“Fidel Castro is one hell of a guy!" Ted Turner gushed to a capacity crowd at Harvard Law School during a speech in 1997. "You people would like him! Most people in Cuba like him."
Within weeks CNN was granted its coveted Havana Bureau, the first ever granted by Castro to a foreign network. Bureau chief Lucia Newman (now with Al Jazeera) assured viewers, "CNN will be given total freedom to do what we want and to work without censorship."
Hard-hitting stories immediately followed. To wit: CNN soon featured Fidel's office in its "Cool Digs" segment of CNN's "Newsstand." "When was the last time you saw a cup full of pencils on the boss's desk?" asked perky CNN anchor Steven Frazier. "And they do get used – look at how worn down the erasers are! Years ago, our host worked as an attorney, defending poor people. ... He's Fidel Castro, Cuba's leader since 1959!"
“No dubious campaign spending here [in Cuba].” Reported Lucia Newman a bit later during some Castroite “elections.” “No mud slinging -- a system President [italics mine] Castro boasts is the most democratic and cleanest in the world!”
This week CNN’s Patrick Oppmann “reports” on the trial in Texas of Cuban- exile and former CIA operative Luis Posada Carriles for lying to U.S. immigration authorities when he re-entered the U.S. in 2005. Some background: Mr Posada volunteered for the Bay of Pigs Invasion, and later joined the U.S. army emerging as a 2nd Lieutenant. After retiring from the U.S. Army he worked for the CIA putting out Soviet-started fires throughout Latin America. Among other projects, Posada helped the Reagan team squash Communism in Nicaragua by helping arms and train the Nicaraguan Contras. A few years later in Guatemala a Castro appointed death-squad ambushed Posada, riddled him with bullets and left him crippled.
“Posada is accused by the Cuban government of blowing up a commercial airliner,” continues CNN’s Oppmann. “…The bomb exploded shortly after Cubana Flight 455 took off from Barbados, killing all 73 passengers and crew aboard…Following the crash, Posada was arrested and tried in Venezuela where he had worked for the country's intelligence services. While awaiting trial for the airplane bombing, he escaped from jail.”
CNN omits an important detail: Posada was in fact TRIED twice for the airplane bombing--and ACQUITTED twice. Ah, the devil is in the details, right CNN? More important still, these court rulings found Posada innocent of any material or even intellectual culpability for the crime.
Humberto Fontova holds an M.A. in Latin American Studies from Tulane University and is the author of four books including his latest, The Longest Romance; The Mainstream Media and Fidel Castro. For more information and for video clips of his Television and college speaking appearances please visit www.hfontova.com.
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