Reporter Simon Romero fell into the usual liberal media traps in his Friday story commemorating the 50th anniversary of Fidel Castro's dictatorship - or as the Times called it, "the 50th anniversary of [Cuba's] revolution."
Romero called Batista (the leader overthrown by Castro) a "strongman," but didn't tar Castro with such a label. He also mentioned with a straight face Cuba's "advances in education and health care," not raising a question of the reliability of Communist health statistics, photographic evidence of decrepit hospitals, and the devaluation of "education" in a country where you're reading is controlled by the state.
Cuba marked the 50th anniversary of its revolution on Thursday amid somber assessments of a struggling economy, even as its Communist leaders exalted the resilience of a political system that has endured 10 United States administrations.
Fidel Castro, 82, whose group of bearded rebels waged a guerrilla war that toppled the strongman Fulgencio Batista on Jan. 1, 1959, remained behind the scenes during the subdued festivities on the island nation, grappling with an undisclosed illness that forced him into seclusion more than two years ago.
The presidents of Brazil, China and Russia have all visited Havana in recent months, pledging greater economic cooperation. At Mexico's initiative in December, Cuba was admitted to the Rio Group, a diplomatic association of Latin American and Caribbean countries. And in October, the European Union formally renewed ties to Cuba.
"While the U.S. is dithering, virtually every other major actor in world affairs is becoming more engaged with Cuba," said Daniel Erikson, director of Caribbean programs at the Inter-American Dialogue, a policy research group in Washington.
Still, Cuba's enduring revolution, which has secured advances in education and health care, faces other challenges. It has one the hemisphere's lowest birthrates, 1.6 children per woman, and one of its highest life expectancy rates, 77.3 years. Emigration of thousands of young people each year also erodes its population of 11.4 million.
TheBabalu Blog amusingly argued that Romero'sstory is really not that bad, at least by the paper's own historically atrocious standards of reporting on Cuba (especially Herbert Matthews ' early pro-Castro dispatches).