Associated Press–a long and illustrious tradition of Cuba reporting.

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(Top Left (on right) Julio 26 Agent Mario Llerena, who was also Herbert Matthews’ contact and an AP stringer. Pic shows him fundraising for Fidel Castro in New York alongside (poor-sap) Manuel Urrutia in 1958. It was Llerena, who served as an AP stringer, who photo-copied over 3000 copies of Matthews” articles and mailed them to Havana’s Social Registry— whose members, despite what they claim nowadays, squealed with delight and spread the word much further. On right: AP Cuba reporter Andrea Rodriguez, who contributed to the ZunZuneo (non)story.)

As well known hereabouts it was the Associated Press who “broke” the ZunZuneo (non)story. Some fascinating items regarding their possible motives:

From jailed Cuban blogger Angel Santiesteban Prats as recently reported right here at Babalu:

“Before entering prison, the only media based in the island that came to me was the Associated Press (AP) via Andrea Rodríguez, their correspondent. All the opposition advised me not to grant her an interview, branded her as a Cuban security agent, used to misrepresent the evidence, and to manipulate the news to favor the communist government and harm the opposition...Later I learned that this “journalist” is married to a former official from the political police.”

Let’s reverse the reel a few decades:

The Associated Press’ dispatches on Castro’s “guerrilla war” during 1957-58 were written word for word from a desk in Manhattan by Fidel Castro’s own agent in New York Mario Llerena, who later defected and snickered about the AP racket in his mea-culpa book titled The Unsuspected Revolution.





6 thoughts on “Associated Press–a long and illustrious tradition of Cuba reporting.

  1. Manuel Urrutia Lleo, dubbed “cucharita,” porque ni pincha ni corta. A very resentful man who on temporarily assuming power in January 1959, this former magistrate turned the Cuban judicial system on its head and passed a law that banished from practicing law many of the former Cuban judges and lawyers who he had resentment against.

  2. Andrea looks like what she apparently is: a cheap(er) Julia Sweig. As for Llerena, what a classic operator–the slime virtually oozes from him.

  3. The AP racket, indeed, but the AP is hardly alone. As for Urrutia and his resentment, well, there was a LOT of that going around at every level, and it was most toxic at the level of the chronically dysfunctional, malfunctional or non-functional nobodies–who blamed others for their own shortcomings and failures and wanted to get back at them and lord it over them. The “revolution” was happy to oblige, for the predictable price of becoming “revolutionary” lackeys and doing whatever the “revolution” wanted. Lord, the nausea.

  4. Urrutia (1901-81) was ultimately a pathetic tool who will always be an object of scorn, but there’s such fierce competition in that department that at most he’s C-list, or less.

    His national “debut” was in 1957, when he was one of three judges in a tribunal that tried 151 arrested “revolutionaries” in Santiago de Cuba. Over 100 were acquitted and freed; the rest (40) got jail sentences of 1 to 8 years. Although outvoted 2-1, Urrutia was the dissenting voice in the tribunal, arguing that violent acts against the government (which by then had been officially legitimized by the 1954 presidential elections) were a constitutionally protected right. This was an exceedingly “personal” view which was not only unsustainable but outside the purview of a lower court judge, as Urrutia no doubt knew–but he was really a covert Castro supporter making a political statement.

    He “came out” some months later, after deliberately waiting long enough to secure his government retirement pension (which the Batista government did not revoke). He then left voluntarily for Miami to join the “Revolutionary Government-in-Exile” (though Batista could have arrested him beforehand) and was designated (on Fidel’s order) as the future Provisional President of Cuba pending Batista’s ouster. In the US, he aggressively lobbied for the Castro camp, including visits to the State Department to push for an arms embargo against Batista. He finally got his 15 minutes in 1959 as the (briefly) figurehead president of Cuba, until Fidel had no more use for him and discarded him like a used condom. Another notable figure in Cuba’s history of dubiousness.

  5. One of the people acquitted and freed after that mass trial was Frank Pais, a major and leading figure in the anti-Batista underground, which gives an idea how ineffectual the Batista people were. Ironically, Pais, who was anti-communist and a potential problem for Fidel, was later killed after the police were suspiciously tipped off to his hideout. It is widely believed that the tip came from “guerrilla girl” Vilma Espin, who would become Raul Castro’s wife and knew perfectly well whose interests she needed to protect and promote.

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