60 Minutes Assists Spies and Lies
Through Elian Interview
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Five years after his capture on orders of then-U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno, Elian Gonzalez is again the subject of Havana's propaganda machine, this time in support of the Cuban government's attempt to free five of its spies currently in U.S. custody. The Cuban intelligence officers were part of the Wasp Network, an espionage group operating in Florida, and broken by FBI counter-intelligence agents in 1998.
During a mass rally celebrating the fifth anniversary of the April 22, 2000 Gestapo-like raid which took him from his Miami relatives, Elian called the date of the raid the "the happiest day" of his life, and went on to describe his solidarity with the five compañeros, "those five heroes of our history" - the five Wasp Network spies.
"I still remember that day [of the raid], five years ago, when they returned me to my father. First, I was taken in a car and they explained what was happening and then from an airport they took me to my father. When I saw him I was very happy…" according to reports from pro-Cuban sites.
Today, 11-year-old Elian (below) has caught up on the propaganda, calling the dictator Castro his father - Cinncinnati Post online, June 2000, CBS News online, September 29, 2005
Elian's speechwriters compared the situation of Elian in Miami with that of the six-year-old Ivette, daughter of one of the convicted Wasp Network operatives, Rene Gonzalez. "Something somewhat similar to what happened to me is no happening today to Ivette… who has not been able to be with her father because he went to prevent deaths and was jailed with four of his compañeros. Those five are heroes of our history." Elian's speech to the rally ended with "our socialist Revolution is…as large as the sky, filling the hearts of each child with happiness…Let us say it together with the Comandante [Castro], patria o muerte [the fatherland or death].
The use of the term El Comandante, the Commander, recalls the worst of European dictatorships or Latin American banana republics. Despite the schmaltz, the small child appealing to the benevolent father figure, the tactic of tying Elian with captured Cuban intelligence officers has already began to have an effect.
On October 2, 2005, CBS aired an interview with Elian Gonzalez during the popular 60 Minutes program. The segment with Elian lasted 13 minutes, and painted a touching picture of an 11 year-old child who had once been the center of an international controversy. Elian's responses were predictable, considering that he has been under intense scrutiny and indoctrination by an authoritarian regime since his return. El Comandante is a "friend" and even a "father" to Elian, in contrast to the five months he spent in Miami which were unhappy.
"When we asked Elian about the best part of his stay there (Miami), he said there was no best part," 60 Minutes declared.
The only desire he had while in Miami was to return to Cuba, Elian declared to 60 Minutes, where "our socialist Revolution" fills the heart "of each child with happiness."
Elian's sentiments are not exactly out of a script from Mr. Roger's Neighborhood, but they do fit with the Cuban Communist Party's plan to use Elian. Miami was bad, Cuba is good, and Cuban espionage is dismissed as only an effort to "prevent deaths." This type of simplicity is the stuff of rallies meant to keep up the revolutionary spirit among the masses.
CBS did acknowledge a small part of this reality, and told its audience that "Che" was yesterday," but "Elian is today." 60 Minutes
fell short, however, in not reminding its audience that "Che," the revolutionary guerrilla, remains a virtual folk hero not only in Cuba, but also in many parts of the world, especially Latin America. Elian has not replaced "Che," but Elian has joined "Che" in the Communist pantheon of inspirational heroes.
60 Minutes referred to the mass rally held to commemorate Elian's return, and stated that Elian gave "patriotic speech." 60 Minutes left its audience in the dark both as to the true nature of the rally and the content of Elian's "patriotic" remarks. The gathering was to commemorate the recapture of Elian, but it was also intended increase fervor toward the Communist regime and its activities, including espionage.
The rally took place at the "Anti-Imperialist Tribunal" in Havana. 60 Minutes made no mention of these of these important dimension of the mass rally, and, in effect, mislead its audience concerning the reality surrounding Elian, the Cuban Communist regime, and Havana's spying against the U.S.
Possibly CBS did not want to damage its relations with Havana since Castro was kind enough to provide the services of his personal photographer to assist the 60 Minutes crew during their stay on the island. The cost to the viewing public for such kindness was an accurate portrayal of Elian and his continued plight.
Well before the 60 Minutes broadcast its segment on Elian, one of the convicted Wasp Network operatives, Rene Gonzalez (no relation), wrote a letter to Elian in response to Elian's rally remarks, comparing their common travails.
The message begins a marked obsequiousness toward Elian, stating that he hopes the 11-year-old will "forgive me if I consider you as my nephew," since, upon his return to Cuba five years ago, "every dignified Cuban" considered Elian"part of the family," according a Free the Five Internet site. Rene Gonzalez thanked Elian for his remarks at the anti-imperialist Tribunal, and "for reiterating … that the future that we are fighting for will justify all of our efforts."
The future Rene Gonzalez is "fighting for" includes suppression of dissent, denial of freedom of expression, and the use of psychiatry to undermine the intellect and will of the regime's imprisoned opponents.
60 Minutes speculated that Elian would someday serve in the Cuban National Assembly (more accurately, the National Assembly of People's Power). Many others, however, openly wonder how long it will be until Elian builds his own boat and flees to freedom.
Posted October 10, 2005
Toby Westerman publishes
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