their disputes. We practically dragged Japan kicking and screaming into capitalism from what had been a previously isolated feudalistic society, but there again we didn't try to force change overnight, or for that matter at all, culturally speaking. Change grew exponentially over the decades and yet retained feudal elements until after the war. Change would have continued on course at any rate.

The only thing nationalistic about capitalism is the individual direction it takes in regards to any given country, all of which have their own unique characteristics.

National sovereignty does not require capitalism, but neither does it disdain it. Nor does capitalism demand the erasure of borders, it just feeds off the normal drive to achieve success and prosperity that all humans possess to one degree or another. Thus you have expansion and treaties that set the conditions for it.

National sovereignty issues is merely predicated on security concerns. One is not mutually exclusive of another. True capitalism certainly does not require a one-world, one-size fits all regime that makes laws for all peoples and nations.

Any idea to the contrary, whether it cloaks itself as internationalism, socialism, or capitalism, is in reality just another form of feudalism, the only difference pertaining to the type of cloak it wears is who is in charge of ruling over the rabble, how, and to what degree.

National sovereignty is the best check on dictatorship, because no one will gain power over everybody.

Governments have the right to regulate economic systems for the common good, but they are out of their depth the more they seek to control them or become them. You do not regulate yourself. It is impossible. Greed has a way of cleverly disguising itself as legitimate self-interest.

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Comrade G. MacAlaxandar said...

Those of you decrying "a brutal, oppressive regime" must be talking about the U.S. corporatist empire, a.k.a. Evil Inc. Rise up, resist, subvert and agitate!