Sunday, September 20, 2015

Professor: Comedy sketches disrespectful

William LeoGrande
William M. LeoGrande, coauthor of Back Channel to Cuba: The Hidden History of Negotiations between Washington and Havana, wrote a piece on Saturday criticizing Radio & TV Martí's pursuit of a comedy team that would lampoon Cuban officials and others on the island. (See "U.S. tax dollars for parodies of Cuban politicians").
LeoGrande, a professor at the School of Public Affairs at American University, wrote:
So while U.S. diplomats are negotiating with their Cuban counterparts on issues like environmental protection and counter-narcotics cooperation, trying to build confidence in order to tackle sensitive subjects like property claims and the repatriation of fugitives, the Office of Cuban Broadcasting is preparing to insult the Cuban officials with whom we are trying to reach agreement.
This is so obviously counter-productive that you have to wonder if it isn't an intentional attempt to sabotage the president's policy by bureaucrats whose programs--and jobs-- depend on perpetual hostility between the United States and Cuba.
On Thursday, the Center for Democracy in the Americas, a Washington, D.C., group that supports normalized relations with Cuba, complained about the comedy team proposal in a letter to Secretary John Kerry.
The center's director, Sarah Stephens, wrote that such projects undermine “a policy that you and President Obama have so painstakingly crafted.”
The Executive Branch of the U.S. government must speak with one voice about our Cuba policy. Otherwise, we risk confusing the overwhelming majority of Cubans, who want normalization to take place, and emboldening hardliners in Cuba who do not.

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