"While every other country in the Western Hemisphere moved towards democracy, Cuba remained a one-party state under dictator Fidel Castro, who held power without free elections from 1959 until health problems forced him to step aside in 2006.
Castro’s communist regime executed hundreds of political opponents and drove tens of thousands more into exile; hundreds of dissidents today languish in Cuban prisons.
The U.S. State Department, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch all listed Castro’s Cuba as among the worst violators of human rights on the planet, while the Committee to Protect Journalists condemned the harassment and imprisonment of journalists.
Yet liberals in the U.S. media — who rightly condemned such abuses when perpetrated by dictators such as Chile’s Augusto Pinochet — inexplicably remain enchanted with Castro and his socialist revolution. For more than five decades, positive profiles of Castro have appeared in U.S. papers. Back on January 18, 1959, New York Timesreporter Herbert L. Matthews exulted in Castro’s seizure of Cuba: “Everybody here seems agreed that Dr. Castro is one of the most extraordinary figures ever to appear on the Latin-American scene. He is by any standards a man of destiny.”
For almost 30 years, the Media Research Center has documented the liberal media’s infatuation with Fidel Castro and Cuba’s communism. The most laudatory coverage of Castro and his communist revolution’s “achievements” have come when an American news network decides to visit Cuba for an in-depth examination. Invariably, the U.S. networks granted access to Cuba have rewarded the communist government with promotional coverage of both Fidel Castro and the supposed achievements of his revolution:
■ In February 1988, just weeks after the State Department named communist Cuba one of the worst human rights oppressors in the world, NBC’s Today program sent its cameras to the island to investigate. NBC’s conciliatory approach allowed Castro to spew lies about his drug connections and the wonderful achievements of the Cuban revolution. Anchor Maria Shriver gushed: “The level of public services was remarkable: free education, medicine and heavily subsidized housing,” while reporter Ed Rabel was equally promotional: “There is, in Cuba, government intrusion into everyone’s life, from the moment he is born until the day he dies. The reasoning is that the government wants to better the lives of its citizens and keep them from exploiting or hurting one another....On a sunny day in a park in the old city of Havana it is difficult to see anything that is sinister.”
■ “When outsiders think of Cuba, it’s often the lack of political freedoms and economic power that comes to mind. Cubans who have chosen to stay on the island, however, are quick to point out the positives: safe streets, a rich and accessible cultural life, a leisurely lifestyle to enjoy with family and friends....For all its flaws, life in Castro’s Cuba has its comforts, and unknown alternatives are not automatically more attractive....Many foreigners consider it propaganda when Castro’s government enumerates its accomplishments, but many Cubans take pride in their free education system, high literacy rates and top-notch doctors. Ardent Castro supporters say life in the United States, in contrast, seems selfish, superficial, and — despite its riches — ultimately unsatisfying.”
— Associated Press writer Vanessa Arrington in an August 4, 2006 dispatch, “Some Cubans enjoy comforts of communism.”
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