Miami Herald Paints Castro's Number Two As 'Old-style Socialist'

February 26th, 2008 2:26 PM

At NewsBusters we've been noticing the reticence the media are showing in characterizing the Castro Brothers regime in Cuba as a Communist dictatorship. Today's Miami Herald came a bit closer with its February 26 article ("Old-style socialist takes the No. 2 job in Cuba"), although it painted Raul Castro's deputy as a "devout socialist" and results-oriented problem-solver.

Of course, there are "devout socialist" politicians in numerous countries the world over who abide by the results of free and fair elections and respect the rule of law, two things sorely lacking in Cuba.

No matter, the Herald's Frances Robles seemed more interested in painting Raul Castro's number two as though he were Che Guevara with a hearing aid (emphasis mine):

Back in the early days of the Cuban revolution, José Ramón Machado Ventura was a war medic, the kind of doctor who ripped the rifle out of an injured rebel's hands so he could fire at the enemy himself.

It was his start at becoming Raúl Castro's trusted right-hand man, the one behind him in the battlefield and politics. At his side as Castro assumed the presidency Sunday, Machado Ventura, at the age of 77, was tapped to become first vice president of the ruling Council of State, the nation's No. 2 job.

The move put one of the most powerful jobs on the island in the hands of a devout socialist ideologue, a fixer who for years did the Communist Party's dirty work. A former minister of health and party organizer, he was the one Raúl Castro sent whenever he had a problem that needed solving.


Machado Ventura joined the rebel army in the 1950s, first under Ernesto ''Che'' Guevara and later under Fidel Castro and then Raúl Castro. In the mountains, he created a network of hospitals and war clinics to tend to the rebel army.

Some said that even though he is a loyalist, his hands aren't bloodied by war crimes from Castro's revolution.

''He was a decent, intelligent man, always at Raúl's side,'' said Huber Matos, one of the revolution's early leaders who later broke with the government and was imprisoned for 20 years. ``He is an organizer like Raúl is an organizer. He is the person who over the years has whispered in Raúl's ear.''

Isn't that special? After finding a Cuban defector to characterize him as a "tremendous worker," Robles practically made Machado Ventura sound like a demanding but well-respected businessman or coach than a Communist strongman (emphasis mine):

Machado Ventura was known as a devout socialist who opposed perestroika, the former Soviet Union's economic and political reforms. He also has cracked down on corruption within the government leadership.

''There are those who have copied capitalist methods so well that they have become capitalists themselves,'' he told party leaders in 2004, according to a Reuters report.

In a speech last year, he echoed the Castro brothers' call for social discipline and efficiency.

''Our people have the historic responsibility to demonstrate that socialism, besides being the most humane and just system that exists, can produce with quality and efficiency,'' Machado Ventura said, according to a transcript posted on the Granma newspaper web site.