Challenges of the Cuban Press

“The newspaper was talking about you…” sings the voice of Joaquín Sabina, while I read the newspaper Granma. On the cover, as usual, there’s some event. A tribute to a figure from the past, a reminder, a phrase someone said forty or fifty years ago. All the pages have this rancid stink of journalism that doesn’t dare to address the present, that avoids the here and now.

The Cuban official press can’t reform itself because to do so would be committing suicide. To report on the national reality it would have to renounce its role as ideological propaganda. It’s not enough to change the design of its digital sites, add new signatures to its articles, or keep the readers’ letters complaining about bureaucrats and corruption. It must go further and shed its political commitments and take on the truth as its only obligation. But this… this we know it cannot do.

I expect more from the press that will emerge, or consolidate, than a “new official journalism.” But I am also aware that the work of reporting from civil society, precarious and illegal, has to improve. Information is not trench warfare and it is not a weapon. Events should not be reported from the point of view of what we want to have happened, but from what did happen.

For its part, thematic variety is not contrary to the defense of freedom and human rights. There are many ways of speaking, and of speaking beautifully. We must search, then, for ways of reporting that bring us closer to ordinary readers. Creativity, daring and diverse points of view help us to be better professionals of the press. Going down that path is worth it.

For my part, I’m taking the first steps. The countdown to the digital media I’ve been working on for four years has begun. A new professional challenge approaches, but I will not be alone; rather I will be accompanied by a team of talented people who want to do journalism with a capital J.

In the coming weeks this personal blog will be transformed—right in front of your eyes—into a media of the PRESS. Words of encouragement are welcome!

46 thoughts on “Challenges of the Cuban Press

  1. @speters855

    I agree with you, re: political religion of socialism.

    I would say “cult” in the case of Castro’s followers. I just can’t find one with an open mind or who can talk any sense.

    When I try to talk with them, they just keep repeating the same mantras.

    Between them and Castro’s army ants who also post on this blog, I would say reason is a lost cause.

  2. Best wishes, Yoani!
    If only half the people in Cuba were half as courageous as you, the dictatorship wouldn’t last a month!

  3. Humberto: the book you are referring confirms what I mentioned to you before…the economic situation in Venezuela is more of the same problem that already existed before. The difference between the Chavistas and the previous government is the Chavistas are setting up a mixed economic model to manage the economy instead of a “Free Market” Model….but, the antidotes to solve the economic problems are very close to being the same….one is directed by government and the other is more participatory and decentralize…with the Chavista’s model, the Rich are getting squeeze and they are loosing control of their own business fortunes….this is the reason for protests…Venezuela imports just about everything they use and some essential industries to national security now have to talk to the government prior to closing a transaction with a foreign exporter….they didn’t have to do this before. In the past the Poor in Venezuela simply was left out in the cold just like it happens in the U.S. A “Free Market” economy is an economy of winners and losers …but, in a poorer country getting left out in the cold have a more macabre meaning….as you know…

  4. DEAR Omar Fundora! SINCE YOU ARE AN “EXPERT” IN VENEZUELA, GIVE US MORE INFORMATION TO THE CONTRARY DEAR! AND WITH A LINK OF COURSE!

    BOOK: Venezuela Before Chávez – Anatomy of an Economic Collapse Edited by Ricardo Hausmann and Francisco R. Rodríguez – 488 pages

    At the beginning of the twentieth century Venezuela had one of the poorest economies in Latin America, but by 1970 it had become the richest country in the region and one of the twenty richest countries in the world, ahead of countries such as Greece, Israel, and Spain. Between 1978 and 2001, however, Venezuela’s economy went sharply in reverse, with non-oil GDP declining by almost 19 percent and oil GDP by an astonishing 65 percent. What accounts for this drastic turnabout? The editors of Venezuela Before Chávez, who each played a policymaking role in the country’s economy during the past two decades, have brought together a group of economists and political scientists to systematically examine the impact of a wide range of factors affecting the economy’s collapse, from the cost of labor regulation and the development of financial markets to the weakening of democratic governance and the politics of decisions about industrial policy.

    Aside from the editors, the contributors are Omar Bello, Adriana Bermúdez, Matías Braun, Javier Corrales, Jonathan Di John, Rafael Di Tella, Javier Donna, Samuel Freije, Dan Levy, Robert MacCulloch, Osmel Manzano, Francisco Monaldi, María Antonia Moreno, Daniel Ortega, Michael Penfold, José Pineda, Lant Pritchett, Cameron A. Shelton, and Dean Yang.

    Ricardo Hausmann is Professor of the Practice of Economic Development and Director of the Center for International Development at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. He served as Venezuela’s Minister of Planning in 1992–93.

    Francisco R. Rodríguez is Chief Andean Economist at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. From 2000 to 2004 he served as Chief Economist of the Venezuelan National Assembly.

    http://www.psupress.org/books/titles/978-0-271-05631-9.html

  5. Humberto: the CNN report is wrong….The Venezuelan government is not “trying” to increase the money supply. There is plenty of money in Venezuela (similar to the situation we had in the U.S. a couple of years ago after the Great Recession, but, the money is not going where is needed. In the case of Venezuela corruption and black market for dollars is not helping matters). What they are trying to do is expansion of import by the government directed exchange with targeted companies. The Venezuelan companies that are invited to participate in the exchange bring bolivars to the government and the government cuts a check in dollars to the foreign export company they are dealing with….Venezuela is a commodities export country with decent credit rating. The CAA1 rating means that they have a 10% chance of default on payments. This places Venezuela in a better place financially then 78% of the countries in the World. They also have international reserves for 3 to 5.6 months of imports expense. This also place Venezuela in the top countries in Latin America or other parts of the World, In other words, Venezuela is not in danger of economic collapse yet. But, they are on the road to doomsday and must make corrections to get off this road. If the political opposition to Maduro really was thinking of the Common Good of the Venezuelan People instead of pursuing their own interest and the greed of the minority in Venezuela, the leadership should call for an end to the protest. The Meetings held so far to come up with a peaceful solution to the protests have had some results by the creation of a 56 points plan for the economy. Only the extremists in the opposition are continuing to fuel the civil unrest and they are being marginalized by the economic accords already reached with the opposition and Maduro already has warned them to cease or decease…:I don’t see a regime change in Venezuela any time soon…..

  6. I offer you my support in your work toward civil and political freedoms, which means freedom of thought and conscience, and of information via the media. These are fundamental human rights, which are denied under the personality cult of Castro-ism, and the quasi political religion of socialism.

  7. A SOCIALIST DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC IN THE MAKING….THE SOCIALIST MODEL OF VENEZUELA (ONE INSTRUMENT OF CENTRALIZATION)
    SICAD

    Background
    .1 In January 2003, the Venezuelan government suspended the free exchange of bolivars (BsF) for foreign currency. The following month, the Venezuelan government implemented certain foreign currency exchange controls that served to centralize the purchase and sale of foreign currency within the country. Under these regulations, the purchase and sale of foreign currency must be made at the “official rate” of exchange, as determined by the Venezuelan government.
    .2 The official rate has been devalued significantly from 1.6 BsF/US$ in January 2003 to 6.3 BsF/US$ presently. The Venezuelan government has, at times, facilitated secondary foreign exchange markets, including the “parallel market” (eliminated in May 2010) and the “SITME” market (eliminated on February 8, 2013).
    .3 On March 18, 2013, the Venezuelan government announced the creation of a new foreign exchange mechanism called the “Complimentary System of Foreign Currency Acquirement” (or SICAD, which stands for Sistema Complimentario de Administración de Divisas). It operates similar to an auction system and allows entities in specific sectors to bid for US$ to be used for specified import transactions. As of December 31, 2013, approximately $1.5 billion had been exchanged in 14 SICAD auctions. National Professional Services Group | CFOdirect Network – http://www.cfodirect.pwc.com

    Key provisions
    In December 2013, the regulation that created the SICAD mechanism was amended to require the Central Bank of Venezuela to include on its website the weekly average exchange rate implied by transactions settled via the SICAD auction mechanism
    For the weeks of December 23 and December 30, 2013, the SICAD rate posted on the website of the Central Bank of Venezuela was 11.3 BsF/US$.
    While the SICAD mechanism is described as an auction, it has several attributes that are inconsistent with a free market auction. For example, participation in the SICAD mechanism is controlled by the Venezuelan government. For each auction the government indicates which sectors or products are allowed to participate. Further, the highest bidder is not necessarily the winner of an auction, and even when a bid is accepted the winner typically is not awarded the entire amount bid.
    When invited to participate, an entity must submit documentation that supports it has a qualifying US$ liability related to a prospective import transaction. By definition, liabilities related to past import transactions are not eligible to be settled through SICAD. If an entity’s bid is accepted, the Central Bank of Venezuela collects BsFs from the entity and remits the US$ directly to the vendor. If an entity’s bid in a SICAD auction is not accepted and the entity chooses to complete the import transaction, the US$ payable related to such import is not eligible for settlement in future SICAD auctions.
    Venezuela has been considered a highly inflationary economy since 2010, and accordingly, the financial statements of a “foreign entity” (as that term is defined in ASC 830) should be re-measured as if its functional currency were the reporting currency of its parent. As a result, the Venezuelan operations of most US companies now have a US$ functional currency, which requires that monetary assets and liabilities denominated in BsFs be re-measured into US$ using an exchange rate at which such balances could be settled at the balance sheet date.

  8. SEE Omar Fundora HOW MUCH MORE CREDIBLE YOU CAN BE IF YOU SUPPLY A LINK TO YOUR DATA AND/OR ARGURMENT DEAR! I REMEMBER WHEN THE LATE Hugo Chavez WOULD LAUGH AT THE USA’S FINANCIAL CRICIS MANY YEARS AGO AND SWORE THAT IN VENEZUELA THIS WOULD NEVER HAPPEN! GUESS WHAT, WE ARE ALL CONNECTED IN THIS AGE OF INTERNATIONAL TRADE AND INFORMATION!

    CNN: Venezuela’s economic nightmare takes an ugly turn – Amid violent protests, product shortages, and crushing inflation, the Venezuelan government is looking to increase the supply of U.S. dollars. But the effort is unlikely to stem the tide. – By Cyrus Sanati – March 14, 2014
    FORTUNE — The protests in Venezuela are starting to get nasty. The death toll is now at 28 and rising as people take to the streets in opposition to the government’s mishandling of the economy.

    In response, the Venezuelan government this week announced a new “third” exchange rate mechanism (SICAD II) to increase the supply of U.S. dollars to private businesses and individuals. The government hopes this new scheme will help alleviate the crushing inflation and goods shortages at the heart of the month-long protests.

    But while SICAD II might make things easier for small businesses in the short term, it is hard to see how further manipulation of Venezuela’s worthless currency will do anything to stem the tide of mass protests. Under President Nicolas Maduro, successor to Hugo Chavez, Venezuela has continued to flounder in a cesspool of self-induced crime brought on by economic stagnation. If the middle class and students leading the protests are able to draw enough support from the poorer classes to join their struggle, Maduro won’t stand a chance.

    The recent month-long protest in Venezuela is the strongest civil-disobedience movement the country has seen since 2003, when then-President Hugo Chavez was almost ousted from power in a military-led coup. In the years that have followed, Venezuela’s standard of living has fallen dramatically as the government took to manipulating the nation’s currency as a way to maintain popular support from the poorer classes. By using the state-controlled energy company, PDVSA, as a piggy bank, the Venezuelan government has subsidized a dubious state-regulated exchange rate to keep the price of food stuffs and medicine cheap.

    CLICK LINK FOR ENTIRE ARTICLE!

    http://finance.fortune.cnn.com/2014/03/14/venezuela-protests-inflation/

  9. FORBES MAGAZINE: Cheap Gasoline: Why Venezuela Is Doomed To Collapse – by Christopher Helman
    Cheap gasoline is why the government of President Nicolas Maduro is doomed to collapse. He can’t raise gas prices meaningfully without setting off an even greater populist uprising than the one already wracking the capital. But without change, the Venezuelan economy and its state-run oil company Petroleos Venezuela (PDVSA) cannot last long.

    Let’s work through the numbers to see how bad it is:

    That day may be approaching. Venezuela’s credit default swaps are at five-year highs. According to Reuters, prices for some of its debt issues have fallen to 63 cents on the dollar. Some short term issues are yielding 20%. These are the kind of sovereign yields that presage defaults.

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/christopherhelman/2014/02/20/cheap-gasoline-why-venezuela-is-doomed-to-collapse/

  10. YOUTUBE: Venezuela Fights for Freedom – A 20-minute documentary about the uprising in Venezuela since February 12, 2014. Upon the strong repression imposed by the Venezuelan regime and the media block out that followed, civilians are left with no more than hope—a hope lead by the desire of democracy, freedom and a better future. But as young students battle to be heard, they are instead hurt, abused and in many cases killed by their country’s security forces. That is why I decided to do what I know best: report the truth through the eyes of a lens. It is my duty as a Venezuelan journalist to fight for the freedom of expression in my homeland, a right that has been the core of my carrier. Thanks to the thousands of images shared by civilians, Venezuelans around the world are more present than ever, myself included. We seek to inform the globe with the same strong images that have shocked and frustrated us since the national march that took place on February 12—the same images that show serious human right violations that have gone unpunished and overlooked by Venezuela’s regime.

  11. Humberto: the economic situation in Venezuela is a recurring problem in this country. Regime change is not going to solve the problem. The solution is in correcting the exchange rates. In Venezuela $0.80 bolivars can buy you $10.00 U.S. dollars. Imports are for all practical purposes controlled by the government. Venezuela has a credit rating of CAA1 or next to Argentina. The scarcity problem which is bad at 22% ( means that you can only find 1 product of 5 the consumer is looking for) is because dollars are leaving the country at a faster rate then it is coming in. This can be fix. The Venezuelan government knows how to fix this, but, the political instability created by the extremists need to be fix first. I think Maduro already said that they are going to “lower the hammer” on the protesters if they don’t go home…with OPEC fixing the flooring on oil at $100/barrel and the Venezuelan government investing $25 Billion in the oil industry this year again will correct the short fall of 200,000 barrels of oil. I think countries like Cuba may have to pay higher price for oil from Venezuela. Politically, Maduro will reward the People economically for putting an end to the protests. I think this is why he has not move on rolling out the new Exchange Rate that had been proposed about a year ago. In other words, the longer the protesters are on the streets, the longer is going to take for the scarcity issue to be resolved….

  12. Omar Fundora said: “truth is not bias, it is absolute and supported by logic and facts that are measured, conclusive and transparent to everyone who seeks the truth”

    THIS COMES FROM SOMEONE HE SELDOMS PUTS A LINK TO HIS DATA AND/OR INFORMATION! GUESS HE/SHE HAS NOT OVERCOME THEIR LINKAPHOBIA!

  13. YOUTUBE: SOS Venezuela – The young woman Mariel as she is identified in the recording, talks about the situation in Venezuela, but also shows pictures and describes the reasons for protesting inside her country.
    La joven Mariel como se identifica en la grabación, habla sobre la situación que vive Venezuela, pero además muestra imágenes y describe las razones por la que protestan en el interior del país.

  14. Simba: you are so wrong!!…regarding what truth is…..truth is not bias, it is absolute and supported by logic and facts that are measured, conclusive and transparent to everyone who seeks the truth…

  15. Omar Fundora:
    “It seems that every country in the World does not like people knowing the truth;”
    Omar, that is quoted from one of your lengthy lectures on what you believe everyone else should believe. It is your truth, but only yours. What is the truth? Merely whatever anyone believes is the truth. There is no hard and fast one truth. The only truth, is there is no truth. Any and all government should be of, by, and for those governed. It should be beneficial to those governed subjects, not for the specific gain of the governors. All government should enhance the living standards of the masses, not the chosen few. Cuba’s present government apparently does not live by my truth. The present Cuban government uses the governed masses as a slave oriented workforce to enhance their own lifestyle. This type of government can be called whatever anyone wishes to name it, but that doesn’t change the facts. My truth says this is wrong.

  16. Venezuela’s economic analysis

    Venezuela has three options: devaluation of the Bolivar, control debt or doomsday.

    1. Must fix exchange rate or Fiscal policy- can’t continue to spend 50% more than you take in.

    a. fixing exchange rate can mean 2/3% of GDP in revenues.

    2. most stop price restrictions that appear to be arbitrary.

    3. Continue investing $25Billion in oil industry.

    4. It is impossible to control good import invoices from bad invoices…(Venezuelans are taking money out of the country by falsifying import invoices.)

    5. Domestic prices have to increase (gasoline prices in particular)

    6. Nobel Price economists in the Soviet Union were not able to fix Centrally Planned economy problems…it is almost impossible to know what all the ramifications of policies are going to be. Venezuela does not have this type of brain power to solve the problem either….

  17. Good news for Venezuelans from the Venezuelan Central Bank…inflation decreases and new economic plan to be implemented…..

    The government’s latest attempt to ease access to foreign currency was expected to begin operations this week, after its implementation was held up last month to due legislative restrictions. However, the long anticipated Complimentary System of Foreign Currency Acquirement II (Sicad II) has again been delayed.

    When trading didn’t begin on Tuesday as expected, Ramirez announced that the system wouldn’t be put into operation until the government has confidence it won’t create “distortions”.

    “They are doing testing, and we must ensure that there is no situation or failure that would send the wrong message,” Ramirez stated.

    According to Ramirez, Sicad II will start running “when we are sure that it will function optimally”, suggesting that could be possible next week.

    Based on a long shelved bond swap system known in Venezuela as the “permuta”, Sicad II will allow both public and private companies to trade foreign currency at rates higher than the official peg.

    Earlier this year Ramirez stated that Sicad II will sell around US$30 million every day. However, earlier this week he stated the system will “sell whatever it takes” to keep businesses from resorting to the black market.

    “How much and how often…is something that will be determined by the behaviour of the market,” he stated.

    The black market value of the bolivar has fallen from around Bs20 to the dollar at this time last year, to around Bs80 today. The official rate of the bolivar is 6.30 to the dollar.

    However, according to Ramirez, Sicad II has already impacted the black market. This month the bolivar regained some value on the street, after hitting a low of Bs90 to the dollar. Ramirez credited the rebound to anticipation of Sicad II’s inception.

    Venezuela’s largest business group, Fedecamaras has expressed support for Sicad II. On Thursday, Fedecamaras head Jorge Roig described the system as heading “in the right direction”.

    More Private Sector Cutbacks

    However, on the heels of Sicad II’s delay, Venezuela’s third largest foreign airline announced it would further scale back services in the country.

    The Colombian based Avianca has revealed it will cut 73% percent of flights servicing Venezuela, including routes to Peru, Costa Rica and Colombia.

    Earlier this year Avianca President Fabio Villegas blamed difficulties with Venezuela’s foreign exchange system for cutbacks. The airline reportedly has close to US$300 million in Venezuela.

    According to the International Air Transport Association, carriers have around US$3.7 billion locked in the country.

    Another foreign company, Chrysler, has also announced it will start scaling back operations in Venezuela next week. The car manufacturer claimed that it’s struggling to import assembly materials.

    On Thursday, Ramirez again called for the private sector to work more closely with the government. He also announced that the Maduro administration had committed to a 56 point plan to improve the economy, during a speech at a peace conference in Anzoategui.

    According to Ramirez, the plan emerged from proposals made by private businesses and workers’ unions.

    “We will work with all sectors… but starting from a principle of absolute adherence to the constitution, the rules of the…country, respect the people, peace and the rejection of the real terrorism we have seen,” he stated.

  18. History has a way of repeating itself. The censorship in Cuba during Batista, the censorship in Venezuela. The Castro Regime in Cuba. The bias Media in the United States. It seems that every country in the World does not like people knowing the truth; it threatens their oppression of the People. Governments fear the People knowing too much about the results of policies because they never seem to achieve the results they promise they will. This is why it is so important to have an independent press that report the truth completely un-bias….even if it tarnish an organization or the Party of their choice for the News outlet owners….our Media industry has drifted away from not being bias and it has placed our Democratic organizations in jeopardy. Hope Cubans don’t make the same mistake when an independent Media outlet becomes a reality…

  19. In addition to censorship of the press printed within the Island, the Batista government also placed restrictions on the domestic circulation of foreign news that contained information about Fidel Castro and the rebels; two newspapers affected were The New York Times and the Miami Herald. On February 18, the IAPA demonstrated their disapproval of such violations of freedom of the press in calling for the “immediate lifting of the unjustified censorship” on these two foreign newspapers

  20. This somewhat subdued period (1952/53) in the relationship between the Batista government and the press was short-lived. Although Batista had previously enjoyed support—even if only from a minority of the population—an opposition of mostly lower middle or working class persons soon appeared. On Sunday July 26, 1953, a group led by a former student leader at the University of Havana, Fidel Castro, attacked the Moncada military barracks. Immediately following this armed assault, Batista suspended all constitutional guarantees. Additionally, the government
    imposed censorship on four publications “considered to reflect the opinions of the opposition,”
    and on July 28 the censorship was extended to all newspapers and magazines in Cuba. In response to these events, the IAPA sent a letter to President Batista denouncing these measures and urged him to revoke such censorship. Not only was this request ignored, but Batista—in
    an attempt to prevent possible future revolts against his government—also established Decree Law on Public Order on August 6, 1953. This law provided for “fines, prison sentences and the closing of businesses for those guilty of ‘damaging the dignity of the nation,’ harming its economy or expressing disrespect for the Government, its officials or organs.”

  21. In August 1952, the Batista government temporarily closed the newspaper La Calle after it published two editions.12 From this time until July 1953, there was relatively little censorship in Cuba. However, in October 1952, the Inter-American Press Association (IAPA) held a meeting in Mexico City, at which Cuba was included on the list of countries that limited freedom of the press “in one way or another.” Interestingly, however, Cuban editors and other individuals
    suffering from censorship in other countries were invited to the IAPA meeting to “speak freely to
    a sympathetic audience which was pledged to help them in their struggle for freedom of the press.”
    These Cuban editors had to receive permission from the Cuban government to attend this meeting. One week later, a New York Times article claimed that Batista held no hard feelings against those editors who went to Mexico City.

  22. On March 10, 1952, General Fulgencio Batista took advantage of the political corruption that was taking place under the previous administration of Carlos Prío Socarrás to lead a military coup d’etat. This occurred only a few weeks prior to the 1952 elections, in which Batista—who was a Presidential candidate—was expected to lose. For ousting the corrupt Prío government and promising to establish law and order, Batista initially enjoyed support at least among a minority of the population. In general, varying degrees of freedom of the press existed throughout Batista’s rule. To win over the press to report favorably, he relied on an incentive policy of bribes and inducements. As the strength of the opposition to his regimen grew, he suspended constitutional
    protections to suppress the press. Immediately following his coup d’etat, General Batista enforced a “news dim out,” according to the Editor & Publisher journal. Five days after he came to power, the journal stated, “police and army units were dispatched to all radio and television stations
    throughout Havana,” and “announcers were prohibited from mentioning the overthrow of the [Prío]
    government at the threat of gunpoint.” Two Havana morning dailies, Alerta and El Crisol, were given permission to publish the story.4 They were given an “exclusive beat” because they published the story before the “news dim out” went into effect. Another strategy that Batista used to restrict the press immediately upon taking office was the promise that he would not tolerate the printing of “inflammatory material” against his regime. In order to control the printed press more effectively, Batista established the Ministry of Propaganda (later renamed the Ministry of Information) “to issue regular government news releases.” To lead this office, Batista appointed
    Ernesto de la Fé, a relatively unknown newsman. In this early period, the Batista government made its requests known of what would and would not be permitted in the press “by a friendly sort of subtle censorship.” According to Editor & Publisher, these subtle desires would be made clear by a phone call from the Ministry of Propaganda which would “request…that a certain news item not be published, or that it be played strong, depending on the government’s viewpoint.” Perhaps this subtlety is best described in a quote by an anonymous newspaper publisher
    in Havana at the time:

    The government has not told us what we can, or cannot,
    print. Everything, thus far, has been on a Moe to
    Joe basis. We will get a telephone call from the Palace
    asking us if we would please do this or that. Naturally,
    we comply because we don’t know what will happen
    if we don’t.

    While initially Batista attempted to control the press through subtle gestures, his strategy changed within two months to one of trying to “win the press over.” The regime did this in two predominant
    ways. First, Batista replaced Congress by creating a Consultative Council that would recommend legislation to the Cabinet, which could then be made into law. Out of the 80 members of the council, Batista appointed 10 individuals from various newspapers.

    Second, Batista ordered the proceeds from two national lotteries to go directly to the Association of Reporters. It is estimated that the total amount from each of these lotteries was over $25,000.11 In short, Batista purposely placed members of the press in top level advisory positions and directed lottery funds to ensure the goodwill of the press at large.

  23. Cuba has had a long history of corruption and censorship of the press. Batista did it prior to Fidel and Fidel did it by turning the press into a propaganda avenue and bias means of communication. I read the activists blogs in Cuba and they all are keeping with the Cuban tradition of bias reporting…Why is everybody on both camps so afraid of reporting the truth?….because neither side offers a clear better solution to the economic, social and political problems of the island nation. Neither the government of Raul Castro or the Activists offers a model that helps keep the island a sovereign nation. This is why both sides should work together towards creating a Socialist Democratic Republic instead of the activists wanting a “Free Market Society” or the government really wanting a Socialist Republic…bipartisanship can be achieved with a Socialist Democratic Republic.

    a minute ago

  24. PHOTO MEME: STOP IT PLEASE! YOU MEAN JOURNALISTS AND SOCIAL MEDIA USERS! STOP SAYING THE TRUTH ABOUT ME OR I WILL THROW A TEMPER TANTRUM AND CALL YOU A FASCIST! YOU BULLIES! I ONLY HAVE THE ARMY, POLICE AND ARMED TUPAMAROS THUGS TO HELP ME! IM SOO ALONE! EXCEPT FOR THE OVER 100,000 CUBAN OPERATIVES THAT Raul Castro KNOW AS “LA CHINA” HAS SENT TO VENEZUELA OVER THE PAST 15 YEARS! MANY DISGUISED AS DOCTORS, ENGINEERS AND SALSA DANCERS!

  25. These are the students that without fire arms, protest in Altamira, Chacao Municipality of Venezuela, against the government forces of Nicolas Maduro, Young people who are fighting and risking their own lives for a better Venezuela. They are who Nicolas Maduro accuses of violent attacks against the officers of the security forces.- PHOTOS REUTERSEstos son los estudiantes, que sin armas, protestan en Altamira, municipio Chacao, contra el gobierno de Nicolás Maduro, Jóvenes que luchan y arriesgan sus vidas por un país mejor. Ellos son a quienes Maduro acusa de violentos y de atacar a los funcionarios de la fuerza pública.

    http://www.noticiasaldiayalahora.co/index.php/politica/1492-en-una-imagen-los-rostros-de-altamira-fotos-de-reuters.html

  26. Socialist Worker,

    Are you blind? Are you completely daft?

    Are any of your five senses working? Smell, taste, hearing, vision and touch?

    Cuba is run, has been run and continues to be run by two thugs who like to murder their opponents so they can stay in power. It has been that way for over 50 years.

    Putting this in astronomical terms, that means the Earth has orbited the Sun more than fifty times while the Castro criminals have remained in power. Not a long time on the celestial timescale, but still.

    And you say you don’t like oligarchs? How do you feel about unelected dynasties?

    What planet are you from?

  27. The behavior of the Castroit regime is a threat to the international community and shall be punished for its involvement in the weapons smuggling by the North Korea tyrannical regime, in violation of the UN Security Council’s arms embargo. But probably very little will be done by the UN. This behavior certainly would not improve its relations with other countries.

  28. Thank you, Simba and Humberto.

    What I gather from your posts is that an entity in Cuba called Cubazucar collaborated with the Cuban military to intentionally hide this arms shipment to North Korea. This probably isn’t the first time they have done this.

    In other words, the folks at Cubazucar provided thousands of bags of sugar which were used to cover and hide arms shipments to North Korea. The arms that were caught in this most recent shipment remain in Panama pending a judicial proceeding which will decide what to do with the cargo.

    Now that we’ve uncovered this foolish Cuban plot, the likes of which only dummkopfs like Nick could conceive of, what should we do?

    Granted, the North Koreans involved with this scheme have probably all been executed by now thanks to their 100% voter turn-out, 100% vote-for-one-candidate system. So there probably aren’t many North Koreans left to sanction because they are all dead.

    Cubans, on the other hand, in the Cuban dictatorship class are probably still running around and available to sanction.

  29. PHOTOS OF THE STUDENTS KILLED BY THE CHAVISTASFASCISTAS ON THE SHIELDS OF THE STUDENT PROTESTERS! THOSE YOUNG PEOPLE WONT GIVE UP! SO INSPIRING THEIR COURAGE AND PERSEVERANCE! Esta es la foto que ha conmovido a toda Venezuela

  30. “Venezuela has a Dictador called Nicolás Maduro.” When the capitalist lose an election the winner is always a dictator. When they win an election they are always hailed as great democrats. In Cuba’s case when Fidel Castro ran for office the US canceled the election and installed Batista. When the Cuban revolution over through Batista the US wanted elections based on the old way of doing things with the oligarchy nominating thieves that promise heaven on earth. The Cuban people had enough of that way of doing things and embarked on a new way making a democracy to meet human needs instead of a few oligarchs taking and owning every thing. The US Congress deciding it knows what is best for Cuba has passed a law that it is unable to implement. So called free elections that will not include the Communist Party of Cuba. Their desire is to insert a bunch of thieves into the Cuban government much like themselves.

  31. MIAMI HERALD: UN: Cuba would not ID those responsible for North Korea arms shipment – by Juan Tamayo

    Cuba’s government refused to identify the people or entities involved in a weapons shipment to North Korea last year that violated a U.N. arms embargo, and might have violated the embargo twice more in 2012, according to a U.N. report made public Tuesday.

    Some of the weapons and equipment that Cuba described as “obsolete” had been calibrated just before they were put aboard the freighter Chong Chon Gang, the document added, and Cuban insignias on two MiG21 warplanes were painted over.

    The report also declared that the shipment intercepted in Panama violated the U.N. embargo on the Asian nation, and that despite Havana’s denials there were indications Cuba intended to turn over the weapons to the Pyongyang government.

    Cuba’s 240-ton shipment was “the largest amount of arms and related materiel” interdicted going to or from North Korea since the Asian nation was hit with an arms embargo in 2006 because of its nuclear weapons program, the document added.

    The public part of the 127-page report makes no recommendations on sanctions for Cuban or North Korean entities involved in the violations. But it mentions a secret annex submitted to the U.N. Security Council (UNSC) committee in charge of banking and travel sanctions on violators.

    The U.S. State Department said it will “pursue appropriate action” based on the report but added, “We do not view this as a bilateral issue between the United States and Cuba. This is about a potential violation of U.N. Security Council sanctions on North Korea.”

    Cuba declared in July that it sent the weapons to North Korea to be repaired and returned. It later argued to U.N. investigators who visited Havana that they did not violate the U.N. ban on the “supply, sale or transfer” of weapons to Pyongyang because Cuba retained ownership and the embargo covers “maintenance” but not “repairs.”

    Those arguments were rejected in the document Tuesday, the annual report by the panel of U.N. experts that investigates all violations of the North Korea sanctions. It was submitted last month to the UNSC committee that enforces the embargo, and parts of it had leaked to the news media.

    “The Panel is unconvinced by Cuba’s rationale to distinguish ‘maintenance’ and ‘repair,’” the report said, adding flatly that the shipment “violated the sanctions.”

    Although Cuba told the U.N. investigators that the state-run Cubazucar had shipped the 200,018 sacks of sugar that covered and hid the weapons on the Chong Chon Gang, it refused to identify the Cubans involved in the weapons shipment and contract with Pyongyang.

    CLICK LINK FOR ENTIRE ARTICLE!

    http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/03/11/3988843/un-cuba-would-not-id-those-responsible.html

  32. Simba Sez: Hank, Although the UN report has declared this to be an illegan transaction the cargo is being held in storage in Panama awaiting a court decision as to its final disposition. Korea has paid a nearly $700,000 fine and the ship and 32 of 35 crew members has returned to Cuba. The top three officers of the ship are awaiting legal action. The Cuban Government has refused to name any Cuban authorities responsible for the shipment. One would suppose there will be further sanctioning activity assessed to the Cuban and North Korean Governments.

  33. Does anyone know what has happened to the tons of armaments Cuba illegally tried to traffic to North Korea on a North Korean ship through the Panama Canal?

    Last I read, Panama confiscated the North Korean ship, and the illegal Cuban weapons, and the bags of sugar Castro used to try to hide said weapons in said North Korean ship.

    It’s hard to imagine a more bizarre set of facts. Which makes me wonder what other lunatic schemes the Castros are perpetrating that we don’t know about.

    So what has happened to the confiscated illegally trafficked weapons from the state sponsors of terror in Cuba? And what about all that sugar? Where did it go?

    Do the weapons get transferred to a factory in Panama especially dedicated to destroying Cuban weapons caught in the Panama Canal?

    Maybe Nick, the expert on all things Cuba, from imported pig viruses to, well, pretty much everything else in the world, can shed some light on this.

  34. ***
    HI SOCIALIST WORKER–Potemkin Village lies can’t hide the lack of freedom that the Cuban People suffer. I hope that brave Yoani Sanchez’s next blog won’t be coming from a jail cell. Freedom of the press doesn’t exist in Cuba, clown! Punishment for telling the truth does.
    ***
    HOLA TRABAJADOR SOCIALISTA–Pueblo Potemkinano mentidas no puedan esconder la falta de LIBERTAD que sufrin la Gente Cubano. Espero que valiente Yoani Sanchez no mandara su proximo blog de una celda en el carcel. La Libertad De La Prensa no exista en Cuba, payaso! Castigo por decir la verdad si exista.
    ***
    John Bibb
    ***

  35. Something about Nick reminds me of old Father William.

    You are old, Father William,” the young man said,
    “And your hair has become very white;
    And yet you incessantly stand on your head—
    Do you think, at your age, it is right?”

    “In my youth,” Father William replied to his son,
    “I feared it might injure the brain;
    But now that I’m perfectly sure I have none,
    Why, I do it again and again.”

    “You are old,” said the youth, “As I mentioned before,
    And have grown most uncommonly fat;
    Yet you turned a back-somersault in at the door—
    Pray, what is the reason of that?”

    “In my youth,” said the sage, as he shook his grey locks,
    “I kept all my limbs very supple
    By the use of this ointment—one shilling the box—
    Allow me to sell you a couple?”

    “You are old,” said the youth, “And your jaws are too weak
    For anything tougher than suet;
    Yet you finished the goose, with the bones and the beak—
    Pray, how did you manage to do it?”

    “In my youth,” said his father, “I took to the law,
    And argued each case with my wife;
    And the muscular strength which it gave to my jaw,
    Has lasted the rest of my life.”

    “You are old,” said the youth, “one would hardly suppose
    That your eye was as steady as ever;
    Yet you balanced an eel on the end of your nose—
    What made you so awfully clever?”

    “I have answered three questions, and that is enough,”
    Said his father; “don’t give yourself airs!
    Do you think I can listen all day to such stuff?
    Be off, or I’ll kick you down stairs!”

    Lewis Carroll

  36. Firstly, wholehearted support to you and the rest of the wonderful Cuban people Yoani. Secondly, to Neutral Observer, I’m wondering on what planet the US state department is held up to be such a paragon of truth and liberty? Cos it certainly ain’t this one.

  37. Speaking about lies, I noticed the “Cuba forced to suspend consular services” lie in Socialist Worker’s post.

    Here’s what we know about this double-barreled lie:

    As last year, Cuba did not suspend consular services. They offer services on “humanitarian” grounds, which means they are open for business if they like you and closed if they don’t. If you have lots of money, they will like you.

    Even less truthful is they were “forced” to suspend consular services.

    On the contrary, Castro has forced the US civil service to run around looking for a new bank (all on the US taxpayer dime), rather than looking in the Yellow Pages himself.

    Apparently, over 50 banks in the USA have offered to service the Cuban consul, but for some reason, Castro doesn’t like any of them.

    Maybe their drug and terrorism money-laundering services don’t meet Castro’s exacting requirements.

    Read it all, folks, in a free press that dares to report some facts:

    “The State Department said while the primary responsibility to find a new bank lies with the Cuban missions, in an effort to help, it has been in touch with more than 50 financial institutions since last summer and that M&T also had tried to help the Cuban missions identify a new bank or banks.

    “We encourage the Cuban government to consider all available options, including potential solutions we have repeatedly discussed with them, to address their missions’ needs and to restore full consular services,” said a State Department employee.

    http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/02/20/3949521/us-says-it-offered-cuba-a-solution.html

  38. Hank,

    I think what Socialist Worker means is that the press should only publish lies that make him feel good.

    Any journalist who publishes the truth should be executed.

    It’s all about feeling good. Armchair socialist workers need to feel good.

  39. Nick,

    Neutral Observer makes a number of points which you have not addressed and which you keep ignoring.

    For example, you continue to say that laws in Cuba should be “respected” because you want to justify the things that occur there, like Alan Gross being imprisoned for 15 years for hooking up Jewish people in Cuba to the internet.

    Do you also think the laws of Adolf Hitler should be respected too? I can’t speak for Hitler, but I’m pretty sure he would have been against hooking up Jewish people in Cuba to the internet, just like Castro.

    How about the laws of Apartheid South Africa? Or the laws of Saudi Arabia? Should the laws in those countries be “respected” too?

    Why don’t you answer him, Nick?

  40. Socialist Worker,

    You don’t seem to be quite on board with Yoani’s new venture for a free press in Cuba.

    If that is the case, could you at least articulate an argument against Yoani’s proposition?

    I’ve read your post three times now and I can’t understand what it means or what you are trying to say.

  41. “All the pages have this rancid stink of journalism that doesn’t dare to address the present, that avoids the here and now.” This is her opinion however it is completely groundless. Granma in the Spanish language print edition and Granma International in the foreign languages editions are available for free online.

    Once there online that is you can read about how Cuba prioritizes clean energy, Women’s Studies in Cuba, How Cuba has been forced to suspend consular services in the U.S., Cuban Medical Brigades, and how 15% of the global population consumes 90% of pharmaceuticals. Its not full the sensationalism concerning common crimes like rape and murder, the latest corruption or political sex scandal like American corporate media. But this is the type of trash a ‘real journalist’ like Yoani Sanchez would like write about.

  42. THOSE GOCHOS LOOK REAL SERIOUS! WATCH OUT Nicolas Maduro! YOU BETTER TALK TO THESE VENEZUELAN WARRIORS FROM THE ANDES! DUH! IF THE VENEZUELA DOMINO GOES, THE CASTROFASCIST WILL FOLLOW! NO DOUBT IN MY MIND! BUT THEN AGAIN, I’M NOT Nick OR Omar Fundora! JE JE JE!
    Así está Táchira a esta hora! This is how Tachicha looks at this hour!

  43. Wonderful post, Yoani. I wish you the best of luck! I’m sure that whatever you do, it will be a great success!

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