Jun 22, 2007

Vilma, the Washington Post obituary and the shame on journalism

When the editorial pages editor at the Greeley Tribune sent me the Washington Post obituary on Vilma Espin, I first blew off the air on my lungs and thought to myself, "No comments. It's worthless".

But then, the journalistic ethic in me subconsciously kicked my butt and I replied to her something like:

—Please, don't believe everything you read about Cuba. Sometimes, it is just a plain lie. She was just another one from the "aparato" that passed away. There are still thousands of huge and really concerning problems affecting Cuban women and, neither Vilma or anybody else has done anything to solve them. And they never will—.

Then she replied back admitting she was ready to believe up front everything the article said, and thanked me for being in the newsroom to always provide a different insight on Cuba's reality.

And she was right.
I ALWAYS LIKE TO PROVIDE A DIFFERENT INSIGHT WHEN THE TOPIC IS CUBA. That's why I couldn't follow the "no comments policy".

So, searching online for the link to the article, to post it here, I found Adams' Berstein email and, in another ethical journalistic moment, decided to write him this:

Dear Mr. Berstein,

I am Cuban, and a fellow journalist in a Spanish weekly newspaper in Colorado.
And, after reading your article on Vilma Espin, I have to tell you I'm so ashamed and upset to even think you are a journalist as I am.

Thousands of questions piled up in my mind while I was reading, but one was on top ALL THE TIME: Where are his journalistic ethics? Where did he forgot the story balance we learned in J-school?

What's wrong with the Washington Post editorial board?

What's wrong with the whole word when the topic is Cuba?

Why he didn't include ONE SINGLE SOURCE OR REFERENCE from someone having a different opinion on throwing off flowers and compliments on a person that was just another part of a dictatorship where women are USUALLY THE MOST AFFECTED?

In Cuba, women are dying —literally, dying— in domestic violence incidents and Vilma never recognized the issue or did anything to change it. She never advocate for the mothers, wives, sisters and daughters of the political prisoners, nor even she did it for the Cuban women who are against the Castro government.

She never said a word about the high abortion rates in the country, about the teenagers becoming sexual attractions for the tourists, about not even having free access to the sanitary pad every women needs once a month.

She never did a single thing about that. And you just extended her indifference and the indifference of all the Americans that think like you.

That's not fair.

That's not your job as a journalist.

And at this moment, I am very ashamed to share this profession with you.

# # # # #

Later, I realized I forgot to make clear for him a little detail: I know this first hand. I'm not talking from a hot sidewalk debate in Miami. (By the way; I love you Miami!!!!And I love the coladas en el Versailles and the super hot debates about Cuba in that sidewalk).

This is not B.S.
I left Cuba merely six year ago.
Hell if I know what I am talking about!

I don't know if he'll receive it. I don't know if he'll read it, or even paying attention to what I said. But, at least for today, my journalistic ethic was left intact. I just did what I thought, as a reporter, it's the right thing to do.


Mami Hen said...

You go girl....

Manuel A.Tellechea said...

From the Review of Cuban-American Blogs:

It was not Fidel

It was not Raúl.

But it was the next best thing.

Yes, it is confirmed: Vilma Espín is dead.

Raúl Castro has declared 26 hours of mourning (¡qué cursi!) in honor of the "distinguished heroine of the resistance" and his ex-wife.

As the great-granddaughter of Karl Marx, Vilma Espín Guillois was a member of Communist royalty and heir to a fortune in Bacardí stock. That and the blackness of her own character (the beast killed her own sister and brother for an inheritance and betrayed dozens of anti-Communists in the "July 26th" Movement to Batista's police) made her our real-life Madame Defarge and the ideal bride for the heir presumptive of Castroism.

The most powerful woman in Cuba for most of her life, Vilma Espín did not possess the womanly virtues that might have tempered the brutish traits of her husband and brother-in-law, but shared in a triad with them the blame for destroying our country.

The token female in the Communist Party hierarchy, as Almeida was the token black, Vilma Espín was charged by the Revolution with representing the interests of the Revolution in respect to women. As such she was never a champion of women's rights, but the sponsor of every wrong that has been committed on Cuban women over the last 48 years: Cuban women, of course, outside her charmed circle.

At least this Communist "princess of the blood" had the pleasure of arranging a "royal" marriage for one of her daughters (the non-lesbian one) with the head of the Sicilian mafia. Vilma in fact resided in a palace on that other island for most of the last 30 years, serving as the courier in the transfer of the family's wealth to Geneva. She may in fact not have died in Cuba at all, as the absence of a corpse would seem to indicate.

Nevertheless, she is the first to die of that nefarious triad and paves the way for the other two national villains.

We would have preferred Fidel dead.

We would have preferred Raúl dead.

But after them no one is better dead than Vilma Espín.

Disgrace to your sex, antithesis of Maceo's mother, burn in hell forever!

¡Viva Cuba libre!


In an unprecedented development, "Heroine of the Revolution" (if only for marrying Raúl) Vilma Espín was cremated without a state funeral or even an unofficial viewing. Obviously, they did not want the people to see her physical deterioration, which must mirror Fidel's, since she's been kept on life support longer than he's been. Also, if there is no state funeral, then there will be no speculation on why Fidel did not attend it. And, of course, if there was one funeral that Fidel could not have skipped without giving everything away it was Vilma's.