Monday, August 31, 2015

U.S. Government Snubs the Independent Cuban Press

U.S. Government Snubs the Independent Cuban Press / Ivan Garcia
Posted on August 30, 2015

Iván García, Havana, 10 August 2015 — The U.S. Embassy in Havana, the
State Department, and the administration of Barack Obama, have
intentionally mapped out a strategy to prevent independent Cuban
journalists from covering the visit of John Kerry and the official
reopening of the diplomatic headquarters on Friday, August 14.

For the the four-day historic event, no independent journalist,
dissident, or human rights activist has been invited to participate in
the ceremony, or the press conference by Kerry.

Since July 22nd I have made a dozen calls to the U.S. Public Affairs
Office in Havana to request a press pass that would allow me to cover
the event for Diario las Americas, El Periodico de Catalunya, and
Webstringers LCC, a Washington-based media communications company, and I
have not received a response from any official.

According to a diplomatic source, effective July 20th, the process
changed for obtaining a credential to cover events or press conferences
of politicians, business organizations, or Americans visiting the island.

Before that date, when Lynn W. Roche was head of the Public Affairs
Section, I could get credentials in record time. I was able to cover the
visit of Roberta Jacobson, congressmen, senators, businessmen, and
officials from the State Department, among others.

Now, according to this source, accreditation must be obtained at the
International Press Center of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, located
at 23rd and O, in Vedado. A rather crude strategy designed to get rid of
independent journalists.

The worst part is not the disrespect or indifference. The U.S.
government has the sovereign right to invite to its events those people
it deems appropriate.

But out of respect, at least have the courtesy to speak face-to-face
with independent journalists and inform them of the new policy. Don't
beat around the bush.

The U.S. government, which is not stupid, knows that for 54 years Cuba
has been ruled by a military autocracy that prohibits political
opposition and independent journalism.

Leaving press accreditation to the Cuban regime for events that the
United States puts on in Cuba is like putting a child molester in charge
of a Boy Scout camp.

Armed with a letter from Maria Gomez Torres, director of content for
Webstringers, I personally went to the International Press Center. The
official who vetted me, after reading the letter, looked through her
papers and said with mock surprise, "Mr. García, you do not appear as an
accredited journalist in Cuba."

"And how can I be accredited?" I asked her.

"You must have an operating license and a permit from the Center," she

"Fine. Can you handle that for me?"

"No, because you do not qualify," she replied with a tone of mystery.

"Why don't I qualify, since I've collaborated with newspapers in Spain
and the United States since 2009?" I inquired.

"Our Center reserves the right to give permission to reporters as we see
fit," snapped the bureaucrat.

After the unsuccessful attempt, I again called on the U.S. Embassy to
request an appointment with an official who could tell me why an
independent journalist cannot be accredited to the August 14 event.

But no one would take my call. December 17 marked a new era between Cuba
and the United States. That noon, Barack Obama promised to empower the
Cuban people and to promote respect for human rights on the island.

Pure demagoguery. The government that claims to promote democratic
values, shamelessly tramples the spirit and letter of its Constitution,
where the right to inform is sacred.

The U.S. government is trying not to tarnish its August 14 gala, knowing
that if it accredits independent journalists and invites dissidents,
then officials of the regime will not attend.

The olive-green autocracy has a rule that it will not take part in any
event with Cuban dissidents, whom it considers "mercenaries and
employees of the U.S. government."

This time, the Obama administration is going to pander to them.

Translated by Tomás A.

Source: U.S. Government Snubs the Independent Cuban Press / Ivan Garcia
| Translating Cuba -

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