Great moments in "spin"
Here is a gem of a story published in today's edition of the International Herald Tribune about the terrific job the Castro regime has done in restoring parts of Old Havana, the historic centre of the city. For the benefit of tourists.
The article salutes the work of Havana’s “official historian”, our old friend Eusebio Leal, who has spent the past 40 years, according to the paper, restoring the area to its former glory.
In a wonderful example of “spin”, the article reveals that Dr Leal’s hard work has made him such a loved figure in the area that when he walks the streets of his little kingdom, “people treat him like a rock star” and “ladies kiss him on the cheek and whisper they love him”.
To be fair to the journalist, he does mention that the renovation of parts of Old Havana has had no benefit whatsoever for ordinary Cubans living just a couple of streets behind this “Potemkin village for visitors”.
Apparently, the ordinary Cubans interviewed rather churlishly pointed out that “few Cubans can afford the USD7 drinks at the Floridita" and that "by law, Cubans cannot stay in the restored hotels, even if they could afford the USD150 a night rates.”
Ungrateful bastards, aren't they?
So, what does the hard-working Dr Leal think about that?
"It pains me to see every day the border that divides what has been restored and what remains to be restored, and every day it is more urgent and harder,” he told the journalist. "And it pains me a lot that many people still cannot receive any benefit.”
Which is all very well – we feel his pain, too. A lot.
But geez, it would been nice to point out that apart from a rock star historian, Dr Leal also happens to be a high ranking member of the Communist Party nomenklatura. And a member of several Government bodies and associations - check the official list.
Oh, yes, and he is also a Communist Party-approved deputy in the rubber stamp National Assembly, where, you will be surprised to hear, Dr Leal appears to have failed to raise all those painful issues on behalf of his constituents.
In other words, he has been a trusted (and pampered) member of the Castro inner-circle for the past 45 years - the very same inner-circle that draws up laws that forbid ordinary Cubans from staying in those beautifully restored hotels in Old Havana.