Washington, D.C. - The National Association of Hispanic Journalists will hold “A Conversation with Ricardo Alarcón,” the president of Cuba’s national assembly, via satellite from the Caribbean nation to open the association’s 24th Annual Convention and Media & Career Expo to be held June 14-17 in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
From CNN’s Havana Bureau, Alarcón will be interviewed via satellite by Mirta Ojito, a New York Times contributor and professor of journalism at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. A Cuban exile herself, Ojito will interview Alarcón before hundreds of journalists at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts in Fort Lauderdale. The audience may also submit questions for Alarcón in writing that evening.
NAHJ has often used this conversation/interview format to kick off the annual convention, most notably in recent years with Mexican President Vicente Fox and the then newly-elected mayor of Los Angeles Antonio Villaraigosa.
WHAT PART OF LACK OF FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION AND UNDEMOCRATIC DO THEY NOT GET!!!!! Alarcon was preceded as speaker by the elected president of Mexico and mayor of Los Angeles.
From the press release and the format ("written submitted questions") it makes it sound like this some sort of kick-off speech, a celebrity guest - or featured speaker instead of a hard-hitting interview.
Bottom line, it all ends up being questions asked of a Communist apartchik, who has scripted answers I could compose in a millisecond.
The organization does have the absolutely repellent Lou Dobbs speaking -- but on a panel.
The annual convention will also take on the hot topic of immigration with New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, CNN host Lou Dobbs and Jorge Castañeda, the former foreign minister of Mexico, exchanging views on the implications of immigration reform.
I'm not saying not having Alarcon on, if he is going to be on, have him, like Lou Dobbs, be part of a panel in a REAL OPEN DISCUSSION with people who know about the lack of press freedom in Cuba -- WHO WILL CALL HIM ON HIS BULLSHIT. If he doesn't like it, call someone else.
Maybe there already is a candidate at the very same convention:
Journalists from Cuba, Colombia, Guatemala and Mexico who have been imprisoned, faced death threats and witnessed atrocities will share their experiences on a panel about the dangers of journalism in Latin America. Participants include Ramón Cantú Deandar, publisher of El Mañana newspaper in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, whose newsroom was bombed by a drug cartel a few months ago, and Manuel Vásquez Portal, an exiled Cuban journalist.