Thursday, November 20, 2014

New York Times wrong to lobby for lifting Cuba embargo

New York Times wrong to lobby for lifting Cuba embargo
CubaEconomic SanctionsElectionsNewspapersLobbyingHuman RightsJoe Garcia
Guillermo I. Martinez

New York Times editorial on Cuba misses the point
Ernesto Londoño is the newest member of The New York Times editorial
board. He was hired in September and since then he has written six
editorials and two blogs on why the United States should re-establish
relations with Cuba and lift the embargo.

In more than 50 years as a journalist, I cannot recall a time when a
major American newspaper has published that many editorials on a story
that outside of South Florida is no longer front-page news.

Editorials are supposed to give guidance, offer advice to readers and
public officials. Seldom are they part of a lobbying campaign. Yet this
is precisely what The New York Times and Londoño are doing.

Mauricio Claver-Carone is the Executive Director of Cuba Democracy
Advocates in Washington, D.C., a non-partisan organization dedicated to
the promotion of a transition in Cuba toward human rights, democracy and
the rule of law, said that when Andrew Rosenthal, the editor of The New
York Times' opinion pages was asked about the series of editorials and
blogs, he admitted they were part of a lobbying campaign.

Carone said Rosenthal had admitted the newspaper wanted "to influence
those who craft U.S. policy (in this country) at a time when they were
contemplating the possibility of adopting a new policy towards Cuba."

This is not to say The New York Times is accepting money from the Cuban
government or from the group of rich Cubans asking for the same thing. I
believe Londoño and the newspaper are taking this position because of
their convictions.

I respect their right to say their piece, but I reject their logic and
the idea that newspaper editorials should be repositories of arguments
for a lobbying campaign.

Rosenthal must know things us mere mortals ignore. I am cognizant there
has been a group of wealthy Cubans who seek rapprochement with the Cuban
regime. Yet I know of no plan or even a rumor that the U.S. government
is thinking of changing its Cuba policy.

As long as Bob Menéndez, D-N.J., chairs the Senate Foreign Relations
Committee, the Senate will not even get the chance to consider modifying
the Helms-Burton law that strengthened the embargo against Cuba.

Maybe Londoño and The New York Times Editorial Board believe President
Obama would be willing to re-establish diplomatic relations with Cuba.
That would be naive. The president already has a major battle on his
hands when he enacts immigration reform by executive action, bypassing

Londoño's arguments are at best exaggerated. He says younger
Cuban-Americans favor lifting the embargo. Polls do say that.

What neither the polls nor Londoño can explain is why, if that is the
case, all five Cuban-American congressmen and three senators are all
opposed to lifting the embargo or re-establishing relations with Cuba.
Nor can the polls explain why two Democratic Party candidates in Florida
who favored improving relations with Cuba lost their elections in November.

Londoño could not have guessed that the two candidates he mentioned as
examples of politicians who wanted better relations with Cuba —
Congressman Joe Garcia and former Gov. Charlie Crist — were to lose two
weeks ago.

Still, he insists on pushing the issue. He praises the Cuban doctors who
travel to Africa to fight Ebola — undeniably a worthy cause. He also
speaks in glowing terms of the thousands of Cuban doctors who serve poor

In his latest editorial Londoño says Cuba makes "$8.2 billion from its
medical workers overseas. The vast majority, fewer than 46,000, are
posted in Latin American and the Caribbean. A few thousand are in 32
African countries."

He added that Cuba pays the doctors who go to Brazil $1,200 per month,
much more than the $60 per month the doctors make in Cuba. What he does
not say is Brazil pays Cuba $4,430 per month for each doctor. Cuba keeps
the difference between what it pays their doctors and what Brazil pays
the Castro regime.

To me, that is a form of slavery. How else would one describe a
situation where the state keeps almost 75 percent of what a person earns
each month?

To Londoño, I am one of the dying breed of Cuban-Americans who still
dream that someday Cuba will be free of the totalitarian rule of the
Castro brothers, and its people will live in a democracy that will
respect human rights and grant its citizens freedom of speech.

Guillermo I. Martinez lives in South Florida. His email is

Source: New York Times wrong to lobby for lifting Cuba embargo - Sun
Sentinel -

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