Sunday, August 26, 2012

Crackdown underway in Cuba and many in the media remain silent

News is something someone wants suppressed. Everything else is just advertising. - Lord Northcliff

Major crackdown underway in Cuba.
 The Cuban Patriotic Union observed the one year anniversary of its founding inside Cuba on August 24 suffering a massive crackdown its movement by State Security in which key leaders of the Union were arrested. José Daniel Ferrer García a key leader and founder of the Union had his home assaulted and was arrested on August 23, 2012 and still remains detained as of this hour with scores of other activists. In Santa Clara, Guillermo Fariñas was detained three times in the span of one week.  Former prisoner of conscience Felix Navarro and his daughter Sayli Navarro were arrested on Saturday and released later the same day but political police stole her laptop.

Over the previous two days Thursday, August 23rd and Friday, August 24th more than 60 Cuban dissidents have been arrested reports Hablemos Press and they are still receiving additional reports of detentions. There is a crackdown underway in Cuba that began in the East of the island and has spread westward through the rest of the island. Unfortunately, the international media in Cuba are not reporting on this. Only El Nuevo Herald based in Miami broke the story on Friday interviewing dissidents on the island. Juan O. Tamayo reported:
Cuban dissidents Friday reported a crackdown across the island, with several activists detained to keep them from marking the monthly "Day of Resistance" and the one-year anniversary of one of the most active opposition groups.
Fourteen members of the Cuban Patriotic Union were detained in Havana as they gathered for the anniversary of the group, according to Pedro Arguelles, another member of the Union.
Five other dissidents were reported detained in the central city of Santa Clara during a vigil demanding the release of all political prisoners. Another four were arrested in the eastern town of San Luis and three more in the central town of Placetas.
Police told a dozen dissidents in eastern Camaguey province they would be arrested if they left their homes to attend an opposition gathering, and told seven others gathered in a Placetas home that they would be arrested if they did not leave.
Another 11 Union members gathered in the eastern town of Palma Soriano reported late Friday that they were headed outside to demand the release of all the activists detained. There was no further word from them.
Dissident Osmani Cespedes said more than 30 signs with anti-government slogans such as "Down with Raul" and "Raul Murderer" appeared Friday morning in several spots around the eastern town of Palma Soriano.
The Cuban Patriotic Union was founded a year ago by a group of opposition activists that include Jose Daniel Ferrer Garcia, a peaceful dissident who served eight years in prison and was freed last year. Based in Palma Soriano, his hometown, the Union has been one of the most active opposition groups in recent months.
Police detained Ferrer himself during a police raid of his home early Thursday morning, and seized several documents, the Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation noted Friday in an "urgent communique."
Dissidents also have been marking the "Day of Resistance" on the 24th of each month, recalling the Feb. 24, 2010, death of political prisoner Orlando Zapata Tamayo after a lengthy hunger strike to demand an end to prison abuses.
The dissident Ladies in White, meanwhile, urged democratic governments and human rights organizations to "take urgent and coordinated action to stop the violence unleashed by the Cuban regime" against the women and other peaceful opposition figures.
Their statement alleged that the Raul Castro government "has stepped up the intimidations, the arbitrary jailings and the cruelty against all those who fight to install a democratic system in our country."

Read more here:
The failure of international news bureaus based in Cuba to report on this news is not new. It is also worthwhile to explore why this is taking place. In addition to well grounded fears that serious and tough reporting on the reality in Cuba would lead to having ones press credentials revoked and being expelled from the island there are others that apparently have ideological affinities with the regime. The Calgary Sun's Ezra Levant  reported on one such correspondent by the name of Stephen Wicary of the Globe and Mail:
He’s condemning Cubans who want to flee to freedom — the freedom he himself will presumably exercise one day, probably when he needs free health care and doesn’t want to go to a filthy Cuban hospital. Stephen Wicary is the Walter Duranty of our age. Duranty was a New York Times “reporter” in the 1930s who, like Wicary, went to the Communist country of the U.S.S.R. He was the Times’ bureau chief in Moscow from 1922 to 1936, a time of horrendous massacres, including the man-made Ukrainian famine called the Holodomor, where Stalin starved to death as many as 12 million souls.
What is disappointing is that even when the dictatorship itself makes clear for example that the policy of banning of musicians such as the late Celia Cruz and their music will continue despite Cuba based reports from international press stationed on the island. The reporters do not retract or correct their story. Meanwhile, as they report on the non-story of the Castro regime ending its censorship of musicians like Celia Cruz, Arturo Sandoval and Olga Guillot (which the regime has stated explicitly that it will not do) the Cuba based international journalists remain silent of the island wide crackdown on dissidents.

This is troubling on a number of levels. First this conduct raises not only questions of journalistic ethics but if the best way to learn what is happening in Cuba is not to read the reporters but the tweets from dissidents and persecuted independent journalists on the island who are breaking stories. Secondly, the failure of the international media to explain what is actually happening on the island. The nature of the regime's repressive apparatus and the rising discontent in the populace and the role of civic nonviolent opposition in the island, in the short term, gives the regime a free pass to repress and kill more opposition leaders and in the long term sow the seeds either for continued totalitarian rule or bloody change. A nonviolent movement needs to be able to communicate effectively with both the populace and the international community and the facts on the ground need to be made known in order to properly inform policy makers and Cubans on the island. This is also why independent news broadcasts are needed to break through the regime's information monopoly and get the facts out.

Waiting for Fidel Castro to die in order to cover the story of his death and burial from inside the island at the expense of covering the struggles and realities of the Cuban people is not only short sighted and a disservice to Cubans. It is also bad journalism.

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