In Week-Long Series, NPR Oblivious to Human Rights in Cuba

Friday, June 27, 2014
This week, NPR has run a week-long "special series" on Cuba.

The series covered the Port of Mariel (as Castro's "window to the future"); the need for more tourism; an interview with Castro regime official (and intelligence officer) Josefina Vidal to criticize U.S. policy; Cuba's "budding" entrepreneurs (despite having no rights); and Cuban-American remittances.

The Castro regime was so happy with these pieces that it even reproduced some of them (in their entirety) on state media -- no joke.

And for its final segment, it featured, "On Being Gay, and Socialist, in Cuba Today" -- an ode of sorts to Cuban dictator Raul Castro's daughter, Mariela.

How about on being gay in Cuba, regardless of ideology?

Why didn't NPR cover the case of David Bustamante, the 21-year old gay rights activist who just this month (while NPR's intrepid reporters were in Cuba) was arrested, brutally beaten (left with broken limbs) and confined to an AIDS prison?

His crime? Staging a peaceful protest outside his home.

David's mother is a member of The Ladies in White, a democracy group composed of the wives, mothers, daughters, sisters and other relatives of Cuban political prisoners.

Why didn't NPR spend a Sunday with The Ladies in White in Matanzas, where every weekend they are confronted, beaten and arrested by Castro's agents as they try to attend Mass?

Or cover the case of Sonia Garro, an Afro-Cuban member of The Ladies in White, who has been imprisoned for over 2-years without trial or charges?

During NPR's visit to Cuba, the home of democracy leader Jorge Luis Garcia Perez "Antunez" and his wife, Yris, was raided at dawn. They were arrested, beaten and chocked unconscious in prison.

Their crime?  Leading a letter signed by over 830 democracy activists asking the U.S. not to lift sanctions until human rights are recognized and respected in Cuba.

How about visiting Antunez in Placetas?

During NPR's visit, Cuban independent journalists were rounded up, beaten and harassed, including the head of Hablemos Press, Roberto de Jesus Guerra, whose face was left disfigured.

NPR did briefly speak with this fellow journalist -- but only after giving one of Castro's official journalists most of the segment to propagandize and trying to make Guerra appear as some sort of U.S. agent.

However, not a single mention by NPR of the dramatic increase of repression in Cuba under Raul Castro.

NPR could have spent a day in Santiago with members of the Cuban Patriotic Union (UNPACU), the island's largest opposition group, and witness first-hand the violent repression they are exposed to.

Or discuss the case of dissident rapper, Angel Yunier Remon "El Critico", who has been imprisoned for over a year without trial or charges?

Or discuss the deaths of democracy advocates Orlando Zapata Tamayo, Laura Pollan, Wilmar Villar Mendoza, Juan Wifredo Soto, Oswaldo Paya SardiƱas and Harold Cepero.

Or the 1,000+ documented political arrests undertaken by the Castro regime each month.

But it purposefully chose not to.

This is not unlike a "people-to-people" trip to Cuba -- the U.S.-licensed, Castro-hosted tours of the island for Americans.

Nor is it unlike those who seek to lift sanctions and do business with Castro's monopolies.

To them, the lack of fundamental freedoms and human rights are simply incidental costs of doing business.

NPR's "special series" has just given us another taste of what that looks like.