|Ciudad de la Habana, Cuba|
Condemnation of The Toronto Star article of March 16, 2013, continues to pour in.
Condemn Media Campaign Against
- Tony Seed -
The Toronto Star and El Nuevo Herald, the Spanish-language sister publication of the Miami Herald, have conspired to publish a sensationalist series on "sex tourism" to Cuba. The series began precisely one month to the day following the "visit" by Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird to Cuba on February 15, 2013 and his provocative meeting with "dissidents." "He pledged Canada's support for efforts to secure freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law," his department said at the time in a release, "in the only remaining Communist country in the Western hemisphere." Now the "dissidents" have emerged, writes Andrew Brett, to form the main "source" for the Toronto-Miami media disinformation blaming the Cuban people and government, who are the victims, for "sex tourism." Far from being a coincidence, the series serves the agenda of the Harper government of political destabilization and isolation of all opposition to imperialist dictate in the Americas.
The Star also writes: "Although Canada has had a law against abusing children abroad since 1997, it is undermined by the inability of law enforcement officials to monitor sexual offenders as they slip out of the country." Thus, under the banner of high ideals, it furnishes the Harper Government the pretext to collect information on all those Canadians travelling to the independent socialist Republic of Cuba.
Toronto Star Makes Up Facts in Exposé
- Andrew Brett, March 17, 2013 -
"There is truly no prostitution healthier than Cuba's," said Fidel Castro in 1992. Or so claims theToronto Star. But did he really?
Not at all. Castro actually said, "There is truly no tourism healthier than Cuba's."
This just scratches the surface of the fact-free reporting of the Star in its new series "The Ugly Canadians," an exposé of a supposed epidemic of Canadians travelling to Cuba for child sex tourism.
"Canadians are travelling to Cuba in surprising numbers to sexually exploit young people," the first article in the series says. Just how surprising are these numbers? Well, they can't say. The same article admits that they don't actually know, because the Canadian government doesn't reveal the number of Canadians prosecuted in Cuba for sex crimes.
The only facts they can point to are in a 2011 RCMP report that lists Cuba as "a top destination in the Americas" for sex tourism. No, not the top. One of them. In the Americas. And where does Cuba rank in this list? The article doesn't say.
So why have they decided to highlight sex tourism to Cuba instead of, say, the actual top destination?
Why do the Cubans quoted happen to be a "dissident lawyer" and a "dissident blogger"?
Why did the article print a fabricated pro-prostitution quote attributed to Castro?
The series on Cuban sex tourism is not being published by the Star alone. Its partner in the series, El Nuevo Herald, is the Spanish-language sister publication of the Miami Herald, known for editorializing against the Cuban government and for employing journalists paid by the U.S. government to disseminate anti-Cuban propaganda.
Could this joint series actually be a deliberate attempt to stigmatize the Cuban tourism industry, a backbone of the Cuban economy? A modern-day, liberal version of the "red scare"? In 2004, President Bush similarly warned about child sex tourism to justify his government's travel restrictions on Cuba, without any evidence to suggest the problem is more prevalent on the island.
With close to one million visitors a year, Canadians are the primary market for the Cuban tourism industry, a major source of funding for the Cuban economy. If anyone wanted to target Cuban tourism, the Canadian market would be the place to start.
Whatever the intention of playing fast and loose with the facts, it raises questions about the editorial influence of the Herald on this series, and whether the remaining articles will be based on evidence or just conjecture of opponents of the Cuban government.
(Originally published on Rabble.ca)
As of May 2012 Cuba is now the third most popular Caribbean country for tourists, trailing the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, according to Carlos Vogeler, General Director for the Americas of the World Tourism Organization (WTO). Vogeler's remarks were quoted by the Cuban News Agency last spring during his visit to the Cuban islands known as the King's Gardens (Jardines del Rey) as part of Cuba's 32nd International Tourism Fair, FITCuba 2012.
Vogeler said the improvements in Cuba's tourism industry are reflected in the increasing number of visitors each year. As Cuba's level of tourism has improved so has the quality of its tourism fairs. Holding the 2012 fair in Cayo Santa Maria on the King's Gardens was a great opportunity for many foreigners to get to know the natural beauty of the Coco and Guillermo Keys, an area of great tourist potential barely known outside Cuba, Vogeler said.
Representatives of tour operators, travel agents, hotel chains and airlines toured the different facilities in the keys off the northern central Cuban coast. There they could see the beauty of the Playa Pilar resort, one of the most beautiful places in Cuba, where the sand dunes are among the best preserved in the region.
This year's FITCuba will take place in Veradero, Matanzaz province, Cuba's most famous beach, from May 7 to 10.
- Manuel E. Yepe, March 4, 2013 -
The special immigration status which the U.S. Cuban Adjustment Act grants Cuban citizens has become even more of a problem for Washington in light of Cuba's new travel regulations.
A Chicago Tribune editorial published on February 16 tackled this important issue in the White House´s policy against Cuba from a very unusual perspective in U.S. media: the privileges and immigration rights the so-called Cuban Adjustment Act grants to Cubans and denies to all other citizens on the planet.
The Chicago Tribune editorial explains that for Cubans who want to immigrate to the United States, the hardest part is getting there, because, since 1966, they've essentially been granted automatic refugee status on arrival.
Almost half a century later, states the paper, Cubans who get to the U.S. rarely claim to be victims of political persecution. They want a better economic future, or to join family members already there, or both -- just like most people who want to immigrate from anywhere else.
Unlike most immigrants, though, Cubans don't have to wait years for a visa, or sneak across the border illegally. Once they're in, they're fast-tracked to legal residency, with a clear path to citizenship, the Tribune's editorial notes.
It's a sore subject as Congress considers what to do with the 11 million undocumented immigrants to whom the system has not been so generous, the editorial complains.
Those immigrants -- more than half of them from Mexico -- live and work under the government's radar, often for very low wages, constantly in fear of being deported.
"To come here legally, most Mexican laborers would have to wait decades for a visa. But Cubans who present themselves at our southern border -- a common point of entry, thanks to the U.S. "wet foot, dry foot" policy -- are allowed in once they show a Cuban ID. These special considerations are especially hard to defend now that Cubans can travel freely between the U.S. and their homeland."
According to the Tribune, after 2009 when President Barack Obama lifted most of the limits that kept Cuban-Americans from traveling to the island to visit family, last year, more than 400,000 of them did so, some of them dozens of times.
"In January, the Cuban government began allowing citizens to leave without an exit permit. Passports are now granted more liberally, and those who leave can stay away up to two years without losing their residency. Most Cubans are able to come and go at will," says the editorial.
It's hard to argue that Cubans who can come and go as they please are in need of special considerations normally reserved for victims of a political repression they are not suffering when the only thing they did was dodge Coast Guard boats long enough to tag American soil.
"To be fair," admits the paper, "those immigrants aren't lying about their circumstances. They're not required to demonstrate that they're political refugees." They come because they can thanks to the privileges granted by the anti-Cuba Act.
The Chicago paper says this isn't fair, "Cubans who want to come here for economic reasons should play by the same rules as economic immigrants from other countries," it argues.
Since it was passed in 1966 as an instrument of aggression against the Revolution, the Cuban Adjustment Act has caused an incalculable number of Cuban deaths -- sometimes whole families in reckless expeditions through the Strait of Florida -- encouraged by the limitations imposed on Cuba for more than half a century by the U.S. economic blockade, and by the promise of access to a paradise on Earth.
"We have no problem with allowing Cuban-Americans to travel back and forth to Cuba," says the Chicago Tribune editorial, and proposes that Congress ought to eliminate the travel ban entirely, so that all Americans can visit the island just like tourists from all other countries in the world who have been flocking to Cuba for years.
(A CubaNews translation. Edited by Walter Lippmann)