Networks Forget Raul Castro's 'Economic Reforms' Include Drug Running

     It may be the end of an era for Fidel Castro, but his brother is no sweetheart either.


     Unless you’re some sort of Cuban sycophant, like Michael Moore who spent time praising the Cuban health care system in his 2007 movie “SiCKO,” there’s little reason to think things will be any different now that Raul Castro is in charge.


     Well, except for ABC correspondent Jeffrey Kofman, who’s not expecting the best, but has a different take on what Raul could bring to Cuba.


     “[H]e’s talking about significant reforms – liberalizing trade, economic reforms designed to ease poverty in a country where the average person earned $19 a month in the hope of consolidating his own power,” Kofman said on the Feb.19, 2008, ABC “World News with Charles Gibson.”


      However, Kofman has a skewed view of what liberalizing trade and economic reforms are. An August 2006 ABC report indicated the younger Castro allowed Colombian drug lords to stage smuggling runs into the United States.


     “Federal prosecutors in Miami were prepared to indict Raul Castro as the head of a major cocaine smuggling conspiracy in 1993, but the Clinton Administration Justice Department overruled them, current and former Justice Department officials tell ABC News,” ABC’s Brian Ross and Vic Walter reported on August 14, 2006.


     “The officials say Castro, as Cuban Defense Minister, permitted Colombian drug lords to pay for the use of Cuban waters and airstrips as staging grounds for smuggling runs into the United States in the 1980s and early 1990s,” the journalists reported in “The Blotter,” an ABC News blog. 


     The media’s softening on Raul Castro isn’t really anything new. NBC’s Andrea Mitchell also reported in August 2006 that Raul Castro was a communist with a soft spot for free enterprise.


     “Raul has been in charge of the military and the economy,” Mitchell explained to her audience, calling him “politically hard-line but more open than his brother to free enterprise, including foreign investment.”