The Silence of the Media

Tuesday, November 17, 2009
From today's Special Order speech on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives by U.S. Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart of Florida:

The international press, including almost all the press in the United States, continues to ignore the suffering of the oppressed people of Cuba.

Yes, there are exceptions, such as the National Review's Jay Nordlinger, the premier defender of human rights in the American press, or The Miami Herald's Juan Tamayo or Wilfredo Cancio, and occasionally there are other dignified exceptions. But the almost totality of the U.S. press systematically ignores what goes on in Cuba.

Despite 50 years of brutal tyranny there.

Despite Cuba being only 90 miles from our shores.

Despite hundreds of prisoners of conscience languishing in dungeons
simply because of their peaceful advocacy for freedoms—including freedom of the press—which should not be denied to any people. And thousands of others imprisoned for crimes which are only illegal in the totalitarian fiefdom of a demented despot—crimes like "dangerousness", or "illegally attempting to leave the country."

The press continues to ignore the reality of Cuba. Their irresponsibility in doing so is absolutely indefensible.

Jewish friends have told me they understand what I am talking about when I refer to the concept of the non-person. For countless generations—for 1800 years—Jews were subject to exile, to pogroms, persecution, discrimination. And their suffering was ignored in countries throughout the world. They were "non-persons".

When their suffering was ­not ignored, it was often minimized or ridiculed. Jews know that the recovery of their homeland—the establishment of their state in 1948—was absolutely necessary. That was the only way to guarantee the end of the non-person status, to guarantee an end to pogroms, to discrimination, to persecution.

Cubans have been stateless non-persons for almost 51 years. Their suffering is systematically ignored. Their unity of purpose is continuously questioned or ridiculed. Even the torture of their heroes, of the heroic political prisoners, is ignored.

Martha Beatriz Roque, a respected economist and leading Cuban dissident and former political prisoner (who was only released from prison so she would not die in prison and embarrass Castro) is close to death in Havana due to complications arising from a hunger strike she is engaged in. Dozens of other brave dissidents are also on hunger strikes in the home of one of Cuba's other extremely respected pro-democracy leaders, Vladimiro Roca.

Cubans, unlike the Jews, have not yet recovered their state. They will. But they haven't yet.

I ask the press, the media, to please cease treating Cuba's pro-democracy activists as though they did not exist. Stop treating Martha Beatriz Roque as a non-person.

Why do you continue to absolutely ignore Cuba's brave prisoners of conscience? Why don't you, at least, write about the elderly prisoners of conscience in Cuba, such as Hector Maseda Gutierrez, or Arnaldo Ramos Lauzurique? Or about severely handicapped prisoners of conscience such as Miguel Galván Gutierrez. Or, most especially, about the gravely ill Cuban prisoners of conscience in the gulag such as Ariel Sigler or Normando Hernández? Or Dr. José Luis García Paneque? Or Dr. Alfredo Pulido Lopez, or Pedro Arguelles Morán?

Members of the press, have you no conscience? Do not continue to treat the suffering, oppressed people of Cuba and their heroes as non-persons. Please, do your duty.