Juan Manuel Cao is a reporter for Miami Channel 41. He was one of the journalists named in the now infamous Oscar Corral smear piece about journalists that moonlight at Radio and TV Martí. He wrote a letter that was published in today’s El Nuevo Herald, but (no surprise) not in the Miami Herald. It’s obvious that The Miami Herald is determined to minimize as much as possible the rebuttals to their shoddy reporting. It’s equally obvious that there’s something going on between the two papers.
So for the benefit those that don’t hablar el Español, here is Cao’s letter in English.
A matter of freedom
The article signed by Mr. Oscar Corral in this newspaper, “Conflict of interests revealed in payments to local journalists” [El Nuevo Herald, September 8th], suggests that I asked Fidel Castro about Hilda Molina, not because I was interested in the answer but because they paid me to do it. In my opinion the article tries to show that Castro was right when he accused to me of being a mercenary in Argentina. That is false.
When I lived in Cuba and was 20 years old they jailed me because I wrote a critique of Castrism. Who paid to me then? Nobody. Quite the opposite: I gambled and lost, my career, my work and my future on the island. I chose to be free and I paid for it with three horrendous years in jail.
In exile also I chose to be free. About 14 years ago I was offered a correspondent position at a national television network. They offered me an $80,000 annual wage, plus trips and benefits. But there was a small condition: I had to refer to the dictator of my country as ”the Cuban president”. I rejected the generous offer. Again I chose to be free and to defend my moral obligation.
During the thirteen years that I worked as local reporter, I was subjected to all types of pressures to leave the subject of Cuba alone. I survived thanks to the valiant support of Jose Cancela and Luis Fernandez Rocha, my first two managers at the station for which I worked. Roberto Vizcón, the best director I dealt with during that time, always said to me: ”Cao, if we forget Cuba a little, we would earn triple in other markets”. He was right.
Hardly eight months ago I lost a job that paid $110,000 and substantial benefits, primarily due to my differences of opinion with the new station management about the coverage of Cuba. They looked for a good excuse and goodbye. The people of Miami did not believe them and protested in front of their facilities. The details were published in this very same Herald.
As you see, my motivation in the life is not money. My motivation is Cuba and its freedom. Cuba and my freedom of expression. I am proud to collaborate with TV Martí in trying to break Castro’s censorship. I could earn much more than the miserable $11,000 that you now throw in my face, but I’d help my people for less. The cause of Cuba does not earn me money, it costs me money. I sincerely request that you publish this explanation because many of the readers of this newspaper may also be my viewers.
And one last detail. All of Fidel Castro’s accusations against my dignity are a weak justification to not respond the simple question that I asked to him in Argentina.
Why doesn’t he release doctor Hilda Molina?
I continue waiting for the answer.
Juan Manuel Cao