Cuban Press Silent

If you take a look online at the Communist Party daily newspaper in Cuba, Granma, you'll notice that it has been focusing on recalling the glory days of Fidel Castro's past, what Washington might or might not be thinking, and what other countries in the world are saying about Cuba. There is very little, if any, coverage of major events going on inside the island politically, economically or socially. Except for an interview with Raul Castro published some two weeks ago, there has been very little explanation to the Cuban people as to what the differences might be in the way Raul Castro will lead. The lack of an independent press in Cuba has again been underscored since Fidel Castro turned over power, temporarily, to his younger brother Raul.

It seems from reading the paper that the Cuban government is not ready to inform its people of any changes as they occur. Instead, the government has shown that it will spring change upon the nation at a moment's notice. Since there are no options flowing down to the people, the question is, how does the Cuban government know what, if any, changes or reforms they should undertake to improve the communist, centrally-planned economy?

Cuban Govt. Journalist and I Discuss Cuba on Intl. Radio

I participated in a roundtable discussion this morning on Global Radio, sponsored by the University of Missouri. Joining me on the panel were Peter Kasperowicz, managing editor of Inside U.S. Trade, Eduardo Ulibarri, a journalism professor at the University of Costa Rica, and Rogelio Polanco, director of the government-run Juventud Rebelde newspaper in Cuba. It is extremely rare for a Cuban government journalist to discuss Cuba on a U.S. media outlet. Listen to it here. Polanco was towing the communist party line, praising Fidel Castro's leadership. I had to remind listeners that there is no freedom of the press in Cuba. Very interesting discussion.

If you want to cut to the back and forth between Polanco and I in the 28-minute broadcast, here are the exact times in the recording that Polanco and I speak:

Polanco: 3:00 minutes

Me: 5:53 minutes

Me: 13:14 minutes

Polanco: 16:32 minutes

Me: 21:39 minutes

Raul Castro's Big Speech

Granma, Cuba's communist government-run daily newspaper, transcribed Raul Castro's speech from June 14 and has it up on its front page. Raul Castro's profile has been steadily growing on the island in the past few weeks. Here is an excerpt:

"In those conditions favorable to their interests, it was obvious that the imperial hawks were considering the possibility of giving a piece of their mind to those who signified a obstacle to their dreams of world domination, and evidently, Cuba, for reasons that are all too well known, could be high on the list of immediate targets."

"This U.S. administration’s increasing backing of ultra-right groups of Cuban origin based in Miami, as well as the extended inciting of local mercenaries by the U.S. Interests Section in Havana, compounded by increased provocations and acts of terrorism such as the hijacking of civilian vessels and aircraft, all accompanied by the staging of grand media campaigns, were clear signals of such aggressive plans."

"That was happening at an extremely difficult juncture for the country, given the combination of the increased price of oil after the invasion of Iraq, the collapse of tourism as a consequence of the September 11 attacks in 2001, and the vertiginous descent of sugar prices to levels that made its production simply unsustainable in many parts of the island."

"None of that daunted us. Along with other important tasks of the Revolution, the programs contained in the Battle of Ideas directed at improving education, health, social security, culture, sports – at the end of day, the quality of life of the people, went ahead."

Pro-Castro Cuban: U.S. Policies Are Anti-Family

Andres Gomez, who writes from Miami for Cuba's communist government publications, writes that the “extreme right” in the Cuban exile community promotes measures to tighten the embargo that are anti-family. Gomez, who was bestowed with official accolades by the Cuban government in Havana this year, writes freely in favor of the Cuban government from his home in Miami and has been doing so for decades. Yet the Cuban exile community in Miami is often criticized for intolerance. What do you think?

From Gomez:

"The extreme right of the Cuban exile community has convinced the Bush administration to persist in imposing grave restrictions on travel to Cuba, violating rights that are considered constitutional. The cruelest of the these affect Cuban migrants living in the United States, who, since 2004, have only been allowed to visit their family on the island once every three years. Also, against natural rights, the government has arbitrarily decided who is considered family and who isn’t, and who can be visited. According to the restrictions, only immediate family can be visited. For the extreme right in the Cuban American community and the Bush administration the rest of our loved ones in Cuba, the people who raised us or we were raised with, are not considered family, and as such, we have no right to visit them…"

"…In reality, it’s irrationality and sadism from the extreme right in the Cuban American community and their allies in the federal government focusing on regulations to prohibit Cuba travel - a result of the impossibility of destroying the liberties and the independence of the Cuban people - that make these measures exist."¬iciaid=6875¬iciafecha=2006-05-31&t=Portada

Pro-Castro Exile: Cuban Americans Lie About Cuba

Andres Gomez, a pro-Castro Cuban who writes from Miami for Cuban government publications, writes:

"In all countries dominated by reaction, it creates an image apart from the reality that exists in those societies. In Miami’s case, being a city much less complex – being only a city, through the composition and power of the dominant sectors and how these are capable of exercising power – reaction has a greater opportunity to create and manipulate to its whims that image separate from reality. In this case, I am referring to the image of Cuba, created by reactionary Cuban-Americans, a product of their many tenacious lies about the Cuban Revolution. With all the powerful media outlets, in English and Spanish, at their disposal, they disseminate these issues at their whim. The fundamental problem of this false reality of Cuba is when Cuba finds itself -- runs into – the true reality that lies can’t control or change. It’s like when a you drive a stake through the heart of a vampire. This just happened when Cuba was elected to the new UN Commission on Human Rights."

Cuba: Ten Presidents Later, Embargo Still a Failure

Also in Granma: "Since 1959, ten US administrations have not tired in repeating —for purposes of justification— that the economic, commercial and financial blockade against Cuba was and continues to be a reply by the US government to nationalization. These transfers of property were lawfully conducted following the triumphant revolution against the pervasive Yankee monopolies that had for decades drained the resources of the Cuban people. The economic war against this small island —history’s longest and most protracted of such kind of aggression— and qualified under international law as an act of genocide, is nothing else but the most cowardly expression of the US’s long-cherished dream of colonial domination of Cuba. This is the price we Cubans have been forced to pay for our steadfast determination to defend our sovereignty, our independence and our irreversible gains under socialism."

Has Cuba made any progress under socialism, or has it been all bad news?

Cuba Keeps Focus on Posada

From Granma, Cuba's Communist party daily: "A new political maneuver aimed at protecting notorious terrorist Luis Posada Carriles is in the works.
On April 20 in El Paso, Texas, lawyers and immigration authorities will question Posada before ruling on whether he is given US citizenship. Behind the move is, apparently, an effort to freeze the legal process for Posada’s extradition to Venezuela."

Is Posada a freedom fighter or a terrorist?

Granma: "Dirty Game Against Cuba"

Granma, Cuba's Communist Party daily paper, writes today: "El Nuevo Herald published an insidious article titled "U.S. and Cuba clash over World Classic earnings," which, citing a so-called spokesman for baseball’s Major Leagues, attempts to ignore Cuba’s decision to donate to the victims of Hurricane Katrina earnings that legitimately should go to our country for having won second place in the tournament, which would not be handed over to Cuba by virtue of the criminal and shameful laws of the blockade."

Castro Didn't Order Ballplayers to Win

Fortunately for the Cuban baseball team, Cuban leader Fidel Castro didn't demand that they win, the team's manager, Higinio Velez, said recently, according to the Communist Party Daily, Granma: "Before we left for the Classic, he [Castro] got together with us, bid us farewell and did not demand that we win this tournament," said Velez in San Diego. "He just asked us to play good ball, do our best as a baseball team, and show the world the kind of baseball we play in Cuba."

Cuban Babies Healthy

Cuba is hosting a ninth annual primary care convention. The island’s claim to fame on this front: it says it has one of the lowest infant mortality rates in the world, including the United States and Canada. Cuba’s Juventud Rebelde newspaper credits the country’s vaccination program.

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