author photo

Graham Sowa: I've been living in Cuba for three years now. I would like to blame my obvious hair loss seen in this updated photo on the rigors of life here and medical school, but it is probably just genetic. I've made some of the strongest friendships during my time in Cuba from other writers on this website. The strength of those friendships has almost restored my faith that the online world can lead to offline and real life change. On that same note I've adjusted to using internet one or two hours a month. In the meantime I have rediscovered things like flipping through the pages of books, writing stuff down by hand, and having to admit that I don't know something instead of rapidly looking up the answer on Google while the teacher isn't looking.

Reporting on Cuba for Those Opposed

February 7, 2012 | Print Print |

Graham Sowa

HAVANA TIMES, 7 feb — Reporting on Cuba must be an agonizing task for those opposed to the rule of the Revolutionary Government.  These voices, often originated in South Florida and echoing in the halls of the United States Congress in Washington, D.C., routinely oppose free travel to Cuba by Americans on the auspices that any money spent in Cuba will support their antagonists.

Last year Representative Ros-Lehtinen proposed a bill to close the new opportunities for travel that President Obama opened.  Representative Ros-Lehtinen principal argument was that money spent in Cuba supports a regime she despises.

The failure of that bill to be approved by Congress solidified the new status-quo.  Travel to Cuba for family members, religious organizations, educational and agricultural groups was protected.

It did not take long for American reporters who have an ideological opposition to Socialism to take advantage of their newfound ability to travel to Cuba under the auspices of a People-to-People Visa rather than a Journalistic Visa (the latter would have been subject to Cuba also granting permission).

Of course by coming to Cuba as tourists they must have somehow gotten over their angst that their dollars are being spent to support the Revolutionary Government.  Perhaps they were not so serious when they made that argument in the first place.

Fox News recently sent Michael Goodwin to do an opinion piece on Cuba.  The article, “Will we ever see a Cuban spring?” (http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2012/02/02/will-ever-see-cuban-spring/), was an echo of Republican candidate New Gingrich’s call for the same at a debate 3 weeks ago in Florida and predictable right-wing critique of the conditions of present day Cuba.

To Mr. Goodwin’s credit many of the observations he made were not fabricated.  Horse drawn wagons are popular modes of transportation in the country side.  Old buildings in Havana do collapse.  People complain about not having money.  However, he was incorrect when he said that Fidel Castro was still head of the Cuban Communist Party.  Mr. Castro stepped down as First Secretary of the party last year.

Perhaps a factual error can be written off as a novice mistake.  The real problem in the Fox News Opinion Editorial is that the reporter only used his observations in Cuba to reaffirm his attitudes toward Socialism.

The primary criticism levied against Cuba was introduced with a quote from British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, “The problem with Socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money”.  This may very well be true now, and it was definitely true in 1989.

However that problem of limited resources is not exclusive to Socialism.  The United States has public and government debts totaling 99.6% of the Gross Domestic Product, or about 15 trillion dollars.

Good thing Mrs. Thatcher is not around to see that even American Capitalism can spend, and run out, of other people’s money just like the socialists.  That is precisely what happened to the United States financial sector in 2008, when they had spent so much of their investor’s money, and poorly at that, they had to go to the government for a bail out.

But we are talking about Fox News and it is possible that their readership doesn’t want, or need, to hear that part about the United States running out of money.  In opinion articles such as this one, and Mr. Goodwin’s, we can make whatever analysis we want.  If we want to tailor it towards an audience in South Florida or in the Ministry of the Interior in Cuba we can very well do so.

But in Cuba internet access is (slowly) becoming a question of “when” rather than “if”.  More tourists, including from the United States, are sharing dollars and ideas with locals.  The result will be more complex and experience based opinions of each other.  Perhaps this is what those opponents of open travel, be it to or from Cuba, are actually afraid of.


What's your opinion?

  • John Goodrich

    Good report Graham.

    This opening of Cuba to U.S. media people is a double-edged sword that cuts both ways.

    No one should forget that the U.S. is still continuing its 50 year war on socialism in Cuba and causing a very high percentage of the economic problems in Cuba and the stenographic U.S. corporate media will always present what the GOUSA puts out as fact, which of course in any war are lies to demonize the opponent.

    A Fox News reporter, is by the very fact that they work for a very right wing outlet, going to look for all the bad things he or she can possibly find and possibly throw in a buried line or two about free healthcare or free
    education but carefully phrased as “socialized medicine” and “government controlled education” so as to make them less desirable to their viewers/readers.

    It is in the academic or left outlets that objective reporting is to be found and those are read by that very small percentage of the U.S public which has the intellectual honesty to want to compare the two sides of the issue.

    The preponderance of the U.S public has taken to mindless right thinking and the opening of Cuba to U.S media will result in further attacks on Cuban socialism because the corporate media, totally for ratings reasons (advertising money), must toe the government line or face an indoctrinated public’s boycotting of their and corporate sponsors.

    As usual it’s all about money before people so of course in a (state) socialist country like Cuba where the wealth is spread out so that Cuba has a very high rating on the U.N.’s Human Development Index and is the only country in Latin America in which no children suffer from malnutrition, those things are of no importance since Cuba has no millionaires: the sole determinant of what makes up “human rights” in the United States.

    As an aside and for an interesting look into why right wingers are as stupidly anti-social as they are I am including this link and/title which can be Googled: The right’s stupidity spreads, enabled by a too-polite left

    If for any reason , these links are inaccessible to HT readers who might want to read the article, I will copy and paste it here in it’s entirety upon request. (ZNET allows all its articles to be reproduced without requiring permission)

    Thanks again Graham

  • http://n/a Mladen

    Really enjoyed the article. Particularly the part disintegrating capitalism with M. Tatcher’s own words directed at socialism.

    Brilliant!

    Oh, and I’m going to Cuba again in August this year (2012). Cubans need to know that there are friends out there, not just imperialist hyenas wanting them dead or enslaved.

  • DANIEL MARTIN

    Oh sure ,go there
    Like Castro did not know when asking Kruschev to launch atomic weapons against America first that he will kill us all!
    They are going to take your money made here and send back empty .Is that the kind of friendship you like to have?