Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Author: Damocles sword hangs over journalists in Cuba

No light at the end of the tunnel, at least for now
Radio Marti called earlier this week to ask if I'd take part in a discussion about what it's like to work as a correspondent in Cuba. So I joined host Amado Gil and Spanish journalist Vicente Botín on Tuesday's program. We talked mostly about the Cuban government's decision to revoke Mauricio Vicent's press accreditation.
Vicent, who writes for Spain's El Pais newspaper, has been a correspondent in Cuba for 20 years. I was surprised he lost his accreditation after so many years.

Botín said journalists in Cuba are under constant threat of losing their permission to work in the country. He said foreign journalists have the Sword of Damocles hanging over them at all time, and don't always know stories what will anger Cuban officials and lead to trouble. Botín is the author of several books, including, "Raul Castro, La pulga que cabalgo al tigre" and "Los funerales de Castro."
I said that Cuba's independent journalists and bloggers face many more difficulties than the foreign press. They have fewer resources than their foreign counterparts and work under much more difficult circumstances.
Botín agreed, saying that while foreign journalists who upset the socialist government may lose their accreditation, independent Cuban journalists can go to jail.
It was an interesting discussion, though I'm sure we didn't do the topic justice during the short 20-minute program. (See February 2011 post: A correspondent's life: What the heck was I complaining about?).
The radio show reminded me that I haven't been posting stories or photos lately on this blog or on the Cuba Money Project. There is a reason for that, and it's certainly not a lack of interest. Since late July when I returned from Cuba, I've been tending to some pressing family matters - a serious illness in the family - and I had to put my Cuba work aside. But I will get back to it when I can, even if it's poco a poco and when my family circumstances allow.


M. Denise C. said...

Sorry to hear about the family issues. Will be sending good thoughts and prayers.

Tracey Eaton said...

thank you for your kind thoughts

Antonio said...

Wish you the best...hope things do get better.

Tracey Eaton said...

Thanks, Antonio

thisoldanvil said...

I've always thought that good journalism ran on facts first, interpretation second. When it comes to Mauricio Vicent losing his accreditation, did he actually "anger Cuban officials," or was that just the kind of unsubstantiated slam against Cuba that makes Radio Marti famous. Do you know why Vicent was denied accreditation? Have you or anyone else checked with him, or the responsible Cuban officials?
As to the "constant threat of losing permission to work" in Cuba, how many foreign reporters have suffered that fate in, say, the last ten years?
And how many "independent journalists and bloggers" have gone to jail in that same period - for their writing, not for their paid participation in US-funded destabilization programs?
It would be nice to get some reporting from, and about, Cuba that has not been steeped in half-century old US prejudice and propaganda.
When I came across your blog nearly two years ago, I thought you were avoiding those traps. But lately....

Tracey Eaton said...

this old anvil - you ask good questions about what happened in the case of Mauricio Vicent. I haven't looked into the matter - I've been occupied with other things - and I don't know what happened. thanks for your comment. Tracey Eaton

NPV said...

Interesting that Tracey and others engaged in a discussion on M.Vicent's having his accreditation removed, without knowing why it was removed. Now, is that good journalism? How about reviewing what Mr Vicent has written - say, in the last 2 months? in fact, WHO reads Vicent's pieces? To put it mildly, opinion is not a good substitute for actual research and evidence.