The wrong approach
mistake is one thing. A dishonest “mistake” with ulterior motives is quite
something else. Let us illustrate.
April 19, El Nuevo Herald published a Page One story headlined “Kerry in Miami
criticizes Bush's foreign policy // There must be an ‘approximation’ with the
Castro regime, he says” that said the Democratic presidential candidate,
interviewed on NBC's Meet the Press,
“said he opposes the lifting of the trade embargo against the island, but
believes there must be some kind of communication and conversations with the
government of Fidel Castro, and suggested easing the travel of Americans and the
remittance of money to Cuba.”
host Mike Russell [sic] showed Kerry some statements he made in 2000, in which
he maintained that U.S. policy toward the island ... should be reevaluated, the
Democratic senator said only that the efforts made to take democracy to Cuba
have not worked and that the policy of 2000 ‘is different from today's.’
moment, I would like to see what we can negotiate, how we can move forward, and
I would like to see the Cuban community build a consensus about an approximation,’
statement – as phrased by El Nuevo – created an uproar among hard-line Cuban-Americans
who do not favor “communication and conversations” with Fidel Castro, much less
“an approximation” with the Cuban leader.
anything could have torpedoed Kerry's chances among conservative Cuban-Americans,
those statements – as phrased by El Nuevo – certainly did.
trouble is, Kerry did NOT say everything El Nuevo alleged he said – as you can
see if you go to the actual text of the interview, transcribed by NBC News, that
appears along side this column. As you read the
differences, ask yourself why El Nuevo would distort Kerry's words on a subject
so important to Cuban-Americans.
all, Mike Russell is not the host of Meet
the Press. Mike Russell is the world professional billiards champion.
The host of Meet the Press is
named Tim Russert. We'll attribute this mistake to carelessness on the part of
the reporter, although we cannot excuse the editors' failure to catch it before
Kerry never said “there must be some kind of communication and conversations
with the government of Fidel Castro.” In the transcript, you won't find any such
words, not even in an allusion. “Conversations” is another word for “dialogue,”
and dialogue is anathema to many Cuban-Americans. In effect, El Nuevo is
portraying Kerry as a “dialoguero,”
a very unsavory character in some parts of Little Havana.
Translation wasn't even proximate
passage about “an approximation” with Castro is particularly damning. What Kerry
said was that he would “like to see how the Cuban community itself might be able
to build a consensus about an approach” to U.S. policy toward Cuba in the
future. [Emphasis ours.] Notice the difference. An approach is not a
rapprochement, which is defined in Webster's dictionary as “an establishing or
restoring of friendly relations,” or an approximation (in Spanish, “un
acercamiento”), defined as “a coming together.”
used the word “approach” in the sense of “focus on,” or “a way to deal with” a
new policy toward Cuba.
surprisingly, Kerry aides complained to El Nuevo for its bad interpretation of
the candidate's words. But in its purported effort to correct its mistake, the
newspaper made it worse.
The ‘error’ was repeated
following day, Tuesday April 20, El Nuevo published a report that said the Kerry
campaign “last night denied that ... [Kerry] had proposed establishing some kind
of dialogue or approximation with the regime of Fidel Castro.
Kerry has never proposed a dialogue with Castro in a process to formulate a new
and better policy toward Cuba, as suggested in a headlined in El Nuevo Herald
published yesterday,’ said campaign spokesman Mark Kornblau.”
But then El Nuevo
compounded its misrepresentation by repeating it:
“In its edition of [April
19], El Nuevo Herald attributed to Kerry the words ‘there must be an
approximation with the Castro regime,’ but the text [of the interview] explained
clearly that that approximation must be the product of a consensus of the exiled
“During his stay in Miami,
Kerry gave an interview to the program Meet
the Press in which he said clearly: ‘For the moment, I would like to
see what we can negotiate, how we can move forward, and I would like to see the
Cuban community build a consensus about an approximation’”.
“‘This does not mean any
kind of dialogue but a different policy, and for that purpose John Kerry wants
to consult ... with the Cuban-American community,‘” Kornblau told El Nuevo.
Why not a
‘Build a consensus about an approach'
interview with John Kerry on the NBC News program “Meet the Press,”
Sunday April 18, 2004.
The interviewer is Tim Russert. The transcript is by NBC News.
here in Florida and relations with Cuba are a very important issue. This
is what John Kerry said in 2000 about that situation. And John Kerry,
“who's a member of the foreign relations committee said in an
interview that a reevaluation of relations with Cuba was way overdue.
We have a frozen, stalemated counterproductive policy that is not in
humanitarian interests nor in our larger credibility interest in the
region. There's just a complete and total contradiction between the
way we deal with China, the way we deal with Russia, the way we have
been dealing with
Cuba over the last several years. It speaks volumes about
the problems in the current American electoral process. ...The only
reason we don't reevaluate the policy is the politics of
We don't have an
embargo on China. We don't have an embargo on Russia. We have one on
Cuba and what you're suggesting is because of the power of the Cuban-American
lobby, that's why our policy's in place.
in the year 2000, the politics are very different from where they
are in 2004. I think there's been a dramatic change in the community
in Florida itself. Now, I met with members of that community. During
all the years I've been in the Senate, for 20 years, Tim, I have
never suggested lifting the embargo. I don't suggest you just lift
the embargo. That's not what I'm talking about. But for anybody to
suggest that what we've been doing has worked, that it has somehow –
I mean, look what happened with the Valera Program [sic] recently.
A whole bunch of people got arrested and put in jail. What I want to
lift the embargo and overthrow Castro...?
what I'm going to do.
trade and with kindness and have people simply say: “You can't
maintain your status as a dictator when people are traveling free
and exchanging ideas and exchanging goods.” And that is the kind of
China and Russia. As you point out, with China and Russia it has
worked in terms of trying to break down some of those barriers, make
it less totalitarian, certainly at least in
Why not try it with Cuba?
as you know, I led the effort with John McCain to try to open up
Vietnam and we moved against many of those kinds of arguments. I
think I know how to do this. But in the case of
Cuba, there are a lot of different crosscurrents that are
important to be sensitive to. What I have done is sat down with
members of the community and listened, and I find that there is a
willingness within the community to begin to think about other
alternatives and options. I wouldn't want to just announce a policy
without sitting with people in the community, listening carefully,
trying to build a consensus and see what we can do. But I...
keep the embargo?
wouldn't just give something for nothing but I would begin to
encourage travel. I've suggested that. I think that's appropriate.
I think remittances might be considered and might be helpful in
moment I would like to see what we can negotiate, what we could try
to move forward, and I'd like to see how the Cuban community itself
might be able to build a consensus about an approach. I think that's
a smart way to do it and that's what I'd like to try to do.
National Broadcasting Company, Inc.
Elsewhere in its April 20
issue, El Nuevo ran this “Clarification” (not a “Correction,” mind you):
“In the article titled
‘Kerry in Miami criticizes Bush's foreign policy,’ published April 19 on Page
One, the subtitle should have said that ... [Kerry] would like to see what he
could negotiate with Cuba, instead of ‘there must be an “approximation”’ with
Read again NBC News’
transcript of the interview. Kerry never said that “there must be an
approximation with Castro” or “the Castro regime.” And nowhere in the transcript
will you find an explanation that such a rapprochement must be reached through a
Cuban-American consensus. Is there no end to El Nuevo's incompetence?
Quite the opposite
No, there isn't. To make
things worse, El Nuevo slapped this contradictory headline on its second story:
“Kerry campaign ratifies his position on Cuba.” [Emphasis ours.] In
effect, El Nuevo was saying that the Kerry aides confirmed that the
previous day's account was correct – exactly the opposite of what those aides
had just told the paper.
Finally, on Wednesday April
21, El Nuevo ran another “Clarification” on an inside page (not a “Correction,”
mind you) that set aright the candidate's position – albeit too late, in terms
of the damage the newspaper had already caused to his campaign.
The “Clarification” (did we
mention that it should have been titled a “Correction”?) said: “In the article
titled ‘Kerry in Miami criticizes Bush's foreign policy,’ published April 19 on
Page One, the subtitle should have said that ... [Kerry] would like to see what
new focus could be placed on the subject of Cuba, instead of ‘there must be an “approximation”’
“The deplorable error was
due to a misinterpretation.
“In addition, the story
misidentified Tim Russert, host of the program
Meet the Press.
“In a second article,
titled ‘Kerry campaign ratifies his position on Cuba,’ published April 20 on
Page 4A, the headline should have said: ‘Kerry campaign denies a rapprochement
The newspaper tendered no
apologies – none – to Kerry or his campaign aides.
A case of sabotage
It's easy to see how the
two El Nuevo stories, as written, sabotaged Kerry's standing among Cuban-Americans.
It's also easy to see how the two “clarifications” were too late and too inconspicuous
to repair the damage already made.
What's not so easy to see
is how the paper can commit such “mistakes” and get away with them. The fact it
has no Spanish-language competitor in South Florida may have something to do
with that. Let's hope one such publication is launched in the not-too-distant
So, until El Nuevo mends
its ways and becomes a fair and responsible publication, we shall keep looking
over its shoulder and reporting to you its Bilingual Scams – or, as we prefer to
call it, the B.S. it prints.