[Marxism] Marc Cooper: Cuba Boots Reporters

Walter Lippmann walterlx at earthlink.net
Sun Feb 25 06:23:32 MST 2007

(I posted a response to Cooper's diatribe on his blog.)

Cuba Boots Reporters

Hopes that baby brother Raul Castro might open the door to reform
while sitting in for Fidel were dampened this week when the Cuban
government ousted three foreign correspondents.

Like any other dictatorship, the Cuban regime doesn't well tolerate
criticism. In this case it deemed the reporting of correspondents
from a Mexican daily, the BBC and the Chicago Tribune to be too
"negative." Over the past month, the Tribune reporter, Gary Marx, had
filed stories about Cuban youth alienation from official politics,
dissent among Cuban intellectuals and about Cuban doctors who are
fleeing the island.

The Cuban government permits about 100-150 foreign correspondents to
reside in Havana but it finds them more difficult to control than the
domestic press. I have been an invited speaker twice to the Cuban
Union of Journalists and know first hand the bitter frustration that
any serious Cuban reporter feels on a daily basis. Cuban newspapers
are, quite literally, used as fish-wrap or worse, and the average
Cuban relies on them only for baseball scores. The rest of the pages
are filled with glowing reports of Cuban industrial production or the
transcripts of speeches from a certain Mr. Castro.

Two months ago the Cuban government issued a set of stern regulations
aimed at tamping down foreign press criticism so this week's booting
of the three reporters comes as no big surprise.

Cuba watchers have been trying to guess what if any kind of opening
Raul Castro might make as he effectively replaces his brother as
all-powerful ruler. These decisions to quiet the international press
do not bode well.

The Committee to Protect Journalists is protesting the action.

For the umpteenth time I will repeat that the most effective and
constructive criticism of Cuba's authoritarianism and curtailment of
freedom would be that which comes from the Left not the Right. Too
bad there is virtually none. We'll see if anyone except CPJ hiccups
over these expulsions. I doubt it.

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2 Responses to "Cuba Boots Reporters"

1. Michael Balter Says: February 25th, 2007 at 4:41 am

"For the umpteenth time I will repeat that the most effective and
constructive criticism of Cuba's authoritarianism and curtailment of
freedom would be that which comes from the Left not the Right."

Yes, one would think the left had learned its lesson from the Stalin

2. bunkerbuster Says:

February 25th, 2007 at 5:47 am

For the umpteenth time, I will repeat why I don't leap to pile on
criticism of Cuba.

The U.S. is never far from invading Cuba, as it has invaded and
terrorized every other left-wing government in the region.

More important, the nature of the Castro regime is simply not at
issue. There may well be a tiny handful of fringe leftists who
support the Castro regime, but no mainstream liberals do.

Criticism is therefore, largely, redundant and, absent a specific
effort-such as Amnesty International's efforts to free Cuban
political prisoners, or initiatives to end the blockade that helps
keep the Castros in power-there is no reason to spend much time or
effort piling abuse on the Cuban dictator.

If Alan Colmes liberals like Mark would have refrained a little more
from piling on the demonization of Saddam Hussein, it might have been
possible to assert that maybe he didn't have WMD, wasn't allied with
Al Qaeda and should be dealt with by other means, without being
shouted down as soft on totalitarian, or, Mark's favorite rhetorical
tactic: a tacit Saddam supporter.

Now that we can all see the catastrophic cost of demonizing Saddam,
perhaps it's a little easier to see why we needn't repeat the mistake
in Cuba.

No one views George W. Bush with more disdain than I do. But where I,
for example, a North Korean newspaper columnist, I'd work hard to
avoid criticizing Bush. There's just no need for it in North Korea,
just as there's really no need to criticize Cuba in the U.S., not as
long as U.S. policy toward the government is so hopelessly based on
irrational fear/hatred of the Castro regime.

# Walter Lippmann Says: February 25th, 2007 at 6:19 am

How many Cuban journalists are accredited to cover the United States
of America? No one seems interested in this question. I would guess
that it's somewhere close to zero.

Marc Cooper isn't in Cuba. I am in Cuba and write from here every
day. The Cuban media, far from perfect and not often critical, has
been publishing lots of highly critical material in the past year.
Operating a news service on Cuba, based both in Los Angeles and
Havana, I have had many of these highly critical articles translated
from the Cuban press and circulated them all over the world through
the Yahoo news group I operate and other forums.

Cuba is a sovereign country which has the right to decide who comes
and who doesn't come into the country. Indeed, every country in the
world which has borders, a customs service and so on has the right to
determine who comes into the country. Cuba was simply exercising its
right to determine who comes and who goes. Marc Cooper, with whom I
went to Nicaragua in 1983, omits to mention some critical facts which
make Cuba's situation quite unique ON THE PLANET.

Cuba is the only country on the planet where military base belonging
to a hostile foreign power which is publicly committed to the
overthrow of Cuba's government and the social system which it
represents continues to illegally occupy national soil. This leads
Cuba to sometimes have what I like to call a paranoid political
style. But it is completely understandable under the circumstances.

The best way to bring about more opennness in Cuba is to end the
blockade which is imposed on the people of the United States, and let
everyone come and see Cuba, warts and all, for themselves.

Walter Lippmann http://www.walterlippmann.com

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