Ask Not What You Can Do From Another Country…

…rather, ask why you’re doing it, and others can/will not.

MPR’s Bob Collins ran a piece earlier this week about “How MPR is able to Broadcast from Cuba“.

And just to be clear – he was focusing on how they dealt with the technical hurdles of broadcasting from a country that is the Northwestern Quatrosphere’s little enclave of the Third World.  And I’ll cop to it; the former radio producer in me geeks out at that part:

…when [MPR technical geek Rob Byers] and his team sat down and examined the map of undersea cables in the Caribbean, they found almost no connectivity to the rest of the world, save for two connections to Venezuela. But because both MPR’s sibling company American Public Media and Cuban state radio (ICRT) are associate members of the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), it was possible to make a satellite connection from Cuban radio in Havana to a downlink in Geneva, Switzerland, and from there to a site in London that could connect to MPR in St. Paul.

Collins adds:

They found a better way. A direct satellite uplink from Havana to St. Paul, using a downlink at the Fitzgerald Theater and a backup site at Twin Cities Public Television.

Geek vibes.

But Collins also hastens (or hastened, after the subject came up in the comments):

…people asked about political and legal hurdles. I checked back with Rob and Brian. Brian says they’ve asked from the start whether there would be any editorial oversight of the broadcasts by Cuban authorities and they have been assured there would not be.

Rob says he has not encountered legal hurdles.

Right – but MPR is apparently going to Cuba to broadcast the Minnesota Orchestra concert – a fairly uncontroversial-looking program of Beethoven, Bernstein, Prokofiev, and Cuban composer Alejandro García Caturla.

Is it especially controversial to note that there’s a reason they didn’t ask (and I’m going to skip past the cliches here) Michael Medved or Dennis Prager or, um, yours truly to broadcast from Cuba.   The Castro regime isn’t looking for a challenge, and MPR will be the last media outlet to deliver one.

And on the one hand, that’s fine – challenging the authoritarian status quo isn’t MPR Classical’s mission.

On the other hand – Cuba is a human rights offender on a massive scale.  The plight of Cuban dissendent journalists – or any dissidents, really – is the sort of thing that makes anyone who thinks freedom is a good thing a little queasy.

And I have to wonder – from what other authoritarian basket case would MPR pursue a broadcast?

26 thoughts on “Ask Not What You Can Do From Another Country…

  1. I see that the neocolonialism has begun.
    The Castro brothers hermit kingdom will never survive. Some Cuban military commander will soon figure out just how much he will get if he takes over and sells out to the janqis. Or maybe the Castros will do it themselves.
    They are the last commie dictatorship. Noth Korea stopped calling itself a communist country a few years back.

  2. Perhaps they long for apartheid South Africa. No.They were no where near as brutal as Cuba. Maybe they can build a time machine and go with Charles Lindbergh to hump Herman Goering’s leg.

  3. What happened in the old USSR is that the intelligence agents who were custodians of the money the Communist Party USSR held overseas looted it. They converted Communist Party owned dollars into rubles, used the rubles to buy commodities in what was now Russia at subsidized “internal” prices, and then exported those commodities to the West where they sold them for market price. Sweet.
    Keep your eyes on what Cuba state security does in the next 24 months. Those guys know how Putin went from mid-level KGB counter intelligence guy in East Germany to Maximum Overlord.

  4. It is always better to embrace near neighbors than to exclude, boycott and sanction them.

  5. As a senior in high school, I took an orchestra trip which included a Minneapolis Symphony concert at Northrop. As it turned out, Kent State happened just before our trip and demonstrations basically shut down the U. The protestors agrred to let the concert go on and in return one of the musicians read a statement of support of the protests and the orchestra’s anti-war, anti-Nixon, and anti-Ohio National Guard views. Given this moral and ethical stance, I’m sure today’s Minnesota Orchestra will read a similar statement denouncing the Cuban government’s treatment of dissidents and the fact that the Castro brothers have grown rich while the Cuban people have sufferred. Or not.

  6. Emery, the trick is that you’ve got to embrace the people and reject the kleptocrats in charge–have you seen some of the swag Castro’s appointed for himself? Mr. Soetoro has it exactly backwards, embracing the kleptocrats (watch out for the upcoming Obama Foundation!) and rejecting the people.

    Mingo, I did not know that Putin was in East Germany. Helping out with the Stasi is not one of those things I can easily forgive, having probably been followed by them as I wandered around East Berlin in 1989.

  7. Bikebubba, Putin was part of a group of KGB officers who had the job of watching the Stasi. The KGB wanted to be certain that the Stasi was loyal to the Soviets and didn’t get ideas of its own. Putin probably recruited Stasi agents to work for the KGB. The KGB had custody of the Soviet Communist Party’s Western funds. There was a short window of opportunity, after Yeltsin banned the CP USSR, when no one was minding the store. A lot of KGB types, stationed in the Soviet Block countries, opened banks in newly freed Soviet satellites after 1993. Some of these bankers had no financial experience at all — they were KGB minders, or translators, or political analysts — but they all had had access to the CP USSR’s cash reserves.

  8. Obama’s decision to embrace Cuba is quite brilliant. The Cuban people are extremely talented, industrious, hard-working and entrepreneurial. The President’s approach is a welcome change, although there should be no illusions that breaking up a one-party state is easy.

  9. although there should be no illusions that breaking up a one-party state is easy.

    easiest thing in the world – Congress threatens MLB with a loss of monopoly status unless they authorize 2 new expansion teams, one for the AL and one for the NL both to be located in Cuba. Alternately they could authorize the relocation of 2 MLB teams. I’m thinking the Cubs (Havana) and the Astros (Guantanamo). Of course they’d want to change the names, maybe the Guantanamo Howlers. Then people could stop whinging about human rights abuses, its just BAU for MLB. In any case you’ve got your 2 parties. Remember “politics is downstream of culture”.

  10. “The Cuban people are extremely talented, industrious, hard-working and entrepreneurial.”
    Like the East Germans were? There is a lot of propaganda out there about Cuba, from all sides, that is not labeled as such. The most ambitious, hard-working Cubans left their country long ago.

  11. And I am still wondering how the State Dept. will deal with all of the Cubano exiles who claim they own property in Cuba and want it back. We didn’t embargo Cuba just because we didn’t like them, we embargoed Cuba because Castro and his pals confiscated American’s property without compensation. This is a big no-no. The international community doesn’t like it because if you let one country get away with it, others will be tempted to do it, and foreign investment will be crushed.

  12. Yes, the East German folks. Lets look at the results of their integration with Western Germany. The Germans are much more socialistic than America, and so can espouse the right without further penalizing the poor and middle class. The health care system they enjoy is more available to all than Obamacare. The workers enjoy more protection and more vacation days. In Germany there is a job training program that we have nothing to compare. There is financial protection to the elderly that is not threatened by the right and their tax system is fairer to the minimum wage earners than ours.

    Highlighting achievements born of conservative policy failures hardly inspires confidence.

  13. The health care system they enjoy is more available to all than Obamacare

    And is so because it uses the same system espoused in various conservative/Republican responses to Obamacare.

  14. MBerg: Germans and the Swiss (Purple Plan) are able to choose from about 200 health insurance plans, and the plans do compete, even though they can’t make a profit. Pretty good insurance.

    Mingo: The lifting of sanctions against Vietnam might be a better comparison. Vietnam’s economy expanded after the sanctions were lifted, although corruption and bureaucracy still remain.

  15. “The lifting of sanctions against Vietnam might be a better comparison.”
    Your thinking is not rigorous.

  16. You’re reduced to insults? I’d say you gave up the debate a few comments ago.

  17. MBerg: Germans and the Swiss (Purple Plan) are able to choose from about 200 health insurance plans, and the plans do compete, even though they can’t make a profit. Pretty good insurance.

    Right. I’m pretty familiar with German and Swiss stuff. Pragmatic conservatives were discussing modeling a US plan after the German plan as long ago as Hillarycare.

    Naturally, Obama would have none of it.

  18. Funny that Emery refers to medical care. I wonder if he’s referring to the same Cuban medical care colossus that managed to allow patients at a mental hospital to freeze to death–in the tropics no less.

    (right up there with Venezuela, being basically a giant pulpwood forest, cannot manage to get toilet paper made….)

  19. “Your thinking is not rigorous” was not intended to be an insult, Emery.
    The left tends to blame the US embargo of Cuba for the failure of socialism in Cuba. Why would the model for Cuba be Vietnam, and not Venezuela? Latin American and Caribbean nations have patterns of governance which are not shared by SE Asian nations. Strongman or single party rule even in putative democracies, for example. It is difficult for island economies to prosper.
    Which other Caribbean or Latin American nation will Cuba come to resemble? A lot depends on what happens to the Castro regime, but my guess is that it will resemble Jamaica. Cuba has a long-standing relationship with Mexico. Perhaps it will become Mexican satellite.

  20. MBerg: I agree. The ACA is mostly a huge transfer of wealth from the middle class to the poor. The law will be changed, one way or another, sooner or later.

  21. Now Emery, let’s use an honest name for Obamacare; there is nothing affordable about it, and it’s not really about care, either. “Health Insurance Deform Act”, and what it does is not just to transfer wealth from the prosperous to the poor, but also–set-asides for favored contractors, maximum ratio of insurance cost for older vs. younger–is a massive transfer of wealth from the middle class to the wealthy.

    If only the GOP could get the hang of genuine populism, 2016 would be Hell for the Democrats.

  22. I need to apologize to everyone (except Emery) for my observation of Emery. It was childish and offensive in a fashion I know better than to behave.

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