Earlier this week, the Associated Press ran an investigative piece on the U.S. Agency for International Development and its democracy promotion efforts in Fidel Castro’s Cuba.
Concerns about USAID’s overall efficiency are warranted.
The AP’s piece noted the “extensive lengths” used to avoid monitoring by Cuban authorities, but it failed to mention the objective of these programs. From the USAID:
“The United States has a long history of confronting human rights abuses, connecting the oppressed to the outside world, and helping people have a say in how they are governed. Within repressive environments such as Cuba, civil society and development practitioners alike are often subject to abuse, harassment, threats, verbal defamation, and unjustifiable prosecution and imprisonment.”
U.S. efforts to promote freedom in Cuba and elsewhere are not new and are in our national interest. The program the AP chose to examine serves a dual purpose–it both provided support to HIV stricken communities and promoted human rights.
What the AP did not manage to figure out is that Cuba remains a dangerous place for human rights and freedom.
In 2014 alone, the Castro regime has arrested more than 1,000 peaceful activists. Religious freedom is not protected either. A group of women known as the Ladies in White, relatives of oppressed activists, have been beaten and harassed on their way to church.
Cuba activists always have viewed AP’s reporting with suspicion, and that only heightened in April when AP slammed USAID for providing Cubans with an uncensored media platform.
It continues to consider Alan Gross, who has served five years of a 15-year sentence in a Cuban prison for helping the disenfranchised Jewish community on the island, a spy.
Its leftward bias extends beyond Cuba. In late July, AP tweeted, “As much of world watches Gaza war in horror, members of Congress fall over each other to support Israel.”
I again urge the AP to take a look at the “freedoms” granted to Cuban journalists for their next investigative piece. I can recommend a few newsworthy items:
- The suspicious murder of peaceful democracy advocates, Oswaldo Payá , Harold Cepero and Laura Pollán by Cuban security forces
- The continued harassment and repression of peaceful human rights activists
- The more than 100 political prisoners on the island serving long-term detentions
- The hypocrisy behind the U.S. Congressional Black Caucus and its support of the Castro dictatorship
Criticizing U.S. efforts to promote to human rights is a matter of opinion. But telling half the story is just bad journalism