[Marxism] Dallas paper to shut down Havana office

Walter Lippmann walterlx at earthlink.net
Tue Nov 9 08:31:59 MST 2004


DALLAS MORNING NEWS TO CLOSE ITS HAVANA BUREAU
by Walter Lippmann, CubaNews, November 8, 2004

Washington's blockade of Cuba takes many forms,
but the deliberate ABSENCE of information is one
of the most insidious. In addition to its efforts
to starve the Cuban people into submission by an
international campaign of economic stangulation
and political vilification, keeping the public of
the United States uninformed of the consequences
of the blockade is of great poltical imporance.

Given the hackneyed coverage which the paper has
so frequently provided from Havana, you get an idea
of what Damian Fernandez must mean by putting the 
words "independent" and "journalist" together in the
same sentence. In general, its coverage has towed
the U.S. government line on Cuba on most subjects. 

Below the Miami Herald's article about this, you
can read the Dallas Morning News's latest report
from their "man in Havana". It's a typical example
of the venomous hostility toward Cuba which the 
"free press" of the United States provides. Note
the one-sided and loaded commentary interlaced
between the various facts which are presented.

It would take an hour to disentangle it all, but
just consider their mention of the fact that it
was previously illegal to possess the US dollar,
and their omitting to mention that it is NOT now
illegal to possess the greenback. Or the omitting
of any mention of the recently-concluded Havana
trade fair at which the Cuban government signed
contracts with U.S. companies to pay them over
$100,000.00 U.S. dollars IN CASH, which would run
counter to the article's impression that Cuba is
broke. 

Thus, spending all this cash in the country which
is trying to strangle Cuba doesn't reflect well an
impression of Cuba being in a precarious position.
But it is precisely in accord with the State Dept.
and its "party line" on Cuba. Nearly everything
else is simply left out of such stories.

The Cuban media generally presents the brighter
side of Cuban life, particularly in the international
arena. There are numerous subjects which are rarely,
if ever addressed in the Cuban media. After all, Cuba
is and remains a blockaded country. And yet a careful 
student can see that Cuba is a land of complexity 
with its own challenges, hassles, successes, ironies 
and contradictions. The Dallas Morning News presented 
little of this, instead preferring articles such as 
the one published today which you can read below.

This decision has here been justified on financial
considerations, we're told. Under capitalism, the
bottom line is virtually everything, and providing
news and information on important subjects is always
subordinated to the making of money. I also note and
regret any cut in coverage of Cuba, even if some of
it is at times of questionable value. This regret is
primarily because it means that the already terribly
under-served U.S. public will be even less informed
now than it has been to date. Given the influential
role of rightist Cuban exiles in the government of the
United States today, this is all the more notable. 
It seems now that they want even fewer witnesses to
what is taking place here than there've been before.

http://www.walterlippmann.com 
======================================================

MIAMI HERALD
Posted on Tue, Nov. 09, 2004

CUBA | MEDIA

Dallas paper to shut down Havana office

A Texas newspaper will close its office in Havana by the
end of the year, further reducing independent news from the
communist-ruled island.

BY NANCY SAN MARTIN
nsanmartin at herald.com

The Dallas Morning News, one of just four U.S. media
companies with a coveted bureau in Havana, will close its
operation in Cuba by the end of the year for economic
reasons, the paper's managing editor confirmed Monday.

The Havana pullout comes as the Texas daily copes with
financial losses from circulation overstatements that
resulted in millions of dollars in overpaid advertisements
that must be compensated. Last month, the company laid off
dozens of employees and eliminated a number of positions to
cut costs.

The Havana bureau, opened in 2001, has been an expensive
venture that could no longer be justified.

''It's been a significant cost,'' George Rodrigue, the
managing editor, told The Herald in a telephone interview.
``We need to close the bureau but we don't plan to close
out our coverage in Cuba.''

FOCUS ON BORDER

Rodrigue said the decision came after examining whether
news from the communist-ruled island was worth the expense.
Executives decided resources would be better spent on the
Texas-Mexico border, which is more relevant to readers in
the region. Plans are underway to open a bureau on the
border, either in northern Mexico or southern Texas,
Rodrigue said.

The Morning News is the flagship newspaper of Belo Corp.,
based in Dallas. Although considered a regional paper, the
Morning News has increased Latin America coverage in recent
years and has a strong presence in Mexico. The Mexico City
bureau will spearhead news coverage coming out of Cuba,
Rodrigue said.

The paper is among four U.S. news organizations allowed to
have correspondents in Havana. The others: Tribune Co.,
which includes the Chicago Tribune and the Sun-Sentinel in
Fort Lauderdale; the Associated Press; and CNN, which
opened its bureau in 1997, the first U.S. news organization
with an office there in 28 years.

DISMAYED

Cuba experts expressed disappointment over the Morning
News' decision.

''It's bad news when independent journalists leave a
country that needs that kind of reporting and watch dog
services,'' said Damián Fernández, director of the Cuban
Research Institute at FIU. ``But there seems to be an
exhaustion with Cuba. It's the same old, same old. It makes
us wonder how important Cuba is outside of Miami and the
South Florida area.''
=============================================

Ban means dollar buys less in Cuba

Castro: U.S. sanctions forcing nation to charge penalty on
dollars

11:45 PM CDT on Tuesday, October 26, 2004

By TRACEY EATON / The Dallas Morning News

HAVANA – Cuba's decision to penalize anyone using American
dollars had some people wondering Tuesday whether U.S.
economic sanctions were finally wearing down the socialist
government.

More than $12 billion in debt and short on cash, the
government said Monday night that on Nov. 8 it will begin
collecting a 10 percent commission from those exchanging
dollars for local currency.

That means, for instance, that if a traveler arrives with
$1,000 in spending money, he or she will have to exchange
it for the equivalent of $900 in so-called convertible
Cuban pesos, which are worthless outside Cuba.

President Fidel Castro said he was forced to act because
Bush administration sanctions are making it more costly for
his government to conduct business in dollars.

But he vowed that his government will survive.

"The destiny of this country was decided long ago, and
nothing can intimidate us," said Mr. Castro, appearing on
television with his arm in a sling after a fall last week
left him with a broken knee and arm.

In the past year, U.S. officials have strengthened the
decades-long economic blockade against Cuba. They've taken
steps to financially strangle 13 travel agencies, tour
operators and other firms doing business with the island.

The latest strike came Monday when Juan Carlos Zarate – the
U.S. Treasury Department's assistant secretary responsible
for efforts to fight terrorist financing and money
laundering – announced that the United States will seek to
block any financial transactions with SERCUBA, an
electronic money-transfer company that funnels remittances
into Cuba. The company has offices in Cuba, Italy and
Spain.

"As we have seen, the Castro regime uses a variety of
schemes and businesses located not only in Cuba but also in
countries around the world to feed its military and
security infrastructure – and not the Cuban people," 
Mr. Zarate said.

Mr. Zarate said Tuesday that the announcement by the Castro
government about the dollar is "an act of economic
desperation and a clear signal that President Bush's
strengthened policies towards Cuba have hurt the Castro
regime."

The toughened U.S. policies have made dealing in dollars
too risky and expensive, Mr. Castro said. And many Cubans,
lining up Tuesday to trade their dollars for pesos at the
one-for-one rate, support the president.

"The government has to take these measures to counter what
the American government is doing," said Iliana Batista, 35,
a Havana singer. "We can't stand around with our arms
crossed."

Others aren't pleased. "People are angry," said a

30-something hotel worker. "On the bus this morning, 
people weren't talking about anything else."

For many years, carrying around even a few dollars was a
crime in Cuba. After the island's chief sponsor, the former
Soviet Union, cut off nearly $6 billion per year in
subsidies, the economy began to collapse.

Desperate, authorities legalized possession of the dollar
in 1993. That allowed Cubans to spend money sent by their
relatives in the United states.

The remittances total as much as $1.3 billion per year and
are the country's most important source of hard currency,
said Paolo Spadoni of the University of Florida, who
studies the Cuban economy.

As the Bush administration steps up the pressure, the
socialist economy isn't in immediate danger of collapsing,
but "the situation is precarious," he said.

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