Accuracy in Media

He used to be a correspondent for Al-Jazeera English in Communist Cuba, reporting “objectively” on what is happening in Castro’s island paradise. Now, Juan Jacomino is the Second Secretary of the Cuban Interests Section in Washington, D.C., where he is coordinating “solidarity” activities for the regime. This means that he is organizing support on U.S. soil for Marxist governments and movements in Latin America.

His transition from Al-Jazeera to official Castro mouthpiece and “diplomat” demonstrates that the news channel has extremely low standards for deciding who is fit to be a “journalist.” It is another major embarrassment for Al-Jazeera, which wants to be taken seriously as a professional news organization.

But that’s not all. It turns out that Jacomino also worked for a news agency that supplied news and information to CBS News, National Public Radio and Fox News Radio in the U.S.

The Cuban Interests Section, featured on Jacomino’s business card, is considered Castro’s embassy in Washington, D.C. since the U.S and Cuba do not have diplomatic relations. But it is known to be a nest of spies for Castro. The Miami Herald has reported that Cuban spies based in the United States operate from the Cuban Interests Section in Washington and the huge Cuban mission to the United Nations in New York City.

An Al-Jazeera story about Cuba quoted “Al-Jazeera’s Juan Jacomino” as commenting about the introduction of some free enterprise in Cuba. The story added, “Our correspondent said that Cuba will continue to provide its citizens with free health-care and education: social programs which are widely seen as hallmarks of the 1959 revolution.”

So despite the introduction of some capitalism, designed to stave off the bankruptcy of the regime, the Cuban people will continue to enjoy “free” heath care and education. The cost of these “free” services, of course, is the lack of freedom to choose.

It turns out that Jacomino, who has his own Facebook page, worked for the Cuban government before he became a correspondent for Al-Jazeera. Back in 1997, during an on-line discussion of a U.S. academic trip to Cuba, Jacomino was described as “a journalist at Radio Havana Cuba who specializes in the economy and was previously a functionary at the Foreign Ministry.” This trip was being arranged by the pro-Castro group Global Exchange, headed by Medea Benjamin of Code Pink. Typically, these visits are arranged to expose American academics and journalists to propaganda from communist officials.

Radio Havana Cuba is the official government-run international broadcasting station of Cuba.

Jacomino has apparently “returned” to official government employment, a topic I raised when I came upon Jacomino and got his business card while covering the Latin American Solidarity Coalition conference in Washington, D.C. Jacomino assured me that Cuba’s recent decision to fire hundreds of thousands of government workers did not mean the regime was going capitalist.

Jacomino has also worked for Global Radio News, which describes itself as a network of free-lance reporters. “Juan Jacomino is our full time guy in Havana always reachable when a story, or a Cuban interest situation develops,” GRN says. It goes on, “Juan has worked as a radio journalist in Cuba for the past 13 years. For many years, he was the head of the English Language Service at Radio Havana Cuba, Cuba’s international short-wave radio station, acting as the station’s deputy director.”

Here is where it gets real interesting. The list of GRN clients includes Al-Jazeera, ABC Australia, BBC World Service, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, CBS, CBS News, CBS Radio, Fox News Radio, Fox TV, ITN, National Public Radio, Russia Today, Radio Live New Zealand, Sirius Radio, and Sky News, among others.

An example of how it operates can be seen in this April 15, 2010 NPR report on how “Cuba’s government has taken another step toward modernizing its Soviet-style economic model.” Juan Jacomino, identified as a correspondent for Global Radio News in Havana, told Michel Martin that barber shops and beauty salons were now private businesses and that everybody was extremely happy with Castro’s changes.

Martin asked, “Are the barbers and the stylists happy about it and what about the customers?” Jacomino replied, in part: “To be true, they’re very optimistic. My beauty parlor on the corner here, they’re all very happy.”

So everything was just fine in Communist Cuba.

In Washington, D.C., Jacomino was telling the assembled “solidarity activists” about the Cuban communist spies known as the “Cuban Five” that Castro wants released from U.S. prisons. I used the occasion to question him about human rights in Cuba, particularly the case of the American, Alan Gross, who has been imprisoned by the regime on trumped-up charges of being an American spy. I was also seeking a comment on Assata Shakur (aka Joanne Chesimard), the cop-killer who escaped from prison in the U.S. and fled to Cuba with the help of the Weather Underground. He said he had nothing new on those cases, other than what the Castro government had already said.

His panel at the “solidarity conference” was titled “Cuban Sovereignty and the struggle to free the Cuban Five” and also featured Banbose Shango, Nalda Vigezzi, and Alicia Jrapko of the International Committee for the Freedom of the Cuban 5 and the National Network on Cuba.

While Jacomino has left Al-Jazeera, the anti-American bias will remain. Consider this one-sided Al-Jazeera story featuring Gloria La Riva of the “National Committee to Free the Cuban Five.” La Riva, an official of the U.S.-based communist group known as the Party for Socialism and Liberation, was considered an objective source by the “news” channel and no other view was presented.

It stands as an example of the anti-American bias that infects Al-Jazeera and which incorporates the Marxist mentality and the propaganda of the Castro regime.

The fact that an agent of Castro wormed his way into the channel and became a source for a news agency supplying American news organizations with information from around the world is even more alarming.

But don’t look for any investigations by the media into how they were duped by a mouthpiece for the Castro regime.

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