well, obama has taken the first step in loosening the tighter reigns the bush administration inflicted on the cuban people, just as i said he would a few weeks after obama’s election. here’s a telling image my yoga friends are sending around the internet, with obama as lord Krishna (the blue guy, denoting Higher Consciousness) and Hilary as one of his sublime consorts, the Krishna-intoxicated milkmaids called Gopi (there were soooo many Gopis who adored Krishna that he had no One special girlfriend):

krishbama and gopihill

krishbama and gopihill

the other day Obama formally rescinded the retrictions placed on family members of not being allowed to visit cuban relatives, in Cuba, but for once every three years; and also he unloosened the cash amounts allowed to be given to family members in cuba also. will barack start the legal process of turning back the 47 year-old block on trade? so far no. obama says he wants to keep the embargo, affecting the u.s.a. from shipping everything except food, which america has (thank heavens! otherwise the cubans wouldn’t have much to eat at all, seeing as their farms are all but rotted away, their machinery rusted, and their transportation system stalled from lack of parts for trucks).  the USA has all along shipped food, such as frozen chicken and grain, to cuba in vast tonnage, and always has throughout the long embargo. obama says the embargo is good leverage for negotiating much-needed human rights from the castro regime. i admire obama for seeing the need to keep the embargo in place, for this reason alone. a lot of people don’t realize how desperately the cuban people need to be freed from castro’s iron grip. see my previous blog entries if you’re interested in my view, from our recent visit to habana in february.

people have to remember that america is the only country with this embargo on cuba. europe, china, and all the rest of the world can trade with cuba if they wish. so…i agree with barack: it’s not good to give in too much to castro’s gov’t. and if they really want to trade with the u.s. they better start giving their people more access to freedom, starting with the right to speak openly about how sad, how frustrated, how crushed the people feel in this no-rights castro regime.  keeping the embrago in place is worth the price of helping the cuban people gain their human rights.

yoani sanchez speaks out, featured in argentinian newspaper, 2 april '09

yoani sanchez speaks out, featured in argentinian newspaper, 2 april '09

i want to mention my cuban fellow blogger here: yoani sanchez, who recently gave a very public speech in cuba, with a stuffed dove of peace perched right next to her on the podium. publicly–PUBLICLY–yoani bravely speaks, demanding more freedom from the government. she is the ONLY one i know of who is brave enough to speak out publicly, in cuba, against the castro regime. yoani’s blog: www.desdecuba.com/generationy is an award-winning report of the suffering the cuban people have had to endure, and yoani, a scholar of philology, the study of literature and language, is the force behind the new movement of internet freedom fighters, in the form of the many blogs that have resulted from yoani’s bravery. three cheers for yoani, and may she be safe…always a question when someone speaks up against the castro regime in cuba.

now…for some news about our recent trip to South America.

the two countries we visited, Argentina and Chile, in the past decades also had been victims of oppression. Argentina still smarts from the thousands of innocent people missing during the mid-seventies to the mid-eighties, those 10 years when loved ones called “the forgotten ones”… a group measuring around 20,000 to 30,000 people, consisting of artists, writers, and others of outspoken temperments, activists sorts (like yoani!) who literally disappeared in argentina. they are all presumed dead, but their bodies have rarely been found. during our visit, many people i met were still angry — or stunned — especially because no one has ever been brought to justice, neither a military nor goverment official or private person, to act as a symbolic means of retribution for all the pain and heartbreak so many still suffer—the friends and families, the younger generation that wonders why? how? the country still mourns their dear ones now long gone, and…wonder “what happened” “how can it not happen again?” argentina was once an extremely dangerous place for people not consistent with the government’s ideology, but now…we hope the goverment in charge (President Cristina Kirchner looks like a fashion plate more than a knowledgeable diplomat) is as democratic as it claims. During our stay we heard an awful lot of cries of “corruption” and “greed” coming from the working-class argentinians we talked to. so we shall see about venezuela.

a few shots of Argentina:

from the ecological park right in Buenos Aires

from the ecological park right in Buenos Aires

bears from all countries, U.N. art project

bears from all countries, U.N. art project

public art everywhere! three Indigenous ladies holding up bounty of the land, Buenos Aires

public art everywhere! three Indigenous ladies holding up bounty of the land, Buenos Aires

the American bear, for traveling UN peace project, through art

the American bear, for traveling UN peace project, through art

can you read Einstein's quote?

"Peace cannot be kept by force. It can only be achieved by understanding." Albert Einstein. Part of the UN peace-by-art project, traveling around the globe, photographed in Buenos Aires

chile, however, was a different story.

here the government is much more democratic, the citizens told us. chilean president michelle bachelet is a down-to-earth salt of the earth type of politician, not the fashion plate female pres. of argentina by any means. the people of chile believe wholeheartedly, that michelle’s government represents a true democracy. hence, the people of chile are noticeably more relaxed. they are also strikingly of a more varied mixture of races. in buenos aires, for instance, the people were for the most part, very white, that is, european looking: beautiful men and handsome women with pure spanish blood, dressed to the nines–strutting their sophistication, their wealth everywhere in a manner i’ve only seen in paris and in exclusive neighborhoods of uptown manhattan and out in the hamptons. in chile however, people were more laid back, relaxed, informal, happier…not so hung up on pomp and circumstance, showiness. They are obviously of more mixed blood than the argentinians. also, because of the democratic nature of its government there were TONS more theater, small plays, productions, street message, even religious evangelical shouters, something not seen in BA.  The indigenous gene is mostly noticeable in people’s eyes, their cheekbones, their laughter. spirituality is replacing drug-use, as was the story with this young waitress, Andrea, who happens to be from peru, but like many, she has immigrated to Chile to find work:

even in santiago, chile, people are doing yoga! Om to the world!

even in santiago, chile, people are doing yoga! Om to the world!

and of course, as everywhere else in latin america, monuments are everywhere! how ’bout this ONE…the grandest monument i saw in Santiago:

a huge ship filled with...monumental sculpture

a huge ship filled with...monumental sculpture

and this one…my favorite public art piece, aphrodite and neptune… ahhhh, love:

a tribute to classical Love

a tribute to classical Love

 lots more to share! next time i write i’ll share how amazing it was to drive through the Andes! wow, now that was some trip. i will blog about our trip for as long as i have stories to tell, pictures to share.

meanwhile, i’m still writing my book, which i finished editing during my trip! yeah, now i’m working on the final edit (putting into computer all the hand-written editing, which will take several weeks). In case anyone out there in cyberland is wondering why i’m not addicting to blogging—it’s because i’m busy writing a book. unfortunately, you can’t do everything in life. so i’ve made my choice…the book is priority. i’ll keep you posted about how the process goes with getting it published, a very interesting journey, almost as complex as…well, getting to south america and driving through the Andes!

in the Light, lordflea

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