rabble blogs are the personal pages of some of Canada's most insightful progressive activists and commentators. All opinions belong to the writer; however, writers are expected to adhere to our guidelines. We welcome new bloggers -- contact us for details.

Toronto Star makes up facts in exposé of sex tourism in Cuba

"There is truly no prostitution healthier than Cuba's," said Fidel Castro in 1992. Or so claims the Toronto Star. But did he really?

Not at all. Castro actually said, "There is truly no tourism healthier than Cuba's."

This just scratches the surface of the fact-free reporting of the Star in its new series The Ugly Canadians, an exposé of a supposed epidemic of Canadians travelling to Cuba for child sex tourism.

"Canadians are travelling to Cuba in surprising numbers to sexually exploit young people," the first article in the series says. Just how surprising are these numbers? Well, they can't say. The same article admits that they don't actually know, because the Canadian government doesn't reveal the number of Canadians prosecuted in Cuba for sex crimes.

The only facts they can point to are in a 2011 RCMP report that lists Cuba as "a top destination in the Americas" for sex tourism. No, not the top. One of them. In the Americas. And where does Cuba rank in this list? The article doesn't say.

So why have they decided to highlight sex tourism to Cuba instead of, say, the actual top destination?

Why do the Cubans quoted happen to be a "dissident lawyer" and a "dissident blogger"?

Why did the article print a fabricated pro-prostitution quote attributed to Castro?

The series on Cuban sex tourism is not being published by the Star alone. Its partner in the series, El Nuevo Herald, is the Spanish-language sister publication of the Miami Herald, known for editorializing against the Cuban government and for employing journalists paid by the U.S. government to disseminate anti-Cuban propaganda.

Could this joint series actually be a deliberate attempt to stigmatize the Cuban tourism industry, a backbone of the Cuban economy? A modern-day, liberal version of the "red scare"? In 2004, President Bush similarly warned about child sex tourism to justify his government's travel restrictions on Cuba, without any evidence to suggest the problem is more prevalent on the island.

With close to one million visitors a year, Canadians are the primary market for the Cuban tourism industry, a major source of funding for the Cuban economy. If anyone wanted to target Cuban tourism, the Canadian market would be the place to start.

Whatever the intention of playing fast and loose with the facts, it raises questions about the editorial influence of the Herald on this series, and whether the remaining articles will be based on evidence or just conjecture of opponents of the Cuban government.

Thank you for reading this story...

More people are reading rabble.ca than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all. But media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our only supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help.

If everyone who visits rabble and likes it chipped in a couple of dollars per month, our future would be much more secure and we could do much more: like the things our readers tell us they want to see more of: more staff reporters and more work to complete the upgrade of our website.

We’re asking if you could make a donation, right now, to set rabble on solid footing in 2017.

Make a donation.Become a monthly supporter.

Comments

We welcome your comments! rabble.ca embraces a pro-human rights, pro-feminist, anti-racist, queer-positive, anti-imperialist and pro-labour stance, and encourages discussions which develop progressive thought. Our full comment policy can be found here. Learn more about Disqus on rabble.ca and your privacy here. Please keep in mind:

Do

  • Tell the truth and avoid rumours.
  • Add context and background.
  • Report typos and logical fallacies.
  • Be respectful.
  • Respect copyright - link to articles.
  • Stay focused. Bring in-depth commentary to our discussion forum, babble.

Don't

  • Use oppressive/offensive language.
  • Libel or defame.
  • Bully or troll.
  • Post spam.
  • Engage trolls. Flag suspect activity instead.