Farewell 2016 …….. Hello 2017
As this year is winding to an end, there is one very important thing we all must do. It’s time to get a new 2017 calendar!
As soon as possible, we should go through that new calendar and mark all the holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, vacations and most importantly, MAC 2017. In big bold letters, write in March 31 as the last day to register for the convention at the early-bird rate. In even bigger letters, write in June 7, MAC 2017 Convention begins.
While you plan to attend MAC 2017, think about what you want to see there. What you could use to enhance your business. What could make your job easier, more efficient, and increase your profits. Any of these requests should be sent to June Lindberg via email email@example.com or by phone (757) 305-8715.
When you make your New Year’s resolutions, please resolve to become more involved in the EPEA. The EPEA would like to resolve to be of assistance to each of the members as well as the industry as a whole. We would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for their support through 2016. We hope these relationships will grow in 2017.
Wishing everyone the happiest of Holidays and a prosperous New Year!!
EPEA Makes it's Mark in Cuba,
and the "Truth" About the Death of a Tyrant
By Col. Wallace Harrison NHH
Lifetime member of NESDA and NATESA
With the growth and severity of fake news around the world, one has to be careful about what one choose to believe nowadays. Fabricated news, myths and urban legends are on the rise. They can exist anywhere there's freedom of speech and expression, but also where tyrants and dictators are the only permitted source of information. America is among the former; Cuba is among the latter.
During November of 2016, I had a surprise opportunity to visit Cuba with some friends. I was among the early ones of a growing number of Americans to do so since the easing of relations between our country and theirs. I had sent a short note to EPEA leaders to inform of a particular experience I had in Havana that involved an EPEA logo. EPEA President and newsletter editor, Corey Brazell, asked permission to reprint that, while a couple of other recipients thought more information about Cuba would be nice. (Feel free to skip to the end – or to skip this altogether.)
Unless you're really interested in the Cuba situation, this may be boring to you. Most Americans under the age of 60 have never had the opportunity to visit this Caribbean country that sits just 90 miles off the coast of Miami Florida. Of course, I am considerably beyond the age of 60, but even when I was stationed in Key West FL (1951), and subsequently lived (and repaired TV sets) on the Florida Keys (1955), I never cared to join any of my friends who took occasional weekend trips to Havana to experience the gambling and free-flowing night-life, and to sample the cheap rum, cigars, and women.
So, while the following won't help you get that TV "dog" off your workbench, reliable sources say that knowledge about the history of foreign countries will raise your IQ enough to act like an awareness stimulant. Then you can solve ANY problem with confidence and success. I know that's true because I read it on the Internet.
FOR THOSE WHO MIGHT BE INTERESTED:
A LITTLE HISTORY OF CUBA -- 1492 to 2016
Originally, as far as we know, Aboriginal groups inhabited the island. But with the arrival of Christopher Columbus in 1492 and the subsequent invasion of the island by the Spaniards, the indigenous people were soon eliminated. (Columbus named the island, Juana.) So, Spanish culture, institutions, language, and religion prevailed.
In the 1800s, as the US grew as an independent nation, Cubans switched from primarily harvesting tobacco to becoming an important sugar producer. In the later 1800s, they twice fought Spain for independence, but were unsuccessful until the U.S. joined in 1898 when the USS Maine was sunk in Havana harbor.
The mouth of Havana Harbor today. At right is the Faro Castillo del Morro lighthouse built in 1845 on the ramparts of the Castillo de los Tres Reyes Magos del Morro, an old fortress guarding the harbor.
But the U.S. success in the Spanish-American War brought U.S. occupation of Cuba along with a new prosperity for the country. The Platt Amendment guaranteed the U.S. right to intervene in Cuba's internal affairs, and the right to intercede militarily in Cuba (which they did in 1906-09, 1917 and 1921), That amendment also claimed the right to lease a spot for a naval base at Guantanamo Bay. The Cuban prosperity was short-lived, as American money and influence brought unrest and revolutions which brought new dictators which..
The 1930s saw a major attempt at revolution. Prompted by economic hardships and the cruel dictatorship of Gerardo Machado y Morales (president, 1925–33), a group of Cubans sought radical reforms and social change. Machado was ultimately forced to resign and flee the country on August 12, 1933
After helping to overthrow the authoritarian rule of Gerardo Machado in1933, Cuban Army Sergeant Fulgencio Batista put himself in power to control some puppet presidents. He was then elected president of Cuba from 1940 to 1944. After living in Florida, he returned to run again in 1952. Sensing certain electoral defeat, he led a military coup to preempt the election and install himself as President. He claimed a populist platform, but with financial, military, and logistical support from the United States government, he governed as a tyrant. Batista suspended the Constitution and revoked most political liberties. He then aligned with the wealthy owners of the largest sugar plantations, and presided over a stagnating economy that widened the gap between rich and poor Cubans. Batista took bribes from American casino operators who were entrenched in Havana, and from the Mafia who used that capital city as another source of illegal income. While some Cubans grew rich, the majority of Cuba's population was poor and besieged by their government. Of course, there was unrest and punishable protests.
FIDEL CASTRO EMERGES
One of the leading anti-Batista agitators at that time was Fidel Castro. Born August,13, 1926, his father was a wealthy land-owner and his mother was one of the family's maids. Fidel grew to become a lawyer and a politician who quit both in the early to mid-'50s to lead a band of Communist-leaning rebels who wanted to depose Batista. They fought with government troops, usually with heavy casualties among their own ranks. Fidel himself was captured in 1953. put on trial and sentenced to 15 years in prison. However, he was freed two years later during a general amnesty. (Bad mistake, Fulgencio.)
In the late '50s, the rebels, led by Fidel, and a Marxist doctor from Argentina named Ernesto "Che" Guevara, prevailed. On January 1, 1959, the hated dictator, Batista, fled Cuba, and a revolutionary government was then in charge. At first, Fidel disclaimed being a Communist, and promised that free election would be held "soon." "Soon" never came. Regardless of their politics, dictators are dictators, and winners of the revolutions usually become the new tyrants. (Unlike in America, where the conquering general declined to be king, and his co-revolutionaries wrote a constitution for the people. Ben Franklin said it was "A Republic ... if you can keep it.")
So in spite of some advances – free education through college, and free lifetime healthcare (Cuba has more doctors per capita than any other country) – the people were brutally forced into Russian-style Communism, without any rights to free speech or even artistic expression. Many citizens wound up in prison and many were mass victims of the firing squads.
In January 1961, Fidel Castro began to nationalize (steal on behalf of the government) American businesses in Cuba. U.S. President Kennedy broke off diplomatic relations and instituted an embargo against the country. Four months later, an American-organized force of 1400 Cuban exiles from Florida attempted a surprise invasion of the southern coast of Cuba at the Bay of Pigs. It was a botched disaster, mainly due to American government ineptitude. One hundred of the new revolutionaries (Cubans from Florida) were killed and 1,200 captured and either executed or imprisoned.
It's no secret that Kennedy and some of the succeeding U.S. presidents tried numerous ways to assassinate Fidel, who was a constant thorn in America's side.
However, in order for Cuba to survive, and for the Russians to proudly claim the existence of a Marxist stronghold among the Americas, Russia needed to provide substantial infusions of money and other support to Cuba. That support even led Russia to accede to Castro's demand for an installation of Ballistic Missiles in Cuba, placed just 100 miles from – and aimed at – the US mainland. This of course, led to the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis and the sea blockade by President Kennedy that nearly brought about a nuclear World War 3. Fortunately, Russian President Khrushchev relented, stopping further supply and installation and removing the 42 already-installed missiles. (This infuriated Castro.)
In 1991, with the fall of the Soviet Union, Cuba lost its money supply, and saw, the escalation of poverty and hopelessness in the country. But Castro would not give up on Communism, nor the suppression of those people who could not sneak out of Cuba during those 32 oppressive years. The country's GDP lost 40% in two years. Electric power was available only eight hours per day. Food rationing was put into place. To help ease the blow, Castro made it legal for Cubans to hold U.S. dollars and began to welcome foreign tourism (but not from the U.S.). A Cuban-U.S. agreement to limit illegal emigration had the unintended effect of making alien smuggling of Cubans into the United States a major business.
You likely know that Fidel, in poor health in 2008, turned over power to his brother, Raul, who was five years younger. Raul continued the repressive dictatorship and communist government, but instituted reforms that would be unthinkable to Fidel. He allowed Cubans to buy and sell cars and homes, and – although most people work for the government – to open small but government-controlled businesses.
And in 2014, Raul Castro and President Obama reopened diplomatic ties and paved the way for Americans to visit. But it's still an anti-capitalist and anti-democracy government.
If you visit Cuba now, you probably won't be told of the poverty or past brutality by your tour guide. (We weren't.) He or she works for the government. As a matter of fact, American tourists are so new that all of the tour guides I experienced were not at all fluent in Englsh. While they could pronounce the words, the accents were so heavy that they were mostly unintelligible. You'll see numerous public parks, and visit a lot of statues of revered revolutionaries.
Even the widely acclaimed healthcare system may not be as advertised. An anti-Castro website, among several other sources claims that the better hospitals are for tourists (who can pay), party members and celebrities, especially sports stars.
TheRealCuba.com states on their website that "real Cubans are not allowed to visit those facilities. Cubans who require medical attention must go to other hospitals that lack the most minimum requirements needed to take care of their patients. In addition, most of these facilities are filthy and patients have to bring their own towels, bed sheets, pillows, or they would have to lay down on dirty bare mattresses stained with blood and other body fluids. The hospitals most Cubans must go to lack the most minimum requirements needed to take care of their patients."
You'll be told of the Bay of Pigs fiasco, and the people's love of the revolution and its successes. You'll see lots of pictures of their revolutionary heros and the many beautiful government buildings.
The Opera House, the Gran Teatro de la Habana Garcia Lorca, (Great Theatre of Havana), is also home to the National Ballet of Cuba. (It's next door to the country's former capitol building at far left.) It is located in the Paseo del Prado in Havana, in a building known as the Galician Centre of Havana, constructed to serve as a social center for Galician immigrants to Havana. The arts -- opera, ballet, museums, etc. -- are government-owned and very affordable to encourage attendance by all.
But you'll have to check out the side streets and the deteriorating buildings that belong to the common people on your own.
The official Cuban currency is the CUC (pronounced "kook") and is equal to one U.S. dollar. The average working person's monthly salary is about 20 or 25 CUCs. But Cuba is better off than most other countries in the region. As noted, Cubans get free education and healthcare and their charges for utilities are about $1. Houses are cheap, so most don't pay rent (which would be very low). And only businesses pay taxes. So the average "real" income is much higher.
One 1916 survey, which was conducted among 1,067 Cubans in Havana and five other cities in May and June, found that about 27 percent of Cubans earn under $50 per month; 34 percent earn the equivalent of $50 to $100 per month; and 20 percent earn $101 to $200. Twelve percent reported earning $201 to $500 a month; and almost 4 percent said their monthly earnings topped $500, including 1.5 percent who said they earned more than $1,000.
You can see lots of cars throughout Cuba, but most of the newer ones are imported from China. But many residents have maintained their old 1950s autos from America, many of them in pristine condition, and often being used as taxis. You also won't see many pictures of Fidel, and practically none of Raul. The person with the most pictures splashed around the country is Che Guevara. As a revolutionary, he worked his way up the chain of command to become next in command to Fidel, and commanded several posts in the revolutionary government.
Che's duties included reviewing the appeals and firing squads for those convicted as war criminals during the revolutionary tribunals. He also instituted agrarian land reform as minister of industries, spearheaded a successful nationwide literacy campaign, and served as both national bank president and instructional director for Cuba's armed forces. In 1965, however, he was captured and executed in Bolivia while helping foment another Cuban-financed revolution in that country. Many people, especially in the United States consider Che a sadistic mass murderer. But many in Cuba (whether coerced or not) consider him to be almost a saint and of equal stature to our U.S. founding fathers.
About EPEA's Global Outreach
ME -- AND EPEA -- IN HAVANA CUBA;
I was in Cuba in November (7-12), with a cruiseline tour group that included Larry Steckler CET/NHH of Fort Worth.
As noted previously, the CUC and the U.S. dollar are officially equal. You are encouraged to change your dollars into CUCs when you enter the country, since you can't buy them (or use them) outside of Cuba. You cannot use any credit card issued on any American bank, and the official line is that you can't spend dollars or even Euros in Cuba. The kicker is that when you exchange your money, the country gets a 10% slice and the exchange entity gets 3%. The same rates are in effect if you need to turn in your CUCs for dollars when you leave. However, Larry Steckler found (unofficially, of course) that most vendors will gladly accept dollars, and even Euros.
While sightseeing the streets of Havana, I was approached (of course) by numerous hucksters. One wanted to sell me a revolutionary-style cap with a picture of Che Guevara and the Cuban flag. He wanted ten CUCs for the cap. I said "no," and to his next offer of 5 CUCs as well. Then he admired the cap I was wearing and offered to trade caps with me. I accepted
So, you might be interested in knowing that somewhere in Havana, one citizen is sporting a cap with the colorful EPEA logo on it. (Also the Tritronics logo.) While I don't have a picture of the Tritronics/EPEA cap (it was one of my favorites), here's a pix of the Che hat I traded for.
There's a rumor, probably unfounded, that Fidel wanted to meet with me while I was in Cuba and was extremely disappointed that he couldn't. Someone reported that he said if I would not visit him in his dire need, he would have no reason to continue living. That might or might not have been true. I know that he was supposedly quite frail, but with all the merciless killing he is allegedly responsible for, I just didn't trust the man.
Our ship returned to Miami on November 13. It's reported that Fidel Castro died on November 25 of extreme disappointment. (Whether he deliberately overdosed on narcotics, I really don't know for sure.) That was less than two weeks after I left Cuba. Some tell me that I may have – I repeat, MAY have – accomplished something that ten US presidents and thousands of Cuban dissidents couldn't accomplish in over 55 years. (With all the fake news going around, I have to insert the disclaimers.)
TV, OR NOT TV
During our Cuba excursions, I noted an amazing number of TV antennas, not only on rooftops, but hanging out of apartment windows throughout the country. (We also visited the towns of Cinefuegos and Santiago.) . We did not pass a TV repair facility while walking. but I did see a couple while on the bus. I would have liked to have stopped and inquired about how they cope with ...
,,, Ooops, excuse me, I have to run. I'm getting an incoming message from a guy named Roll, or Raul, or something like that, who wants me to help with a new constitution, or something like that. Probably a crank call.
Bye. and Viva la Revolution