Tuesday, December 22, 2015

The New York Times and the Castro brothers: A long romance

 "The leader of pro-Castro opinion in the United States is Herbert L. Matthews , a member of the editorial staff of the New York Times. He did more than any other single man to bring Fidel Castro to power." - William F. Buckley Jr.,  Athwart History: Half a Century of Polemics, Animadversions, and Illuminations

“I got my job through the New York Times.”
The New York Times is at it again, advocating on its editorial page for the foreign policy goals of the Castro regime. On December 21, 2015 it was calling for the repeal of the Cuban Adjustment Act. This echoed not only the sentiments of Raul Castro but his ideological ally in Nicaragua, Daniel Ortega who has precipitated the current crisis in Central America with Cuban refugees. It is a coordinated media campaign with The New York Times leading the charge and when it comes to the Castro regime the Grey Lady has been at it for 57 years to the detriment of free Cubans and U.S. national interests. The Cuban Adjustment Act is a humanitarian law that if repealed will not end the exodus of Cubans fleeing the Castro nightmare, and the dictatorship continues to set Cuba apart from other countries in the hemisphere justifying the policy.

Marie Sanz is a senior correspondent with the Agence France Presse (AFP),  who has authored a paper "The Persistent Advocate: The New York Times' Editorials and the Normalization of U.S. Ties with Cuba" that although filled with "conventional main stream elite" opinion demonstrated the agenda of The New York Times first to promote Fidel Castro's rise to power in the 1950s, secondly to defend the Castro regime from efforts to overthrow it in the early 1960s, and a steadfast advocate for normalizing relations with the dictatorship through to the present day.

The New York Times has had a long time bias in favor of dictatorships and making glaring omissions that predate Cuba. The paper has had reporters such as Walter Duranty who ignored a genocide in Ukraine in the 1930s while providing a sympathetic portrayal of the Soviet Union under Josef Stalin.

Beginning in 1957 Herbert Matthews built up Fidel Castro's image both inside and outside of Cuba with a series of misleading articles in The New York Times. In July of 1959 Matthews reported: "[t]his is not a Communist Revolution in any sense of the term. Fidel Castro is not only not a Communist, he is decidedly anti-Communist." Anthony De Palma has written a book on Herbert Matthews titled, "The Man Who Invented Fidel" and describes how his heroic portrayal of Fidel Castro influenced the fall of the Batista dictatorship and the consolidation of the future dictator as a national figure.
William F. Buckley Jr. in an article in the March 1961 issue of The American Legion magazine outlined the impact of Mr. Matthews on the imposition of communism in Cuba and placed it in a larger context: 
"The leader of pro-Castro opinion in the United States is Herbert L. Matthews , a member of the editorial staff of the New York Times. He did more than any other single man to bring Fidel Castro to power. It could be said - with a little license - that Matthews was to Castro what Owen Lattimore was to Red China, and that the New York Times was Matthews's Institute of Pacific Relations: stressing this important difference, that no one has publicly developed against Matthews anything like the evidence subsequently turned up against Lattimore tending to show, in the words of a Senate investigating committee, that Lattimore was 'a conscious, articulate instrument of the Soviet conspiracy.'"
Marie Sanz in her paper describes the unprecedented series of editorials written by Ernesto Londoño but does not address the factual inaccuracies in his work. For example in his August 24, 2015 opinion piece The New York Times journalist presented a skewed vision of the opposition.

Londoño quotes some of the dissidents who met with Secretary Kerry at an informal cocktail following the official event to which they were not invited.  He fails to mention the presence of Dr. Oscar Elías Biscet, who is a former prisoner of conscience who has been the subject of an hour long documentary "Oscar's Cuba" and 2007 Medal of Freedom Recipient. U2's Bono also gave a shout out to Dr. Biscet during their 2011 tour. This is a high profile and internationally recognized pro-democracy activist but he supports U.S. sanctions on the Castro regime and over twitter the day after meeting Secretary Kerry called the normalization of relations a violation of law:
Diplomatic links between USA and Cuba violates Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity (Libertad) Act of 1996 (Helms-Burton): Title II, Section 201(13-14); 202; 203; 204; ; 205 and 206.
Is this not newsworthy? Or the fact that on August 24, 2015 state security (G2) detained Oscar Elías Biscet and released him 20 km from his home in order to prevent him giving the presentation: Why is it that U.S. - Cuba relations violate the Libertad Act?

Dr. Oscar Elías Biscet
Even among those The New York Times reporter chooses to quote he fails to provide context. For example, he quotes Yoani Sanchez and 14 y Medio but fails to mention how she took him to task on December 6, 2014 for his editorials in The New York Times describing them as "really pitiful."  Miriam Celaya, raised a question in the same article that many Cubans who read his editorials asked themselves:
What is going on with these editorials? They are still giving prominence to a distorted, biased view, composed of half-truths and lies about what the Cuban reality is. They are still giving prominence to what a government says, and Cuba is not a government. Cuba's government today is a small group of old men, and when I say "old" it's because of their way of thinking, of individuals who have remained anchored in discourse rooted in a cold war and belligerence. The Cuban people are not represented in that government.
Both Yoani Sanchez and Miriam Celaya are Cuban dissidents who are advocates of lifting sanctions but even they have publicly questioned the work of Mr. Londoño because it does not reflect the reality in Cuba.

Finally, in the Cuban diaspora there are five Cuban American congressman and three Cuban American U.S. Senators currently in office and all of them support maintaining the embargo on Cuba and have been sharply critical of the Obama administration's Cuba policy.  

Why such sharp criticism? Because the policy has marginalized the democratic opposition while raising up narrow economic interests at the expense of the freedom of the Cuban people; it has led to a worsening human rights situation in Cuba; and the extrajudicial killings of prominent opposition leaders who were viewed as a threat by the regime because they could oversee a democratic transition. On the international front the Obama administration's policies will further endanger democracy in Latin America and U.S. national security

Inside of Cuba, a large number of opposition leaders support maintaining sanctions on the dictatorship. Unlike the anti-embargo lobby fair minded democrats recognize that there is a legitimate difference of opinion on this topic, but not on the underlying nature of the dictatorship and the need for real change. This is something that Mr. Londoño does not reflect in his reporting.
The New York Times editorial board on November 30, 2015  was at it again providing advice to the dictatorship in Cuba on how to prolong its existence this time by achieving its long term political goal of lifting the embargo through partnering with a technology firm to overwhelm congressional opposition:
"Partnering with Google, which has enormous lobbying clout in Washington, could advance Havana’s goal of building enough political support in Congress to repeal the embargo and would make it harder for a future president to dial back the restoration of diplomatic ties that Mr. Obama set in motion last year."
 The New York Times omits and distorts key facts such as the circumstances surrounding Cuba plugging into the global cable network in 2013 enabling high-speed connections that have not reached the average Cuban. First it was President Obama who on April 13, 2009 directed the Secretaries of State, Treasury, and Commerce to take the needed steps to:
  • Authorize U.S. telecommunications network providers to enter into agreements to establish fiber-optic cable and satellite telecommunications facilities linking the United States and Cuba.
  • License U.S. telecommunications service providers to enter into roaming service agreements with Cuba’s telecommunications service providers.
  • License U.S. satellite radio and satellite television service providers to engage in transactions necessary to provide services to customers in Cuba.
  • License persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction to activate and pay U.S. and third-country service providers for telecommunications, satellite radio and satellite television services provided to individuals in Cuba.
  • Authorize the donation of certain consumer telecommunication devices without a license.
Despite this unilateral liberalization by the Obama administration, it was the Castro regime that showed no interest in a fiber-optic cable linking the United States and Cuba from Key West in 2009 not the Cuban embargo. Instead the Cuban dictatorship went with a fiber-optic cable linking Cuba and Venezuela that required a much longer distance of cable to link the two countries. This was completed in 2013, but high speed internet access has not reached the average Cuban in 2015.
 The New York Times has been defending the interests of the Castro regime for 57 years on its Editorial pages.

Politically motivated extrajudicial killings by State Security
 At the same time it has remained silent before the critiques of the democratic opposition in the island.  For example, Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas speaking on behalf of the Christian Liberation Movement in Havana on March 30, 2012 bravely denounced the fraudulent change that was then taking shape and that is being carried out today with the Obama administration's Cuba policy and The New York Times active support:
Our Movement denounces the regime's attempt to impose a fraudulent change, i.e. change without rights and the inclusion of many interests in this change that sidesteps democracy and the sovereignty of the people of Cuba. The attempt to link the Diaspora in this fraudulent change is to make victims participate in their own oppression. The Diaspora does not have to "assume attitudes and policies in entering the social activity of the island." The Diaspora is a Diaspora because they are Cuban exiles to which the regime denied rights as it denies them to all Cubans. It is not in that part of oppression, without rights, and transparency that the Diaspora has to be inserted, that would be part of a fraudulent change.
 The escalating violence and repression by the Castro regime throughout this normalization process has been omitted by The New York Times because it does not fit their narrative. Rising levels of violence against  nonviolent activists and the suspicious deaths of human rights defenders: Orlando Zapata Tamayo (February 23, 2010), Daisy Talavera de las Mercedes Lopez (January 31, 2011) , Juan Wilfredo Soto Garcia (May 8, 2011), Laura Inés Pollán Toledo (October 14, 2011), Wilman Villar Mendoza (January 19, 2012), Sergio Diaz Larrastegui (April 19, 2012), Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas (July 22, 2012) and  Harold Cepero Escalante (July 22, 2012). Both Laura Pollán and Oswaldo Payá each had the international recognition and ability to head an authentic democratic transition in Cuba. Oswaldo Payá had forced the dictatorship to change the constitution in 2002 because of Project Varela, a citizen initiative demanding legal reforms within the existing system, and Laura  Pollán through constant street demonstrations achieved the freedom of scores of Cuban prisoners of conscience. It is important to remember that the deaths of these high profile human rights defenders happened on President Obama's watch as he loosened sanctions in a series of unilateral concessions that began in 2009. To understand what is really going on in Cuba one should read the editorial pages of The Wall Street Journal or The Washington Post.

National Review early on had a clearer understanding on the nature of the Castro regime and the role of The New York Times in bringing the communist dictator to power in Cuba. This is why they had a cartoon of Fidel Castro with the caption “I got my job through the New York Times.” This is a decades long romance that has been at the expense of free Cubans.

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