Sunday, November 27, 2016

Fidel Castro, Cuba's leader of revolution, dies at 90

Castro visiting the United States in 1959
Lawyer Biography: Fidel Castro
Fidel Castro Short Biography
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Fidel Castro has been the longest serving head of state in the world. This despite a concerted effort by the CIA and the United States Government to overthrow him or even assassinate him by what ever means available.

Fidel Castro was born on farm in Cuba on August 13, 1926. Fidel was born out of wedlock and his father, Angel Castro, did not officially claim him as his son. While growing up he went by the name of Fidel Ruz. Later, his father would marry his mother and Fidel would change his last name to Castro.

Castro attended Jesuit boarding schools. Fidel was smart, but wasn't a great student. He did excel in sports, however, especially baseball.

In 1945 Fidel Castro entered law school at the University of Havana. At University he became involved in politics and protesting against the current government. He thought the government was corrupt and there was too much involvement from the United States.

In 1952 Fidel Castro ran for a seat at Cuba's House of Representatives. However, that year General Fulgencio Batista overthrew the existing government and canceled the elections. Castro began to organize a revolution. Fidel and his brother, Raul, tried to take over the government, but were captured and sent to prison. He was released two years later.

Fidel Castro did not give up, however. He went to Mexico and planned his next revolution. There he met Che Guevara who would become an important leader in his revolution. Castro and Guevara returned with a small army to Cuba on December 2, 1956. They were quickly defeated again by Batista's army. However, this time Castro, Guevara, and Raul escaped into the hills. They began a guerrilla war against Batista. Over time they gathered many supporters and eventually overthrew Batista's government on January 1, 1959. In July of 1959 Castro took over as leader of Cuba. He would rule for nearly 50 years.

A new dawn for Cuba as it opens for business
American Bar Association
By Victor Li
Posted Jun 01, 2016 12:10 am CDT

The 90-mile corridor between Key West and the north coast of Cuba is far wider, deeper and considerably more dangerous when you factor in everything that's happened between the two countries during the last 57 years. Former ABA President Stephen Zack (with a flag from pre-revolutionary Cuba in his office) escaped from the island as a teenager two years after Fidel Castro seized power.

When Fidel Castro and his band of revolutionaries took control of Cuba in 1959, they established a Communist dictatorship antithetical to everything the U.S. represented—and aligned with America’s enemies. In 1961, a CIA-backed invasion by Cuban refugees to overthrow the Castro regime failed, almost from the moment it began, at the Bay of Pigs. The following year, the Cuban Missile Crisis nearly triggered World War III.

Former ABA President Stephen Zack had long expected the day would come when Cuba and the United States would finally break the Cold War-inspired status quo in place for more than half a century that has impoverished and isolated Cuba while creating a sworn enemy of America within 90 miles of its border. But like Godot saying he would be back any day now, Zack had expected a change for so long that he stopped expecting it.

The two countries haven’t had diplomatic relations since the Eisenhower administration, and a near-total embargo on American imports from and exports to Cuba has been in place since the early days of John F. Kennedy’s presidency. Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of State officially designated Cuba as a "state sponsor of terrorism" in 1982 for its history of supporting violent revolutionaries throughout the world. The designation functioned as a scarlet letter of sorts, as U.S. banks refused to lend money to domestic and foreign companies wishing to do business with countries on that list. Indeed, for most of the world, Cuba was forbidden territory.

Then, suddenly, it happened. On Dec. 17, 2014, President Barack Obama surprised Zack and many, many others when he announced he would pursue normalization of relations with Cuba. What began as negotiations for a swap of long-imprisoned intelligence officers in both countries became a wide-ranging agreement that finally closes the curtain on nearly 60 years of hostility.

US Blocks Cuban Grammy nominees
BBC News
Friday, 6 February, 2004

US authorities have refused to let five Cuban Grammy Awards nominees travel to Sunday's ceremony in Los Angeles.

Musicians up for best tropical Latin album award - including veteran star Ibrahim Ferrer - have not got visas.

Ferrer, 77, told press in the capital Havana: "I am not a terrorist. I couldn't be one. I am a musician."

A US diplomat in Havana said the US administration could suspend the entry of people deemed to be "detrimental to the interest of the United States".

The US has imposed economic and travel sanctions on Cuba for 40 years - and President Bush has strengthened the country's policy against Cuba and cut back on cultural exchanges.

Cuban vice-Culture Minister Abel Acosta accused the US of making a political decision to please Cuban-American voters in Florida.

"How can these musicians be considered terrorists?" asked Mr Acosta, who is also head of the Cuban Music Institute.

"Something as noble as music is being converted into a policy against Cuba." Read more

Backstory: ABA Journal freelance photographer recalls meeting Fidel Castro
American Bar Association Journal
By Brenan Sharp

PHOTO OP: As a young photographer, Tom Salyer shakes hands with communist Cuban leader, Fidel Castro, in January of 1984.

Longtime ABA Journal freelancer Tom Salyer has been taking photographs for our 101-year-old publication for roughly 25 years. If you enjoyed this month’s Cuba cover story, you have him to thank for the portraiture of seven of the attorneys quoted, including a compelling shot of former ABA president and Cuban-American Stephen Zack posed in his Miami office with his framed, prerevolutionary Cuban flag. This particular assignment, accompanied by the timing of the easement of the trade embargo, brought to light a unique recollection of Salyer’s brief brush with notoriety—an actual meet-and-greet with Fidel Castro.

As a young man, Salyer was a United Press International staff photographer. And in January of 1984, UPI had a nearly three-hour private interview with Castro in Havana.

"I found Fidel to be charismatic and thoroughly versed in world affairs," Salyer said. Read more

A Sustainable Cuba
By Anel Quiroz, a student in
UAA’s Honors 192 course
on Limits to Growth

A small island in the Caribbean that people usually associate with an evil dictator is one of the most sustainable countries in the world. This little island is the island of Cuba where the people might not have it all, and they may dislike their ruler but they have a healthier environment than most third world countries or first world countries. The island of Cuba has achieved a goal that most successful countries are too developed to reach in a lifetime. Cuba has learned how to sustain its people to succeed even if that success is slow. Cuba is a role model for all underdeveloped and developed countries to follow.

As a young child I lived in Mexico, a country where most of the people don’t have riches and where people mostly live off the land. In the state of Veracruz, where my family is from, the people flourished by growing their own basic crops and other plants such as tomatoes, avocados, cilantro, fruits as well as other needed plants for a daily meal. I remember that we bought the rest of needed crops in the markets where the best fresh fruits and vegetables were available. Aside from growing their crops in small home gardens, some people are lucky and own small plots of land that they use not for building great expensive houses but for growing crops. One such person is my grandfather, Guillermo, who to this day in his old age grows coffee plants and sugar canes as well as oranges or limes and sometimes mangoes.  He does not grow these crops for a source of food; he grows them to sell to the state which sends the food off to a distant land where the crops are sold for much more than what the worker is paid. Although I live far from my home state of Veracruz and I am now accustomed to the American ways of living.  I still try to remember that there is a simpler much more sustainable way of life, where people grow their own fresh food and where life is much simpler.

Another Latin American country where people live a simple yet happy life is Cuba. This small island was once on its way to a success then it was stopped in its tracks when the Soviet Union, its ally, crumbled to the ground. Cuba no longer had any help; the oil embargo isolated it from rich countries. According to Peters (2010), "prior to the collapse of the Soviet Union, Cuba’s agricultural system was largely monocultural, highly mechanized, and dependent upon petrochemicals, oil, and machinery, similar to the present U.S. agricultural system" (p.231). Without the Soviet Union, Cuba was all alone and no longer prospering like it once had, since it no longer had its hands on oil to produce products for the people to thrive. The people feared and suffered while food and basic resources ran scarce making the government take action towards helping its people. Most importantly the people started helping themselves to live beyond the stage of crisis. The problems Cubans faced had to do with food, energy, transportation and the economy to name a few. This problem that had just started with a loss all soon developed into a problem with peak oil. The time in which this crisis occurred was called the special period.

The way that the Cuban people began to get out of this crisis was by starting to farm their own food on any available land that was capable of growing crops. They did this to eat enough calories in their diets so that people would stop losing weight and so that people would find a way to help others who had no food at all.  The people saw that if they did not start acting that they would soon die off from starvation or from other sanitation problems from the lack of proper electricity. According to Peters (2010), "independent of government action, Havañeros spontaneously began to plant food crops in the yards, patios, balconies, rooftops and vacant land sites near their homes"(p. 232). By planting food in whatever small area of land they could find it is obvious that the people were extremely desperate for food. This also shows that they were in no means ready for a crisis as such. With the history of political problems that Cuba has faced in the past, the people were only ready for political protests or other type of government related problems not unexpected food shortages. "In agriculture, organic fertilisers and pesticides, crop-rotation techniques and organic urban gardens were developed. Tractors were replaced with human and animal labour" (Yaffe, 2010, par. 13). All that the Cuban people needed was a kick-start to use things that they made within their country instead of using much more expensive things from others. Read more

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