Montaner writes about the Martí Moonlighters (Updated)

This is a couple of days old but worth reproducing in its entirety. I have translated the letter below from Carlos Alberto Montaner to the Publisher of El Nuevo Herald. It’s self-explanatory and I have some comments below. Emphasis is mine.

Response from Carlos Alberto Montaner to El Nuevo Herald

(This letter was sent by the author to the publisher of El Nuevo Herald)

I’ve read on the the Internet, in Madrid, that I have been included in a report about of a supposed conflict of interests involving local Miami journalists that work for The Miami Herald, at El Nuevo Herald and simultaneously collaborate with Radio-TV Martí. All of those mentioned in the report have well-earned reputations for being honorable and serious people that would never sell the power of their pens to anybody.

Why has my name been included in this report? I don’t live in Miami and I don’t work at the Miami Herald or at El Nuevo Herald, nor am I subject to their regulations. I am not even a freelancer for those organizations. El Herald, like another sixty outlets from Europe, the United States and Latin America, among them some radio stations, purchase my column from Firmas Press, the agency that distributes my writings.

A few years ago, Radio Martí, like any other media vehicle, was interested in my column and the subjects which it covers, and so they contracted me to, once a week, by phone, for 20 minutes, comment about these issues for the benefit of some Cuban listeners that do not have access to a free press nor the column which is reproduced by El Herald. For those comments they would pay $100, which is the official and obligatorily stipulated, almost symbolic, amount, certainly very much below the amount paid by some of the media that reproduce my articles. Of course, I would not have accepted the offer had there been the slightest conditions: I have as much freedom as I do with my weekly column. As you can understand, contributing to the breaking of the information blockade, far from being a conflict of interest, is the responsible work of any Cuban journalist that really loves liberty. To repeat a phrase from Juan Manuel Cao, rather than a conflict of interests, what existed was a “concurrence of interests.” Radio-TV Martí wants Cubans to be informed freely. Me too. What’s the problem?

The way this information was reported, as if a dark criminal plot had been uncovered, leaves the impression that my honesty as a writer has been compromised by those commentaries that I make for the Cuban people. That is something so unjust, laughable, offensive and and false, that it’s as if someone alleged that my opinions about social and economic matters that appear in El Nuevo Herald and The Miami Herald should not be taken seriously because I’ve been bought by big business and banking interests since I’m published (and compensated for it) in The Wall Street Journal, a firm that publishes stock quotes from the New York Exchange.

I beg you to reproduce this letter, first, because I owe an explanation to my readers, and secondly, because my respectability and credibility is in question, which is the the essence of this profession that you and I have dedicated our lives to.

Carlos Alberto Montaner
Madrid, Spain

September 9, 2006

I’ve been reflecting on this story a lot. Especially since the blowback from it prompted me to create a new blog called Herald Watch. The original Oscar Corral article explains that it would not be a violation of journalistic ethics for these journalists to moonlight for other traditional media outlets, it’s the government connection that makes it wrong. But Montaner brings up a very important point which is that perhaps if Cubans had access to free information from around the world, as we do, as people in any other country in Latin America do, that this would have never happened. But Radio-TV Martí are the only professional media outlets targeting the captive Cuban audience. There is no independent alternative. Oh, the media like CNN and Reuters (whose Havana reporter Marc Frank previously wrote for an American Communist Party newspaper) have Cuba bureaus but their reports are not available to Cubans. They are also not permitted to report freely on Cuban events thanks to the Faustian bargain they have struck with the regime. To me that’s a much more egregious violation of journalistic ethics.

One has to ask oneself if the story really would have been any different if these journalists had volunteered their time rather than being compsensated for it? Until someone shows me evidence that these journalists were paid to change their opinions or voice opinions that they did not agree with, I’m going to give them a pass.

As for Montaner, it’s obvious that the only thing he’s guilty of is being a brilliant writer that is in demand.

Update: (Val Prieto) Ernesto Betancourt, Radio Marti’s first director, has severed ties with the Miami Herald and El Nuevo Herald and you can read his smackdown of Oscar Corral and the Miami Herald, etal, right here.

8 thoughts on “Montaner writes about the Martí Moonlighters (Updated)”

  1. Thanks for posting this, Henry. UNBELIEVABLE what the slimey Oscar Corral has done, dragging in this great writer of unimpeached integrity, doing HIS JOB AND VOCATION as a journalist to bring free thinking to the enslaved people of Cuba.

    Corral has impugned a great writer who is blameless. Corral is despicable.

  2. Is Oscar Corral another one of these self-hating Cuban American opportunists that tragically abounds in the exile community?? Or is he of another nationality?

  3. Henry,

    Till 11/29/05 Janet Comellas Torres worked for the Granma newspaper in Cuba.

    Was Ms. Comellas living in the U.S. while she was writing for Granma’s rag in Cuba?
    Was she writing for the Nuevo Herald at the same time?
    Is she of Cuban origin? Because, if she is of Cuban origin and she was living in Cuba till November 29, 2005, how did she get to the U.S. so fast? We know that LEGALY it takes years before you are able to leave that hellhole. It is also a FACT that once the Cuban government knows of your desire to leave Cuba you can no longer WORK (much less in the only newspaper) and your food rationing card is TAKEN AWAY. That is why Cubans TAKE TO THE SEA.

    I believe that The Miami Herald is trying to get a BUREAU in Cuba (to be in place when castro dies) and has made a DEAL with the Cuban government to SILENCE the Cuban-American community. What better way than to discredit these 10 well known writers? The Miami Herald and El Nuevo Herald are replacing all their anti-castro writers with castro apologists.

    Everyone in the community, not just Cuban exiles community, should be outraged at this POWER PLAY by The Miami Herald. I urge EVERYONE to stop buying these RAGS. I don’t know what legal actions can be taken against The Miami Herald, but I can assure you, if I were one of these writers, I will be making sure to find out, especially Carlos Alberto Montaner.

  4. Can those that were employed by the Herald sue them for discrimination? What about others who “freelance”?

    Can those not employed by the Herald sue them for slander; defamation of character, etc. After all, the Herald doesn’t know what type of agreements those not employed by them do have with their employers and are lumping everyone together?

  5. Radio and TV marti are funded by the US govt precisely to keep it as objective and balanced as possible, like PBS & NPR. This way it can’t be hijacked by a specific exile organization or be labeled as the propaganda arm of the Miami Mafia.

    We all know from the tone of the herald that it is anti Cuban-American.They will take any oportunity , even create opportunities, “to put us in our place”. It’s liberal elitetist biggotry.

    They resent the fact that the US govt. makes an investment in the plight of our captive bretheren on the island. They resent the political and economic influence that the Cuban community has in south florida. So they attack.

    Let’s all get together and chip in a few bucks and buy that rag and turn around and give it to Newscorp and get some real news down here.

  6. Conductor: Perhaps you should have named your blog “Lies, Damn Lies, and The Miami Herald.” But, it is your blog. As for the Herald…it is what it is…right down there with the “NY Crimes.”

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