Disinformation passed off as news
by Karen Lee Wald
September 30, 2004

What's so infuriating is that even newspapers whose editors should know better, who make a pretext at presenting "objective" news, allow such a heavily opinionated, Cuba-bashing piece be passed off as "news". I will add a few comments throughout to exemplify this....kw

Sent: Thursday, September 30, 2004 3:44 PM
Subject: Cuba blames U.S. trade embargo for banes

SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER Thursday, September 30, 2004 . Last updated 3:09 p.m. PT Cuba blames U.S. trade embargo for banes [banes???]


HAVANA -- In communist Cuba, milk rations for children stop at age 7, blackouts stop the fans in sweltering homes, and it's anyone's guess whether there'll be cooking gas this month. [Where do we start? With the obligatory labeling of Cuba as "communist"? Even the most communistic Cuban doesn't pretend that the island has reached that ideal state....but we know why Arrington calls it such...Then, look at "milk rations for children STOP at age 7".....How many countries in the world provide one liter of milk per day at below-cost, government subsidized prices, so that every child up until the age of 7 has enough milk???? Why focus on its stopping at age 7 rather than on its existing UNTIL age 7? It's a way of twisting what Perez Roque actually said...]

Such banes of daily life are the product of the U.S. trade embargo and could be removed in a year of sanctions being lifted, Cuba's foreign minister said Thursday as he launched the island's annual international campaign against the embargo. [She could have mentioned that this "international campaign" is one that ALL countries in the world, with the exception of US client state Israel and a rotating one or two other vulnerable nations -- Rumania one year, Paraguay one year, etc. -- have agreed with and voted for.]

Cuba has lost an average of $1.8 billion a year in trade since the first sanctions were imposed in 1960, a year after the Cuban revolution thrust Fidel Castro into power, Felipe Perez Roque told a news conference.

Steadily strengthened in subsequent years, the embargo now prohibits virtually all trade between the two countries, except for the sale to Cuba of some U.S. food and medicine.

Cuba is free to trade with the rest of the world, and it's not always clear which hardships are due to sanctions, and which to a centrally controlled economy criticized by detractors as inefficient. But Perez Roque blamed it all on the sanctions, calling them "an act of genocide." [This entire paragraph is worthy of an editorial in Miami's Nuevo Herald, but hardly fitting as a news item in a Seattle paper -- or any other place. It is blatantly and probably untrue that "Cuba is free to trade with the rest of the world" -- if Arrington isn't aware of that, she could look in AP archives or do a google search for "Torricelli", "Helms-Burton" and more recent anti-Cuba legislation, to see just how far the US goes to pressure companies and governments of other countries into not trading with Cuba. There are explicit PENALTIES outlined in US legislation not only for US companies and individuals but for presumably sovereign ones as well who dare to defy Washington by being too friendly with Fidel. Yet Arrington ignores this in favor of the "detractors" claim that the hardships Cubans face is due to Cuba's "inefficiency".]

"Seven of every 10 Cubans have been born under and lived during the blockade," Perez Roque said. "They have had to suffer the adversity and limitations of this brutal policy."

If the island could recover income from trading with the United States, within a year Cuba could build 100,000 new houses, supply cooking gas to 2.4 million homes that currently go without and provide a quart of milk a day to all youth aged 7 to 15 in this country of 11.2 million people, the minister said.

It could also double the monthly chicken rations and eliminate power cuts imposed to conserve energy, Perez Roque said.

During frequent summer blackouts, some Cubans were heard hollering obscenities on their porches, so angry were they to come home from work and find their scanty rations rotting in their refrigerators. [I wonder whether Arrington and AP -- or the editors of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer who decided to run her story -- ever heard angry obscenities being hollered by workers laid off because it was more profitable for corporate owners to shut down plants and export the work overseas? In California, we have certainly heard more than a few working families upset by blackouts caused by Bush and Cheney's ENRON buddies outright theft of our energy supplies. And other irate workers on strike because their health care benefits were being cut. I wonder whether Arrington also overheard some of these comments??]

Lacking spare parts, owners of the vintage Chevrolets and Buicks that still cruise Havana's streets keep them running with gadgets begged and borrowed from friends or bought on the black market.

Cubans earning average government salaries of less than $20 [sic] a month make fans out of salvaged metal and motors from old Soviet refrigerators. Little boys build skateboards out of discarded wheels and scrap wood.

But some things cannot be "invented" - the word Cubans use to describe making or obtaining something necessary for everyday life.

Cubans in recent weeks have reported difficulty in finding antibiotics for children with throat infections.

At Thursday's news conference, a blind child said that because of sanctions, his school must buy Braille machines and paper from other countries, not the United States. That pushes up the cost by more than 40 percent, Perez Roque said.

Castro's opponents blame him and say sanctions are necessary to squeeze the island's economy and push Castro out of power. [Note that AP, SPI, and Arrington don't even question whether it is the US' government's right to push any leader of another country out of power...the same arrogance that has cost so many lives in Iraq....]

But others question the effectiveness of economic isolation.

For years, Democrats and free-trade Republicans in the U.S. Congress have pushed for easing the sanctions. But a recent vote to that effect by the U.S. House of Representatives is expected to make little headway against an administration determined to keep up the pressure. [Even if it means riding roughshod over Congressional rules, the will of the people....]

During a campaign swing in August through Miami, home to the largest concentration of Cuban exiles in the United States, President Bush reiterated his strong support of the sanctions.

"The people of Cuba should be free from the tyrant. And I believe that enforcing the embargo is a necessary part of that strategy," he said, eliciting cheers and applause from thousands of Cuban-Americans in the audience. [Notice not a single quote from those opposed.]

For the last 13 years, the U.N. General Assembly has condemned the embargo. Last year, the vote was 179-3 with only the United States, Israel and the Marshall Islands opposed.

Leading up to this year's U.N. vote on Oct. 28, Perez Roque presented an extensive document Thursday outlining the damages Cuba says the embargo has caused to the country's economy, foreign trade, and health, education and cultural sectors.

"Cuba demands that our people be left in peace so we can construct our future," said Perez Roque.

"The blockade gets tougher all the time," he said. "Nonetheless, we're still here."