FIEDLER IN THE PEN
By Hugo J. Byrne
“Whence come the fanatics? Mostly from the ranks of the non creative men of words”.
The Editor of the Miami Herald is an odd-looking fellow with a high pitched, nagging voice by the name of Thomas Fiedler, and he dislikes most Cuban-American journalists. Fiedler abhors Cubans who entertain the “radical, right- wing notion” that Castro is a tyrant and not a President. Tom hates their noisy daily condemnation of the Cuban regime through their Miami-based Spanish radio. So much does Mr. Fiedler dislike those irritating Cubans, that he recently equated them with dogs.
No, dear reader, this is not a figure of speech. In a recent interview Mr. Fiedler literally compared Miami’s “Radio Mambí” commentators to little dogs “nipping at his heels”. “Little Chihuahuas”, he called the object of his derision. Later on, “smoothing” this racist slur, Fiedler promised next time to compare Cuban journalists to “Boston Terriers”.
Not that Mr. Fiedler, his Miami Herald and El Nuevo Herald publishers object to all Cuban “journalists”. No sir! There is a certain kind they definitely love, like some servile pencil pushers who recently arrived from Castroland with a good record of praise for the Castro regime and of hatred toward the U.S. Take for example Janet Comellas and Alejandro Armengol, paid contributors to “El Nuevo Herald”, Spanish language sister publication to the Miami Herald. Comellas worked for the Castro-Communist daily “Granma” until September of last year.
In her work for Granma, Comellas regularly expounded the superior moral standing of the Castro regime and derided the U.S. government and the American way of life. Comellas' last known piece for Granma was dated Sept.17 2005. In that article, she gave a detailed account -based upon science fiction- of how Eastern Europe's former Soviet Union satellites were in much better shape under totalitarian communism than with their present democratic system.
Alejandro Armengol is El Nuevo Herald's official basher of anti-Castro Cubans. Almost one out of every three articles written by this revolting individual is a blistering biased attack against the Cuban exile community as a whole- as well as the U.S. government- not unlike those printed daily in Granma. Armengol does not bother with facts. His essays are plagued with inaccuracies and outright lies.
Getting caught red handed in a lie is not a big deal for the Cuban-basher; Alejandro simply ignores any objective information proving his blatant dishonesty. Example: In a recent article, Armengol stated that Luis Posada Carriles is presently free in the U. S.
When he wrote his diatribe, Armengol must have known that Posada remained detained in a Texas prison. He still is. But, to my knowledge, despite many reminding him of that fact, Armengol never bothered to set the record straight. Keen on trying to demonstrate the inner malady of his former Cuban nationality, which he is obviously not very proud of, Armengol recently wrote an essay painting nineteenth-century Cuban revolutionary José Martí -Cuba’s counterpart of George Washington- with the darkest colors.
Presiding over this nauseating pen is Mr. Fiedler, who was interviewed about the -likely forced- resignation of the previous Editor of El Nuevo Herald, Jesús Díaz. It was during the interview that Fiedler likened the Commentators at Radio Mambï to “little chihuahuas nipping at my heels”. Díaz' resignation followed a protracted scandal involving that paper late last month, and he was replaced as Editor of E N H by David Landsberg.
The sequence of events resulting in Fiedler’s insult to Cuban journalists deserves a brief summary. It all began with the bitter exchange between Castro and the Cuban-American journalist, Juan Manuel Cao, in Buenos Aires a couple of months ago. The Tyrant accused Cao of “being paid” to ask tricky questions that Castro refused to answer. Then the parrot-like Havana “Round Table” TV show, continued carping on the theme. They announced that some “Miami mafia” journalists were “receiving payments from the U. S. government, but that “they soon would be punished for their infamy”.
Within hours, two veteran columnists and regular contributors who covered Cuban issues for El Nuevo Herald with a semblance of objectivity were banned from work and promptly removed from the paper’s payroll. Their names are Wilfredo Cancio Isla and Pablo Alfonso. In addition, Olga Connor, a contributing freelance writer, was sacked as well. In an incredible Editorial echoing Castro’s propaganda, El Nuevo Herald accused the dismissed journalists -together with others who did not even work for the paper- of a breach of the Herald’s ethical code, which prohibited receiving payments from any governmental agency.
The Cuban community's universal outcry, coupled with substantial loss of revenue (the paper admits to not less than 1800 cancelled subscriptions, and the number of cancelled of advertisements is anybody’s guess) forced El Nuevo Herald to do a shameful about-face. Díaz' resignation was immediately followed by an official offer of reinstatement for Alfonso, Cancio and Connor.
Yet this action did not convey an honest reassessment of the enormity of the paper’s blunder. El Nuevo Herald stated that the Cuban journalists were just victims of administrative mistakes. Despite the fact that all three accepted the offer of returning to their jobs, the wound is still open and bleeding profusely. Alfonso said as much in his first essay upon his return. His legitimate hurt has ominous legal implications for his employer. The obvious double standard applied by the Herald to the writers would eventually lead to a multi-million-dollar litigation, an event predicted in this column two weeks ago. Another prediction: El Nuevo Herald will either loose that civil case, or settle for a similarly large amount.
It is against this background that Mr. Fiedler, when asked if Cuban community pressures had any impact on the recall of the three journalists, answered with his infamous remark. Does Fiedler have a professional death wish?