When Ann Coulter was asked on ABC’s “The View” if she had ever seen two women having sex, she replied: “Not since Katie Couric interviewed Hillary Clinton." Christiane Amanpour’s interview of Mariela Castro last week comes close to such a spectacle. While giving the Stalinist apparatchik a forum to denounce American lawmakers (of Cuban heritage and mostly Republican) as “Mafiosi” and Cuban dissidents as “liars crooks and mercenaries” Amanpour showed cutesey family pics of the Castro family.
This family regime’s policies—combining firing squads, torture, prison beatings, machine-gunning and drowning of escapees--killed an estimated 100,000 Cubans and drove almost 20 per cent of Cuba’s population into exile (from a nation formerly deluged with immigrants.) So imagine the number of Cuban families with gaping holes in their family portraits. Many of these live in the U.S. today within a short ride of CNN studios—to no avail.
A few days after the Amanpour-Castro lovefest a black Cuban dissident named Jorge Garcia Perez better known as “Antunez” testified (via video-conference from Cuba) to the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. Antunez suffered 17 years in Castro’s dungeons and torture chambers essentially for the crime of quoting Martin Luther King and the UN Declaration on Human Rights.
Given the media’s neurotic hyper-sensitivity to the most microscopic hint of white on black racism here’s a question:
When would a black human-rights activist who was jailed and tortured by a lily-white regime for the crime of quoting Martin Luther King be totally ignored by this same media while he testified to a Senate Committee?
Two years ago while Antunez suffered in Castro’s prisons his sister (today living in the U.S.) declared: "The Cuban government tries to fool the world with siren songs depicting racial equality in our country. But it is all a farce, as I and my family can attest, having suffered from the systematic racism directed at us by Castro's regime. My brother suffers the scourge of racial hatred every day. The beatings are always accompanied by racial epithets. They set dogs on him. They deny him medical attention. They kept him from attending his mother's funeral. The only thing I have to thank the Cuban revolution for," she quoted her brother, "is for restoring the yoke of slavery that my ancestors lived under."
Antunez testimony last week, broadcast from a totalitarian country and at great risk to his liberty, might have been considered newsworthy. Instead he met with a total media blackout. But when Nelson Mandela addressed Congress in June 1990, after a tumultuous ticker tape parade in New York, every U.S. network carried his every word along with the frequent and thunderous Congressional ovations accompanying them. The ovations from members of the Congressional Black Congress, needless to add, were particularly thunderous.
But rather than hailing the black torture victim (Antunez’) this same Congressional Black Caucus hails his torturer, and in a manner that can only be compared to Ann Margaret’s hailing of Conrad Birdie. If this also sounds hyperbolic here are direct quotes from CBC members after their visit to Cuba in April 2009:
“He (Castro) looked directly into my eyes!” gasped Rep. Laura Richardson (D-Calif.) “and then he asked: how can we help President Obama? Fidel Castro really wants President Obama to succeed."
"It was quite a moment to behold!" hyperventilated Rep. Barbara Lee. (D-Calif.) “Fidel Castro was very engaging and very energetic."
“He’s one of the most amazing human beings I’ve ever met!” gushed Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.)
“Raul Castro was a very engaging, down-to-earth and kind man,” according to “someone who I would favor as a neighbor. It was almost like visiting an old friend," (former Black Panther Bobby Rush (D-Ill.)
During last week’s Senate hearing Antunez denounced the Obama administration’s granting Mariela Castro’s a U.S. visa as an "insult to all suffering Cubans.” Even worse, (better) Antúnez denounced Obama’s "policies of rapprochement with Cuba for strengthening the repressive apparatus and the impunity of the aggressors." "Neither remittances," he stressed, "nor travel, nor cultural exchanges will help the democratization of Cuba."
Any questions why his testimony was blacked out?
Update: According to a report this morning from Antunez's wife in Cuba, a squad of Castro's police swarmed over her husband on Saturday with billy clubs after macing him. They beat him unconscious and dragged him off. As we go to press Antunez' exact condition and whereabouts are unknown. (No word on the arrest from CNN, and we expect none.)
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.