Carlos Alberto Montaner, perhaps the most distinguished member of the Marti Ten, has responded to the Miami Herald article with a letter written in Spanish to El Nuevo [AMENDED] and another English version in the Herald. Here's the letter
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I have learned, via the Internet in Madrid, that I have been included in a story over an alleged conflict of interest that involves local journalists in Miami who work for The Miami Herald and El Nuevo Herald and who simultaneously contribute to Radio-TV Mart�. All of those people, to be sure, have a well-earned reputation for honesty and probity and would never sell their pens to anyone.
Why was my name included in that report? I don't live in Miami, and I don't work at The Miami Herald or El Nuevo Herald, nor am I subject to their regulations. I'm not even a free-lancer for these publications. The Herald, like 60 other publications in Europe, the United States and Latin America, among them some radio stations, buys my column from Firmas Press, the agency that distributes my writings.
Some years ago, Radio Mart�, like any other communications outlet, became interested in my column and in the topics I analyze, and they hired me to do a 20-minute commentary by telephone once a week for Cuban listeners without access to a free press nor to my column that appears in the McClatchy newspapers. For those commentaries, they would pay $100, which is the official and obligatory stipulated amount of remuneration. This is almost a symbolic figure, well below the amount paid by others who publish the column. Of course, there wasn't the slightest condition or suggestion, and if there had been I wouldn't have accepted it. I would have, and I have, as much freedom as I exercise in my weekly column.
Contributing to breaking the boycott on information that exists in Cuba, far from being a conflict of interest, is the duty and responsibility of any Cuban journalist who truly loves liberty. To use the phrase of [TV reporter] Juan Manuel Cao, more than a conflict of interest, it is a coincidence of interests. Radio-TV Mart� wants Cubans to be freely informed. So do I. Where's the problem?
The way in which the information was presented, as if some dark criminal plot had been uncovered, suggests that my honesty as a writer has been compromised by those commentaries I write for the Cuban people. That is something unfair, ludicrous, offensive and false, as if someone had claimed that my opinions on social and economic issues should not be taken into account because I have sold out to big money and the bankers.
Thank you for publishing this letter. I owe this explanation to my readers because my honesty and credibility, the basic elements of the profession to which I have devoted my life, have been unfairly called into question.
CARLOS ALBERTO MONTANER, syndicated columnist, Firmas Press, Madrid, Spain
Montaner is another one who doesn't get it -- decent journalists don't take money from government propaganda agencies. But if you've read Montaner's stuff, you already know it reads like propaganda anyway ("intellectual" propaganda, perhaps, but propaganda nonetheless). A "concurrence of interests" indeed.
It'll be interesting to see if the Herald continues to publish Montaner's column. Babalu contributor Henry Gomez surmises on his new blog Herald Watch that they probably will. I'm betting even money they won't.
NEW: Good thing nobody took my bet. Montaner's got a column in today's newspaper. Seems a bit unfair to the fired trio, don't you think?