“Fidel’s Best Friend”

Dear Orlando Sentinel Editors,

Your February 26th editorial about the Cuban Embargo (Fidel’s Best Friend), like many recent ones I have read from around the country, makes the assertion that “U.S. sanctions have supplied dictator Fidel Castro with a ready scapegoat for his incompetent and oppressive rule.” By using the expression “scapegoat” you concede that the sanctions are not what makes Castro put free thinkers behind bars or expel foreign journalists that don’t meet his standards of “objectivity”. If this basic point is so obvious to you and it’s so obvious to me, who then would we be trying to prove it to by removing the sanctions? Who must we convince of this point, so that change will occur in Cuba?

You assert that the Cuban embargo has “has failed for 48 years to topple Cuba’s communist regime” but it has worked to keep billions of dollars of hard currency out of the communist regime’s coffers. Money that would be used to reinforce the regime’s repressive apparatus and fund violent revolutionary movements around the world. You don’t explain the mechanism by which lowering the embargo will bring “reform” to Cuba, leaving the reader to assume that it would happen as if by magic. If more than 15 years of “economic engagement” and “dialogue” between Cuba and countless other nations have not brought about that change how can American “economic engagement” and “dialogue” do it?

I submit to you that indeed a change of approach is needed, but not in U.S. policy toward Cuba but perhaps in American and international coverage of it. Fidel’s best friend is not the U.S. Embargo, his best friend can be found in the newsrooms and editorial boards around the world, it’s the journalists that give him a free pass for 48 years of human rights abuses and blame the United States for it while claiming not to. Since before Castro assumed power in 1959 the world media has shaped a very favorable image of Castro and turned a blind eye toward his obvious abuses, from Herbert Matthews of the New York Times, to CBS’ Dan Rather to ABC’s Barbara Walters to the Orlando Sentinel in 2007.

When journalists begin to dedicate the time, space and energy to reporting the truth about Cuba instead of acting as Castro’s American propaganda arm, then they will have the moral authority to recommend what U.S. policy concerning Cuba should be, but not before.

Henry Gomez

(Ed. (Val): I had to bold the entire thing for emphasis.

8 thoughts on ““Fidel’s Best Friend””

  1. This gets talked about a lot on this blog, but this letter is probably one of the clearest, most concise, most effective expressions of the reasons the press has played a role in keeping the Cuban people oppressed that I have seen come out of here in a while. Well done.

  2. Henry-You need not bold anything for emphasis. The power of your argument is bold enough. BTW, did you get my e-mail?

  3. Henry:

    Letters to the editor are the best means to acquire a pointed and succinct style. That you have already mastered. You should now move on to Op-Ed pieces.

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