NBC’s Williams Frets Influx of American Money Will Damage Cuban Revolution

Talking to a Cuban woman in Havana, NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams despaired Wednesday night over what an influx of American tourists would mean to the wonders of the communist “revolution” with its 50-plus year-old cars: “When Americans are here and planes and hotels and the cars are 2015 cars and not 1958 cars, what happens to the revolution?”

The 26-year-old woman, whom Williams described as having “a biology degree but works as a freelance producer here” – meaning she helps the regime guide foreign press – assured Williams: “I think now we’re having new revolution. Americans coming to Cuba is really a revolution for the country.”

Over an image of a billboard, Williams affirmed the spin of the Cuban government which, of course, favors the new Obama policy: “So that billboard I just passed on the way from the airport with young Fidel Castro saying, ‘The revolution Lives On,’ that’s what you mean, we’re living in it now?”

As noted by Curtis Houck in an earlier NB post, “ABC’s World News Tonight, NBC Nightly News Stage Full-Fledged Cuban Tourism Infomercials,” Wednesday’s NBC Nightly News devoted “a whopping nine minutes and 19 seconds of its airtime to Cuba.”

Williams introduced the on the street interview segment on the January 21 newscast:

And from Havana tonight, we have a bit of a caution for all those Americans who may think that, in a year or two, this will all be different, teeming with American tourists and big American brand names. I’d like you to hear part of a conversation I had today with a 26-year-old. Her name is Paola Laura Mendi. She has a biology degree but works as a freelance producer here, which is how we met her. She chooses to stay in Cuba, to live in Cuba, when most of her own family in fact has left for the United States and as you'll hear, she loves her country while seeing its faults.

Most of what aired, as corrected against the closed-captioning by the MRC’s Curtis Houck:

BRIAN WILLIAMS: How does America change people you know who’ve been to America?

PAOLA LAURA MENDI: I think it’s the lifestyle. It’s so rush. It’s so fast. It’s so consuming. It’s more about my job is like this, “I earn that much, I just bought a shirt that is $300.”

WILLIAMS: When Americans are here and planes and hotels and the cars are 2015 cars and not 1958 cars, what happens to the revolution?

MENDI: Cuba is not the revolution. When you talk about Cuba, you don’t have to talk about the revolution. Revolution is the moment in your story. People have been dragging it for years and years, but the revolution is something in the moment, then it’s done. Do you understand that? I think now we’re having new revolution. Americans coming to Cuba is really a revolution for the country. It’s like, we’ve been waiting for this. Young people were born, they grew, we don’t share this thinking of our fathers or our grandfathers.

WILLIAMS: So that billboard I just passed on the way from the airport with young Fidel Castro saying, “the revolution lives on,” that’s what you mean, we’re living in it now?

MENDI: We’re living in it now.

WILLIAMS: The view of a young Cuban who wants to be here to see what’s going to happen next.

Cuba NBC Nightly News Video Brian Williams
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