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The Latest Example of the Media Blockade of the Cuban 5

June 22, 2011

We were more than a little surprised when a CNN journalist based in Los Angeles contacted SPARC Gallery interested in covering Gerardo Hernandez’s exhibit “Humor from my Pen” before its opening on June 4. We remained skeptical but after several phone calls back and forth an interview was set up.

On June 3 the CNN journalist arrived early to set up her camera and to go over what she would be covering about the background of Gerardo’s work and the case of the Cuban 5 in general.

She seemed genuinely interested and did a long interview with the organizers from the International Committee for the Freedom of the Cuban 5 in both Spanish and English. She also interviewed the Executive Director of SPARC, Debra Padilla.

We did not know going into the interview just how much the journalist knew about the case of the Cuban 5 but after more than 3 hours she learned not only about the artistic talents displayed in Gerardo’s cartoons but also about the deep injustice that he and his four brothers have been enduring for 13 years for defending their country, Cuba, against terrorism.

We asked the journalist how long it would take before we would know if the interview was going to be aired and she told us she did not know but mentioned that her editor wanted to find someone with a different “point of view” to “balance” the story.

This other “point of view” is really the only view that the people of the US are fed on a daily basis when it comes to any topic related to Cuba. That view is a steady stream of vilification, distortion and dishonest reporting of the realities of Cuba living under a 50 year blockade. Despite this we were reminded of what one of the Cuban 5 has said to us on many occasions, “It is better to have bad coverage than no coverage at all”

Our surprise about the interview was even greater when we were told that the “balanced” segment was complete and going to be aired on a program of CNN called “Encuentro” on Wednesday June 15 at 2pm PST.

We immediately passed this new information along to many of our friends so they could see with their own eyes that after 13 years of silence we were going to get a little break on coverage of the Cuban 5.

Unfortunately it did not happen.

The best answer we were able to get from the journalist who did the interview was that it was an “executive decision” not to air the segment.

So many times we hear about freedom in the United States with a free media that covers all points of views; but in the end it is those at the top of the media chain of command who will determine what is news and what isn’t.

Perhaps CNN was having trouble glossing over the courage of the Cuban 5 in the war against terrorism, or to show them in a human light. Perhaps they could not find a way to deny that these sons of Cuba were extraordinary men sent to Miami to defend the sovereignty of their country. Or maybe they were nervous about the absolute double standard in the US where an admitted terrorist like Luis Posada Carriles can show his paintings in Miami while the Cuban 5, who were here to prevent terrorism, produce art behind bars.

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