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December 23, 2014

Feliz Navidad, Y’all

Harry M. Covert

Buenos días, señores, senoras y senoritas y simplemente amigos.Feliz Navidad!


Today, however, I’m not getting into the “boobus Frederickus” ongoing downtown. Let’s address the fact that when things change they always remain the same.


No, I don’t speak espánol. What I learned came from watching The Cisco Kid and Pancho of years past. I was always fortunate to have colleagues pretty fluent so I got off easy in visits to Central America and dealing around Metro Washington with “visitors” absorbing area lifestyles.


I thought it was good last week that Marylander Alan Gross was finally released from a prison cell owned by the Castro brothers. I heard some vociferous shouts from some native-born Cubans hereabouts. But consideration must be given to the advantages of American businesses flooding Havana and other spots.


There are two fine restaurants in Frederick that provide Cuban dining. I can attest to their superb food.


As I awoke to the news that Mr. Gross was coming home, I recalled a similar situation in 1979 when a “weekend missionary-pilot” was dropping pamphlets over the island. His plane experienced an engine problem and had to land. Melvin Bailey, of Newport News, VA, 32 at the time, was “captured” and sentenced to 24 years. Mr. Gross was imprisoned for helping a small Jewish community with some technological things – Internet services.


Mr. Bailey flew a rented single-engine Piper aircraft but ran out of fuel and crashed into a dump truck on May 27, 1979. He and a colleague were on a Christian mission dropping religious literature. Announcement of his capture and sentence wasn’t made public by the Cubans for three months.


Mr. Bailey received help from his congressman and a Virginia senator. A White House staffer for then President Jimmy Carter tried to help, too, but to no available.


Two days before the Reagan-Carter faceoff, Castro decided to release Melvin Bailey after 17-months. Readers will recall that Iran released 52 American hostages a few moments after Reagan was sworn in.


Feelings today are rather raw and tender about Cuban relations. I just wonder how lives will benefit from an infusion of American money and investments. Probably a lot of positive changes are coming. The Castros are in the waning days of their lives. Fidel is ill with cancer and brother Raul is just timeworn.


I will also guess that those who like casinos, playing twenty-one, shooting craps and other exercises that go along with the gaming may fine Cuba an Eden of sorts. Who can forget the days of Michael Corleone as depicted under the dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista y Zaldívar. He was elected Cuban president from 1940 to 1944, and then dictator from 1952 to 1959.  He was overthrown by, you guessed it, Fidel Castro.


So, what’s new today? Actually nothing save who’s on top.


Cuba has some great athletes. I remember well the classic boxing champion Kid Gavilán, watching him on Friday night fights. How about the Washington Senators pitcher Pedro Gomez and today the Dodgers’ Yasiel Puig, The lists goes on. Yes, please don’t forget Desiderio Alberto Arnaz y de Acha, III – the bandleader Desi Arnaz.


To be real here, Miami may be an offshoot of Cuba, but it’s not a state solely for Cubans. I think it will be good when the beisbol players and owners return to the International League or the major leagues. My Lord, the island is only 90 miles off the Florida coast.


Thankfully Cuba is without a space program. I do remember a newspaper wit who, many years ago, wrote “if Cuba had astronauts they could be called ‘Castronauts.’”


In this day, we need a Robin Hood of the Old West, someone like Vasile Dumitru V. Couyanos or Basil Couyanos, Duncan Renaldo, The Cisco Kid. He was born in Romania.


"Hey, Pancho; Hey, Cisco!" I have strong doubts a Cuban gets to be American president anytime soon.


Feliz Navidad! Y’all.


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