June 21, 2010
Journalism's Worst Enemy in the WorldBy Humberto Fontova
The question was answered on June 16 by the Committee to Protect Journalists' Executive Director, Joel Simon. The setting was a hearing on "Press Freedom in the Americas," held by the U.S. House of Representatives' Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere. And quite interestingly, none of that very "press" in the "Americas" has seen fit to report this item. Hummmm?
So let's ask the multiple-Peabody and Emmy award-winning American journalist Dan Rather if he knows who jails and tortures the most journalists on earth.
Nope. Seems that Dan's no help.
Okay, now let's ask the same question to Goldsmith Career Award for Excellence in Journalism-winner Andrea Mitchell:
Nope. Seems that Ms. Mitchell is also in the dark.
Okay, let's go over to multiple-Emmy-winning journalist Barbara Walters.
Oops, looks like we draw another blank.
Over to Peabody Award-winner Dianne Sawyer now -- but on the way, we trip over this item:
So lets' skip her and try eminent Newsweek and Los Angeles Times journalist Eleanor Clift.
Dang! Another bum steer with Ms. Clift, it appears.
Moving down a few notches, let's try CNN's former Havana Bureau chief Lucia Newman (nowadays with Al Jazeera):
Ms. Newman, it seems, is no help. But perhaps CNN's higher-ups can help. Heck, let's go straight to the top: CNN's very founder, Ted Turner: "Fidel Castro is one helluva guy! You people [Harvard Law School audience] would love him!"
OK, enough with the "fun." (All quotes above are fully documented, by the way.)
In case you hadn't guessed, Castro's fiefdom wins the prize "for most journalists jailed (by far!) per capita on earth. In fact, in total numbers jailed, Cuba (a nation of 11 million subjects) is only slightly behind China (a nation of 1.4 billion!).
According to the Paris-based (not Miami -- please note!) Reporters Without Borders, Cuba today holds 20 percent of the world's jailed journalists. Imagine Castroite repression with China's population! The Cuban "Law 88," passed in February 1999, cranked up the repression several notches, mandating up to twenty years in prison for "providing information that could be useful to U.S. policy."
Imagine a similar law in the U.S. that jailed reporters for "providing information useful to," say, "al-Qaeda or Taliban policy." Imagine the news: "An eerie silence enshrouds New York's near-empty newsrooms and editorial offices as long queues of fresh convicts shuffle into the nation's federal prisons..."
Today, Cuba -- a nation that in 1958 had more TVs, telephones, and newspapers per capita than any continental European country -- has one newspaper and fewer internet connections than Uganda, the lowest number in the hemisphere.
As fate would have it, in a gesture hailed by the worldwide media as an exemplar of magnanimity, a journalist Castro arrested in 2003 and sentenced to 25 years in his torture chambers for the crime of "disobedience" (he wrote article hailing the U.N. declaration on Human Rights), was released just this week.
These pictures compare his (Ariel Sigler's) condition upon arrest in 2003 to those upon release last week. Now imagine the international media uproar (!!!) if something remotely similar could be shown regarding those other prisoners in Cuba (Guantanamo)!
Now see if you can find this heroic man (Ariel Sigler)'s pictures anywhere in the MSM.
Humberto Fontova is the author of four books, including Fidel: Hollywood's Favorite Tyrant and Exposing the Real Che Guevara. Visit hfontova.com.