AP Gets Defensive on Cuba Programs, Contradicts Itself

Thursday, August 7, 2014
Yesterday, the Costan Rican human rights NGO, Fundación Operación GAYA Internacional (FundaOGI), released a statement accusing the AP of misrepresenting its work in Cuba, extorting its members and having a pre-conceived narrative.

(Click here for FundaOGI's statement, in Spanish.)

This morning, a Venezuelan human rights NGO, Renova, lodged similar accusations against the AP.

"The deliberate distortions in an article published by the AP have generated dangerous opinions for members of our organization who are in Venezuela, and for the young people we collaborated with in Cuba," Renova said in a statement today's El Nuevo Herald.

(Click here for Renova's statement.)

Apparently, there are also others ready to come forward to denounce the AP's misrepresentations and coercive practices in its series of attacks against USAID's programs in Cuba and other Latin American nations.

In response to yesterday's statement from FundaOGI, we received a note from Paul Colford, the AP's Director of Media Relations, defending the media organization's story by stressing:

"Mr. [Fernando] Murillo [President of FundaOGI] is listed on an internal security protocol whose focus was to keep his activities on the island secret, including code language for how to communicate with contractors if he or his workers landed in trouble."

It seems the AP can't make up its mind.

On the one hand, it criticizes the programs for not taking sufficient security measures. Then, strangely seeks to justify its story based on the fact that they actually did take security measures.

The AP knows very well that Cuba is a totalitarian dictatorship.  Moreover, that anyone who slightly criticizes it or who runs (or supports) any civil society initiative (independent of the regime) risks serious consequences.

The AP knows this so well that it asks the Cuban regime permission to report on issues and vets its stories through Castro's censors ("International Press Center"). Why Because its journalists could be arbitrarily detained or booted out, as has happened repeatedly to foreign journalists in Cuba.

The AP's journalists in Cuba even have to ask the Castro's International Press Center for permission to buy a new refrigerator or air conditioner (both helpful in the tropics).

(Click here to learn more on how the Castro regime exerts pressure on foreign journalists.)

In other words, the AP knows Cuba's reality, but chooses to gloss over it. Perhaps due to a guilty conscience, it wants everyone else to do the same.

So rather than distracting, the AP's leadership team should launch an investigation into the practices of some of its reporters, who are now facing multiple accusations of unethical practices.

Moreover, the AP should also launch an internal investigation into its reporting practices in Cuba, North Korea and other closed societies, where its reporting standards have obviously been compromised.

(Click here to read about AP's similar, questionable, practices in North Korea.)

The AP is a serious news organization -- it should act that way.