Kudos to the State Department

Tuesday, January 15, 2013
We've previously documented some pretty outrageous comments by journalists at the State Department, who can't seem to set their policy biases aside for the sake of journalistic integrity.

Yesterday, once again, a journalist was intent on wanting the State Department to recognize his/her narrative regarding the Castro dictatorship's so-called "reforms."

Needless to say, this journalist did not ask about 2012 registering the highest number of political arrests by the Cuban regime against peaceful pro-democracy activists in decades.

Or, about the Castro regime risking its citizen's lives by trying to cover-up a cholera outbreak.

Or, about an independent journalist in prison since September 16th for reporting on it.

Or, about the Castro regime's current subversion of another country's democratic process.

All timely news items.

Fortunately, the State Department was not blind to the first fact.

From yesterday's daily press briefing with State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland:

QUESTION: Firstly, you had some comments on Friday about Cuba. Do you have anything new to say considering that today the exit visa seems to have been effectively lifted?

MS. NULAND: Well, as you know, we did put out some comments after the briefing because we had a number of questions. The United States welcomes any reforms that allow Cubans to depart from and return to their country freely, which is obviously a right that’s provided to everyone under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to be able to come and go from your own country or any other country.

We are also committed to safe, legal, and orderly migration from Cuba to the U.S. in accordance with our bilateral agreements of 1994 and 1995. We continue to support purposeful travel that enhances contact between the Cuban and the American people. I don’t have anything new to say with regard to trends since we put out these statements on Friday. Obviously, if we start to see changes in patterns, we’ll let you know.

QUESTION: Can I just – we’ve got some early reaction that seems to say that even opponents of the regime seem to be getting their – this seems to be respectful of them as well. Is that what you guys are seeing as well?

MS. NULAND: I don’t have anything on metrics over the last two days. You’re talking about how many more Cubans are able to travel now?

QUESTION: And just that they don’t seem to be excluding regime opponents as has happened with previous exit requirements.

MS. NULAND: I frankly think it’s too early to tell. This went into effect on the 14th. And then just to remind that even though the exit visa requirement has been lifted, there are still requirements to enable Cuban citizens to get passports. Most of them who had passports were required to renew them in the context of this. So I think it’s – we just have to see how it proceeds. But I don’t think two days is enough of a test, obviously.

QUESTION: Can I follow up? I mean, why can’t you speak to trends? I mean, clearly over the last – during the course of this Administration, you’ve seen, even as slight as it may be, an upward kind of trajectory in terms of some of reforms that are taking place in the country. And don’t you think you should be encouraging these reforms rather than kind of giving them not significant weight? I mean, clearly more needs to be done, but you do seem to be downplaying the trends.

MS. NULAND: I think I started this conversation by saying that we welcome any reform, including this one, that makes it easier for Cubans to travel. But having – this having come into force on the 14th, I’m not in a position here [2]on the 17th to evaluate whether the Cubans – whether the Cuban Government is really honoring its commitment to allow more people to travel.

QUESTION: I’m not talking specifically only about this event. But if you take it in totality with some of the other economic reforms and other types of political reforms that are taking place on the island, I mean, wouldn’t you say that there is an upward trajectory in terms of reforms?

MS. NULAND: I think we would say that it is still one of the most repressive places in terms of its human rights record, in terms of its restrictions on its citizens, in terms of speech, assembly, political rights, et cetera. But we welcome any liberalization and we hope that this will turn out to be one such.