Saturday, September 22, 2012

Granma journalist takes refuge in Miami

Posted on Friday, 09.21.12

Journalism in Cuba

Granma journalist takes refuge in Miami
By Juan Carlos Chavez

The news editor of the official Cuban daily newspaper Granma defected a
week ago during a business trip to Mexico and is now living in Miami.

Mairelys Cuevas Gómez, 27, traveled to Mexico authorized by the paper's
executive editor and with the full knowledge of other Cuban officials
and the elite in charge of the government media, according to a report
published on the website Café Fuerte.

Cuevas' defection is a new blow to the regime's news and propaganda
operation. In recent months, at least four other members of the Cuban
media also decided to ask for asylum in the United States and the United

Cuevas has declined to comment on the circumstances of her decision and
her future plans while she resolves her legal status and U.S.
authorities finalize the due process of her case.

Cuevas' decision to abandon Cuba and to move to the country that has
been the ultimate antagonist of the island's government could be linked
to her frustration over the way the government has handled the Cuban
situation as well to a romantic relationship in South Florida, according
to sources consulted by Café Fuerte.

Cuevas' position was one of the most sensitive and trusted in Granma's
management and the paper's content. She was one of the few with
authority to approve the final edition of the newspaper.

In August, a daughter of Cuban vice president Marino Murillo, who has
occasionally been mentioned as a possible successor of Cuban leader Raúl
Castro, defected surprisingly in Florida. Glenda Murillo Díaz, 24,
crossed the Mexican border in Laredo, Texas, on Aug. 16.

Like Cuevas and Murillo, thousands of Cubans arrive in the United States
every year through the Mexican border. They then appear before U.S.
authorities and apply to be included under the dry-feet, wet-feet policy.

A photograph published on Cuevas' Facebook page shows the young woman
smiling and relaxed at the popular Bayside shopping center in downtown

Cuevas' defection drew condemnation from supporters of the government
and official bloggers on the island. Meanwhile, from the opposition
ranks, blogger Yoani Sánchez considered Cuevas' exit one of the most
important developments in the Cuban media recently.

"Though I have received reports that one of the fundamental elements in
her decision was emotional, it was also influenced by professional
frustration, as was the case of Marino Murillo's daughter," Sánchez told
El Nuevo Herald by telephone from her home in Havana.

She also made reference to the fact that Cuevas participated directly in
the practice of an official journalism that Sánchez called false.

"It's a personal decision, but these are people who, up to the last
minute, wore the mask of a falsehood that they were willing to validate
with their writing," Sánchez added.

El Nuevo Herald tried unsuccessfully to communicate with the office of
the top editor of Granma, Lázaro Barredo Medina, and with Enrique
Montesinos Delvaty, the digital news editor.

Reinaldo Escobar, an independent journalist, said in Havana that Cuevas'
defection is one more case of people who, "for a long time," had a
favorable position toward the regime.

"I don't condemn her for having left, but it can be uncomfortable for
people there (Cuban exiles) to graciously accept her arrival and her
claim that she is now part of them."

Cuevas was an outstanding student in the Lenin Vocational School. She
studied journalism in the University of Havana and graduated with honors
in 2007. A year later she joined the Granma team. In 2009, she wrote one
of her first reported projects titled "Steel horses inspired by Girón
(Bay of Pigs)." The story covered thoroughly the origin and training of
an elite force of the Revolutionary Armed Forces specialized in handling
and operating war tanks.

"The tank forces departed from Havana to the place of the invasion with
a courage that toppled mountains," Cuevas wrote in Granma. "That's how
they joined the fight of the people and how they defeated the enemy that
since then continues to lie in wait in all of our paths."

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