Remembering NY Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Ties to Cuban Regime

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo's relationship with the Cuban dictatorship

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New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and Cuban dictator Raul Castro (Cortesía).

Spanish – By Luis Leonel León

-“Did you see the pictures I sent you?” asks my friend Alexis with great anticipation.

-No. Which ones?

-The ones of the Cuomo. A little gem to exercise the memory, especially in these needy times. Search your Gmail, brother.

-One second. I will put you on the speaker and open it.

The first photo is of the governor of New York, Democrat Andrew Cuomo, who has been received positively by the press recently since the Big Apple area of the United States has the most cases of COVID-19, and unfortunately, the most deaths. -I’m already looking at the pictures. Well, yes. It is a very interesting memo.

I’m zooming in on the image. Cuomo gives the dictator Raúl Castro a big smile without any shame. It was in April 2015 during his visit to Havana. And it is no secret. Cuomo showed this same joy while participating in “the start of an adventure” as he himself confessed.

– So what?

-What a flashback.

At that time (depending on our memory it could have been long ago or recently), Cuomo led a business delegation with executives from MasterCard, JetBlue Airline, and Pfizer Pharmaceuticals, among other large American companies interested in doing their first good business with the Castro regime. “We are witnessing the start of a transition in relations between the two countries, which is going to have significant economic benefits for both parties,” he said in a statement to EFE when he arrived at Havana airport, where he was received by Josefina Vidal, U.S. Director of the Cuban Foreign Ministry.”

“This mission will be a tremendous stepping stone for our state’s relationship with Cuba and will help open the door to a new market for New York businesses,” said the Governor of New York. Meanwhile, the Chief of the Cuban Interests Section, José Ramón Cabañas, called Cuomo’s visit “historic,” a word that communists love to manipulate. Well, all the blessed leaders of the progressives of the earth do that. To make history; to change history. It is an obsession, and at the same time, a powerful weapon with a strong silencer.

-The photograph says: “As the gateway to America, New York State has always been a great symbol to the Cuban people… We are greatly excited that Governor Cuomo has agreed to be the first Governor to lead an official state trade mission to our beautiful island”. This was reaffirmed by Cabañas, who could not be happier with the millions of dollars that the good Cuomo would help them amass. A hero for the neediest of dictatorships and, of course, the system that cares most about the helpless people of this unequal and cruel world.

-But I think everyone knows that it is not quite the same to trade with Venezuela as it is with the United States.

-And rightly so!

-Let’s be clear: it’s not that Cuomo was completely happy, or at least this is what he tried to explain when he warned: “The United States has significant differences with Cuba on issues such as human rights,” but rest assured that “the question is how to deal with them.” He even said this to the sweet press that flattered his flamboyant trip.

-Not short or lazy, the great Cuomo, an expert in dealing with dictatorships, felt he cleared up all doubts when he assured that “President Obama’s decision is right.” Something like: there’s nothing to worry about, don’t forget that if I can govern Gotham, Cuba will be no big deal for me. No alarms. Don’t panic.

-“It seems that this Flashback has become inevitable for you too,” Alexis says.

-Flashback. Flashdance. Flashbad.

-Memory is an impressive animal.

-And when it is awakened, anything can happen.

-Perhaps, many no longer remember, but on December 17, St. Lazarus Day, 2014, as soon as the White House announced not only the publicized reestablishment of diplomatic relations with the Cuban regime, which had been suspended since 1961 but also steps to have Congress lift the economic embargo, Cuomo promised to be the first governor to negotiate with the communists in Havana.

-And then, boom, Obama delivered.

-And Castro applauded him.

-From that moment on, the Departments of Commerce and the Treasury approved some measures that would partially lift the fragile sanctions against Castro and facilitate travel to the island and trade relations between the two nations. That was what was said in the media, or almost all of them, which is not the same but more or less the same.

-Correction: between a small group of American politicians and businessmen and a Cuban family, the incomparable Castro.

-Of course.

-That is why we look at the cheerful, fulfilled, ineffable Cuomo in the snapshot. And it had to be so. He hit the jackpot as the first governor to negotiate with Obama’s friends as soon as the first African-American president in history achieved his dream of exclaiming to vox populi: “Now the cold war is over, long live the relationship!”

-And the Revolution or the Robbery, whatever you want to call it. And he also gave a speech that spoke of freedom, and the regime mocked it, knowing that soon they would not remember it, just as it happened, on the incredible island, as prosperous and robust as the socialist economy.

-Maybe Obama knew that too.

-I don’t doubt it.

-If you will allow me another digression: the Cubans on the island are not the only ones who suffer or experience amnesia, especially from certain convenient forgetfulness. Many here also suffer from this curable but enjoyable evil. Nor should we put all the blame on those in Cuba. They cannot access free information and have to focus their energies and creativity every day on going out and fighting on the black market (the real stock market of real socialism) for anything resembling a plate of food.

-Wow, man! Every time you call me lately, it is to screw up my day with the most messed up reality we can cite. I don’t know why we can’t just forget about that goddamn island.

-That seems impossible.

-The utopia of our forgetfulness is greater than the communist utopia, which more than utopia, by the way, is an ideological drug. A filthy mess disguised as a hippie guerrilla, pacifist, feminist, subversive, violent whenever necessary, pro-LGTBI+, pro-abortion, animalist, ecologist, futurist with a happy dead face. A revolutionary Frankenstein.

-Eloquent description, brother. I sure will post it on Twitter.

-First, check the list, don’t forget anything else.

-I don’t think so. It’ s not frugal. And for us, forgetting is an act of resistance that we can no longer relinquish. A heavy burden and an oasis. A painful and impossible forgetting.

-Very much so. Although some still, with the repeated failure under their noses, continue to celebrate the substance of these dialogues. Just look at them.

The expressions are not very different. In the second photograph, three decades earlier, it seems that Fidel Castro is giving a class in revolutionary ideology to Mario Cuomo, none other than Andrew’s father, who was also governor of New York. Look at the coincidences.

-They don’t look much like the Cuomos. Do they?

-Both are Democrats.

-I mean, in terms of physique.

-Well.

-The point is that most people don’t remember this either. Or they didn’t even know.

-Memory. That fierce animal.

-Eye: one of the great values of photography is to help preserve memory.

-It is not all about feeding the ego on Instagram. It’s not sinful either.

-Well, let’s go back to the most recent photo. Tell me, what do you see?

-You don’t need a deep analysis of the image to feel the love conspiracy.

-Wow. From the photo, you could tell that he professes much more love for the ñángara (communist) leader than for Obama himself.

-Terrific observation.

-But of course, hang in there, the man, I mean, the two Cuomos, in fact, the three of them, also comrade Obama, all of them are more than justified. They have every right, and you very well know why.

-Tell me.

-Because Trump will always be worse. Or is it?

-Sure. The evil golden merchant who traveled to meet the North Korean psychiatric killer to see if he could calm him down and stop playing Star Wars every day with his nuclear rockets.

-Good point. Goal, or rather, own goal for the Democratic Party.

-Problem solved: if Trump shook hands with such a beast, then what’s wrong with Obama shaking hands with Castro and Cuomo going into business with the royal family if, in the end, they are not even that bad. Look at them in the photos: they don’t look like two little old men who have lynched a lot of people and have a whole population repressed, indoctrinated, and starving. They don’t look like that, no, they don’t.

-That they are so bad must be a distortion by the right, by the trumpeters, by the hardliners, and extremists, by the murderous mafia of Miami, by the historical exiled population.

-So Mr. Cuomo now,  don’t even dare talk about it now. Don’t you dare

-Promise. Moreover, since we are talking about politicians, I better not promise you, I swear. We shouldn’t exaggerate either.

-All right. And don’t lose sight of the fact that Cuomo is now facing Trump, that he is the enemy of the people, of the whole world and beyond. The Castros are just boys compared to Trump. Now that’s a bad face. Find a picture of him and do an insidious interpretation of the truth.

-One moment: never dare to compare the Castros, not even for an instant, with that serial killer magnate, who has built his fortune by trafficking in the needs, pain, and fear of his citizens, filling his pockets with immoral tricks, a corrupt guy.

-A despot who rents out doctors to New Yorkers as postmodern slaves, as cheap labor in Latin America, receiving more and more money.

-Dirty money. Don’t forget that detail.

-Yes, and I don’t know what he wants so badly.

-Surely to bathe in its coffers, boasting of all that genocidal, capitalist gold, while speculating with usury on the thousands and thousands of remittances from those who had to leave, leaving their families behind, either on rafts of crap or crossing borders, in search of the socialist paradise. Because that other island, I say, Manhattan, is also a horror, isn’t it?

-The romantic Friedrich Schlegel said that “Socratic irony is the only pretense that is absolutely involuntary and yet absolutely thoughtful.”

-And I say to you: what would exile be without the irony? And memory.

-Nothing. The exile, jeez, the first Cuban company. The sustainable development of the dictatorship.

-And there are still those who don’t understand Cubans. No shit.

-But don’t disassociate yourself from philosophy and romanticism. The bad guy in this movie will always be Trump. Make no mistake about it. Don’t go off-script with me.

-Sorry. Let’s rectify: the Castro’s are closed-minded types, but at the end of the day, they have provided, or rather given away, because it is free, enormous education and public health to Cubans. One of the most famous in Latin America.

-And in Africa

-Sure. Bernie Sanders himself said so. And that, so you don’t get manipulated by the Republican far-right, is what old Sanders and the socialists want for Americans.

-Democratic socialists, as they define themselves.

-Obviously. Look at the number of millennials following them.

-Millennials and millennials of previous generations.

-Well, that’s the same thing Cuomo wants.

-Was Cuomo going to want something else, huh?

-So what’s the problem, bro?

-You know what? I take it back. How could I ever think badly of Cuomo if the guy is a hero, kid, a real hero, who only wants -and you can see it clearly in this joyful picture- to do business, for the sake of good relations between the two countries?

-And totally convinced the New Yorkers are going to applaud it, or they won’t even know what it’s all about. And that, jeez, ordinary Cubans will benefit from at least a little, even if it’s just peanuts. Something is better than nothing.

-You see. Why then not negotiate with these people? Cuomo was clear.

-He was just trying to take advantage of a great opportunity, a good deal. Nothing more.

-What is the crime then?

-Crimes are committed by others, let me make that clear. I am just a businessman. A politician. Well, both. So the famous governor would say. I, Cuomo, the emperor. Is that clear?

-Totally. And I imagine the same with Venezuela. Beyond drug trafficking and terrorism.

-That’s truly reprehensible.

-I imagine. So far. But what if, in the middle of this Chinese virus mess, the Democratic Party convinces you that you have a chance to face the devil and defeat him?

-But how can you fight when I just told you that all I want is to negotiate calmly?

-I was talking about Trump.

-Ah, right, yeah, the imperialist devil. I’ll say the same. Yes, I am going to run for president. And if I win there, I get to do the deals that Obama couldn’t close. And there, I would be the first, again the first, the first real one.

-Do you like it?

-That’s out of the question. So vote for me, Cubans in exile, and in return, I promise to strengthen our relations, and without any kind of interference, no sanctions, we will let the Cuban people make their own decisions. And if they don’t want to change their system, as Obama told them in his speech in Havana, then that’s fine. We are nobody to interfere in Cuba’s internal affairs. That is a matter for the Republicans.

-Not that there is any need to change everything in life. Right?

-In that case, inevitably, it is better to be conservative. At least we will have relations with the Castros, and then, I believe they will not repress the people so much and will surely let them buy a little more American food. Everything. But please, let the remittances increase because there is no problem there, and otherwise, they would not be able to make purchases. Or why then do we want the exile. We are Democrats, not fools.

-We know. And we’ll never forget it. Cuomo, the New York hero, the one who first negotiated with Castro. As it should be. As it should be remembered. Because this attempt to erase the memory, to eliminate from history whatever is inconvenient for us, this erasing and rewriting of history, this is only a communist thing. The democratic socialists are something else.

-Sure. What if things don’t work out right suddenly? I mean, the way we want them to.

-Calm down. It won’t be your fault. Right now, it wouldn’t even be Castro’s fault. The fault, of course, will always be Donald Trump’s.

-Well, that is very clear to me.

-You don’t have to say anything else!

-I think I will stay for awhile and think about all this.

-Always, even if sometimes it doesn’t seem so, thinking a little more about things wouldn’t hurt.

-At least we wouldn’t be so messed up.

-Who knows!

-Good night, bro.

Mario Cuomo, former New York governor, father of Andrew Cuomo, with the late Cuban dictator Fidel Castro (Cortesía).

Luis Leonel León is a writer, producer, and filmmaker. He is a columnist for newspapers in the United States, Latin America, and Spain.

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