Newspaper distorts Farrakhan visit to Cuba

Campaign News | Saturday, 1 April 2006

By Circles Robinson, US journalist living in Havana

Havana, 2 April: When the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review newspaper reported on the recently concluded trip of Louis Farrakhan to Cuba it deliberately tried to mislead its readers by allowing US government officials to discredit the Nation of Islam minister.

On the next to last day of his week long visit to Havana, Farrakhan and his delegation participated on the hour-and-a-half prime time Round Table, broadcast nationwide on Cuban TV and radio, something Black progressives could never have in the United States, even if they paid millions to try and buy the airtime.

Farrakhan explained on the show that after the Federal government’s failure in dealing with the destruction left by Hurricane Katrina, the Nation of Islam decided to organize ministries to assess the most pressing problems of Blacks, Latinos and poor people in general. This, he explained, is a reason why they decided to visit Cuba, “a country that is prepared to successfully face natural disasters, with a minimum loss of human lives.”

The minister told his Cuban audience that the victims of the storm are now scattered over 44 states and that Federal and New Orleans officials seem little concerned about their fate. He added that “real estate agents are taking advantage of the situation,” and since New Orleans was primarily populated by Blacks, “it appears that politicians do not want them to return.”

However, the Tribune-Review goes head over heals to allow the administration to try and deny what everybody with a television knows; that Black Americans and Latinos living in the Gulf States and especially New Orleans were totally, if not criminally abandoned, by the government in the onslaught and aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

"Going to Cuba to learn about emergency management would be akin to going down there to learn about democracy," the paper quotes Steve McCraw, former assistant director of the FBI, and Texas director of homeland security as claiming.

McCraw brags how US officials “were responsible for saving 11,000 lives,” although he doesn’t mention, and the newspaper doesn’t recall, the more than a thousand who died unnecessarily.

Meanwhile, Louis Farrakhan thanked the Cuban Baseball Federation for donating the funds it was to receive for its participation in the World Baseball Classic to the victims of Hurricane Katrina. He said he would take action to make sure that the money reaches them, despite attempts of the Bush administration to detour the funds.

The Tribune-Review article, which pretends to be about Farrakhan’s trip to Cuba and his findings, then goes on to remind us that the United States does not have full diplomatic relations with Cuba, “a totalitarian state.”

The newspaper then echoes the US State Department stating: “the regime is desperate for American dollars to prop itself up.” What it doesn’t mention is that the Cuban government has successfully eliminated the US dollar from transactions on the island preferring other currencies like the Euro, British Pound and the Canadian Dollar. It also fails to inform its readers that the island is recovering from its 1990s recession experiencing a tourism boom and expanded trade and investment with Venezuela, China, Canada and other countries.

The Tribune-Review also fails to mention that the subject of its article, Louis Farrakhan, stated: “Cubans should be proud of their achievements and their perseverance in fighting those who try to oppress them,” in reference to the US government.

Speaking in Havana, the minister added, “We are witnessing times of global war, and those who promote war and violence should be defeated. Only when this happens will weapons be turned into plows.”

Farrakhan totally contradicts the Pittsburgh papers’ contentions by noting in his first hand account, “The American people will love the Cuban people once they get to know the truth that has been hidden by the US government through a media machinery that must be defeated.”

Another member of the delegation that visited Cuba, Arbar Muhammad, minister of Foreign Affairs of the Nation of Islam, commented on the group’s tour of several educational facilities including the Latin American School of

Medicine, where thousands of scholarship students from some 20 countries including the US are studying. He said the visits exposed the group to positive experiences that they will take back to the United States to implement in different communities.

“We have learned a lot from what we have seen in Cuba, and now we have a model to follow,” said Nation of Islam Education Minister Conrad W. Worrill, who was particularly pleased by the visit to the Social Workers School, where he found “a revolutionary concept in the training of the students.”

Rasul Muhammad, minister of Science and Technology, stated that he had ever seen a nation that paid more attention to people’s needs than Cuba, and he described the visit to the island as “extremely useful,” a far cry from the waste of time implied by the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

*Circles Robinson is a US journalist living in Havana. His articles can be seen at

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