Voice of America English and Spanish texts ignore human rights abuses under Fidel Castro

BBG Watch Commentary

In a major distortion of Voice of America’s well-balanced VOA News video report about Fidel Castro, a text-only VOA News English-language version of the video’s content completely ignored Cuban political prisoners and refugees, closed borders for Cubans, other human rights abuses and internal causes of Cuban economic disaster. VOA Spanish Service posted on its website a longer text report in Spanish which also completely ignored human rights abuses in Castro’s Cuba.

Both VOA text reports marking the first anniversary of Fidel Castro’s death hailed him as a “revolutionary leader.” VOA Spanish Service used a Reuters news agency report. VOA English-language text seemed to be a shortened version of the Reuters news agency report. VOA often posts news agency reports on its websites even though some of them fail to meet the requirements of the VOA Charter (U.S. Public Law 94-350).

As of 3:30 PM ET Saturday, November 25, 2017, VOA Spanish Service did not show on its website the balanced VOA News video report about Fidel Castro. Showing no pride in the work of VOA reporters, VOA News editors who posted the video and text reports online did not include the name of the VOA journalist who prepared and recorded the well-done and balanced video.

The text-only report on the VOA News English-language website not only did not accurately reflect the content of the VOA video report, it was a major distortion of the video report. The VOA text ignored the video’s main points, particularly its reporting and outside commentary on widespread and severe human rights abuses under the Castro’s communist regime in Cuba.

As of 3:30 PM ET, Saturday, November 25, 2017, VOA News English and VOA Spanish text reports on Fidel Castro’s legacy show zero comments from readers, confirming how irrelevant VOA has become in many languages as a source of international news that should create interest and engagement among news consumers worldwide but has not done so for many years.

It is perhaps better that way, considering the one-sided and pedestrian nature of the VOA texts about Cuba under Fidel Castro and many other such reports on its websites. A recent VOA report gave a plug for American communist Angela Davis, presenting her as a fighter for labor and women’s rights but without disclosing her communist affiliations and her support for Soviet leaders and for Fidel Castro and their brutal rule and suppression of labor rights.

U.S. taxpayers are seeing some of their $224 million (FY 2017) given to VOA wasted on what can only be described in these instances as legitimizing communist dictators. VOA reports to the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), the federal agency with annual budget (including VOA) of $740 million. The BBG’s mission statement says that the federal agency exists “to inform, engage, and connect people around the world in support of freedom and democracy.” Both English and Spanish texts on VOA websites said nothing about persecution of independent journalists and bloggers in Cuba. Both VOA and BBG are still managed by Obama administration holdovers and have been dysfunctional for many years. Already in 2013, the then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who herself was a member of the BBG governing board, described the Broadcasting Board of Governors agency as “practically defunct.”

Anyone can see for themselves how the current executives in charge of the agency manage the Voice of America and the entire Broadcasting Board of Governors by comparing the VOA News English-language text report and the Google translation of the VOA Spanish text report with the VOA News video. The VOA News English-language text report is a one-sided distortion of both history and reality of life in communist-ruled Cuba, as well as a complete distortion of the rather well-done VOA video report. The same is true for the Reuters news agency text posted on the VOA Spanish website.

The VOA English-language video report meets all the requirements for accuracy, balance and comprehensiveness as required by the VOA Charter. The VOA News English-language text report meets none of these requirements. Neither does the VOA Spanish text.

The VOA video shows comments by Frank Calzon, Executive Director of the Center for Free Cuba. The VOA English-language text report has absolutely no balance or any information which human rights defenders in Cuba or anywhere else in the world might find useful. No wonder that VOA is losing the information war to countries like Russia and China.

The VOA News English-language text report seems to be a shortened version of the Reuters news agency report about Fidel Castro’s rule which also ignored Cuban political prisoners and refugees, closed borders for Cubans, other human rights abuses and internal causes of Cuban economic disaster. The Reuters report in Spanish on the VOA Spanish Service website also calls Fidel Castro “revolutionary leader” – the same description found in the VOA News English-language text report.

The full text of the Reuters news agency report on Castro, as used by the VOA Spanish Service, is even more one-sided and even more in violation of the VOA Charter. Ironically, it was used for all of Spanish-peaking America by the Voice of America Spanish Service. As of 3:30 PM ET Saturday, VOA Spanish Service carried it since the day before with zero comments under the report on its website. As of 3:30 PM ET, the Reuters report is also still highlighted on the VOA Spanish homepage. As of this time, the VOA Spanish Service is not showing the VOA News video report on Fidel Castro in translation into Spanish or any kind of balanced reporting on his legacy on the first anniversary of the death of the Cuban communist dictator.

VOA English Homepage Screen Shot 2017-11-25 at 5:34 PM ET

VOICE OF AMERICA

Cuba Marks First Anniversary of the Death of Fidel Castro

 
Last Updated: November 25, 2017 10:54 AM [As last seen and reposted here by BBG Watch on November 25, 2017 3:00 PM ET.]

VOA News

Cuba marks the first anniversary of the death of revolutionary leader Fidel Castro on Saturday followed by municipal elections on Sunday that will usher in a new leader who for the first time in 60 years will not be a Castro brother.

The island will hold a series of remembrances from Saturday through Dec. 4, the day Castro was laid to rest in a cemetery in Santiago de Cuba, where he launched the Cuban revolution.

[AP File Photo not reposted]

FILE – The funeral procession carrying the ashes of Fidel Castro leaves the town of Santa Clara, Cuba, Dec. 1, 2016.

Fidel Castro’s death last Nov. 25 ushered in a nine days of national mourning. The Cold War icon, who defied U.S. efforts to topple him, died at the age of 90.

By the time he died, Castro had been largely out of public view for nearly a decade because of ill health. He ceded the presidency to his younger brother, Raul Castro, in 2008 after intestinal troubles nearly killed him in 2006.

State-run media reports that galas and vigils will be held around the country this week in honor of Fidel Castro. State television is running archived footage of Fidel Castro, and cultural institutions are dedicating their performances to his memory.

Elections and gradual transition

During the weeklong events, citizens will also take part in municipal elections. The vote will end with the selection of a new president in late February, after Raul Castro said he would step down at the end of his two consecutive five-year terms.

The transition to new leadership, however, is expected to be gradual as Raul Castro will remain head of the Communist Party, the only legal party in Cuba.

State-run media is championing the belief that the elections are a way for citizens to show support for Fidel Castro’s ideas. In the provincial and national votes, candidates were chosen by commissions made up of Communist Party representatives.

The elections come at difficult time for Cuba, as relations with the United States have worsened under U.S. President Donald Trump and its economy continues to suffer as the fortunes of its key ally Venezuela decline.

END OF VOA NEWS (ENGLISH) TEXT REPORT

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VOICE OF AMERICA ENGLISH VIDEO REPORT

Cuba Marks First Anniversary of Fidel Castro’s Death

 
November 25, 2017 10:38 AM [As last seen and reposted by BBG Watch on November 25, 2017, 3:30 PM ET.]

VOA News

END OF VOA NEWS (ENGLISH) VIDEO REPORT

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VOA Spanish Service Homepage Screen Shot 2017-11-25 at 3:37 PM ET

VOICE OF AMERICA SPANISH SERVICE

AMÉRICA LATINA

Cuba marca 1er aniversario de muerte de Fidel con vigilias y galas

 
noviembre 24, 2017 [As last seen and reposted by BBG Watch on November 25, 2017, 3:30 PM ET.]

Reuters

[Google Translation of VOA Spanish posting of Reuters report.]

HAVANA (Reuters) – With a week of vigils throughout the country, Cuba will celebrate on Saturday, November 25, the first anniversary of the death of revolutionary leader Fidel Castro, while the island begins a political cycle that will end 60 years of the government of the Castro brothers.

Fidel, an imposing figure of the 20th century who built a communist-led state at the gates of the United States and challenged Washington’s efforts to overthrow him, died at age 90 on November 25, 2016.

The icon of the Cold War had already been out of public view for almost a decade, having formally ceded the presidency to his younger brother, Raul Castro, in 2008 due to his poor health. Cubans say that their death changed little on the island.

The pace of the reforms instigated by Raúl to update the Soviet-style command economy has continued as hesitantly as before. Meanwhile, Cuba’s relationship with the United States has worsened due to the more hostile stance of US President Donald Trump.

More significant from a political point of view, analysts say, will be the electoral cycle that will start on Sunday with a municipal vote and end with the selection of a new president at the end of February. Raul, 86, said he would resign at the end of his two consecutive terms.

The transition is expected to be gradual since Raúl will continue to be the head of the Communist Party. But, it happens when the country faces a difficult moment with a decrease in the aid of Venezuela – an allied country -, weaker exports and the consequent shortage of cash.

At the time of his death, Castro had been out of public attention since an intestinal ailment nearly killed him in 2006, occasionally writing columns and receiving foreign dignitaries at his home.

His death last year plunged Cuba into nine days of national mourning. A funeral procession carried its ashes on a three-day trip from Havana to its final resting place in the east of the island, where the Cuban revolution had launched.

According to his wishes to avoid a cult of personality, no statues of Fidel have been made, nor has his name been placed in public places in Cuba. Even his grave is a sober affair, a large granite rock in the Santa Ifigenia cemetery in Santiago de Cuba with a plaque that simply says “Fidel”.

Galas and vigils in honor of Fidel will be held throughout the country this week, according to state media. Cultural institutions such as the national ballet are dedicating their shows to their memory, and state television is recording archived images to transmit them repeatedly throughout the week.

Municipal voting on Sunday, the only part of the electoral process with direct participation of ordinary Cubans, is presented in state media as a show of support for their ideas. Fidel’s posters were hung in assemblies where neighborhoods nominated candidates in the last two months.

It will be followed by the elections of the provincial and national assemblies in which the commissions select the candidates from the lists. The new National Assembly will select at the end of February a successor of Castro, who is expected to be the first vice president Miguel Díaz-Canel.

END OF GOOGLE TRANSLATION OF VOA SPANISH REPORT

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1 Comment

  1. Radio And TV Marti Journalist

    I could not continue reading the Voice of America article. It is truly offensive for me as a Cuban political ex-prisoner. For VOA to say that “Fidel” is or was an “Icon” affected me a lot. Dear BBG Watch. I love you; you are a part of my family!

    Reply

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