Contradictions, Misrepresentations and Omissions: The New York Times' Latest Cuba Editorial

Monday, October 13, 2014
Today, The New York Times published another one of its periodic editorials asking President Obama to "End the Embargo on Cuba."

The editorial begins by highlighting President Obama's many foreign policy crises -- or as they put it, "the dismal state of troubled bilateral relations" throughout the world.

Yet ironically, many of these crises (Syria, Russia, Iran, Iraq, North Korea, etc.) have transpired -- or been aggravated -- precisely due to foreign policies that the NYT has long advocated.

Now, as regards Cuba, the NYT claims to really know what it's talking about.

Except, clearly it doesn't.

This latest editorial was primarily penned by Ernesto LondoƱo, a new young member of the NYT's Editorial Board, who was a fine field reporter in Afghanistan and Iraq, but whose knowledge of Cuba policy is limited to regurgitating what his "sources" selectively told him this week.

Such inexperience on this topic leads to contradictions, omissions and misrepresentations.

Let's begin with a glaring contradiction.

The editorial itself recognizes that, "in recent years, a devastated economy has forced Cuba to make reforms."

That's right.

So why stop forcing it?

History has proven that Castro only pursues "reforms" out of necessity -- never voluntarily or out of "good-will."

So how exactly would replacing billions in former Soviet and now Venezuelan subsidies, and in plummeting European and Canadian investments, with U.S. trade and investments, further "reforms"?

It wouldn't.

As a matter of fact, many observers argue that the reason why Castro refuses to tackle major reforms is because he's hopeful that the U.S. will lift the embargo and bail-out his regime. This NYT editorial only adds to Castro's (false) sense of hope.

Now let's look at the laundry list of misrepresentations and omissions.

First, the editorial purports that lifting the U.S. embargo would "help a population that has suffered enormously since Washington ended diplomatic relations in 1961."

The Cuban population hasn't suffered enormously "since Washington ended diplomatic relations in 1961." It has "suffered enormously" since Castro installed a repressive, totalitarian dictatorship, which let's not forget -- the NYT's infamous reporter, Herbert Matthews, white-washed for years.

Moreover, it fails to explain how lifting the embargo would actually help the Cuban population.

In the last five decades, every single "foreign trade and investment" transaction with Cuba has been with a state entity, or individual acting on behalf of the state. The state's exclusivity regarding trade and investment was enshrined in Article 18 of Castro's 1976 Constitution.

Thus, how would allowing U.S. companies and tourists to transact business with Castro's monopolies help the Cuban people?

Better yet -- how have the billions in foreign trade and investment that countries throughout the world have conducted with Castro's monopolies benefited the Cuban people?

Needless to say, the NYT editorial eludes this key point.

Instead, it talks about Cuba's "new" foreign investment law.

But omits how it violates international labor law, or the dozens of foreign businessmen who have been arbitrarily imprisoned in recent years and had their companies confiscated by Castro. These include some of Castro's (now former) biggest foreign business partners, e.g. Britan's Coral Capital and Canada's Tokmakjian Group.

It talks about the new Port of Mariel.

But omits the most significant cargo to have gone through this new port: 240 tons of Cuban weapons destined for North Korea, which was found in blatant violation of international sanctions.

(Note that the editorial contains absolutely no mention whatsoever of this major Cuban arms trafficking scandal, despite it being the largest weapons shipment to North Korea ever interdicted and the first time a nation in the Americas was found in violation of international sanctions.)

It minimizes how Cuba's regime "still harasses and detains dissidents."

But omits that political arrests are at historic highs. Already this year, there have been over 7,599 documented political arrests -- quadrupling the year-long tally of 2,074 political arrests in 2010.

It lauds how "in recent years officials have released political prisoners who had been held for years."

But omits any mention of all those who are still serving long prison terms, as well as new political prisoners who have been arrested in recent years and remain arbitrarily imprisoned, e.g. The Ladies in White's Sonia Garro, rapper Angel Yunier Remon, labor leader Ulises Gonzalez Moreno, LGBT advocate David Bustamante and activist Ivan Fernandez Depestre.

It praises Cuba's "constructive role" in the long and inconclusive Colombian peace negotiations.

But omits how Cuba's regime has effectively undermined Venezuela's democratic institutions; wrested political and operational control of its government; and led direct a campaign of repression that has resulted in the arrest, torture and murder of innocent student protesters

It focuses on the Castro regime preparing for a "post-embargo" Cuba.

But omits any mention of a democratic transition, nor of Cuba's courageous opposition groups, including The Ladies in White, the Cuban Patriotic Union (UNPACU), the National Resistance Front, the Estado de Sats project, or The Emilia Project -- all of whom oppose the U.S. lifting the embargo.

It alleges normalizing diplomatic relations will somehow lead to a "breakthrough" in the case of Alan Gross.

But omits that the Castro regime is holding Gross hostage in order to extort the United States into releasing five (now three) spies convicted in federal courts of targeting military installations and conspiracy to murder three American citizens and a permanent resident of the U.S.

It then discusses the upcoming Summit of the Americas, suggesting Cuba has been "traditionally excluded at the insistence of Washington."

This is a complete misrepresentation.

Cuba remains excluded due to a formal commitment made at the 2001 Quebec Summit that held democracy was an "essential condition" for participation in the Summit. Surely, the U.S. should not take its formal commitments lightly.

And last -- but not least -- it wouldn't be a NYT editorial without mention of its long-standing "generational shift" argument that young Cuban-Americans hold "softer views" regarding relations with Cuba's regime.

Yet, it fails to disclose that the NYT has been pitching this "generational shift" argument since December 5th, 1965, when it first gleefully suggested that:

The very active anti-Castro groups in Miami have faded into virtual obscurity.”

Then again, on October 10, 1974:

Virtually all of several dozen Cubans interviewed would like to visit Cuba either to see their relatives or just their country, which they have not seen for 10 years or more; and some segments of the exile community, especially young refugees brought up and educated here, are not interested in the Cuban issues.”

And on March 23, 1975:

For the first time significant number of exiles are beginning to temper their emotion with hardnosed geopolitical realism.”

And on August 31, 1975:

A majority of the persons interviewed — especially the young, who make up more than half of the 450,000 exiles here — are looking forward to the time when it will be possible for them to travel to Cuba. Even businessmen, who represent a more conservative group than the young, are thinking about trading with Cuba once the embargo is totally lifted.”

And on July 4, 1976:

A new generation of professionals between 25 and 35 years of age has replaced the older exile leadership.”

Et al.

So much for credibility.