Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Miami Herald Journo Fired, RSF Retreats

News that you can only read out of Havana right now.... but should be a story all journalists would be keenly interested in.

It has been revealed by a Miami radio host that the head of Reporters Without Borders (RSF in French) (Robert Menard), an otherwise respected defender of reporters around the world, decided not to join his name to 500 other journalists and intellectuals calling for the Miami Herald to rehire fired star journalist Jim Defede, after he was phoned and told to do so by (ex) CIA agent Frank Calzon. Many smell a political rat in his firing. It is the just the type of murky case the RSF would normally attach itself to around the world.

This comes a few months after it ws revealed that this great organization of press freedom indeed does receive money from the US Government. Ménard, secretary general of the RSF for twenty years, confessed to receiving financing from the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), an organization that depends on the U.S. Department of State, whose principal role is to promote the agenda of the White House for the entire world - and who is also particularly active in Cuba and Venezuela. Ménard was indeed very clear. “We indeed receive money from the NED. And that hasn’t posed any problem.”

Jim Defede, the Miami Herald journalist, was supposedly fired July 28th after volunteering a tape recording of the last words of the Miami Commissioner who shot himself last month. The journalist realized he may be hearing a last will of the man, who was moments before taking his own life, and pressed record on his handy recorder. Deferde cooperated, helped write a story, then something happened.

Miami politics got in the way. The Herald is legendary in its anti-socialist railings, fueled by right-wing Cuban/Latin money and Deferde had upset the mafia by writing (well) about the hypocrisy surrounding terrorism in the Miami Cuban community (and politicians like a Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen). You can never prove this sort of corruption, but enough people in the know are asking more and more questions.

The revelation about Menard and RSF is potentially explosive. RSF receives funding from the Center for Free Cuba, which itself receives its budget from the US Government and is headed by known CIA agent (and terrorist associate) Frank Calzon. RSF has in turn been turned into a leading opponent of the Cuban Revolution, singling the country out on its website. After Menard received a call from Cazon, he had to concede to his US masters and embarrassingly explain to bewildered RSF Directors that he would not be signing his name to the list in support of a journalist who truly needs him and others to not allow journalists to be fired for such a flimsy pretext.

If you don't believe me, check the case the Herald allowed Ana Menendez to have... though she eventually supports the "team."

If you don't believe her, check Time

Some of Deferde's columns can be found here. Yes, he strays a bit from the typical Herald hard-line on Cuba in that he actually allows them to state their case in print. However, he certainly does his best to editorialize against every single Cuban Government position that is offered.

But his fatal flaw may have beeen in raising questions about Miami's terrorist heroes, such as Posada Carriles:

"The story of Posada is important because of what it says about my government. Did they protect him and allow him to commit acts of terror? And will they shelter him now by granting him asylum?

Recently declassified documents show that in the weeks and months prior to the Cubana airplane bombing, Posada talked about blowing up airplanes. Why didn't the United States act on that information? And after the bombing took place, and Posada was tried in Venezuela, why didn't the United States provide that evidence to the Venezuelans to help them prosecute Posada?

Posada was twice acquitted in Venezuela. This evidence could have made a difference in those cases.

Imagine, if Germany or France or Italy withheld vital information that American prosecutors needed to go after the 9/11 plotters. What would be our reaction?"



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