WHEN THEY CAME FOR THEM — A POEM

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Lately, today’s Democrats have embraced an intersectionality theory of race relations where the top position in the pyramid is reserved for individuals belonging to many minority groups or those in the majority who are treated as minority groups (women).  The greater the membership in these groups, the higher status afforded.  Thus, someone like Kamala Harris – a woman, a Black American, and an Asian-American – gets a more prominent position in this pyramid than a Barrack Obama – a mixed-race American. 

The alleged oppressors under this theory are the white, heterosexual males – which is simply an outrage under the civil rights statutes and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964! According to the dictates of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, anyone who feels discriminated against can file an administrative complaint or a federal lawsuit.  There is no such thing as reverse, lateral, or upside-down discrimination.  Discrimination is discrimination, and white, heterosexual males are protected by civil rights statutes to receive equal protection under the law. 

When I penned the following poem, Martin Niemöller’s “First They Came” poem was my inspiration.  Martin was a 20th century German theologian and Lutheran pastor who is best known for his opposition to the Nazi regime. 

Martin objected to the persecution of communists in his poem, and I’m certain he had valid reasons for thinking this way.  I, on the other hand, lived for a short time in Communist Cuba during my youth, and I saw firsthand the devastation that this leftist regime caused the Cuban population.  I will never support any communist or socialist, and this thought provided me with the trigger to write my own poem.

“First they would not hire the Chinese because they did not look American, and I did not speak out because I am not Chinese.

Then, they would not hire the Japanese because they said that they could not be trusted, and I did not speak out because I am not Japanese.

Then, they would not hire African-Americans because they behaved differently, and I did not speak out because I claimed not to have one drop of African-American blood in me.

Then, they, they would not hire Hispanics because they spoke with an accent and many opined that they also thought with an accent, and I did not speak out because all my ancestors came from Wales, UK.

Then, they would not hire people with disabilities because they questioned their abilities, and I did not speak out because I was not disabled (yet).

Then, they would not hire nor consider for promotional opportunities white, heterosexual males because they viewed them as oppressors who had enjoyed past privileges, and I did not speak out because I was a Hispanic heterosexual male.

Then, I and thousands who looked like me retired from the federal workforce, and there was no one left behind to do our work.

And our country became a third-world country.

Rather than looking at talent, they looked at non-talent.

And our country became the Disunited States of America, No longer a shining city on a hill. No longer out of many one. What a shame! It could have turned out differently!”

Sociological Classifications of Cubans

Why do Cuban-Americans belonging to the historic exile – those who left Cuba between 1959 and 1979 – still worry about Cuban affairs?

If you were to ask these Cuban-Americans, who left their homeland thirty to fifty years ago, whether they would return to live in a post-Castro Cuba having a democratically elected government, the majority would respond that they would go back only on vacation and to see the house where they and their parents were born in. Their children and grandchildren were born in the United States, and they have embraced the American way of life. So, it makes no sense for these Cuban-Americans to remain so engaged with the daily happenings of a Caribbean island 90 miles off the coast of Florida. But, before we can fully understand the answer to this question, we need to analyze the differences between these Cuban-Americans and other Cubans.

First, let’s look at the Cubans still living in Cuba. They share almost none of the core values held by Cuban-Americans from the historic exile. These Cubans operate through the “what’s in it for me” mentality. They even have a word for it – “resolver” or “to get by.” In plain English, it means doing whatever is necessary to enjoy the bare necessities of life. Many parents have forced their sons and daughters into prostitution to bring added revenue to their household. The sanctity of the family has been lost. Employees feel justified in stealing goods and food items from their employers to sell them in the black market at inflated prices and increase their take-home pay. Loyalty to employers is not in these employees’ vocabulary. As for the work ethic, it leaves a lot to be desired. Considering that the Government owns all means of production and there are no incentives for increased productivity, everyone puts out just the bare minimum. Even the Spanish spoken by these Cubans is different. “Jinetera” is the equivalent of “prostitute.” “Fula” means “dollar,” while “Yuma” is used to refer to the “United States.” A common saying in Cuba is “quiero un papirriqui con guaniquiqui, que pase de los treinta y no llegue a los cuarenta” to mean “I want a rich man over thirty who is not yet forty.” And even more bizarre, Christian names that were typically used in pre-1959 Cuba have been replaced by made-up names like Yaricel, Yuri, Yania, and Julimar. My favorite one is Usnavy – made up by a Cuban who saw a U.S. Navy ship near the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base. Ergo, “U.S. Navy” became “Usnavy.” As you can see, there is very little that these Cubans have in common with the Cuban-Americans from the historic exile.

Then, there are the Cuban-Americans who left Cuba from 1980 (during the Mariel Boatlift) to the present. The majority in this group have brought the “resolver” mentality that they learned in Cuba to the U.S. Even though they get special privileges from the U.S. Government for being considered “political refugees” by the Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966, they want to go back to Cuba shortly after landing in U.S. shores. When others try to reason with them that if they return to Cuba, the argument that their lives would be in danger defies reason, they lose the ability to argue in a logical fashion. When you explain the unfairness of granting special privileges to these Cubans (who, for all intent and purposes, are immigrants for economic reasons) and denying them to other immigrants who are similarly situated (like the Haitians and Mexicans), it’s like you are talking in a foreign language. When they are told that their frequent trips to Cuba may result in the repeal of the Cuban Adjustment Act, most tell you that they don’t care. Once again, you see the “what’s in it for me” mentality at play. Naturally, you do find exceptions of some who have embraced the values of the Cuban-Americans from the historic exile. One such example is musician Amaury Gutiérrez who makes a living by singing songs to remind the world of those Cubans who are not afraid to die to bring a better tomorrow for Cubans of every creed and race — like the late Lady in White Laura Pollán. Moreover, even when these Cuban-Americans set up their own businesses, they have no idea about the most basic rules of the market place — which ultimately forces them to declare bankruptcy or their business to fail. Following is a case in point. I had taken my laptop to a computer repair shop in the Tampa Bay Area. I got to the shop before it opened, and I parked in the parking space right in front of the shop. When the owner showed up, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that he was a fellow Cuban-American. But he ruined the pleasant introduction by what followed. He remarked that I had parked my car in the parking space that he liked to park at, and that he was tempted to tell me to move my car to another parking space. Really?!!! He obviously had no clue that in any business, the customer is always the king or queen. I let him fix my laptop, but I never went back to his shop again, and I never recommended him to any of my friends.

Turning over to the next group, you have the black sheep within the Cuban-Americans from the historic exile. Most in these mutations are highly educated and have attained high level of prosperity. They lobby the U.S. Congress and the White House to lift the U.S. Embargo against Cuba. Of course, they pay scant attention to the argument that the U.S. embargo has been highly effective in preventing the Cuban authorities from using the $975 billion (the cost of the U.S. embargo according to Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez at a speech given on September 27, 2011, at the United Nations General Assembly) to bankroll terrorist groups throughout the world.  These Cuban-Americans are not any different from American businessmen who have turned over company secrets to China in return for a quick profit – regardless of the damage done to current and future U.S. jobs. These Cuban-Americans are fully aware that doing business with the Cuban Government will not ameliorate the lives of average Cubans. Yet, they are willing to go ahead with their business transactions because their religion is the profit margin. They hold no loyalty to any country. Their sole concern is how to get richer.

Finally, we turn to the question that I posed at the beginning of this op-ed – “why do Cuban-Americans from the historic exile still worry about Cuban affairs?” Like the saying goes, they have no dog in this fight. And, yet, they are fully engaged on issues related to Cuba. They do it to lend a helping hand to those valiant human rights activists who risk their lives to restore freedom and democracy to their homeland. I’m talking about brave souls like Dr. Oscar Biscet, Orlando Zapata, Guillermo Fariñas, Jorge Luis García Pérez (known as Antúnez), and Lady in White Laura Pollán. They do it to give a voice to the voiceless who dream of having a better future for themselves and their children, but who lack the valor of the previously named heroes. They do it to honor the memory of their parents who gave up everything so that they could live in the land of freedom and opportunity. They do it because they know that it is not right for parents to have to force their children into prostitution to bring food to their tables.

They do it because anyone trying to reconcile all these Cuban groups with each other have to be aware of the glaring differences among them.  Embracing a cookie-cutter approach would bring out failure.  

They do it because “Cubanisimo” has a special meaning to them – that of country, duty, and honor. They do it because they want to safeguard the United States from terrorist attacks. They do it because they love the country that sheltered them from the gates of hell. They do it because they want to yell their lungs out and proclaim the patriotic creed that “I’m proud to be an American where at least I know I’m free. And I won’t forget the men who died, who gave that right to me. And I gladly stand up next to you and defend her still today, ‘Cause there ain’t no doubt I love this land — God Bless the U.S.A.”

These Cuban-Americans of the historic exile stand during the playing of the national anthem and salute the U.S. flag.  They are the enemies of any ideology or organization or group that is grounded in Marxist principles.  If they kneel, they only do so to their God!

THE PROPHET TALKS ABOUT CUBANS

?

I’ve always been deeply moved by the late Dr. Luis Aguilar León’s article entitled “El Profeta Habla de los Cubanos (The Prophet Talks About the Cubans).” The article was inspired by the work of the late Lebanese artist, poet, and writer Khalil Gibran. In my opinion, Dr. Aguilar León describes magnificently the attributes shared by most Cubans and Cuban-Americans. These traits are a reflection of our Cuban cultural heritage, and have nothing to do with our various ideologies.

While many Cuban-Americans in the diaspora have embraced cultural attributes from non-Cuban cultures, even with their hybrid cultural make-up, there are traces of the dominant Cuban heritage. Even Cubans who were born in foreign countries cannot escape the influences of the Cuban culture – if they were raised by Cuban parents.

Therefore, I’ve taken the time to translate from Spanish to English one of the most influential articles on what it means to be a Cuban. We owe a huge debt of gratitude to Dr. Aguilar León for penning this article, which I now want to share with the English-speaking world.

I’ve chosen this particular moment to disseminate this article because many people are becoming more aware of Cuban-Americans. The fact that we’ve had two Cuban-Americans running for the highest office in the land in 2016 (U.S. Senators Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz) makes it imperative that voters find out the contributions that this ethnic group has made to American society.

Now, a word about Dr. Luis Aguilar León’s background. He attended the Jesuit-run schools at the Colegio Dolores in Santiago de Cuba and the Colegio Belén in Havana. He was a professor at Columbia University, Cornell University, and Georgetown University, where former President Bill Clinton was one of his classmates. He moved to Cuban Mecca Miami and taught at the University of Miami until 2002. He suffered the last years of his life to Alzheimer’s disease, and died in 2008.

THE PROPHET TALKS ABOUT CUBANS / by DR. LUIS AGUILAR LEÓN / TRANSLATED INTO ENGLISH BY JORGE E. PONCE

From a rock in the harbor, the Prophet looked at the white sailing ship that was to take him to his homeland. A mixture of sadness and joy filled his soul. For nine years, his wise and loving words had circulated to the population. His love bound him to these people. But duty called him to the land where he was born. It was time to leave. He decreased his melancholy by thinking that his wise sayings would fill the void of his long absence.

Then a politician from Elmira approached him and said, Master, tell us about the Cubans — what they are like.

The Prophet gathered his robe in his hands and said the following:

Cubans socialize with you, but they have a mind of their own. Do not try to get to know them because their souls live in the impenetrable world of dualism. Cubans drink from the same cup of joy and sadness. They make music from their tears and laugh with their music. Cubans enjoy jokes a lot and make everything into a joke. And they do not know who they are very well.

Never underestimate the Cubans. The right arm of San Pedro is occupied by a Cuban, and the best counselor to the Devil is also a Cuban. Cuba has produced neither saints nor heretics. But Cubans sanctify themselves with heretics and embrace heretics when they are with saints. Their spirit is universal and irreverent. Cubans believe simultaneously in the God of the Catholics, in Changó, in word puzzles, and in horoscopes. They address the gods with the informal pronoun “tú,” and they mock religious rites. They say they do not believe in anyone, and yet they believe in everything. And while never giving up on their dreams, they do not learn from their failures.

Do not ever argue with them. Cubans are born with inherent wisdom. They don’t need to read at all because they know everything. They don’t need to travel because they’ve been to all places. Cubans are the chosen people … by themselves. And they interact with people of other nationalities as the Spirit walks on water.

Cubans are individually best known for their sense of humor and smarts, and, when in a group, by their shouting and passion. Each of them carries the spark of genius, and geniuses do not get along with each other very well. Hence, getting a group of Cubans together is an easy task, but getting them to agree on anything is almost impossible. A Cuban is able to achieve any task in this world except receiving the applause of another Cuban.

Do not talk to them of logic. Logic implies reasoning and restraint, and Cubans are excessive and disproportionate. If they invite you to a restaurant, they invite you to eat not to the best restaurant in the city, but to the best restaurant in the world. When they argue, they don’t say “I disagree with you”; they say “you are completely and utterly wrong.”

They have a cannibalistic trend.” “He ate it all” is an expression to express admiration; “Eat a wire” signals criticism and boredom, and to call someone an “eater of dung” “is the most common and searing insult. They also have a pyromaniac bias: “to be on fire” is to be the best. And they love contradiction so much that they call beautiful women “monsters” and scholars “barbarians”; and when someone asks them a favor, they don’t respond with a “yes” or “no,” but with a “yes and no.”

Cubans intuit solutions even before knowing what challenges they face. Hence, for them, there is never a problem. And they feel so smug about themselves that they call everyone else “little you.” But they don’t humble themselves to anyone. If you take them to the studio of a famous painter, they say “I never took up painting.” And when they visit a doctor, it’s never to get a medical opinion, but to tell the doctor the maladies that they suffer from.

They use diminutives with tenderness, but also to insult their neighbors. They ask you for a small favor, they offer you a small cup of coffee, they visit you just for a few minutes, and they only accept a small slice of your dessert. But they also use these diminutives to put down those who buy a home by referring to it as the little house, or describing a luxury car as an economy car.

When I visited the island I admired their individual and collective wisdom. Any Cuban thinks that he/she is capable to liquidate communism or capitalism, right all the wrongs in Latin America, eradicate hunger in Africa, and teach the United States how to be a world power. And they are amazed when others don’t see how simple and obvious their solutions are. Thus, they live among you, but they do not quite understand why you do not talk or think like they do.

The sailing ship had reached its destination. A saddened crowd gathered around the Prophet. He turned toward them as if wanting to make a few remarks, but his emotions got the best of him. There was a very long moment of silence. Then, the captain called out to him to make up his mind and to get on board, as he was behind schedule.

The Prophet turned to the crowd with a gesture of resignation, and slowly boarded the ship. Subsequently, the captain sailed away.

HERE IS THE SPANISH VERSION

EL PROFETA HABLA DE LOS CUBANOS / por DR. LUIS AGUILAR LEÓN

Desde una roca en el puerto el Profeta contemplaba la blanca vela de la nave que a su tierra había de llevarlo. Una mezcla de tristeza y alegría inundaba su alma. Por nueve años sus sabias y amorosas palabras se habían derramado sobre la población. Su amor lo ataba a esa gente. Pero el deber lo llamaba a su patria: había llegado la hora de partir. Atenuaba su melancolía pensando que sus perdurables consejos llenarían el vacío de su ausencia.

Entonces un político de Elmira se le acercó y le pidió: “Maestro, háblanos de los cubanos”.

El Profeta recogió en un puño su alba túnica y dijo:

Los cubanos están entre vosotros, pero no son de vosotros. No intentéis conocerlos porque su alma vive en el mundo impenetrable del dualismo. Los cubanos beben de una misma copa la alegría y la amargura. Hacen música de su llanto y se ríen con su música. Los cubanos toman en serio los chistes y hacen de todo lo serio un chiste. Y ellos mismos no se conocen.

Nunca subestiméis a los cubanos. El brazo derecho de San Pedro es cubano y el mejor consejero del maligno es también cubano. Cuba no ha dado ni un santo ni un hereje. Pero los cubanos se santifican entre los heréticos y heretizan entre los santos. Su espíritu es universal e irreverente. Los cubanos creen simultáneamente en el Dios de los católicos, en Changó, en la charada y en los horóscopos. Tratan a los dioses de tú y se burlan de los ritos religiosos. Dicen que no creen en nadie y creen en todo. Y ni renuncian a sus ilusiones, ni aprenden de las desilusiones.

No discutáis con ellos jamás. Los cubanos nacen con sabiduría inmanente. No necesitan leer: todo lo saben. No necesitan viajar: todo lo han visto. Los cubanos son el pueblo elegido… de ellos mismos. Y se pasean entre los demás pueblos como el Espíritu se pasea sobre las aguas.

Los cubanos se caracterizan individualmente por su simpatía e inteligencia y en grupo por su gritería y apasionamiento. Cada uno de ellos lleva la chispa del genio, y los genios no se llevan bien entre sí. De ahí que reunir a los cubanos es fácil; unirlos, imposible. Un cubano es capaz de lograr todo en este mundo, menos el aplauso de otro cubano.

No les habléis de lógica. La lógica implica razonamiento y mesura, y los cubanos son hiperbólicos y desmesurados. Si os invitan a un restaurante, os invitan a comer no al mejor restaurante del pueblo, sino ‘al mejor restaurante del mundo’. Cuando discuten no dicen, ‘No estoy de acuerdo con usted’; dicen, ‘Usted está completa y totalmente equivoca’o’.

Sufren de una marcada obsesión fágica. ‘Se la comió’, es una expresión de admiración; ‘Comerse un cable’, señal de situación crítica, y llamar a alguien ‘Comedor de excrementos’ es su más usual y lacerante insulto. Tienen voluntad piromaníaca: ‘Ser la candela’ es ser cumbre. Y aman tanto la contradicción que llaman a las mujeres hermosas ‘monstruos’ y a los eruditos ‘bárbaros’; y cuando se les pide un favor no responden sí o no, sino que dicen, ‘¡Sí, cómo que no’!

Los cubanos intuyen las soluciones aun antes de conocer los problemas. De ahí que para ellos ‘nunca hay problema’. Y se sienten tan grandes que a todo el mundo le dicen ‘chico’. Pero ellos no se achican ante nadie. Si se les lleva al estudio de un famoso pintor se limitan a comentar, ‘A mí nunca me dio por pintar’. Y van a los médicos no a preguntarles, sino a decirles lo que tienen.

Usan los diminutivos con ternura, pero también con voluntad de reducir al prójimo. Piden ‘un favorcito’, ofrecen ‘una tacita de café’, visitan ‘por un ratico’, y de los postres sólo aceptan ‘un pedacitico’. Pero también a quien se compra una mansión le celebran ‘la casita’ que adquirió, o ‘el carrito’ que tiene a quien se compró un coche de lujo.

Cuando visité su isla me admiraba su sabiduría instantánea y colectiva. Cualquier cubano se consideraba capaz de liquidar al comunismo o al capitalismo, enderezar a la América Latina, erradicar el hambre en África y enseñar a los Estados Unidos a ser potencia mundial. Y se asombran de que las demás personas no comprendan cuan sencillas y evidentes son sus fórmulas. Así, viven entre ustedes, y no acaban de entender por qué ustedes no hablan como ellos”.

Había llegado la nave al muelle. Alrededor del Profeta se arremolinaba la multitud transida de dolor. El Profeta tornose hacia ella como queriendo hablar, pero la emoción le ahogaba la voz. Hubo un largo minuto de conmovido silencio. Entonces se oyó la imprecación del timonel de la nave: “¡Decídete, mi hermano, date un sabanazo y súbete ya, que ando con el esquediul retrasa’o!”

El Profeta se volvió hacia la multitud, hizo un gesto de resignación y lentamente abordó la cubierta. Acto seguido, el timonel cubano puso proa al horizonte.

SAFEGUARDING MY CATHOLIC FAITH

I have been disenchanted with the Catholic faith for a very long time.  I write today to share the origins of my seeds of doubts about a religion that I was raised in and that inspired my mother’s family for generations.  But these were different times, and today’s world has evolved and needs new tools.  I have not renounced my Catholic faith, yet, but staying in it has become a rather difficult task lately.

There are some people who have questioned my bona fides to pen these articles – as I have written over 100 since my retirement.  To address this important question, I go back to a famous quote by an ancient and wise Greek philosopher.  Socrates responded when asked the same question: “The more I learn, the less I realize I know.” It is impossible to become an expert in any subject because of the limitations of the human mind.” 

I don’t write by thinking how well I’m going to be remunerated.  I don’t write to become more well-known – as I’m retired and am not competing for any more promotions or accolades.  At last, I can say what I want to say without worrying about restrictive filters! The reason why I write is to share with the world the issues that have stirred my soul deeply — with the thought that they will complement the views of others who have opined on the same ones.

After a long hiatus from attending Catholic mass — mainly because I was not getting any spiritual lift from the Sunday sermons (while in Burke, Virginia, a priest focused on an upcoming Redskins game, and on another occasion, on the fact that parents should be okay if their kids got a “C” in school! — I’m still not finding any spiritual lift from the priest in my parish in Trinity, Florida. But I’ve decided to continue attending Sunday mass because I need it for my spiritual fortification – at least for the time being.

The February 21, 2021 sermon dealt with the history of the pretzel, and the symbolism of its twisted shape of crossed arms (then a common prayer posture). To say the least, this was not a very spiritual or cerebral sermon.

In my opinion, what the priest should be talking about are more relevant issues like the passage of the Equality Act by the House of Representatives, about Planned Parenthood, about the increase in abortions worldwide, about the persecution of Christians in the Middle East and communist countries, and — if he really was a rebel — about the unsuitability of the socialist Papa Che’s doctrinal interpretations. These are dangerous times for our democracy and our Christian faith, and our leaders cannot remain silent about what’s going on! The history of the pretzel bears no relevance to today’s world events!

But the inadequacies of the Sunday sermons kept getting worse – at least for me.

Here is another case in point.  The church’s Deacon charged with giving the February 28, 2021 sermon underscored the importance of The Transfiguration of Christ, and how it represented the culminating point of His public life, as His Baptism is its starting-point, and His Ascension its end.

But then, he traveled to uncharted territory and took a U-turn into the secular world.  By delving into the definition of the word “transfiguration” as coming from the Latin roots trans- (“across”) and figura (“form, shape”), he concluded that it signified a change of form or appearance.  Thus, he offered as examples of other transfigurations, the transcontinental railroad and the transgender community.  He made a huge mistake when he discussed the latter, and it was too much for me to bear quietly!

I took the opportunity at the conclusion of the mass to talk to the priest and the Deacon and expressed my severe disappointment. I pointed out how it was outrageous that the Deacon had mentioned the transgender community in the homily, after considering that the House of Representatives had passed the Equality Act recently – which represented an abomination to all Christian principles. For example, if the Senate approves this bill and Beijing Biden signs it, religious schools, adoption agencies, and other charities would face federal sanction for operating according to basic biology and mainstream Biblical teaching on sex and marriage.

The priest listened attentively to my complaint. The Deacon’s facial expression changed a bit, and he turned to me and said: “God loves all people.” To say the least, I was not pleased at all with these reactions. The Deacon’s rebuttal was just not only nonsensical, but it showed a reluctance to address the issue at hand.  I had no idea what the priest’s reaction meant. Nevertheless, I left the sacristy quietly, but satisfied, as although I did not make a scene, I got my point across to those in the Deacon’s chain of command.

I have learned of recent positive developments in my parish during May of 2021. After expressing my strong disagreement about the Deacon’s impertinence when comparing the transfiguration of Christ with the transgender paradigm, the parish priest placed the Deacon on indefinite probation and banned him from giving any homilies during this time. When thinking of this outcome, I’m reminded of Mahatma Gandhi’s quote: “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”

These recent incidents augmented my reservations about what the Catholic Church stood for.  

In the past, I had the impression that the Catholic Church was not too concerned with the woes of its faithful.  The celebration of the mass in Latin evinced a concern only for the Latin-proficient elites, and left out the majority congregation.  And it is not a far jump in logic to conclude that these elites were the most well-connected and the filthy rich.  Obviously, I was not the only one with this impression — as the Second Vatican Council in 1964 authorized the celebration of the mass in the vernacular languages.

Today’s Democrats make no excuses about calling themselves “socialists.”  They demand complete loyalty to the Government and treat religion as an enemy of the state and a competitor of its ideology.  Remember what the German philosopher Karl Marx said about this issue: “Religion is the opium of the masses.” Therefore, Christians of all denominations should be united as the last line of defense to fight the atheist devils of socialism and communism.  The Catholic Church should be in the frontlines of this crusade.

I make no excuses for expressing my strong disagreement with Pope Francis (El Papa Che).  When Barack Obama and Cuban Dictator Raúl Castro thanked Pope Francis on December 17, 2014, for his assistance in helping to broker a deal to normalize relations between the United States and Cuba, I left the Democratic Party and became a staunch Republican supporter.  Simultaneously, Pope Francis became a religious figure that inspired zero confidence to me.  He betrayed my people! To me, he was no Pope John Paul II – the chief architect for the dissolution of the Soviet Union. 

It was treasonous to me – as an American of Cuban descent – for Barack Obama and Pope Francis, as leaders of the free world, not to have required Dictator Castro to offer a betterment of human and civil rights to a Cuban population that has been oppressed under the communist yoke for over sixty years. 

Moreover, Pope Francis lacks disciples in the conservative camp.  And this worries me enormously, as I embrace conservative values. 

Cardinal Robert Sarah of Guinea tendered his resignation on February 20. 2021.  The African Cardinal and the Pope shared radically different visions on theological matters.  The Cardinal told the Synod of Bishops that western family values faced “subjective disintegration” through easy divorce, abortion, and euthanasia.

In 2014, former Cardinal and Emeritus Bishop of Hong Kong Joseph Zen asked Pope Francis not to visit Communist China because he would be manipulated by government apparatchiks. In 2018, the Vatican and Communist China signed a provisional agreement whereby Pope Francis readmitted to full ecclesial communion those bishops who had been ordained by the People’s Republic of China without a prior Pontifical mandate.  Cardinal Zen correctly called the deal a “complete surrender” and amounted to Vatican officials “giving the flock into the mouths of wolves.” He went on to say: “You don’t make deals with the devil. You fight the devil and that’s it! The church does not take orders from governments.”

Pope Francis has also called for a new approach to international migration and insisted that people need to view migration as a positive phenomenon rather than a problem.  He stated that immigration is a great way of mixing races and cultures, and that “building walls means condemning yourself to death.” This all sounds like the globalist platform that seeks the abolition of Judeo-Christian values and Western civilization. 

It is hypocritical for Pope Francis to criticize President Trump for securing our nation’s borders after considering that Vatican City has been surrounded by a massive protective wall for centuries.  The Pope ignores the fact that no city and no country can survive without borders.

The United States cannot fix the problems of the world community.  I wish that it could, but it lacks the resources.  Its first responsibility is to address the needs of its citizens.  To do so, it must stop the flow of “illegal” immigrants to our country by all means necessary.  Ours is a nation founded on the respect for the law, and an immigrant who breaks them has no room in our democratic pantheon.  The United States has a rich tradition of having a government “of the people, by the people, for the people.” It has no need nor desire to become a government of globalist elites.

And so, I continue my journey to accommodate my Christian faith.  This is a process of exploration and soul-searching that is not easy.  Nevertheless, it is necessary and rewarding in the end.  All along, I have never lost my faith in my Creator, and I pray to Him constantly.  I’m certain that He will guide me and serve as my compass to find a landing zone that I can finally call “home.”

MEN & WOMEN: DIFFERENT BUT LOVING

Are males and females insulated from arguing with each other? Considering that none of us is infallible, the answer is a resounding “No!”

But how each gender reacts to arguments varies.  The first thing to take into consideration is that men and women have physiological differences.  In plain English, they are wired differently.  Therefore, what is normal behavior for men when handling problem-solving is caustic for women.  The sooner that they come to terms with this reality, the more harmonious relationships they will enjoy.

But nothing is simple in this life.  Even after men and women realize that they are different and make necessary adjustments to their problem-solving techniques, there is usually an elephant in the room that remains addressing.  And that elephant is what men and women were exposed to when they were young and saw how their parents treated conflict.  Dysfunctional or abusive behaviors by the parents and witnessed by children leave indelible scars that must be addressed aggressively before harmony can be restored to their households.

The main complaint that women have in relationships is that men simply don’t listen.  The main complaint that men have is that women are always trying to change them. 

Here is the disconnect.  When a woman argues with a man, the latter listens for a few minutes, assesses the situation, and proudly offers a solution.   What the woman is looking for and what she needs is empathy, not solutions.  For men, it is difficult to sojourn to the world of feelings. Moreover, men like to solve their problems by themselves, while women seek help and enlightenment through their families and friends.

Following is a case in point that illustrates the tendency of men to be goal-oriented.  When they go to a restaurant, they view it as an efficient approach to food management: no shopping, no cooking, and no washing dishes. But for women, going to a restaurant provides an opportunity to nurture a relationship – both giving and receiving validation from a friend or spouse.

Considering that women are not obsessed in proving their competence, offering help comes natural and needing help is not viewed as a sign of weakness.  To men, receiving unsolicited help from a woman could make them feel incompetent, weak, and unloved. 

Another sign that men are solution-oriented is their motto that if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.  Men have a habit when they like something to stick with it.  Ergo, when they find a dinner entrée at a favorite restaurant, they repeatedly continue to order it.  Women, on the other hand, are more adventurous and prefer to try new main courses. 

I can recall when I went to a Peruvian restaurant in Virginia with my wife to celebrate my birthday, and I announced that I would order my favorite entrée: “lomo saltado.” My wife prodded me to try something different.  I responded by telling her that of all times, I was not going to order something different and run the risk of having an unsavory experience on my Natality Day.

Now we come to the point where there is an argument and how box sexes react to it. 

Men suddenly become introverts and go to a private cave to think about the problem that triggered the argument and to find a solution.  When they succeed in finding a solution, they feel great and are ready to come out of the cave.  This process can take anywhere from three to seven days. 

But keep in mind, that if they can’t find a solution, they automatically will do something to forget their problems.  They will watch the news on TV, surf the Internet, read a book, or engage in a project that has been on their to-do list for the last eight months.  By doing these chores, they can relax. At times like these, they love to take the tranquilizing drug of “don’t worry/be happy.”

When men are in their caves, they are highly stressed and become very distant, forgetful, and unresponsive.  They need time in seclusion.  There is no question about this.  But some women misinterpret this aloofness as a sign of not caring because they are not talking to them.

It is unnatural and toxic for a woman to deny a man to go to his cave when facing an argument.  To expect a man to deal with a problem shortly after it happens is to rob the man of his physiological and emotional make-up.  To use a word in the vernacular, to do this represents the emasculation of his manhood.  Once this happens, this man would be ghost of his past and an unsatisfactory partner – a laughing stock of the many. 

Turning over to women, they prefer to turn to someone that they trust and share in great detail what’s bothering them.  This helps them to feel better and less overwhelmed.  Women are not ashamed of having problems.  Their egos do not mandate them to feel competent all the times.  Instead, they aim to being in loving relationships.

The right move is for the woman to wait until she’s more loving, centered, and forgiving to talk to her man.  By doing the latter, she sets the right mood for the man to listen to her feelings.  This is to say that a woman does not have to suppress her feelings or change them to communicate with her man.  She does definitely need to express them in a way that doesn’t make her man as if he’s being attacked, accused, or blamed.  If the man feels attacked, he’ll take out his sword and go back to his cave again, which proves counterproductive to the entire problem-solving routine.

Men’s greatest fear is that they’re not good enough.  Therefore, they concentrate on activities that will bring them success and achievement.  To become better human beings, men have to learn how to give more, and that it’s okay to fail, and that he doesn’t need to have all the answers all the time.  To get to this level, men need their women to be loving and forgiving through all their mistakes.  When men react negatively to a woman’s projects, it’s not that they think less of her.  It simply means that they fear failure.

To further underscore the differences in the way that men and women think, it’s helpful to examine the reconciliation stage.  When seeking long-lasting absolution from his wife, a man thinks that he will get plenty of indulgences or goodwill credits by doing something really big for her.  So to secure prolonged insurance from the doghouse, he goes out and buys her car, takes her on a long vacation, or buys her expensive jewelry.  If he were a physician or a lawyer, he thinks that his wife would be much happier with the extra income that he would bring by opening a new clinic or law office.  To his way of thinking, doing the more mundane things for his wife – like opening the car door, buying her flowers, or giving her a hug – count for much less.  At the end of the day, this formula will not work because women have a different way of annotating their scorecards.  When a woman is scoring points, each gift (regardless of how big or small) is allotted but one point.  On the other hand, a man thinks that a small gift is worth one point, while a big gift merits sixty points.  Here is the disconnect.  He fails to understand that to a woman, a single rose is worth as much as paying the rent on time.  To the physician and the attorney who thought that bringing in extra cash home would keep his wife happy, they were in for a rude awakening.  Their wives countered by telling their husbands that while they contributed one important thing to the household (going to work and paying the bills), they did the washing, the cooking, the cleaning, and the accounting.  Doing the little things and doing them consistently will make the wives much happier and engender the peace and harmony that husbands are always seeking.  

Let’s discuss now incidents that happened in the past that act as barriers to present-day problem solving.  I’ll present two case studies that I’ve concocted to illustrate these challenges.

Ricardo was eight years old when he lived in Communist Venezuela and Nicolas Maduro was in charge of the government.  With the diminution of civil rights and basic liberties by the communist regime, his father made the decision to emigrate to the United States.  Considering that the government is the sole employer in a socialist society, Ricardo’s father got fired from his job.  As his father was the sole breadwinner in his family, he had to resort to dealing in the subterranean black market to make ends meet.  To get an exit visa from the Venezuelan Government could take anywhere from three to four years. 

Ricardo was enrolled in the fourth grade in a government-controlled public school.  To indoctrinate the children in the Marxist/Leninist ideology, the Venezuelan Government passed a law to force parents to send their kids to government schools.  This brought a lot of confusion to Ricardo, as he was learning communist ideology in the public schools, learning the democracy ideology at home, and Catholic dogmas in catechism on weekends. 

Ricardo became a very rambunctious boy, and he got into lots of trouble – at school and with other kids in the neighborhood.  His father got scared that Ricardo’s troubles might interfere with the Government’s willingness to grant his family an exit visa to the United States. 

Under enormous stress, Ricardo’s father beat the heck out of him.  Ricardo was an intelligent and sensitive boy.  He realized that sometimes he deserved to be punished, but other times he thought that he was innocent of the charges.  By denying Ricardo his due process rights, he resorted to cursing his father out as his only line of defense – which only brought about more beatings.

Ricardo thought that he could have engaged his father in a fist fight, but this was anathema to the Hispanic culture and Catholic doctrine.  So, he had to eat it up, and get over it. 

This trauma rose its ugly head after Ricardo was married, and he got engaged in arguments with his wife.  After he came out of his cave and his wife attacked him verbally, his reaction was to take out his sword and go back to his cave again – for longer periods than it was necessary.  Just like cursing out his father in his youth was a defensive move, the cave served the same purpose.  But the bottom line is that neither one of these defense mechanisms solved the problems or arguments.  Going to the cave for three to seven days was normal.  Staying there longer was unnatural.

Ricardo’s wife, Teresa, was also from Venezuela.  They met when they were attending college in the U.S. Teresa’s father was also the sole breadwinner in a family of three girls and three boys.  The mother was a stay-home mom, with her sole responsibility being meeting the needs of the three girls.  Her husband suffered the same hardships that Ricardo’s family went through after announcing his intention to emigrate to the U.S.  To find relaxation, the husband turned to alcohol often and resorted to denigrating and insulting his wife – at times, in front of the children.  Considering that the mother was fully dependent for all her needs on her husband, she had to put up with all these indignities. 

Teresa made an oath to herself that she would never tolerate similar abuse from a man.  After she married Ricardo, she found him to be her Prince Charming.  He could do no wrong.  But as the romance wore off by confronting every-day’s challenges, she reverted to her early childhood when confronting an argument. 

When Ricardo retreated to his cave, Teresa thought that he was inconsiderate and chauvinistic.  She demanded that he address the challenge of the moment immediately – not three or seven days later.  A delay on Ricardo’s part got interpreted as a frontal attack on her feelings and womanhood.  She thought that this business of Ricardo going back to his cave was more appropriate for cavemen – not 21st century men.

This made problem-solving very difficult and very frustrating.  When Ricardo came out of his cave and was ready to talk to Teresa, she attacked him verbally for taking so long to deal with the challenge.  This resulted in Ricardo going back to his cave, and the entire dysfunctional cycle started all over.

Before Ricardo and Teresa can have a loving marriage, they need to validate their past traumas.  They can help each other out to overcome their past demons.  They need to bring them out of the dark.  After doing so, they must conclude that what’s in the past needs to be buried in the past.  Times change, cultures evolve, and people outgrow their past hurts.  When they reach the conclusion that the best is yet to come, they’ll be on their way to securing that loving relationship and enjoying those loving feelings. 

PERHAPS, WE ARE NOT AS IMPORTANT AS WE THINK WE ARE

Rodin Thinker Statue

As Catholics get ready to celebrate Ash Wednesday, I’d like to reflect on the lessons that I learned from this religious holy day.  I’ve always found religion to be a vessel that provides answers to existential questions that at times trouble the soul.

“Memento, homo … quia pulvis es, et in pulverem reverteris” (cf. Gn 3:19). “Remember, man, you are dust and to dust you will return.” Catholic priests repeat these words from the Gospel when applying a cross of ash to the foreheads of churchgoers on Ash Wednesday.

The challenge is that most parishioners forget about these words as soon as they leave the church, and go back to their old ways of living a life where they are the center of universe, the center of attention, where everyone has to stop and listen when they utter a few words.

And, yet, this dysfunctional behavior is learned at infancy. When we are born, we receive a lot of attention from our parents, grandparents, and adults. We can do no wrong. We are the life of the party – a party that lasts at times for too long.

The wise ones shed this aberrant behavior when they leave their parents’ homes and go on to college. They learn to embrace the famous quotation from the 16th century English poet John Donne: “No man is an Island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the Continent, a part of the main.” They then realize that their success is tied up to the success of those around them; that they cannot do anything without relying on others’ expertise, assistance, and good will.

But the sad thing is that too many never graduate from the “me-first” school of thought. And the world is not a better place because of it.

Following are some life-changing lessons that I’ve learned in my journey to enlightenment.

Not too long ago, I was tasked with getting a gift to a very dear friend who was retiring from the Federal Government. I thought about getting him a crystal plaque that stipulated how great he had been while working for our federal agency. Next, I considered getting him a proclamation signed by our secretary that emphasized his achievements. But, soon, I realized the futility of these artifacts. My friend already had a whole array of plaques, medals, and proclamations hung on the wall. One more would not endear him more to those who knew him well. Moreover, I questioned their usefulness in his retirement. So, I ended up getting him a gift certificate that he could exchange for cash. The money, he could use for himself, for his family, or for charities.

Recently, I had lunch with a former college professor and mentor who was suffering from a respiratory ailment that forced him to carry a portable oxygen concentrator. I was amazed by the wise words that he shared with me. He told me that when you have a disability, you learn to view the world differently. You become more humble as you find your place in the universe. Degrees, where you graduated from, your grade point average, whom you hung out with, and the designer’ clothes that you liked to wear become unimportant. You realize that what is truly important is to stick around long enough to continue doing good deeds; to spend those special momentos with your immediate family and close friends that crooner Julio Iglesias likes to sing about; to wear only the clothes that make you feel comfortable; to acquire more wisdom to make the world better.  He was a changed man because he could see the bells would be tolling for him shortly.

And, then, the spotlight fell on me. For over thirteen years, I had tried to get promoted to the Senior Executive Service (SES) rank unsuccessfully. No one can say that I lacked the qualifications, as I have seen much less qualified applicants get promoted. I have also seen applicants who joined the SES rank because of whom they knew, as well as others who got an extra star on their shoulders for sleeping their way to the top. I’m certain that being Hispanic played a part in my non-selection, as the federal workforce has had a Hispanic underrepresentation challenge for the last forty-three years. I’m also sure that speaking with a slight accent was used against me, as some very foolish selecting officials equate speaking with an accent with thinking with an accent. But the bottom line was that my non-selection into the SES rank depressed me quite a bit. I was an unhappy, wandering mariner.

With time, I realized the futility of eradicating by myself all the flawed motives that these individuals used in the past to not promote me and other qualified Hispanics. I simply did not have sufficient time to complete this task. So, I stopped worrying about the things that I could not control and concentrated on those that I could. I accepted the fact that when I retire from federal service, when I become frail with age, a few extra dollars on my annuity and an SES title next to my name would not be a big help to me at all. Ego and vanity would not make me a better person.

I found peace in myself when I accepted the fact that what really mattered at work was the difference that I had made in the lives of others — the interns that I converted into permanent federal employees; the colleagues I mentored to understand the law that management guru John Maxwell preached that “one is too small a number to achieve greatness”; the supervisors that I convinced that we had to walk our own talk because there was nothing more lethal than asking managers and supervisors to diversify their staffs when our own civil rights offices were the least diverse places in our agencies; the words of encouragement that I offered the cleaning staff to strive for a better tomorrow; the op-eds that I authored and got published about important issues that needed to be aired — the lack of human and civil rights in Cuba, the 43-year Hispanic underrepresentation challenge in the federal workforce, the need to build bridges of understanding with other communities to facilitate the tearing down of walls of bigotry that have prevented them from living as one harmonious family, and the need to motivate others to stop taking the tranquilizing drug of gradualism to solve their problems and embrace “the fierce urgency of now!” These are the things that I would be remembered for!

But, most importantly, the urgency of enjoying those precious momentos with my immediate family and close friends. To show them by my deeds that they were the reason for attaining fulfillment in the autumn of my days. To tell them that I did these things because they made me feel like a useful and happy man, and not because of the accolades, fancy titles, monetary benefits that I cherished in the past.

At the end of our lives, we’ll return to dust. Our legacy will be the good deeds that we left behind.

MEANING OF JANUARY 20, 2021

To Democrats who are salivating the elevation to the Oval Office of a fraudulent President on January 20, 2021, let me remind them of President Trump’s admonition to his detractors and encouragement to his loyal supporters: “Our incredible journey is just beginning.”

Some call the leftist rioting and looting a civil war.  I don’t.  I call it a communist revolution.

I do object to acts of violence by the right and left, and call for the perpetrators of these acts to be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.  Nevertheless, I cringe at the revolving-door policies of leftist prosecutors and judges for freeing the rioters and looters who participated in the destruction of businesses and other heinous crimes after a few days or even hours in jail.  

But no one can deny – with the fake-news media outlets being the exception – that the majority of gatherings of supporters of President Trump qualify as “peaceful protests,” while those from the left are “violent protests” filled with criminal acts and disrespect for law-enforcement officers. 

I purposely label the civil obedience of leftist groups and many Democrats as a communist revolution because their goal is the suppression of democracy and all civil liberties.  It’s what the Chinese communists are doing to punish the democracy protesters in Hong Kong, and it’s also what they did in Tiananmen Square in 1989.  Communists stand for stomping the spirit of the people and the elimination of all religions – especially Christianity.

Communists value the Communist Party above the well-being of its citizens.  This explains their strong support for abortion and the one-child policy in Communist China as a means of population control.  It explains why Fidel Castro spent the bulk of the Soviet Union’s subsidies in exporting communist revolutions to Africa, the Caribbean, Central America, and Latin America, while ignoring the economic needs of the Cuban population.  It is why communist support the gender identity policies as a means of destroying the nuclear family that forms the foundation of western civilization. 

As American writer Whittaker Chambers, who was once a Communist, indicated: “Political freedom, as the Western world has known it, is only a political reading of the Bible. Religion and freedom are indivisible. Without freedom, the soul dies. Without the soul, there’s no justification for freedom.” Vladimir Lenin would agree with Chambers.  Lenin once wrote in a letter: “Every religious idea, every idea of God, even flirting with the idea of God, is unutterable vileness…vileness of the most dangerous kind.” He concluded that “religion is the opium for the people” – echoing Karl Marx’s quote that “religion is a sort of spiritual booze.”

President Trump’s message to his loyal supporters mirrors the one that Pope John Paul II gave the Polish people on his famous visit to Poland in June 1979: “Be not afraid.” Despite Poland being a satellite of the Soviet Union at the time of his visit, the Pope knew that the forces of Christianity and freedom would overcome the forces of communism.  And they did!

Russian novelist and philosopher Dostoevsky reached the same conclusion when he stated that “problem with communism is not an economic problem. The problem of communism is the problem of atheism.” A reliance on a secular ideology that places a materialistic world above the sanctity of the human spirit and life is doomed to failure.

In a 1962 sermon delivered at the Ebenezer Baptist Church, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., answered the question of “Can a Christian be a communist? I answer that question with an emphatic “no.” These two philosophies are diametrically opposed. The basic philosophy of Christianity is unalterably opposed to the basic philosophy of communism, and all of the dialectics of the logician cannot make them lie down together. They are contrary philosophies.” When Black Lives Matter’s cofounder Patrisse Cullors describes herself and co-founder Alicia Garza as “trained Marxists,” they stand in direct opposition to the words of wisdom preached by the most prominent leader of the civil rights movement. The leaders of the BLM movement are not seeking justice.  They seek the destruction of America!

As we celebrate the 401th anniversary in 2021 of the Pilgrims landing at Plymouth, Massachusetts, let’s not forget that that among the key reasons for their migration to America was their search for better religious freedom, limited self-government, and an elementary form of capitalism.  It is ironic that today’s Democrats are trying to eliminate the essential freedoms that the Pilgrims sought in America!

So, my dear Trump supporters, January 20, 2021, is not the end of our fight for the restoration of the rule of law, freedom, and democracy to our beloved country.  It not the end of our fight to retain the history and values that the Pilgrims and our Founding Fathers willed to us.  It is not the time to hibernate in our basement bunkers.

January 20, 2021, is a beginning when we have to be in full alert to prevent the abolition of the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution, and the Bill of Rights.

President Trump’s words of encouragement must serve as reminder of the lyrics of Lee Greenwood’s uplifting song:

“And I’m proud to be an American, where at least I know I’m free
And I won’t forget the men who died, who gave that right to me
And I’d gladly stand up next to you and defend her still today
‘Cause there ain’t no doubt I love this land! God bless the U.S.A.”

Time to get busy and not to give up! Like the phoenix rises from its ashes, Trump supporters will also see the resurrection of their leader again. President Trump’s announcement that he will not attend Biden’s Inauguration on January 20th is the first warning shot!

JORGE DID IT HIS WAY!

After forty-seven years of living in Virginia and close to forty years of service with the Federal government, I’ve decided to retire effective December 27, 2013, and move to a state where the weather is always warmer and life is much slower – Florida. Thirty-six year is the number of wedding anniversaries that my wife and I will be celebrating later in December — (just unbelievable!). 47 years, almost 40 years, 36 years!—just a moment in time, yet a lifetime of memories!

I’ve worked for the Federal Government for my entire professional career—Naval Sea Systems Command, U.S. Department of Labor, U.S. Government Printing Office, U.S. Department of the Treasury, and the U.S. Department of Commerce. At every federal agency where I worked, I always made it a point to ask the questions that needed to be asked, to right every wrong that I could, to motivate all those who needed a mentor, and to help those who needed advice but had no one to turn to. You see, I come from a country where no one spoke truth to power when a totalitarian regime took the reins of control, and it’s been under the Communist yoke for fifty-four years.

Every day, I give thanks to my God for walking out unharmed through the many land mines that I’ve been exposed to through the years. Many of my friends have not been so lucky. I’m exiting the door with my credibility intact, with my head held high, with the ability to look everyone straight in the eyes and enter through the front door of places. I’m leaving full of hope for each tomorrow.

For fifteen years I served on the Council of Federal EEO and Civil Rights Executives—first as Co-Vice-Chair from 1997-2000, and as Co-Chair from 2001 to 2012 – as well as created and maintained its webpage. As ambassador for the EEO community, I, together with the Executive Board of the Council, worked to ensure the EEO community’s concerns and issues were presented to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, and the Government Accountability Office. We achieved progress in many areas over the years on behalf of the Federal EEO community.

While a bureaucrat, I am also a man for all seasons. My hobbies are music, reading, travel, wine tastings, and taking time to smell the roses – a necessary thing to keep your sanity in a metropolitan area that desires to measure everything. Most have not learned yet that the things that really count are not countable!

For over thirteen years, I have tried to get promoted to the Senior Executive Service (SES) rank unsuccessfully. No one can say that I lacked the qualifications, as I have seen much less qualified applicants get promoted. I’m also sure that speaking with a slight accent was used against me, as some very foolish selecting officials equate speaking with an accent with thinking with an accent. The bottom line was that my non-selection into the SES rank depressed me quite a bit. But despite not reaching my ultimate personal goal, I never lost the desire to make a difference.

With time, I realized the futility of eradicating by myself all the flawed motives that these individuals used in the past not to promote me and other qualified Hispanics. I came to realize that I did not have sufficient time to conquer the windmills that stood in my way. So, I stopped worrying about the things that I could not control and concentrated on those that I could. I accepted the fact that when I retired from federal service, when I become frail with age, a few extra dollars in my annuity and an SES title next to my name would not be a big help to me at all. Ego and vanity would not make me a better person.

I found peace in myself when I accepted the fact that what really mattered at work was the difference that I had made in the lives of others — the interns that I converted into permanent federal employees; the colleagues I mentored to understand the law that management guru John Maxwell preached that “one is too small a number to achieve greatness”; the supervisors that I convinced that we had to walk our own talk because there was nothing more lethal than asking managers and supervisors to diversify their staffs when our own civil rights offices were the least diverse places in our agencies; the words of encouragement that I offered the cleaning staff to strive for a better tomorrow; the op-eds that I authored and got published about important issues that needed to be aired — the lack of human and civil rights in Cuba, the 43-year Hispanic underrepresentation challenge in the federal workforce, the need to build bridges of understanding with other communities to facilitate the tearing down of walls of bigotry that have prevented them from living as one harmonious family, and the need to motivate others to stop taking the tranquilizing drug of gradualism to solve their problems and embrace “the fierce urgency of now!” These are the things that I would be remembered for!

But, most importantly, I embraced the urgency of enjoying those precious “momentos” with my immediate family and close friends—to show them by my deeds that they were the reason for attaining fulfillment in the autumn of my days, and to tell them that I did these things because they made me feel like a useful and happy man, and not because of the accolades, fancy titles, monetary benefits that I cherished in the past.

At the end of our lives, we’ll return to dust. Our legacy will be the good deeds that we left behind.

Among my greatest achievements are my 36-year marriage to a Cubana whom I deeply love and respect, and our son Stephen, who graduated from the University of Virginia and now works for the private sector and who continues to exceed all of our expectations. They have been my compass in good times and bad times—my reasons for being. When asked for my secret for staying married for so long, I respond that I’m a firm believer in the 3-C’s theory of relationships – “Communication, Collaboration, and Compromise.”

I honor all the civil rights champions of the past who fought the battles to make it possible for me and others to live in an America as it was meant to be. The late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. continues to be one of the greatest influences on my thinking. One of my favorite quotations from Dr. King is “the ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”

Here is a video that an amiga (Maria Contreras) put together to celebrate my retirement. You’ll see the Ceiba Restaurant (my favorite), the Willard Hotel, the Reagan Building, and the U.S. Department of Commerce (where I retired from). And, of course, I liked the song that she used as the theme very much — I agree with its saying that “life is like a son (a Cuban dance), it’s meant to be lived to the fullest!”

See: http://www.photoshow.com/watch/KH3qw3Ni?source=em_ps_show_recipient

Peace, many blessings, and keep the faith!

THE TYRANNY OF TODAY’S DEMOCRATS

The Democrats in the U.S. Senate are in a meltdown mode trying to undermine the confirmation of Judge Amy Coney Barrett as an Associate Justice to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The latest tactics by the Democrats are not an anomaly.  They are a continuation of their philosophy to seize power by all means necessary.  Their inspiration comes not just from Malcolm X and Saul Alinsky, but from the world’s pariahs in the likes of Fidel Castro, Che Guevara, Mao Zedong, Joseph Stalin, Vladimir Putin, Xi Jinping, Hugo Chavez, and Karl Marx – just to name a few.  Their totalitarian mindset does great harm to the survival of the America of the Founding Fathers. To invoke the quote that U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) used to torpedo the confirmation of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, the socialist “dogma lives loudly within” today’s Democratic Party.

I know something about totalitarian methodologies and regimes.  I recognize the same totalitarian and socialist policies in today’s Democratic Party.  Although I left Communist Cuba at a young age, the dictatorial and heartless policies of the Communist Party of Cuba left indelible scars in my soul which made me thirsty for freedom, civil rights, human, rights, law & order, and the rule of just laws.

Following is a summation of today’s lethal policies by today’s Democrats.

When a presidential election might be contested, they could care less about a U.S. Supreme Court made up of eight justices.  An eight-justice Supreme Court will not solve a potential conflict, only; a nine-justice one will.

When they lack a conservative majority in the U.S. Supreme Court, they recommend packing the Court and ignore a 150-year precedent.  If they succeed, they would turn the Court into a super-legislature while the Democrats hold the Oval Office and both chambers of the U.S. Congress. 

When they want to derail the nomination of justices and chief justices to the U.S. Supreme Court, they impose religious tests that are prohibited by Article VI of the U.S. Constitution. 

When religious tests are not appropriate to derail nominations to the U.S. Supreme Court, they bring up fallacious claims of sexual harassment.

When they lack the necessary votes in the U.S. Senate or the U.S. House of Representatives to enact their laws, they resort to the judicial activism of a judiciary that shares their leftist ideology. They willfully ignore the cardinal rule that judges and associate justices are called to interpret the laws, not to make them — which is the realm of the legislative branch.

When they want to suppress a thorough discussion of their proposed laws in the U.S. Senate, they favor doing away with the legislative filibuster which requires 60 members to end debate on most topics and move to a vote.

When their presidential candidates lose legitimate elections, they propose the elimination of the Electoral College that is protected by the U.S. Constitution. 

When they insist on blocking different views than their own on social media, college campuses, and in every day’s social transactions, they ignore the freedom of speech protections afforded to “We the People” by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

The progressive, socialist Resistance and today’s Democrats do not respect the U.S. Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the Declaration of Independence, our history, our Founding Fathers, and our laws.  They are a cancer to our representative democracy. The only antidote for this malignancy to our democracy is to keep them away as far and as often as possible from the reins of power.

When I hear cries by some that America needs a president that will bring the country together, I respond that the Resistance and today’s Democrats are the ones who have divided the country by not accepting the results of the 2016 election.  They are the ones who have to change their tune. Today’s Democrats must be defeated at the voting booths resoundingly on November 3rd by replacing them with Republicans! And the U.S. Senate must confirm Judge Amy Coney Barrett as an Associate Justice to the U.S. Supreme Court before Nov. 3rd! The stakes are high, but I have confidence that Americans will make the right decisions!  

Equal Justice Under The Law?

I was raised by parents who taught me to respect the judicial process. When I felt I had been discriminated against, I used the administrative process and, subsequently, the federal courts to litigate my complaint/lawsuit. I retained one of the top law firms in employment law in Washington, DC. After it was all over, I concluded that the ideal of “equal justice under the law” was a complete fabrication — as only plaintiffs with unlimited financial resources had a chance of winning.

Chief Judge Merrick B. Garland, nominated by President Obama to fill the seat vacated by Justice Antonin Scalia in the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS), was one of the judges who presided over my appeal before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. Needless to say, I was terribly disappointed by the legal decision that he was a part of. I found it ironic that it was his turn now to feel frustrated at the hands of politics with his SCOTUS nomination. It’s surprising the games that fate plays on all of us. Just when we think that we are invincible, fate exposes us to humbling experiences. With this in mind, I took the opportunity to share my thoughts with him by writing the letter below.

The attorneys representing me were confident that the SCOTUS would grant certiorari in my case. However, the filing would have meant that I would have had to risk another $100,000 – which would not be recoverable if I lost. After considering the five-justice conservative majority at the time, I determined that this would have been an unwise decision.

I’ve always tried to live a life where “honor” occupies a special place in the pantheon of my values and beliefs — that describes what I am made of, and what kind of life I want to live. But as demanding as I’ve been with myself, I expect others to exemplify the same respect that I hold for this core value. When I placed my fate in the judicial process, I expected that the men and women who held my future in their hands would be guided by the highest respect for “honor.” I guess I was too naïve. These men and women let me down, and I will never believe again that plaintiffs – regardless of their socio-economic situation, gender, racial, and ethnic backgrounds – have a fair chance at being judged under the “equal justice under the law” ideal. Only those belonging to the moneyed class have a chance at that ideal. And, it is precisely that miscarriage of justice that will drive away many Americans from believing in the legacy that our Founding Fathers left us. This is what happens when honor has no place in our code of conduct!

We are facing a dangerous time in our history when many Americans have lost faith in the establishment. And when people feel disenfranchised, they make decisions based on anger – which often don’t turn out to be the wisest. They feel betrayed by the promises that establishment figures have made to them – country, honor, duty, hard work and perseverance will take you to the top tiers of society. But when they can’t find justice in federal courts, when federal agencies routinely ignore findings of discrimination, when jobs are outsourced to foreign countries, when the super rich hide vast sums of money in foreign tax havens to avoid paying taxes, the cultural norms of our society lose all their meaning. And, it is the establishment figures that bear all the blame. Their cavalier attitude towards the financial and emotional sacrifices that an employee has to bear when bringing a lawsuit to a federal court could very well trigger a populist uprising against the tyranny of the few.

At the end of the day, it is not the Ivy League degrees, the family pedigrees, the fancy titles, the high salaries, the corner office with a window that determine how we will be remembered. What really counts is that when we face injustice, we garner the moral fortitude to fight back against the system to bring a just outcome. This is what will leave a legacy that will outlast our time spent on this planet. This is what keeps the harmony that binds together all groups in our society

It would be helpful for Chief Judge Merrick B. Garland to remember the words of 17th century English Poet John Donne:

“No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or of thine own were: any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee.”

I will always love and defend my adopted country – the United States of America, the country that offered me and my family a shelter from Communist Cuba. Nevertheless, I’ve lost faith in the judicial process of my country. What they did to me in the federal courts was simply “unforgivable!”

March 27, 2016

1205 Tuscany Drive

Trinity, Florida 34655

E. Barrett Prettyman

U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit & William

B. Bryant Annex

Attn: Chief Judge Merrick B. Garland

333 Constitution Avenue, NW

Washington, DC 20001

Dear Chief Judge Garland,

I’m writing to congratulate you for having President Obama nominate you for a seat in the U.S. Supreme Court.

But, I’m also writing to underscore how difficult it is for someone to reach the pinnacle of his/her profession and to have his/her dreams hijacked by unforeseen circumstances – in your case, by politics; in my case, by a decision rendered by your court.

While I am sure that my name does not ring a bell, I argued a case before you, Judge Tatel and Judge Silberman on April 9, 2012 (Jorge Ponce v. James H. Billington, Librarian, U.S. Library of Congress, No. 11-5117; appeal from the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, No. 1:08-cv-01028). The outcome of this appeal left me disenchanted with the judicial process in our country.

When I filed my administrative complaint and subsequent lawsuit, I was a subject-matter expert on civil rights. I had penned multiple decisions on discrimination complaints while working for the U.S. Government Printing Office and the U.S. Treasury Department. I retired in December of 2013 as Director, Policy and Evaluation Division of the Office of Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Commerce.

I was familiar with the plethora of frivolous complaints that employees file regularly – not because of malice, but because of their lack of familiarity with the law. But, I was certain that my complaint/lawsuit was not frivolous. I had been the first-line supervisor of the African-American selectee for several years, had prepared her annual performance appraisals, and was aware of her limited supervisory experience. I concluded that there was no way that the selectee had more supervisory experience than I did, and the only explanation that I could come up with was that the selecting official (African American) gave her an edge based on the impermissible factor of race. Even the scores that the African American supervisor gave the selectee were tainted by racial bias.

I received a finding of discrimination in my favor by an outside investigator that the U.S. Library of Congress had contracted with – a rarity in the administrative process. Although the U.S. Library of Congress is a legislative agency that is not bound by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), it’s useful to look at the rate of findings of discrimination issued by this agency. On a good year for complainants, EEOC issues 5% findings of discrimination, and 3% on a regular basis. So, the fact that I received a finding of discrimination was an uncommon happening, a cause for celebration! And, yet, the U.S. Library of Congress decided to ignore the finding of discrimination. Obviously, the U.S. Library of Congress only adopts no-finding rulings, while rejecting all findings. The reason for this practice is because it could.

The only viable option that I had was to file a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Considering that I was confident of the merits of my lawsuit, I retained one of the most prominent law firms in DC – Kator, Parks, Weiser & Harris. I was surprised when Judge Rosemary M. Collyer gave the jury an erroneous instruction that required them to rule in my favor if they found that a discriminatory factor was the “only” reason for my non-selection. This instruction was an anomaly, as Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 stipulates that findings of discrimination are triggered when a discriminatory motive is “one of many” factors” (not the “only” factor) in the decision-making. Naturally, the jury did not rule in my favor.

I appealed the District Court’s decision, as I was not in agreement with the outcome. While I prevailed in overturning the flawed jury instruction that Judge Collyer gave the jury and which she based on the Ginger decision that your Court of Appeals issued, I was not awarded any remedies. The reason? The decision gave Judge Collyer a break by saying that she added a clarifying sentence after her erroneous jury instruction. Rather than providing a clarification, Judge Collyer’s additional sentence confused the jurors even more.

The above logic of the decision makes no sense to me. Appellate judges make a mistake in one of their decisions (Ginger), which causes a district court judge to repeat the mistake and forces the appellate judges to correct their mistake (to prevent further damage to future plaintiffs). However, the appellate judges opt to provide cover for one of their own (the district court judge), and, by doing so, harm the plaintiff that challenged this inequity (by denying him any remedies).

My experience with using the judicial process in the United States has left me disenchanted. The west façade of the U.S. Supreme Court building bears the motto “Equal Justice under the Law.” After using the administrative process and federal courts to litigate my lawsuit, I’ve concluded that there is no way for an average citizen to find equal justice under the law. Only those who are independently wealthy have a chance of getting justice in our courts.

I spent $100,000 in my lawsuit – at a tremendous sacrifice to my family. $100,000 is no pocket change by anyone’s imagination. I think back to my belief that the majority of discrimination complaints/lawsuits are not litigated because of the lack of financial resources by most plaintiffs, and it brings tears to my eyes. And, if those like myself who make the sacrifice are laughed at by our federal courts, then there is no hope that our country will attain the ideals articulated by civil rights champions of the past and present.

I’m originally from Cuba, and I came to the United States at age 11. It saddens me that my experience with the judicial process in the United States is not that much different than the one in Communist Cuba. The only difference is that while the Communist apparatchiks win all the time in the Cuban courts, it is the members of the moneyed class who are the victors in the United States.

Our country is more divided today that it has ever been. And the reason for this divisiveness is that average Americans feel disenfranchised by politicians from both parties. They feel betrayed by establishment figures, and they don’t want to take their disrespect anymore. They are tired of the unfulfilled, empty promises that politicians have made to them in the past. They are underpaid, overwhelmed, discriminated against, and, in many instances, unemployed – not a pretty picture for the survival of our current way of life. When Americans feel disenfranchised, when they feel that no one cares, they act and vote with their hearts, rather than with their minds. And when this happens, people never make the right decisions. They base their decisions and their votes on their anger, which explains the rise of anti-establishment presidential candidates.

To an employee whose job has been outsourced to a foreign country, mention of a trade agreement and the global economy are meaningless abstractions. To me, this unfair decision is a betrayal that has curtailed my dreams – the dream of putting my fate at the hands of the blindfolded Lady Justice. At the end of the day, this decision is not about an abstract legal theory or a footnote in future legal briefs. At the end of the day, this decision is about the crushing of the ideals that I held about America as a place where anyone with hard work and talent can make it.

I am now in the sunset of my life. And, yet, I think every day about the miscarriage of justice at how our federal courts addressed my lawsuit. It makes me lose faith that our country has a bright future ahead. If we continue on this course, we will not be led by the motto that has guided our decisions in good and bad times in the past – “out of many one.” Instead, we will be led by the nefarious motto of “out of many, anarchy.”

I wish you well, and hope that the U.S. Senate will confirm your nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court.