Cuba: Beaten up, or media beat-up?

The March 28 Miami Herald, mouthpiece of wealthy Cuban-Americans opposed to Cuba’s socialist revolution, reported that 3000 to 5000 protesters “formed a river of white as they marched around a lake in a Los Angeles park Sunday, joining other marchers around the world to expose the plight of political dissidents in Cuba and support the wives, mothers, and other women who defend them”. The Los Angeles demonstration “was one of several marches during the weekend, from New York City to Madrid. They followed in the footsteps of the tens of thousands who walked Thursday down Calle Ocho in Miami, led by Cuban-American musical icon Gloria Estefan.”

The demonstrations were “a show of solidarity with the Ladies in White … who have protested in silence in Cuba since the 2003 jailing of 75 Cuban dissidents, and who were violently confronted by government security forces earlier this month”, the Herald report continued.

What actually happened in the streets of Havana, Cuba, on March 17 was clear for all to see in TV footage shot by the foreign media in Cuba, as progressive Cuban-American radio show host Max Lesnik pointed out in his March 19 Radio Miami program broadcast on South Florida’s WMNA.

“What we saw on the television screens or through the Internet about [Wednesday’s] parade of the Ladies in White through the streets of Havana, as well as the counter-demonstration by sympathizers of the Revolution, shows very clearly that there were no acts of violence by the Castro supporters or the Cuban police against the 20-or-so opposition women. Seeing is believing. And what we saw did not reflect any act of physical violence against the anti-Castro demonstrators”, Lesnik noted.

“Farther on in the sequence of that event, shown on television worldwide, when the police arrive and female agents of the Interior Ministry introduce the opposition women into two urban buses to carry them to the home of one of them, the images on the screen show no physical violence on the part of the authorities or the revolutionary sympathizers. However, although there was no police repression, the images shown by the international television were accompanied by a descriptive audio that said the Ladies in White were savagely attacked by the police, and dragged mercilessly and violently through the streets at the moment they were introduced into two urban buses while being punched and kicked. That does not correspond to the reality of the facts. That is not what is seen in the television images.”

The world’s corporate media also distort the facts when they describe the jailed relatives of the Ladies in White as merely “dissidents”. All 75 Cubans imprisoned in the 2003 trials referred to in the Herald article were convicted on charges of subversion, having received money or payment in kind from US government agents operating out of the US Interests Section in Havana. The 2003 arrests were based on evidence gathered by Cuban state security agents who posed as “dissidents”. The evidence presented in the trials and the testimony of some of the state security agents involved are meticulously documented in the Cuban book The Dissidents by Cuban journalists Rosa Miriam Elizalde and Luis Baez (Editora Politica, Havana, 2003). The book can be viewed online at The Dissidents website.

Ironically, the Herald report noted that “[in] Los Angeles … there was one ruckus when a man stood on a hill overlooking the crowd and waved a Cuban flag with an image of Che Guevara, the Argentine who helped lead the Cuban Revolution. The crowd booed and organizers urged them to stay calm. ‘We have the freedom to do that in this country’, [celebrity internet blogger Perez] Hilton said, drawing cheers. But later a band of men clad in white wrestled the flag away and stomped it into the ground.”