Posts Tagged ‘Cuba’

last night we gathered with friends and had a somewhat heated discussion about the state of affairs, the temperature rising at our table laden with fresh fish, vegetables and fancy, cheesy, re-baked potatoes. Aren’t WE the lucky ones to have such abundance, here in the good ol’ U.S. of A? I’m grateful. Are you? Everyday is Thanksgiving to me, not just when the calendar points to it.

when you're in the gratitude mode everything's extraordinary!

when you're in the gratitude mode everything's extraordinary!

. . . instead of ordinary . . .

. . . instead of ordinary . . .

All six of us had spent a good bit of time living outside the country; three of us weren’t American born; two natives of oppressive Latin American governments that were really nothing more than authoritarian dictatorships; the other person was French. All of us well traveled in many areas of the globe.

The words flew fast and heavy when we began to discuss Cuba, a country five of us had recently visited, at different times and in different capacities. Two of my friends had just had their picture published, a portrait of the married pair standing in front of a mural of Che, as they grinned widely and holding a copy of their hometown newspaper: part of a special show-and-tell feature their small town paper offered to travellers.

my friends in havana

my friends in havana

these two had lived through a lot of political unrest, suffering much painful harassment from drug cartels and government agencies alike when, for many many years, they had an organic farm deep in the mountainous jungle of Colombia. Their ordeal ended with fleeing for their lives, after finding out they were on a hit list to be “disappeared” … as many of their friends had been already–by government agencies working in cahoots with drug cartels. Unfortunately, the husband, my dear friend Miguel, had already anguished over leaving his native country after his own father was found murdered by the ruling factions vying for power in Colombia at that time, the eighties.

To live in such overwhelming terror leaves one permanently fearful of government power wielded for purposes other than the betterment of the populace. To live in such a nightmare scars one’s soul. Some who have survived this kind of emotional torture experience their hearts going hard, their faith in government, forget about God, turning to dust. I am happy to report that my friends, Miguel and Monica I’ll call them for their anonymity’s sake, are fully integrated, peaceful and loving folks, who have weathered their misfortunes with the help of level-mindedness, and a healthy dose of expressing themselves, releasing their sorrows, through their art.

Yet, whether from their horrific personal experiences or their own natural propensities, today they both subscribe to the belief that the communist Cuban government of Castro has been a success. In the eyes of people who have lived through hell in other violence-prone latino nations, this unseemly fact does make sense—if you reckon the alternative of unheard of violence and poverty are the cold hard facts of many other South American countries (the Argentinean and Chilean dictatorships of the past, Nicaragua of Central America, and today, Mexico succumbing to the influence of drug cartels more and more).

greeting at havana airport

greeting at havana airport

To Monica and Miguel, the Cubans appeared as contented children, heralding their love for “Papa” Fidel, even crying at the suggestion he could ever die. Wherever Miguel and Monica went in Cuba, countryside, city or village, they saw contentment and peace, safe streets, unthreatening people, and no crime in either small pueblos or large cities. In effect, this latino experience for my friends was the exact polar opposite from their own, when they lived in dangerous Colombia, whether from local jungle-living guerilla; the FARC, a citizen-run counter-guerilla movement, organized drug cartels or drug-moneyed government agents–all were threats in Colombia when my friends lived there. Compared to the extreme violence Miguel and Monica lived through, the daily threat on their lives even while living in the remotest, most peaceful place, raising vegetables and tending cattle, Colombia was hell. To them, with this comparison, Cuba today is a model of a peaceful place, a country where one can live safely and with enough food and education for everyone. Even today, it is rumored that the president of Columbia is in power because of his associations (his past ones at least) with organized drug mafia. We shall see the development of that country, as we also watch with interest how the governments of Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela and Eva Morales’s Bolivia turn out, those two countries that are turning away from democracy and toward the communist philosophy espoused by the Castro regime.

yoani sanchez

yoani sanchez

The award-winning journalist and blogger Yoani Sanchez ( www.generaciony.com ) tells a different story. She, you see, LIVES in Cuba. She tried to move away, years ago, to Switzerland, but couldn’t leave the country of her blood, her heart. She tells her story to the world, and is now featured as part of the Huffington Post ( www.huffington.com ). But my friends Monica and Miguel think her view is slanted. And . . . I think theirs are. No doubt, people think mine is too.

Yes, each of our own perspectives —whether about life in general, religion, politics, sex, even the food we choose to eat — are affected by the experiences we’ve had in our life.

This is an interesting topic, because to me, I used to consider myself a totally un-political person, yet a true spiritual warrior. Yet I realized after 9.11 that I would have to, one day, make a stand about how I felt. After my country was attacked by terrorists who don’t approve of our democratic way of life, either for religious or political reasons, I decided that I felt strongly enough about democracy — when I seriously asked myself this very telling question—that if i had to, i would choose to die in upholding the values that our country stands for. I would rather die, yes, that’s right, than be subjected to the whim and will of any other system, be it a dictatorship, a takeover by renegade prophet or politician who self-proclaims his or her view to be that “of the people’s” as the revolutionaries of Cuba loudly sing. It’s the same song sung (different language, different rhythm, but same lyrics) by the silently menacing dark shadows of the Taliban that deepens the gulf between East and the West in our world today. Whether right or wrong, unless people get to VOICE their choice —that is, live in a democratic style where the vote of the people is the rule of the land —any system that is in power is going to end up putting out the flame of the human spirit: taking away our intrinsic freedom of choice.

free to choose whom to love, who to be --- what to dream!

free to choose whom to love, who to be ---what to dream!

To satisfy some of my own questions, I decided to sit and contemplate the difference between what “political” and “spiritual” means to ME. I believe all humans are a blend of many things. But some of us are very much more one way (emotional, intellectual, physical–and political or spiritual) than the other. No one can be absolutely un-political, unless they are brain dead. Maybe there are a lot of those types, the ones who watch too much TV, but i bet they tend to be more finantics than those who don’t watch TV. Even Daw Ang San Su Kyi, my beloved heroine of Burma, who has been under house arrest for nearly 20 years for opposing the military dictatorship of her country, maintains total peace and passive resistance as her political stance. In her quiet vigil she is a STRONG political figure, even though her warring-arms are nothing more than the single lotus tucked behind her ear.

she awaits the moment of freedom, in prayer and silence

she awaits the moment of freedom, in prayer and silence

When my consort Carter and I made the trip to Cuba last March (see previous blog postings when we traveled with the humanitarian group, Fundacion Amistad)— we had exactly the opposite feeling about how the people in Cuba appeared, as our friends Monica and Miguel had. We felt the Cubans’ deep sadness of those we met and spent real time with, saw the lack of vitality expressed in the words they spoke in public, viewed the counter-revolutionary sentiments in their art, noticed how their faces turned frightened when certain subjects were mentioned outside their homes. Countless times we were told household secrets only shared behind closed door by the frustrated, depressed Cuban people we visited. We met with several collectives of artists and artisans, an internationally acclaimed actor, an noted architect, and business and service people as well; all of whom felt incredibly depressed, they said in private conversation, because they were not allowed to participate with the rest of the world. They felt—in a word—unfree.

Here is my list of the differences of being political as opposed to centering on a spiritual way of taking ACTION to help humanity. You decide which characteristics suit you best. Hopefully you’re a blend of both. 

A POLITICAL perspective on life is

  • divisive
  • authoritarian
  • filled with motives
  • replete with agendas
  • involved in the art and science of governing others
  • engaged in intrigue, shrewdness, contriving, dealing, promoting of policy and taking action either FOR or AGAINST a political system
  • argumentative and often, finantic about personal views

A SPIRITUAL perspective on life is

  • all inclusive
  • without rules or boundaries
  • has no judgement, motives, or agendas other than acceptance and forgiveness, knowing that evolution does not come without painful growth
  • involved in no-opinion but passive resistance, like Ghandhi and Daw Aung san su Kyi, Martin Luther King, and countless others
  • wants to help others attain spiritual freedom, and actively prays (engages in “mental thought battle”) to achieve this goal

the words themselves tell it all.

political:   from the Greek word, politikos—about the people, the citizens

spiritual:  from the Latin spiritus—a breath, to breathe (a.k.a., to LIVE)

image

Being in balance with both sides of our human nature, the political and the spiritual, is the healthiest. But in my book, it is better to be MORE spiritual than political. To pray for change is much more powerful than arguing or taking up arms. If all of us who believe in the highest possibilities for the evolution of our species, used prayer as our tools, holding positive thoughts as our weapons of change, the ONENESS, the UNITY, the SACRED DIVINITY of our human state will become a reality instead of some far-fetched metaphysical mumbo jumbo. Instead of fighting or arguing over politics—a lot of change occurs on its own when thoughts are attuned to the highest potential. Thought is action. Thoughts are “seeds” of change.

KrishBama

I offer this blog as a seed to balance the anger and unrest in many people’s hearts who have been deeply affected by violently suppressing regimes.

In the Light, lordflea

friends y amigos,

Don salutes the old car ingenuity of Cuba

Don salutes the old car ingenuity of Cuba

 and now…a word from our good friend Don Chiofaro, the developer of boston’s famed International Place, who was in our traveling party recently to Habana. this is his take, a requested Op-Ed by the Boston Herald newspaper, commenting on the current cuban situation, from Don’s personal and businessman’s point of view. He also quite liked the local salsa bands and was appreciated by swift-footed, hip-swaying cuban hombres y mujeres when he “did his thing” on the dance floor! a multi-talented fellow, that Donaldo.

 

 

Don Chiofaro at the fort in Habana

Don Chiofaro at the fort in Habana

THE U.S. AND CUBA: TIME FOR A CHANGE

 by Don Chiofaro

 as appeared in the Boston Herald Jan. 31, ’09

I recently had the grand opportunity to visit Cuba legally, thanks to some old college friends involved in important humanitarian projects there. Unless you are informed by personal experience, forget everything you think you know about Cuba.  
  
Cubans are not our enemies. Most of them are extremely friendly to Americans, despite our official policy intended to punish and degrade the Castro regime. Nor is Cuba unsafe. Nor are visitors restricted as to where they can go or do or see.  In long walks through tough Havana neighborhoods off the tourist path, I never encountered the smallest hostility. The people are handsome, warm, and agile. There is no question that many are poor. The economy provides little opportunity to produce wealth or gain property; however, there are good schools and universal (though under funded) Health Care. I see more sad down-and-outers in a 15 minute walk from the Financial District to Downtown Crossing than I saw in a week’s worth of travel through Havana. The crime rate is low, and police are rarely in evidence.  
 
   
Havana can look run-down, even shabby, but it certainly has good bones. It is easy to see the magnificence that was once there and to imagine its renaissance. Havana, still the jewel of the Caribbean, features countless numbers of beautiful buildings, ranging in style from Colonial to art nouveau to Art Deco to mid-century Modernism. The wonderful plazas have kept their charm. On many streets you could be in Florence or Palermo or Barcelona. And who can resist the 1950’s American cars still dominating the streetscape? Any population with the resourcefulness and ingenuity needed to drive a 1957 Plymouth fury deserves our respect.  
  
Whatever motivated the original break in the U.S.-Cuban relations, it is incomprehensible to me why it continues. After fifty years it has not accomplished any sensible or reasonable objective. It’s time to change that failed policy, not just because the time has come for Cuba, but also because the time has come for the United States. We need to pursue our National interests with a view to the long run, open to reconciliations with former enemies (see Vietnam; see China) as well as the rekindling of old friendships. Cuba is a great place to start. Soon Fidel Castro will be gone. The country is preparing for transition. Let’s communicate a willingness to talk. Cuba should not be the last priority of our new Administration.  It should be among the first. 
  
Fortunately, a new generation of Cuban Americans seems to agree. They know that many grievances remain, and that those grievances need to be addressed fairly. But they are also saying that a better life for over eleven million Cuban friends and relatives is best gained through engagement and exchange. Let’s extend the outstretched hand that President Obama talked about. My bet is that it will meet with an unclenched fist.

Senor Don on Hemingway's Cuban balcony

Senor Don on Hemingway's Cuban balcony

to see a model of the Greeway Towers, Don’s latest project for the Boston skyline, please visit http://www.boston.com/business/articles/2009/02/03/deconstructing_bostons_skyline/

thanks don, i agree with everything you say, and appreciate your sending your view out to the world in this great piece of writing! next time we see each other hope you’ll teach me some salsa moves.

in the Light, lordflea

 

 

friends,

soon there will be a dawning day in habana, when the celebration of other cultures comes to the island of cuba, and its people open more to others through–ahhh, art!

 

a street in old habana

a street in old habana

art taps the very soul of the human spirit. what better way to open up the minds and hearts of the cuban people, and then, in due order, the economic opportunities of the country–than to celebrate something so wildly different from what each of us experiences everyday.  this is art in its purest, most supreme form. what better way to be “arty” and “soulful” in habana than to celebrate what artists there, and everywhere, continue to do as long as human beings exist on Earth–make glorious, meaningful, emotional art.  in a city known for its former elegance but now struggling to just get by, cuban art celebrates what can’t be spoken (aloud) about. Making art is so different than speaking politics, or having opinions. Art is pure and simple magic–sometimes filled with silliness, or seemingly meaningless things, blown-up costumes, insane characters, weird happenings, hopefully lots of good cheer if not unique ideas–or else realistically somber.  but either way, art provides an opportunity to have some much needed release, and fun!

Green costumes for the parade! Dance! Kiss! Celebrate!

Art is to get outside one-self. Dance! Kiss! Celebrate! Open Up!

the warm and soulful art culture of cuba is alive and well, even though there is also an element of the stern revolutionary-regime wherever you turn in habana.

the military monument dedicated to the revolution of cuba
the military monument dedicated to the revolution of cuba
monument to fidel and che's boat, plane, etc. used to take over batista in '59

monument to fidel and che's boat, plane, etc. used to take over batista in '59

i thoroughly believe that cuba will open up to the world by the efforts of its artists, and the magically subliminal effects of art.

So many artists thrive in cuba! It stunned me to see so much talent for such a small island.

everywhere you look is art in habana!

everywhere you look is art in habana!

 creativity taps the energy within the human soul, and helps to release any pent-up frustrations, or…in the case of cuba…the lack of freedom. More power to the artists of the world! Like the way the iron curtain was lifted by the combined efforts of organized artists, i know, i felt it! a spiritual energy is rippling, right now in habana, infused in the huge outpouring of creativity of cuba’s artists, known and not so well known.

habana street art

habana street art

 

Our Lady of the Indies

Our Lady of the Indies

 

in the capitol building, "Lady Liberty"

in the capitol building, "Lady Liberty"

towel-sculpture made by our hotel maids

towel-sculpture made by our hotel maids

what a glorious day to be free! in my bones i sing the praises of having had the great good fortune of being born in America. God Bless America! Great Spirit Guide our new President Obama! May we, who are lucky enough to be able to live free, continue to help others gain the opportunities we are fortunate to have. Let’s continue sharing what we have with the rest of the world–through art, or through contributing to good causes, or…by simply sending our energy to those who still suffer, through the power of prayer. We are One. Believe in Love. 

reaching out to others with our freedom song

reaching out to others with our freedom song

in the Light, lordflea

senor don in habana

senor don in habana

 

friend don chiofaro has written a requested op-ed for the Boston Herald, coming out soon, which we’ll publish here at lordflea when his views hit the newsstand. thanks Don, i agree whole-heartedly, that it’s time for a change. the U.S. embargo, after fifty years, has done nothing but hurt the cuban people, and done nothing to stop the revolutionary government, except to force them to rush into the arms of … well, more later from don himself.
we had a great time in habana, didn’t we, senor?

 coming soon!

THE U.S. AND CUBA: TIME FOR A CHANGE

                                        by Don Chiofaro

and here’s lordflea’s consort lighting up what is not allowed to be brought back to U.S. territory–ye old cuban cigar!

january 2008 in habana

january 2009 in habana--things are not what they appear to be

 

 

 

i’m totally addicted to barry’s tea a friend recently turned me on to. sigh. soon i’ll get around to asking our local publix if they can carry it.
and where would life be without the slogans that helped me put down my former self-destructive ways and helped change me into what i am today. slogans like: “keep it simple, sweetheart,” “let go let God,” “first things first,” “easy does it” “think think THINK” etc. etc. ?
did you know that lord flea is a serious yogi or yogini (female is yogini and male is yogi: remember, lordflea is anonymous)? yes, i’m a lifelong practitioner of the poses, having discovered how “to do” yoga from a book in the mid-1960s, to save my aching scoliosis-bum teenage back. if i hadn’t i’m sure i would have ended up a cripple, the pain was excruciating all throughout adolescence. eventually, with time, by regularly doing the poses, i began to understand the philosophy of yoga, based on ancient scriptures. 
from thick-mud of being stuck...into being FREE

from thick-mud of being stuck...into being FREE

the reason why we practice the poses is for a purpose other than what most people think. to sustain a yoga pose, called an “asana” in sanskrit, is to help our physical selves ease into comfort, expand our bodies, and regulate and equalize our in-and-out-breaths–why?–for the purpose of being able to meditate with ease, with no physical discomfort, as we merge with the Light within.
all we can do is try--reach for the Light

all we can do is try--and reach for the Light

and then, 25 years ago, i was blessed to “run into” the teacher i’d been searching for all my life one fine day, a meditation master. so…for over 40 years now i’ve been a yoga practitioner, and meditator. without yoga my life is pretty boring. i use the 12-step slogans i learned when i got into recovery, at the exact same time when I “ran into” my teacher. but the main slogan that helps me stay centered and happiest, helps me work out all my crapola, is a sanskrit mantra that loosely translates: God is within me and everyone and everywhere.
my addiction these days is to be in that “inner Light” of meditation as much as i possibly can. and then—even though shit happens–i’m okay about it. after all–life happens! and yeah, shit does too.
there will always be “a cuba,” a “lack,” a challenge, no money, no job, no lover, an obstacle, a disease, a war, petty worries and fears–an unrighteousness of some sort for us to make aright. these things come with being alive. obstacles are meant for us to embrace, not run from as i once did–so that we can learn FROM them how to focus on the Light within, and eventually be able to interface that Light with what’s going on outside, in life. when i learned to do that, i began to change my thinking. negative things became opportunities. my life got better, little by little, bit by bit, practicing being in the Light each day, over and over.
we came from the Light, and we will one day return to the Source, the Light.  so–the way i figure–why not try to live in the Light, embrace it, as much as i can, and allow happiness in my life, even if bad things still persist all around me. inside, at least, within my own power-connection to the Light, no one can affect me. inside, i am one with the Light. the Light is always that close to all of us.
this is my Truth because this is what i have experienced. this is not just talk.
we make out of life whatever we wish

we make out of life whatever we wish

i am keeping to my commitment of writing each day, enjoying writing this book tremendously. i have to ask, “do i want to be with … or should I go to …–or should i stay home and write?” and i always choose writing, because—the book will never get written in a timely manner if i don’t.
i am extremely blessed, and happy to be able to do what I love to do. how fortunate can a person be, to have TIME to do what one loves to do? but then, i’ve worked HARD toward that goal for decades now. all that effort is finally paying off. besides, i work a day-job like anyone else. i cram into each day everything that i’ve decided needs to get done–and i forget about all the things i don’t have time to do. “first things first” — see! slogans DO work!
where my house is we don’t see many of the florida “snowbirds” who fly down after xmas. everywhere else in the sunshine state is crowded. but here in my little st. augustine neighborhood–it’s like business as usual, with no traffic but the locals who live here. we’re close to the inland-waterway, where we put in our canoe and paddle over to town in a hour, or to Moses Creek, a nature reserve, or any of many inlets and marshes in between.
 
cuba –another world. people there not allowed to own boats, unless they’re staunch supporters of castro’s regime. in the harbors i saw very few boats, ridiculously few.  sobering, one of the words i would use to describe cuba. but mostly it was …”intense,” although “depressing” is tempting to use as a modifier. the fact that i intermingled with mostly people in the arts and people who support charities there, speaks loudly of the restraints of living in a tyrannical dictatorship where survival is utmost in people’s minds. i’ve already taken some flak from several humanitarians, who think my atttitude “damning” or “political”… but…damn it! it is deplorable! i have to speak my truth, about how it felt to be there. isn’t that what a blogger is suppposed to do? speak what WE go through, how we see it … not someone else’s view? what others would like me to say? so that is why my tone, when it comes to cuba, is indeed a bit somber.  to me i speak from a spiritaul point of view, not political. but to others, there is not that distinction, i’m afraid. not many things happened while i was in habana to make me feel there is a lot to be happy about, except–and most importantly–that the fire within the human spirit never dies. cuba’s artists are alive and well. THEY are not afraid to convey, through art, through music, films, dance, the Truth of their sadness. from my own experiences i am convinced that ART has the power to lead the way, for anyone! from darkness into the Light. cuba’s artists will lead their oppressed people out of that tunnel of darkness all of castro-communist cuba are stuck in.
there is always hope. 
trusting the Light

being lifted up by the power of art: trusting the Light

one artist friend i spoke to (in spanish, so yes, i was able to converse, and my spanish improved even in the short time there) told me that change won’t happen, even if it could, because people’s MINDS are so frozen, so paralyzed, they’re consumed with just getting enough to eat that day. fear is at the core of everything they do. it’s not like the army guys walk around with machineguns, as i’ve seen in panama, or the dominican republic, and other latin american places i’ve traveled. but if you don’t “act right” or “speak supportively of the regime” in cuba, you could just disappear … and … who knows what then? 
 
cuban kids waiting for change, in old habana

cuban kids waiting for change, in old habana

carter’s coming back from brrrrrr minneapolis tonight. he went to do business and he tellls me it was a successful trip. we are so blessed, in these hard times, to have what we have.
 
in the news are people suffering. times are trying. some people simply can’t cope. difficulties are what make people come together more, though, to help each other. i feel certain that we will all come out of this challenge as better people. we are being forced to grow, as civilized humans. perhaps the lifestyle of spending too much, not thinking enough of “the Light,” not taking the time to develop a relationship with our inner Self and whatever outer form of Truth we choose, has brought such obstacles we now face to the forefront of our awareness–that we must change.
now, for my 500 words before i have to return to cleaning house (grrrr) for we have…guess who! the “havana-gee-la” harvard cabaret star himself coming to visit! his daughter has apparently gotten herself engaged to a “flordia redneck” (well, the prospective groom’s parents are from florida) and goldie and ann, from oh-so-civilized LA, are flying out to meet the soon-to-be in-laws, who live close by in orlando. then on sunday we’re having a superbowl get-together with all our yoga friends. me, i’ll probably hide in the yoga shack with others who’d rather do asanas than cheer a linebacker, or go rollar-blading, or walk with other friends who also abhor football … but i’ll show for the last 15 minutes to see what the big deal is.
boy, if we could all be as addicted to the joy, the unlimitedness of experiencing the inner Light as people are to watching blood sports–what a change this world would experience! BIG TIME.
 
it’s raining today. glorious, life-sustaining rain. thank you sweet life! thank you dear earth for giving me life. i promise to take good care of you and me, and help others to remember that the earth and all of us, We Are One. thank you, Creation, this consciousness called life, for your gentle touch of sustenance, of nurturing. i am here to receive your gifts, with humility.
next blog, i promise: SAINT PATRICK’S DAY IN HAVANA … sure to surprise you.
enjoy your gorgeous moment, my friend, love, lordflea

(NOTE: to leave your comment, please scroll to end of each “post” and click on “comment” THANKS! i love to hear from ya, lordflea sings and now you too.)

all right Obama!!!

i stood, along so many others, as he took his oath. may the White Light of protection surround our new president and his family, and all his cabinet and advisers, to help us through this challenging time.

to the rescue!! SuperObama

to the rescue!! SuperObama

to my horror–along with the hundreds of Obama supporters in st. augustine’s square yesterday, gathered to watch the inauguration as a united front of support–there were two cowardly men across the plaza. they were pale and pasty and fast-food fat. both of them carried shocking placards, with one showing barack with “666” pasted on his forehead! can you imagine such odasity of stupidness! one of these men’s protest poster read, “no true christian supports Obama,” the other called our new president a “baby-killer.” i shudder to even write these words, they are so dense, so out-of-it, so down-right hateful. i can only hope that such fanatics do not take any further action, and i mean of the violent kind–the kind a few misguided right-wing Chiristians have done by killing abortion doctors while hiding behind trees.

MAY NO HARM COME against our president. Amen, amen, amen! and ahhh-women, too! let’s put our collective prayers of protection around our blessed Barack! and all his family, and helpers.

voices of fanantics will always rise up, but–these men in our plaza didn’t even have the courage to give their real names to the st. augustine Record reporters, and only identified themselves as “Ben Franklin” and some other American founding father whose ghost would cringe being shamed so.

Yesterday Barack reminded us all that yes, whenever we find people, or countries, that are willing to un-loosen their tight-fisted domination over others, as he said in his inauguration speech, the American spirit of freedom-for-All is there to safeguard every humanity’s basic right to be–FREE.

if we’re not free, we’re nothing.

when we have a "hard-nut" heart

when we have a "hard-nut" heart

and…what happens when our hearts and our minds have been opened…by Grace

humans with open mind, open hearts

humans with open mind, open hearts

i watched the hour-long emotional ceremony with my 90 yr. old mother, here in st. augustine, and it was singularly the most moving hour i’ve spent, ever! my mom agreed, as we passed the kleenex box back and forth. such heart-swelling excitment as i stood with all the millions of others to backup Obama’s oath with my own. the thrill of a new Obama era is like a bountiful oasis in a desert of despair, for all of us. the right to freedom is what this great country of America was founded on, and we need to remember that each day, each moment.

now that the era of complaints and blame have ended with GW as “ex” and BHO the newly installed president, let’s all join together and speak, and sing and dance and shout and laud the ways of freedom–both the inner kind of freedom, and the outer. freedom of many flavors: freedom to believe what we choose to believe in, freedom to express ourselves without being labelled anything but a “human with free will” are the very rock, the sturdy foundation upon which our American way was founded.

so…in response to sharing my thoughts on my blog called “being human in habana,” the initial one i posted about my visit to Cuba, i’ve received a blast from a few scattered supporters of the castro revolution. one person wrote me that i didn’t live up to what i said before going there, to be open-minded. this person thought i was overwhelmingly condemning of the situation, and chastised me for being too quick about forming an opinion.

if i need to state it more clearly, i will: i’m for the people … not any government, revolutionary or democratic. let’s me bravely state my opinion: it’s people who make up any government…and people need to be free. when people are free, then their governments will likewise, even if it takes time to overthrow authoritarianism for a more democratic society.

the following is my response to that person who wrote me (privately… he didn’t post it here, as one might think a protestor would). his unkind note i’ll leave for him to post, if he wishes:

to someone (who didn’t have the courage to leave a post here, on the blog) who calls lordflea “not open-minded” about cuba:

to call me not “open minded” because I report on my blog what i see and hear and feel is another way of saying that you’re mad because i don’t agree with your opinion. my job as artist and writer is to speak my truth…not parrot others’ opinion. all my life i’ve trained myself to be open-minded and to search out the distinction between what is, and what “really is.”

things are much more than what they appear to be. always.

i feel sad you criticize me for speaking my truth…but this is the price one pays to be public. say what you want, but don’t be cowardly and hide with your opinion. say it aloud! i can only presume you don’t understand the role of art in society. without art, starting back in the cave era 50,000 years ago, humanity would never have had an outlet for their feelings of powerlessness. with art, with those first cave paintings, people could assimilate these strange feelings of being awed into their own daily lives. without art (NOT politics, NOT religion, NOT the complex congruancies of personal opinions) the dark ages of Europe would never have evolved into the Renaissance. without art, humanity would only be subject to the person’s opinion who can SHOUT the loudest (politicians, revolutionaries, dictators, bullies, etc).
 
a more effective thing, for the entire world, would be if you care to say what you said to me, to the entire world–right HERE.  please feel free to leave your comments on my blog. I appreciate any comments, pro or con.
 
Truth is always relative to the observer. speak your truth on the internet. make your opinion count, more than just striking out at a person who only speaks what is seen, heard, felt.
 
however, being a good friend of an artist who had to leave cuba JUST before he was to be jailed (for being homosexual, for continuing to paint in his spirited, naturalistic style instead of following the government’s unreasonable demands to laud people more than Nature)–yes, i am perhaps tainted by the oppression of artists in cuba. people need more than food and education. they need the basic right, the freedom to have opinions, even if they differ from the establishment.

in the Light, lordflea

amigos,

view from old habana's la Hotel Sevilla

view from old habana's la Hotel Sevilla

in Cuba we stayed at the Hotel Sevilla, the same hotel as Graham Greene did, where he gathered his hands-on research (lots of rum, hip-swishing women and enough political intrigue for three shelves of books) to subsequently write one: “Our Man in Havana.” Lucky Luciano, the Sicilian-American mobster, also stayed at la Hotel Sevilla, as well as Ernest Hemingway and a slew of other famous extrangeros, including  eco-fable filmmaker Carter www.lithiumsprings.com and expanding-consciousness-artist www.tezalord.com as well as our traveling partners who represent a cuban-american humanitarian foundation that sponsored our trip and provided necessary visas from the US Gov’t and permission from Cuban authorities as well; a director of a non-profit fund who graciously invited us to participate in his Cuban endeavors of far-reaching proportions; a friend who’s an urban developer from Boston; a Cuban-American (born in Cuba), and an American (born in Cape Cod, America) who are New York City dealer and artist, respectively, traveling to habana to coordinate a special art event that i’ll share with you soon, on another post. stay tuned for news about

THE Saint Patrick’s Day Parade in Habana!

sugar cane juice-making at the old Fort, with Habana in the distance

sugar cane juice-making at the old Fort, with Habana in the distance

of all the many photos and video clips i took while in habana (the cuban spelling is “habana”–in english, haVana) here is an image of what epotomizes the current state of this once-elegant and passionately modern, but now nearly eroded, decrepit city (thanks to no maintenance, just  basic needs met for the last fifty years).  all i can see that castro’s regime has done is substitute the immoral era of cuba’s previous debauchery for the utter LACK OF OPPORTUNITY of cuba’s so-called “revolutionary” era.  to me this revolution is more like a “revert”-olution … back to much LESS-than a civilized human deserves.  the cubans i befriended are sad, hurt to the core, and depressed about there not being any feasible, reasonable, or timely end to their diemma.

shown here is the formerly glorious building called “maravilla”…”the marvelous” … which stands directly opposite the centuries-old Cathedral in la Plaza de Cristo, in once-prosperous Old Habana.  feel the sadness, the despair, the thoroughly hopeless pain of all cubanos (IN and OUT of cuba) in this shot.

the old man and his city

the old man and his city

yes, that IS a tree growing out of the stone facade of this once impressive city dwelling.  its roots are not the only thing tearing apart the very fiber of the crumbling center of this Old-World civilization center.

if something isn’t done quickly about habana…it will be too late to save.  the very infrasturcture of streets, sewers, water pipes, electricity, not to mention ALL old buildings’ exteriors and interiors, are imploding from lack of care.  this city looks like a war zone yet there has been no war (not since argentinian Che, and cuban brothers Raul and Fidel’s violent takeover in 1959).  habana looks like a virtual bomb site, yet nary a bomb has been set off except that which resides in the human collective heart of progress and freedom.  the erosion of the human spirit speaks louder than the salsa music that blasts occasionally in earthquaked-looking streets.  numbness and “being stuck” are the stunned looks reflecting back from people’s faces.

imprisioned spirits

imprisioned spirits

this is a sculpture by yoan capote, a young, incredibly talented cuban who personifies the yearning for freedom that all cuban artists exude.  it is through ART that the true revolution (and hence, EVOLUTION) of the human spirit will, and always has been, enacted by the people.  artists becoming united (underground, first) are what made the berlin wall and the soviet block crumble.  artists, writers, musicians, and ALL modes of creative expression are what will make help cuba open up, and the entire world change also–change from lack to embracing a human being’s potential full-ness.

the angels protecting habana

the angels protecting habana

i’ll be making small posts with news of our trip in the next few days.  meanwhile, i am pondering the future of cuba and how best I can help these dignitifed, soulful people regain a semblance of their famous “Oldest Colony”-pride.  the cuban people want to contribute to modern life and swim back into the flow of healthy living.

all Obama can do, immediately, is lighten up the most recent U.S. restrictions about exiled Cuban-Americans visiting the island (from former yearly visits to once every three years, imposed by Bush in ’04) and sending money to family (restricted by amount and recipient(s) by Bush at same time).  Obama can’t lift the embargo, in place for decades now, a feat which can only be accomplished by an Act of Congress, as the embargo is “Law” and hence, a much longer, much more complicated legal process to undo.  And as we know, Obama has a lot more on his plate besides the tiny island of Cuba. What some of you might NOT know, however, is that the U.S.A. sells over $600 million worth of food to Cuba each year, because food is not covered by the embargo; but all other goods (such as industrial supplies and anything else commercial) are. Without the food sold to cuba by america cubans would be even more hard hit than they are, even though they receive aid from China and Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela in substantial amounts, and Europe too, but in lesser amounts.

i can help by blogging.

YOU can help by supporting any humanitarian effort that brings help to cubans still living in cuba. 

lordflea’s blog is a forum for ALL people seeking freedom, for all who wish to embrace the right to voice political, religious, material, or psychological choices. but most especially, here we sing about the right of all humans to experience spiritual freedom.  spiritual freedom being defined (by lordflea) as the sense, the knowledge, and the experience of the connectedness of All, the Oneness of All.

for those who care to find out more about the “meditation revolution” practiced by hundreds of thousands around the globe, who along with buddhists, chrisitans, muslims, jews, and any from the world’s religions who believe that God, Allah, Mohammed, etc. is just “a different name” for The ONE Source of Consciousness, and that all people are representatives of the Oneness of ALL, please investigate the teachings found on www.siddhayoga.org 

the collective unconscious--we are ONE

the collective unconscious--we are ONE

carter and i went to habana to participate in a fact-finding, humanitarian mission: delivering medicine to kids with cancer (email address: carmenreykids@gmail.com if you’d like to help the kids with cancer Carmen and Rey so lovingly nurture through their challenges.  we also supported other non-political efforts while we were there. we had opportunities to gather information about the revolution’s effects on the island. we participated in a group that tries to discover ways to inspire the citizens of havana, to help the people there to cling to the hope that rustles still, ever so gently, in the hearts of all cubanos, on or off the island.   even though the breadth of castro’s regime is so thorough, that a person’s voice of freedom cannot be spoken (in public) above a whisper…we heard from citizens wherever we went, with whomever we talked, that cuban people wish, earnestly wish to be free from the tyranny of oppression. they are ready for change. CAMBIO!!! CHANGE!!!

another citizen, an innocent, of habana…

una quinceanera azul

una quinceanera azul

a girl and her family prepares for her “sweet sixteen” party, celebrated at age 15 in latin america. here they are in a church  plaza, readying for their photo shoot.  but–what does the future hold for this young lady?  will she be able to feed herself, her children? will there be a job for her when she’s ready to work?  will she ever even know what is happening outside, in the “real” world, since the government only allows her to see the two state-supported TV stations?  will she ever have access to the internet, as so many in cuba don’t?

i brought a gift for a blogger who was “lying low,” according to the informed friend with whom i spoke. apparently the blogger is being closely watched by castro’s government, and of course, being denied access to the internet to stop blogging. but–i have just discovered that another blog, www.babalublog.com is able to receive the cuban blogger’s messages, and is posting them translated in English. i send out the white light of protection and guidance to this brave solitary voice, and to all bloggers who dare to speak of freedom even when they can’t speak aloud where they live. the bloggers who get through to the rest of the world, who have courage enough to speak loudly and bravely, cause IMMENSE impact wherever their blogs are read. even amidst the fierce oppression of cuba, the voice of bloggers is slowly going to amount to a cyber-spiritual-revolution.  our combined blessings surround you, y and all bloggers, who risk so much to send your versions of the truth out into the world via the internet.

yoani, she fights with her sword of words

y, she fights with her sword of words

according to rumor fidel is near death; the end of his terrifying reign imminent from colon cancer. what irony, that this revolutionary’s originally noble efforts should backfire so tragically. true, he freed his country from the grip of batiste’s obsession with greed, gambling, and gansters, and i suppose a revolution was the only way to have broken the ironclad fist of debauchery that cocooned habana, yet made the rest of cuba’s people suffer so. but fidel didn’t stay in touch with the needs of his people, once he ousted batiste. without recognizing his people’s lack of freedom, from the overly strict standard imposed by castro’s regime, fidel certainly never acknowledged that his revolution had any tragic consequences, such as the far-reaching suppression and oppression his fellow cubans (on the island) suffer today, instead of the more beneficial lives he wished for them, once upon a time–for ALL his people of cuba. 

what WILL happen when fidel passes?  will the people of cuba find courage to take action and allow more freedom, provide more world-opportunity to its citizens?  can raul fill the intimidating shoes of his older brother?  acccording to one friend to whom i asked the question, “Will cubanos change and overthrow the goverment after fidel dies?” the answer was a nervous, eyes-looking-around-everywhere whisper: “No, because we are too exhausted just trying to get something to eat each day. And mentally, we are too frozen with fear to change.”

we can only hope that enlightened diplomats, such as Obama and others who advise and work with him, will be able to come up with solutions that will spell f-r-e-e-d-o-m for the cuban people. they have suffered quite enough.

the hope of los cubanos ever changing lays with each one of us.  we–the combined hearts of the human family–can help to inspire others, by sharing and offering our belief that hope is real, is possible, and that change is a matter of choice!

there's always hope

there's always hope

adios mis amigos, lordflea, in the freedom of the human Spirit