Friday, September 22, 2006


I'm spending a lot of time translating columns from El Nuevo Herald into English because The Miami Herald has decided to limit its coverage of the Martí Moonlighters much more than El Nuevo. It's a shame frankly because most of the audiences of the two papers don't overlap and a one-sided debate is no debate at all. Today El Nuevo published a column by Adolfo Rivero Caro which I have translated and posted below:

Adolfo Rivero Caro

I'm obligated to comment on the dismissal of the El Nuevo Herald journalists. The management of The Miami Herald claims that receiving payment from an agency of the government is a violation of journalistic independence. Setting aside our opinion on the subject, it's a corporate policy. Therefore, it is necessary to accept it. Nevertheless, the management of the Miami Herald is mistaken for not taking into consideration two essential aspects. The first has to do with what Radio and TV Martí mean to the Cuban-American community. To the management of The Miami Herald loves to speak of ''perceptions", it is a pity that they have not considered our perception of Radio and TV Martí. Their “perception” is that they are simply broadcasters of propaganda. To my surprise, they think the same of Radio Free Europe, the broadcaster that transmitted information to the communist countries of Eastern Europe. For the people of those countries, nevertheless, Radio Free Europe was like a breath of fresh air: the only alternative source of information in the suffocating world of the communist propaganda. The grattitude from those people towards Radio Free Europe has always been warm and fervent. It's the same way Cubans feel about Radio Martí. For us, collaborating with Radio and TV Martí is an honor, a privilege. It's an opportunity to speak directly to the people of Cuba.

The role of RadioMartí, like that of Radio Free Europe, is not to transmit propaganda. The function of Radio and TV Martí, like Radio Free Europe, is to transmit information. The information that in Cuba, like in the other communist dictatorships, is prohibited or distorted. If it undermines the regime, as Ernesto Betancourt said, it's not the problem of the broadcaster, but of of the dictatorship. The official policy of Radio and TV Martí is to broadcast a diversity of opinions since that's what characterizes a free society. All agreeing, of course, with a democratic society and a free market. It's for this reason that, to the dictatorship, all such viewpoints are equivalent and communicate the same message. It's why they consider it propaganda. However, this is the point of view of the enemies of democracy. It is the point of view of those despise civil/human rights, parliamentary democracy and the free market. How is it possible that this is also the point of view of the Miami Herald?

It is completely possible to be objective and simultaneously reject the enemies of democracy. What's more, it's the only possible way to be objective. Why? Because objectivity is a liberal value, it's a value for those to whom freedom is a priority, that is to say, for those not subject to the arbitrary will of other men. Objectivity is nothing more than respect for the exercise of that freedom to have varying opinions. However, there can be no respect for those whose want to take away our freedom, that is to say, for those who would limit our ability to exercise that freedom to have diverse opinions. That is what Castro's pen wielders do. It is why they are propagandists and not journalists. That is the great reason that place Radio Martí at odds with the Castro information monopoly. That is the difference between information and the propaganda.

Without Radio Martí there could not be a national dissident movement in Cuba. How could there be in the midst of constant repression without access to any mass media? How is it possible that the management of The Miami Herald does not understand that? It is only natural that this would causes deep resentment in the Cuban-American community.

And that brings us to the second great error committed by the management of The Miami Herald. How is it possible to treat such dear and respected companions so brutally? Did they not have any other options? Pablo Alfonso was in jail defending the right of the Cubans to have freedom, that is to say, their right to be objective, when leaders of The Miami Herald were in diapers. For us, Pablo Alfonso is a great figure of Latin American journalism. Does this lamentable incident make one question? Without a doubt, but not Pablo Alfonso or Wilfredo Cancio, one of most brilliant of our young journalists, nor on that splendid professional that is Olga Connor. Not to mention the inexplicable harassment of Carlos Alberto Montaner. What it brings into question is the management of The Miami Herald. Not their personal integrity, that it is not in doubt, but their moral relativism and amazing lack of sensitivity.

Does The Miami Herald worry about the perception of a conflict of interests? Then they should also worry about the perception the Cuban-American community has of it. The perception that The Miami Herald, for example, is a "liberal" newspaper, in the American sense of the word. The perception that, for that reason, its management detests an ethnic community, like the Cuban-American one, that does not consider itself discriminated against, that is not anti-American, that deeply loves this country and that mainly votes Republican. And the perception that, for those reasons, they rushed to humiliate our best Cuban-American journalists, serving to the Castro dictatorship on a silver platter its biggest triumph since the Bay of Pigs. Surely none of this is true. But it's a question of perceptions.

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