Outside editorial: Inconvenient truths for repressive regime

Posted: Friday, March 02, 2007

This editorial appeared in the Miami Herald:

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Whatever changes have happened in Cuba with Raul Castro at the helm, the repressive fundamentals remain the same. The dictatorship is compelled to control all media because it is threatened by the truth. This is the point of the regime's reprisals last week that targeted three foreign correspondents.

The three - Gary Marx of the Chicago Tribune, Cesar Gonzalez-Calero of Mexico City's El Universal and Stephen Gibbs of the British Broadcasting Corp. - were notified that they wouldn't be allowed to report from the island. Marx was told that his work was "negative." Gonzalez-Calero was told that his coverage was "not convenient" for the communist government.

Censors, of course, don't like news stories that accurately describe disaffected Cubans, persecuted dissidents, doctors who defect from the island or Cuba's economic ruin. Now all foreign correspondents have gotten the message. Watch what you report or you, too, will be persona non grata. This is how the government controls news going out of the island.

Ultimately, the regime doesn't want inconvenient coverage to spoil its relations with the European Union. Nor does it want negative news to dampen its anti-embargo lobbying efforts in the United States.

Without free expression or a free press, there is no effective check on the communist government's abuses of power. Until Cuba's leadership changes, there can be little hope for democracy.

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