Friday, September 9, 2011
Cuba gets tough with foreign press
El Pais is an important newspaper in Spain which has correspondents strategically placed worldwide. Earlier this week a Miami newspaper reported that the El Pais’ man on the scene in Havana recently had his press credentials revoked, effectively putting him out of business. The story was significant for several reasons. First, the reporter has been working on the island for about 20 years. He’s a respected and well known journalist. Second, he writes for a major Spanish daily, not for the London Times or the Washington Post or Agence France-Presse. Cuba and Spain have a long history of cooperation, and although they do have their moments, they generally manage to work through them. So what’s behind this?
The Cuban government cited official regulations which provide that a journalist may be stripped of credentials if he lacks “journalistic ethics” and/or fails to “report objectively.” You can’t set a standard much more subjective than that. And of course, Castro regime officials are the ones who make the call. In this case they alleged that the El Pais correspondent had engaged in “biased, negative reporting which failed to tell the true side of life in Cuba.” No details were offered on just what that “true side” of Cuban life might be, but you can bet it’s wonderful and glorious. The government also claimed the reporter had crossed the line from reporting to editorializing in his articles. It's good to see that there’s a little bit of that tendency in all of us. . .
El Pais slugged back, calling its reporter “professional, impartial and balanced,” and accusing Cuban officials of attempting to stifle “freedom of expression and news gathering.” The paper warned that it “remains fully committed to getting out the facts about what is going on in Cuba, with the same vigor and independence.”
at 7:31 PM