Thursday, February 21, 2019

Cuentapropistas in court

Cuba’s Supreme Court issued a decision about court cases involving entrepreneurs, trabajadores por cuenta propia, that clarifies how their cases should be handled.

It can be found in the Gaceta Oficial, the January 23 issue, decision number GOC-2019-89-O2. There is also an explanatory article on the court’s website (didn’t know they did these) written by Liliana Hernández Díaz, the chief judge of the court’s division that handles economic matters (Presidenta de la Sala de lo Económico).

The decision is procedural. Apparently there have been many cases involving disputes between cuentapropistas, and between them and clients and creditors. The decision clarifies that these cases should be heard and where they should be assigned.

It also says that in contract disputes, as the judge puts it in her article, that when it comes to contract disputes, cuentapropistas “litigate under equal conditions and respect for rights and procedural guarantees as state enterprises and other legal entities and economic actors.”

So while they remain – for now – individuals with licenses as opposed to legally constituted businesses with personalidad jurídica, they have standing in court when it comes to contract disputes.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Pep-rally Venezuela policy

The thrust of President Trump’s Venezuela speech wasn’t a surprise, but it was still jarring to see him talk about freedom abroad as if he had never spoken about his “America First” disinterest in how other countries govern themselves, about being “in love” with Kim Jong Un, about the money Saudi Arabia invests here (when asked about a Saudi murder of a U.S. resident journalist), about Putin’s poll ratings and leadership qualities, about his warm personal relations with a Chinese premier who deals with the Uighur minority through mass jailing and re-education.

But as ever with President Trump, he has a way of telling you what is foremost on his mind, and yesterday it was the electoral benefit of his outrage about Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Cuba. Votes, votes, and votes.

In the only non-partisan reference of the day, he thanked FIU President Mark Rosenberg for hosting his partisan event. Democratic elected officials were excluded, including the Congresswoman in whose district the speech occurred. Supportive elected officials were praised, all Republicans. Senator Scott used his remarks idiotically to bash Democrats for wanting to bring socialism to America. The President hailed Venezuelan Doral, Nicaraguan Sweetwater, and Cuban Miami. The format was that of hundreds of Trump campaign rallies, right down to the recessional, “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.”

The crowd went nuts, so he got the politics right. But does the Administration’s Venezuela effort work as a foreign policy strategy?

If the first test of strategy is to set a clear objective, it passes with flying colors: Maduro must go. The agreement of 50 other governments on Trump’s central contention – that Maduro’s electoral and constitutional shenanigans forfeit his legitimacy – is a plus.

From there, things get murky.

For starters, there is no visible alignment of ends and means. For Maduro to go, the military has to flip. To achieve that, we have exhortations (patriotism) and threats (military leaders are “risking their lives” by sticking with Maduro and stand to “lose everything”).

To force the issue, we have the most novel use of emergency assistance ever devised: tons of aid dangled at the border to inspire Venezuelan citizens and military officers to depose their government.

As the aid piles up, Senator Rubio and Administration officials (especially those appearing in Spanish-language media) declare daily that it will absolutely enter Venezuela next Saturday. They do not say how, but interim Venezuelan President Juan Guaidó now tweets that on that day, Venezuelans will bring it in and distribute it in “every province” of a country the size of Texas and Oklahoma combined. His ends and means are not aligned either, but he has an action plan and we will see on Saturday if it works.

And indeed it might. Aided by Maduro, Venezuela’s opposition is united and enjoys massive support. If the military command flips, it would not be the first Latin American military institution to determine that its national defense duty lies in facilitating a change in political leadership. Foreign intelligence agencies may have inducements.

But so much could go wrong. No significant military element has switched allegiance – and unless that changes, Saturday is set up to be a day of confrontation. There could be a simple standoff at the border, but if there is violence there will be calls for military intervention. Guaidó has all but called for it and the Venezuelan Supreme Court (operating from abroad) has authorized it explicitly. Those who cheered yesterday’s speech would surely welcome a “humanitarian corridor” protected by U.S. troops. President Trump has warned against any harm to Guaidó or his political allies. Legal foundations for military action have been set, and Saturday could provide the political impetus.

With or without foreign troops, success for Guaidó will require the military command, the rank and file, and all police and irregular forces at once to turn away from Maduro. Some may disband; the rest must all work effectively and immediately to preserve order. If you don’t like the odds of such a neat, seamless change, then you don’t want to imagine the implications for U.S. troops operating amid scarcity, latent violence, and a crisis of authority.

If February 23 passes with Maduro still standing and no military action, the Administration will be left with its maximalist objectives supported by the same threats and exhortations that have not worked so far. Venezuelan officers seem not to be convinced by the assurances coming from Guaidó and Trump, perhaps because no one can offer to drop all U.S. drug trafficking charges. Conditions inside Venezuela will worsen, and the increasing bite of U.S. sanctions will start to give Washington a share of responsibility that President Trump and Senator Rubio will neither recognize nor accept. As time passes, governments now allied with the Trump effort will lose their stomach for tactics that add to Venezuelans’ woes, and they will look for negotiated solutions that Washington opposes. Floridians whose votes matter to the President will press for stronger action, and neither they nor the President’s advisors will be troubled by extended economic sanctions.

In sum, a long waiting game would be hell for Maduro and difficult for Trump too, as it becomes clear that endless sanctions are bad strategy and bad politics. The only way to bridge the gap between ends and means will be escalation, but those options are likely to be distasteful to a President who decried “foolish wars” to a national audience weeks ago. In time, Venezuela could generate national media coverage that would make him less happy about great headlines in Miami-Dade. Long-haul strategies are great if you are in a position of strength, time is on your side, and your leader’s commitment is true.

One prays for a good, fast outcome for Venezuela, but it is hard to imagine such an outcome except in prayer. Which leads to a final point on strategy: given the challenges, the President’s partisan approach is a strategic blunder. The White House did more than exclude Democrats from yesterday’s rally – it made clear that it wants no part of them in the Venezuela policy, and it tries to paint them as would-be Maduros to win votes (presumably because of their ideas about providing health care to poor people). Foreign publics will see a campaign ploy, not a genuine foreign policy effort. Allies will be more inclined to peel away. If G.I.’s are deployed, they will know that their country is divided at the outset. And future difficulties or failures will be Trump’s alone. Apparently there is no one in the White House to argue that bipartisan foreign policy is at once a positive value and a source of political strength.

What does this mean for Cuba? The writing is already on the wall with regard to new sanctions, and yesterday’s speech shows that politics will be the guide. New U.S. actions will have no international support, and will have nothing to do with the views of a President who was exploring for Cuba business opportunities not long ago. Wait for the next rally at FIU.

Monday, February 11, 2019


A column of mine on the Administration's approach to Venezuela and Cuba, and Cuba's options.

Monday, January 21, 2019

Why Radio/TV Marti is a joke

How is the U.S. government broadcast to Cuba covering the announcement about Title III of the Helms-Burton law?

In this story, TV Marti reporter Tomas Regalado explains the State Department statement and presents some reaction: from Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart, from Miami radio powerhouse Ninoska Perez, and from a guy who would like to file a lawsuit based on his property claim. Regalado did not indicate that alternative points of view exist, much less say what they are or show anyone espousing them.

On the evening newscast, they brought out reporter Pablo Alfonso to explain the news, and in addition to explaining the issue of lawsuits, he proceeded to describe an aspect of the legislation that doesn’t exist. He said that Title III “prohibits subsidiaries of foreign businesses, who have subsidiaries in the United States, from doing business with Cuba” (see 3:00). That is nonsense, but it’s not hard to guess why he said it. Someone probably told him, accurately, that the desired effect of the law is to induce companies doing business here to stop doing business there. Rather than doing actual reporting, it appears he went with that and garbled it. (Note also at 4:25 that after referring to the Cuban “government” he quickly corrects himself and says “regime.”)

On the Radio/TV Marti website, there’s a story about Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart supporting the implementation of Title III, and another about dissidents in Cuba with the same point of view.

This is not the first time Radio/TV Marti covers a story by providing information and a single point of view, as if it aspires to be a mirror image of Granma. You get the impression that if you were to read the Voice of America’s charter to it management (VOA represents “America, not any single segment of American society,” and presents “a balanced and comprehensive projection of significant American thought and institutions”), they would look at you as if you were speaking Chinese.

Obviously the funding for Radio/TV Marti will go on forever, so I repeat my suggestion: call it Radio Exilio and spare Marti and the rest of us with any association with it.

More on Title III

It appears likely from the State Department’s announcement that Title III of the Helms-Burton law will be allowed to go into effect around March 1. No U.S. President has permitted this: Since enactment in 1996, Clinton, Bush, Obama, and Trump have blocked it every six months.

As a result, those whose properties in Cuba were expropriated and who can identify a foreign business connected to that property, can sue the foreign business in U.S. courts – even if the plaintiff was not a U.S. citizen or resident at the time of the taking.

My opinion on all this is here. Some more info on Title III:

The law is presented as protection for claimants who were never compensated. But the right to sue is limited. Cuban Americans can’t sue for their homes. No one can sue for a property worth $50,000 or less when it was taken. And the right to sue expires if Cuba’s socialist government goes away, or if the President decides to suspend it again.

The law also shields two classes of business from Title III lawsuits.

First are those engaged in “the delivery of international telecommunication signals to Cuba.” In other words, companies delivering voice or data traffic to the Cuban network are protected, while those whose businesses extend into the Cuban domestic network are not.

Then there are those engaged in transactions and uses of property incident to lawful travel to Cuba, to the extent that such transactions and uses of property are necessary to the conduct of such travel.” The House-Senate report accompanying the bill put it more simply: “any activities related to lawful travel to Cuba” are protected. Those who want to sue, for example, based on ownership of a port facility, are surely searching for ways to argue that this language should not apply.

In theory, the damages could be substantial; the law fixes them at three times the property’s current value, plus court costs and attorneys’ fees.

Finally, some U.S. businesses who lost property in Cuba were partially compensated through a tax deduction. In November 1962, the IRS allowed them to deduct Cuba confiscation losses from their business income.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

MLB's good baseball deal

The opposition to MLB’s deal that will allow Cuban pro ballplayers to sign with big league clubs without fleeing Cuba and without the need to establish residency elsewhere, is in part understandable: If you support the embargo, you want to limit any financial flows to Cuba.

But I suspect there’s more to it. In Miami, some are surely rubbed the wrong way at the idea that Cuban players could play here without emigrating, without effectively breaking with the system, without joining el exilio.

It certainly shows that those who want to block the deal are not interested in encouraging some positive changes in Cuba that made it possible: the ability for Cubans to travel and return, and the ability of pro athletes to earn market-based pay abroad and return to Cuba with those earnings. They are not being called desertores anymore.

How do Cuban ballplayers see the deal that Senator Rubio wants to block?

Look at the math from a Cuban player’s point of view. Say he signs a one-year, $2 million deal (half the MLB average).

A “release fee” of $400,000 goes to Cuban baseball – paid by the club, not the player.

If IRS applies U.S. tax (30%), that’s $600,000 to Uncle Sam, and the player pockets $1.4 million.

Cuba decided recently to tax that income at 4%, not the 50% marginal rate applied to, say, a private restaurant or bed-and-breakfast with taxable income above $2000.

Senator Rubio complains about the “new tax” Cuba is imposing (4%), but if it applied the 50% rate on the books since 1996, the player would pay more than ten times more!

After paying the 4%, the player is left with $1.344 million – more than 2,600 times his salary in the Cuban national league.
More on all this in this column in Cuba Standard.

Friday, December 14, 2018

The Helms-Burton threat

In Cuba Standard, a column of mine on the Administration’s consideration of allowing Title III of the Helms-Burton law to go into effect next February. Spoiler: It’s a bad idea.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Radio/TV Marti in the news

The Washington Post and New York Times have stories today on Radio/TV Marti and, in the Times’ case, on U.S. international broadcasting in general. Both are worth reading. From them, some items of note:

The report on the investigation of the Soros program is “due out in early January,” according to the Times.

The anti-Islam article on the Radio/TV Marti website (now withdrawn but cached here), first reported in El Nuevo Herald, was published in September. Unlike the Soros content, this was published months after the current director Tomas Regalado came on board.

The Times story is inaccurate in saying that Judicial Watch was “relied on” for material in the Soros program. The program gives that impression by mentioning Judicial Watch repeatedly, but no one from that organization is interviewed, nor are they or their work cited specifically. The Post interviewed Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton, who says his organization was not contacted as the program was being prepared. This, and Regalado’s comment that Judicial Watch is a “good source,” is one of the strangest aspects of the program.

Neither article gets at the question of the Soros program’s origin. Maybe someone at Radio/TV Marti thought it up, but I doubt it.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Radio/TV Marti in action (corrected)

(This was posted 12/13; see correction below, posted 12/17.)

Last week I attended the second public meeting of the State Department’s Cuba Internet Task Force. I didn’t intend to write about it until I saw the coverage from Radio/TV Marti.

At the meeting, two items of business were accomplished. The task force heard from two organizations that were charged with developing recommendations: Freedom House and the Information Technology Industry Council. Then the task force gave the State Department’s Cuba desk the job of writing its report. The report will contain recommendations to the Secretary of State based on its views, the ideas submitted by these organizations, and public comments.

Radio/TV Marti director Tomas Regalado is a member of the task force, and Radio/TV Marti’s story on the task force meeting is all about him. I don’t have verbatim notes, but I think it’s fair to say that he objected to some of the recommendations that were put forward because they involved dealing with the Cuban government and enterprises, and could involve commercial activity.

He moved to have some of these ideas stricken from the report that will go to the Secretary of State, and he announced portentously that if they were not stricken then he would resign from the task force, pick up his marbles, and go home.

He didn’t seem to understand no such motion could be entertained because no such report had been written; there was no draft in front of the members that could be amended. There were two reports from outside groups, that’s all. The deliberation and drafting is about to begin. This was explained by the State Department’s press office here.

This never sunk in with Mr. Regalado, however. Even after the meeting, in the video accompanying the story (at 1:10), he is talking about report already drafted, destined for the Secretary of State and the President.

It’s pretty obvious that this story was pre-planned. The fact that its premise was wrong didn’t stop Radio/TV Marti from running it.

What does this say about the journalism that Radio/TV Marti is practicing?

They didn’t send a reporter to cover a public meeting that was open to press coverage – and if they sent a reporter, either that reporter didn’t understand what was going on, or decided to go with Mr. Regalado’s misrepresentation. The facts were set aside in favor of the pre-cooked story. Pathetic.

The story covered only Mr. Regalado – nothing on the statements of the government officials present, nothing on the representatives of Freedom House and the Information Technology Industry Council who presented their interesting reports, nothing on the discussion that ensued. Real journaIism would present the content of those groups’ presentations, in addition to Mr. Regalado’s criticism – to say nothing of giving a complete sense of what happened at the meeting beyond one person’s interventions. This is more like propaganda.

Mr. Regalado is certainly a qualified commentator. But his personal involvement in a misleading story like this shows he has no place running a news organization.

The story linked above is introduced by two anchors and then cuts to a report from a reporter in the Miami newsroom. The reporter is Mr. Regalado’s son. This isn’t nepotism because the son was there long before the father was hired. But apparently, Radio/TV Marti has no editor to point out that it’s wrong to assign a reporter to cover a story about an immediate family member, in this case his father.

In the video, Mr. Regalado says he felt a responsibility to speak as “the only Cuban voice of the exile community.” It was important to note, he said, that “with the Cuban government one can’t negotiate, with the Cuban government one can’t talk, that the Cuban government is the problem, not the solution, and that in the United States there are brilliant minds, there are people who can design a series of projects to give free Internet to the Cuban people.”

Therein lies the real story from the meeting that Radio/TV Marti completely blew. Current Trump Administration regulations provide ample space for American companies to be involved in Internet and telecommunications, including selling equipment to businesses and consumers and, should Cuban officials and enterprises agree, to help extend the network. Mr. Regalado has a different idea: for the U.S. government to involve itself in “a series of projects” to expand access independent of Cuban networks. Haven’t we seen that movie before?

Some may think I’m writing as part of a campaign to bring down Radio and TV Marti. Not quite. Realistically speaking, I will sooner become President of the United States than Congress will end this waste.

But Congress could do us a favor: divorce them from the Voice of America and call them the Voice of El Exilio. That would end the association with poor Jose Marti and diminish the association with us.

Correction (12/17):

In fact there were two stories on this meeting. There was the one that centered on Mr. Regalado, discussed above, which was the front-page story on the Radio/TV Marti website, and there was another that I missed.

The other story is based in part on reporting from the meeting – so I was wrong to say they didn’t send a reporter.

How did this story cover the meeting?

It notes that recommendations were presented at the meeting and it describes some of them, but for some reason it fails to note that they were presented by representatives of Freedom House and the Information Technology Industry Council. Isn’t it a basic task for a reporter covering a public meeting to identify who said what?

The story notes that “some of these recommendations were rejected by the audience” but it fails to report that some in the audience supported them. What do you call journalism that reports one point of view and omits its opposite?

The story omitted other aspects of the discussion. There was a suggestion that current Treasury regulations should be maintained so as to enable U.S. companies to try to get involved commercially in expanding the Cuban network, and there was another suggestion that the United States use technologies that can expand Internet access in Cuba without any connection to the Cuban network. Neither was mentioned.

It does not report on Mr. Regalado’s confusion, discussed above.

So that’s the correction. I stand by the rest of what I wrote.

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In the farm bill, a small step forward

Congress will soon vote on the 2018 Farm Bill, which authorizes agricultural and food assistance programs. The final version, released yesterday, includes an amendment by outgoing Senator Heitkamp of North Dakota, to end the prohibition on the use of the Department of Agriculture’s export promotion programs in Cuba. Her amendment passed the Senate unanimously after Senator Rubio threatened to remove it, but soon retreated and accepted it.
To my knowledge, Cuba was the only country where our Department of Agriculture was barred from promoting U.S. exports. By itself, this move will not add hundreds of millions to U.S. exports, but it is a sensible step forward and it will help. The text of the bill is here; Heitkamp’s amendment appears on page 130 and the explanation of its meaning is on page 614.
President Trump has plenty of grievances with Cuba, and some make sense. Hopefully he will remember how, as a businessman, he explored Cuba’s potential for his hotel/resort business, and see the country as a place where more U.S. economic engagement could benefit both peoples.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

An apology to Mr. Soros

More reporting on the TV Marti program on George Soros:

OnCuba reports that John Lansing, head of the U.S. agency that oversees Radio/TV Marti, has apologized to George Soros and to the head of his foundation for the program that he judges to be “utterly offensive in its anti-Semitism and clear bias.” His letters, embedded in the article, are not your typical U.S. government statement; they are a strong and complete rejection of the product that TV Marti purveyed. Here’s hoping that Lansing’s attitude permeates the investigation. He has ordered Radio/TV Marti to hire a Standards and Practices Editor, and he is having a third-party contractor conduct an audit of the past year of Radio/TV Marti’s output.

El Nuevo Herald reports that a total of four employees of Radio/TV Marti have been suspended as the investigation continues, and that the investigation revealed that the Radio/TV Marti webpage had published “excessive attacks on the Quran,” according to director Tomas Regalado. Regalado made that statement in a Miami radio interview last week. The article also mentions a web article based on Judicial Watch materials that was removed from the Radio/TV Marti site but is cached here.

Monday, November 5, 2018

TV Marti Soros program, subtitled

Here’s a friend’s translation of the TV Marti program on George Soros.

Three errata: at 3:50 it should be “Popper’s liberalism” (reference to Karl Popper); at 9:08 the word “NSA” was omitted from the presentation of Madsen; at 12:08 it should be “exercise of eight months.”


Sunday, November 4, 2018

Mr. Regalado adapts

The U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM), Radio/TV Marti which oversees the Office of Cuba Broadcasting (OCB), is investigating the TV Marti Soros program, and from this Herald story we learn it’s a 10-day investigation.

While the investigation proceeds, OCB Director Tomas Regalado has been commenting and seemingly trying to find safe political ground.

He began by half-embracing the program, saying that Judicial Watch is a “good source” but should not have been the only source, and that the program fell short because it was “not precise” and lacked “balance.” As if the program contained an actual story that was not properly told.

By last Wednesday he was saying the program “looks like an anti-Semitic report” and he made the ridiculous suggestion that the Radio/TV Marti staff needs diversity training.

In his statement yesterday, he flatly called the program anti-Semitic and called for “ethics and standards training,” which presumably includes the basics of journalism.

I suppose it’s good that Regalado is adapting. The program was produced and aired before he assumed his duties, but his initial reactions to it set a terrible example for his newsroom.

He also told the Herald – again, before the investigation is complete – that two people, and two people alone, are responsible for this fiasco. They were “the only two people who had anything to do with the report coming out on the air,” he said. That statement strains credulity and looks like an effort to limit and isolate the damage. Fire two people, case closed, everybody moves on.

Regalado also told the Herald another interesting detail. Reporter Isabel Cuervo, he says, did no on-camera interviews for the program. That means that Cuervo lied on the Levantate Cuba program when she said that she herself interviewed Lia Fowler, whose comments appeared to be from a Skype interview. (I would post the clip but TV Marti removed it from YouTube, and appears to be purging everything on its website and elsewhere that refers to the Soros program.)

Meanwhile, Senator Menendez wrote to the U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM) to set some expectations for the investigation and to demand information. Good for him.

You're welcome, Vladimir

It was apparent that some of the video material in the TV Marti Soros program was drawn from other sources. Some, it turns out, was lifted from an RT program and included on the TV Marti broadcast, without attribution.

I’m referring to comments by Michele Steinberg, editor of a magazine affiliated with Lyndon LaRouche. She is interviewed extensively in this Spanish-language RT program about Mr. Soros, titled “Who is George Soros Really?” Part of her interview with RT and other footage from the RT program appear in the TV Marti program, with the RT logo erased from the screen.

If you want to see for yourself, the RT footage here at 4:20 was clipped and used by TV Marti here at 5:26.

The RT program features Ms. Steinberg’s discussion of the links between Mr. Soros and the Rothschilds. So two of three people cited in the TV Marti program turn out to be exponents of one of the oldest anti-Semitic tropes in the world.

As a friend points out, the U.S. government used Russian anti-Semitic propaganda to make American anti-Semitic propaganda for broadcast to Latin America.

"Anti-Semitism and clear bias" at TV Marti...

...a statement in Spanish and English from the director of the Office of Cuba Broadcasting, Tomas Regalado, on the Radio/TV Marti website.

Monday, October 29, 2018

"Apparent misconduct" at TV Marti...

…and an investigation launched by the body that oversees Radio/TV Marti, the U.S. Agency for Global Media. A forthright statement from its CEO, John Lansing, was issued today.

TV Marti and "balance" (link restored)

Tomas Regalado, director of the Office of Cuba Broadcasting that houses Radio and TV Marti, is a rare Trump appointee who strongly opposed President Trump’s candidacy. He was mayor of Miami and before that, a prominent radio journalist. Recalling a feature of his own radio program, he has brought a fact-checking feature (Detector de Mentiras) to the Martis’ website.

When Mother Jones wrote last Friday about the TV Marti program that smeared George Soros, Regalado responded directly: “Judicial Watch is a good source, but having said that, it should not have been the only source. The two part series was not precise and did not have on the record sources to balance the story…To be fair and to show that we in the new administration are committed to journalistic integrity, the stories have been pulled out of the digital page, not because we want to hide anything, but because we want to be transparent if we say that the story did not have the required balance, then it should not be on the air.” By “new administration” he means his own stewardship because he started in his job shortly after the Soros program aired.

It is good that he responded personally and critically. But while he stands up for “journalistic integrity,” he whitewashes the problems with the program. A few things need to be pointed out.

“Judicial Watch is a good source,” Regalado says, but what is he talking about? One of the strange aspects of the program is that the narrator repeatedly mentions Judicial Watch but no one from that organization is quoted, none of its work is cited, none of its people appear on camera. (Fox News, by the way, dumped Judicial Watch’s research director last weekend for statements about Soros’ secret control of the State Department, but the organization is a “good source” for Radio/TV Marti.)

This idea that the program lacked “balance,” additional sources, or on-the-record statements misses the mark. What it lacked was truthful information to support its wild assertions – for example that Soros was the “architect” of the financial crisis in 2008 and that he is now making money from his political activism. Or, as persons quoted in the program assert, that he financed Gorbachev, has destabilized countries, and seeks to undermine democracies and turn Latin American countries into satellites of Cuba. Reporting a series of blatant falsehoods is not remedied by “balance.” You don’t have to be a journalist to realize this.

The program was thoroughly promoted by TV Marti. For example, there’s the Levantate Cuba morning program, where host Maite Luna interviews Isabel Cuervo, the narrator of the Soros program who claims to have conducted the “investigation” of the subject matter.

The passage beginning at 5:06 here and in the clip above is emblematic. (Sorry for the audio, it's my own recording of the video that was pulled from the government site.) At this point they are running an excerpt from the Soros program. Over scary sound effects, the narrator explains that Soros spends millions in “hundreds of countries” and is “accused thus of influencing, with his fortune, in their political and social destinies, in order to later take out revenue in the millions.” (Accused by whom, she doesn’t say.) Lia Fowler then appears very briefly on camera saying it is “much easier to work with a dictator than in a democracy and an open market.” Then with Fowler no longer on camera, the narrator attributes to her the idea that “behind the magnate is a hidden craving for global power.” Then the narrator mentions Soros’ support for communications media and nongovernmental organizations on five continents and says: “Latin America does not escape his spell.” During this, on the screen are images of a wall being spraypainted, street demonstrations, a burning effigy of President Trump, and a line of masked demonstrators hurling projectiles. The excerpt ends; back in the studio, the host Maite Luna says that Soros engages in philanthropy, “but he is also very dangerous, that he is giving and offering money where it can end up being a danger – that government – for the society.”

This is not journalism, it is a smear; none of the accusations are supported. No “balance” can improve it. Worse, it touches on all the themes that have been central to anti-Semitic screeds throughout history.

I assume that many of the journalists at Radio/TV Marti are repulsed by this program and the stain it puts on their organization and U.S. international broadcasting. Neither Radio/TV Marti nor its governing body have addressed a word to their audience, to say nothing of Mr. Soros. The silence is deafening.

Friday, October 26, 2018

“George Soros, the multimillionaire Jew” (video link restored)

Radio and TV Marti, the U.S. government’s Miami-based broadcast operation to Cuba, joined the anti-George Soros gang with a series of broadcasts last June.

A 15-minute program is here (original video was pulled from the government site; this is an inferior recording.) It was edited into two segments and presented on the TV Marti newscast, where the anchor began his lead-in to Part I with the phrase, “George Soros, the multimillionaire Jew of Hungarian origin…”

The program repeatedly mentions the U.S. organization Judicial Watch, but it doesn’t clearly cite any of its work. If you search, you see that Judicial Watch is concerned about U.S. aid agencies funding foreign organizations that are also supported by Soros, in Colombia and elsewhere.

Throughout, the program’s cheesy sound effects are like those used in horror movies when the villain begins reaching for the knife.

Some notes on the 15-minute program:

0:20 –Narrator Isabel Cuervo makes her first reference to Judicial Watch: “George Soros has his eye on Latin America. But Judicial Watch, a legal research group in the United States, has its eye on Soros, and on what it views as his lethal influence in undermining democracies.”

0:40 – The narrator says that Soros uses his business profits “to finance anti-system [political] groups that fill his pockets.”

1:10 – The narrator makes a reference to Soros’ infamous, lucrative 1992 bet against the British pound, and continues: “It is said that Soros made billions of dollars manipulating the fall of Asian currencies in 1997. And he was the architect of the financial collapse of 2008.”

1:40 – The narrator calls Soros a “generous philanthropist” active in more than 100 countries, then cuts to Lia Fowler, described on the screen as a “former FBI agent,” who says: “And the things that he finances around the world do nothing more than to destabilize countries, cultures…”

2:10 – The narrator calls Soros a “non-practicing Jew of flexible morals.”

3:30 – The narrator discusses the work of Soros’ Open Society Foundation, noting that “some” – she doesn’t say who – describe it as “a façade for investing and looting countries.”