During the Mercosur summit in Argentina, WJAN-TV South
Florida reporter, Manuel Cao, asked Cuban President Fidel Castro why his
government didn't allow a prominent doctor and dissident to leave the country.
Quick as lightning, Castro shot back, "Who pays you?"
Now we find that Cao's paymaster was the US government: he
received $10,400 in payments so far this year. Cao is one among 10 South
Florida journalists to have been found accepting money in exchange for touting
propaganda intended to undermine the Cuban government via Radio and TV Marti (both
bankrolled by the US government to the tune of $37 million
to broadcast anti-Cuban propaganda from the States onto Cuban soil).
The news mercenaries' covert employer was exposed by
documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act. Three were fired
from El Nuevo Herald, the Spanish-language sister paper of the Miami Herald:
columnist Pablo Alfonso, staff reporter Wilfredo Cancio and freelancer Olga
Pablo Alfonso, who wrote an opinion column, received
$175,000 since 2001.
Perusing Alfonso's columns in Spanish, I found them to be concerned
with trivial and titillating gossip of possible interest only to resentful
exiles. The columns whispered about an alleged dairy farm, maintained solely
for private catering to Castro's taste for the freshest strawberry yogurt and
Other fluff items included speculations on the
"secrecy" -- perhaps nepotism -- surrounding the professional
activities of Castro's tribe of grandchildren (all apparently respectably
employed in Cuba or abroad in various non-subversive scientific fields).
Another provocation to outrage included Castro's alleged
failure to effect a promised "energy revolution" because a power
outage of four hours had crippled three provinces in June. My hunch is that
Castro's "energy revolution" might have been referring to the one
promised by ongoing off-shore, deep-sea explorations for oil and gas effected
through an agreement with an Indian oil exploration company.
The most ironic of Alfonso's silly charges was the one
stating that the newspaper, Granma, acted as a stenographer for Raul Castro's
recent "declarations" and "interviews," upon assuming
leadership of the Cuban nation, absent the convalescing Fidel Castro.
Of the bribed journalists mentioned by the US national media
this morning (11 September 2006) -- the names of all 10 were reported by the
Miami Herald. El Nuevo Herald's Olga Connor, a freelance journalist, received
$71,000 from the US Office of Cuba Broadcasting since 2001; Nuevo Herald staff
reporter Wilfredo Cancio Isla received $15,000 for the same period. Additional
US news mercenaries were opinion page editor for Diario Las Americas Helen
Aguirre Ferre and reporter/columnist Ariel Remos.
What struck me about this news coverage, however, was the
absence of detailed coverage for Carlos Alberto Montaner, surely one of the
most world-prominent of the Miami 10. A militant anti-Castroist, sentenced to
20 years of imprisonment by the Cuban revolutionary government in 1960 for
"conspiring against the power of the state," Montaner has lived two-thirds
of his life in exile. Now residing in Spain, he's founder and president of the
Uni�n Liberal Cubana (Cuban
Liberal Union). In Spain, he writes for ABC (the former mouthpiece for
Francisco Franco, the Falangist Spanish dictator). An admiring website claimed
that "his syndicated column is read by six million readers. His opinions
make politician[s] in Spain and Latin America tremble. . . . He maintains his
position as one of the regions most respected journalists."
Perhaps, but now he'll have to maintain it in the face of
this recent exposure of his being in the pay of the US government. When he
claims that Fidel Castro's "cancer will deliver justice," as he does
in his columns, the alleged cancer's war on Fidel might suggest that it is
diagnosed by a close collaborator of the US government. If Caracas indeed
"will shiver with Castro's death," as Montaner predicts, readers
might wonder with whom this drivel of wishful thinking is intended to curry
favor. "The [Cuban]army's loyalty ends with Fidel's life" makes you wonder
if another Bay of Pigs US debacle fueled by anti-revolutionary, out-of-touch,
diehards in exile is in the offing -- or if the myth of a military coup is the
result of too many years of mojito drinking, coupled with frustrated hopes
among US-supported Cuban exiles' intriguers and illusionists.
"Democracy can arrive on the island via a pact with
reformists," Montaner opines. Which "reformists"? The former
Cuban estate landlords and clients of US multi-national exploiters in Miami? Or
the "reformists" generated and proliferated by the $10 million
initiative to foment "dissidence" in Cuba by the US Special Interests
Office in Havana?
Actually, Cuban government officials have been arguing for
decades that Montaner is far from a liberal paladin of human rights and
democracy. They say that he's very close to known international terrorists such
as Luis Posada Carriles and Orlando Bosch, responsible for the deaths of
hundreds of people. He's an agent of the CIA, the Cubans insist. He has ties to
the NGO, Reporters without Borders, which, last year, admitted it is financed
by the CIA.
Reporters without Borders mounted a campaign in 2002
characterizing the trial and imprisonment in Cuba of more than two dozen
journalists, among 75 "dissidents," as a violation of human rights.
The Cuban government insisted that the accused were mercenary agitators paid by
the US to pose as "independent journalists." As Granma reported,
"none of them even passed through a journalism faculty or school of
journalism and never wrote a single line of journalism."
Now whom are we to believe, in this matter of human-rights
violations by Cuba? The Cuban officials or the purveyors of democracy in the
"free press" paid for by the US government -- not exactly
distinguished by its regard for truth?
after Fide1," Le Monde Diplomatique, 1 Sept. 2006
Bohne teaches film and literature at Edinboro University of Pennsylvania. She
can be reached at email@example.com.