Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The Miami Herald's Puzzle (Part 2)

Cuba is a topic that many in academia have taken up. Several universities have their own department on Cuban studies and many also have prominent "experts" on the subject. Here in South Florida we have two good institutes: University of Miami's Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies (ICCAS) and Florida International University's Cuban Research Institute. Without question, any journalist who wants to write about Cuba, and has any questions, can access these fine institutions, speak with their experts, and look at their research.

With so many experts to choose from (each with varying points of view), its interesting to examine which experts on Cuba are often quoted and relied on for any report.

Part One of the Miami Herald's "Cuba Puzzle" started off with an introduction to various points of view on Cuba after Fidel's illness. Rui Ferreira, Frances Robles and Luisa Yanez together present personal perspectives from academic, political and non-academic positions. While non-academic voices on Cuba are very important, political and academic voices are far more influential, and the focus here. I was disappointed, but not shocked to see that the list of people who are cited or quoted for this first part mostly support US policy towards Cuba.

[In order of citation]
Brian Latell (cited, not quoted), senior researcher from UM's ICCAS;
Raices de Esperanza, a student group whose website reveals that Carlos Alberto Montaner is a "raices academic council chair";
Joe Garcia, chairman of Miami-Dade's Democratic Party;
Jaime Suchlicki, director of ICCAS;
Jose "Pepe" Hernandez, president of the Cuban American National Foundation (CANF);
Juan Clark, sociologist and famed author of Cuba: Myth and Reality, and other articles;
Diego Suarez, member of the Cuban Liberty Council;
Ramon Colas, former Cuban dissident;
Carlos Saladrigas, Co-Chairman of the Cuba Study Group;
and Lincoln Diaz-Balart, US Representative.

The majority of the people above support US policy towards Cuba, with some variations towards the restrictions on Cuban family travel, and academic travel. The Miami Herald somehow ignored the many perspectives of other academics or politicians who are totally opposed to US policy towards Cuba, and have a very different view about what has happened since July 31.

Just last month, The Nation magazine had a forum on this same topic and most of the arguments agreed that a smooth transition had occurred since July 31. There was no "confusion and frustration" as attributed to the exiles by the Herald. Also, earlier this year, the Council on Foreign Relations had a forum with two US Representatives (Republican and Democrat) on Cuba after Fidel, and both agreed, after a trip to the island, that a smooth transition had taken place. A very different view from most politicians here in South Florida, who dare not travel to Cuba themselves.

Despite the excellent work done, its important to note that the Miami Herald has presented a report that reveals a Miami perspective, not a national or objective one. I also found it interesting that no one from FIU's Cuban Research Institute was interviewed for this first part. This would also reveal that the Herald report may be more skewed than one would think.

Examining the rest of the report reveals other interesting points.

[Part 3]

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