Sunday, January 10, 2016

Crackdown in Cuba as international media there engage in self censorship and regime propaganda

Repression in Cuba and the under reporting by the international press.

Image loaded by Cuban Activist Angel Moya with text "They're going to arrest us"
A crackdown is underway on democratic opposition activists in Cuba, but you won't learn about it from the various news bureaus on the island. Today over twitter Cuban dissident leader Angel Moya Acosta reported more than 200 hundred dissidents arrested in Oriente-Camaguey, including opposition leader Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia. Among Moya's last tweets on Sunday afternoon he reported that 48 Ladies in White were marching through 5th Avenue in Havana and at 1:49pm that they were going to be arrested

Oscar Elias Biscet along with 24 other activists were arrested yesterday to prevent them peacefully associating. Lady in White Maria Cristina Labrada was arrested following a search of her home by state security agents. Others are being hunted by state security and the national revolutionary police.  On Friday state security bused in school children to take part in an act of repudiation against the Ladies in White. Activists in the island photographed and video recorded the proceedings but international journalists, self censored and did not report it.

Children brought in by state security for act of repudiation
The international press in Cuba understand that if they report the news objectively in the island the Castro dictatorship will not grant them interviews and may expel them from the country or not renew their accreditation

Unfortunately, some in the press have gone beyond omission to publishing articles that are essentially Castro regime propaganda. Two high profile news organizations that have been engaged in this practice, the first since 1959 and the second more recently are The New York Times and the Associated Press. Sadly this is not a new practice or confined to Cuba.

It is important to criticize those in the press who go along with regime lies and profit from the deception while recalling how this is a profound failure of their ethical and professional duties as journalists. However at the same time one must praise the courageous few that published the truth and paid the ultimate price for practicing good journalism.

Courageous Welsh journalist broke story on Russian famine
Gareth Jones, a Welsh journalist broke the story on the Ukranian famine on March 29, 1933 despite official denials. Walter Duranty of The New York Times wrote an article a day later rebutting Jones's claims that was published in the paper of record on March 31, 1933. In the end seven million starved to death in a communist regime manufactured famine in the Ukraine between 1931 and 1933. He was banned from returning to Russia by the Soviet regime. Two years after publishing this story he was murdered in Inner Mongolia on the eve of his 30th birthday by Chinese bandits in what his family believes was a Moscow plot to punish him.

In the case of Cuba, The New York Times actively promoted Fidel Castro over other opposition figures in the struggle against Cuban dictator Batista with the reporting of Herbert Matthews. Once Fidel Castro was in power in January of 1959 and consolidating his communist regime over the first few months of his dictatorship the New York Times continued to defend the young dictator. 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."

Over a half century later and the totalitarian dictatorship in Cuba has an international press corps that carries on the shameful tradition of Walter Duranty and Herbert Matthews. The New York Times continues with coverage and editorial page that goes as far as providing advice to the dictatorship on how to build coalitions with U.S. business to change Cuba policy in Washington. 

However the Associated Press has gone further in reporting that: 1) Leaves out critical facts to advance lifting sanctions and providing credits to the dictatorship. 2) Describing common sense precautions by foreign based NGOs as a "clandestine operation" in language used by the regime while also engaging in the same practices themselves. 3) Consistently providing coverage that portrays the democratic opposition in a negative light repeating the Cuban dictatorship's talking points with the most recent example being on January 8, 2015. 4) Not providing context of the totalitarian nature of the regime and the "demonstrators" bussed in by the political police to attack pro-democracy activists on International Human Rights day

Andrea Rodríguez, the correspondent of the Associated Press in Cuba, is a worse case example of all the above practices and was challenged by the late Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas after one of her biased filled articles. On September 20, 2011 the Cuban human rights defender released the video he had made of his interview with Andrea Rodriguez because he believed that what he had told her was not fairly reflected in the article she had written. He provided a transcript along with the video of the interview and in it challenged the false narrative peddled by The New York Times and the Associated Press stating:
"Where in the world does a woman dressed in white walking down the street constitute a provocation? Only in a fascist-communist regime like this. Therefore the victim gets criticized because no one dares to criticize the executioner.
There is a real “moral inversion,” in what the foreign media, intellectual circles, ecclesiastical circles, diplomats and politicians are doing against the people of Cuba and against the dissident right now. They judge the persecuted, the poor, those who are silenced, but they do not dare to judge the government. And what the government needs to be told is what we say in “the People’s Path”. Hold free elections; change the law so Cubans can express themselves, so they can choose. But what they want is to keep their privileges while they say that everything has been agreed upon. This joke will go very wrong because the people of Cuba are not stupid, and the majority are still poor and distressed.
But the worst is that the foreign media, intellectual circles, ecclesiastical circles, and entire states are accompanying the Cuban government in setting up this fraud, this joke that will bring only confrontation and pain to Cubans, and that is keeping the majority of the Cuban people silent and gagged while this virtual scenario for change is being created.
Sadly, Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas was killed on July 22, 2012 and all the evidence points to an extrajudicial execution carried out by the Castro regime's security services. However on July 22, 2012, despite the misgivings of Oswaldo's family, the AP correspondent in Havana over twitter echoed the official position of the Castro regime. The truth of what happened is coming out and the regime's false narrative is crumbling, no thanks to the Associated Press or The New York Times.
Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas was murdered but his legacy of speaking truth to power in the defense of human rights and freedom lives on as do his words and the Christian Liberation Movement that he founded.

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