Things go wrong right from the start of the New York Times' obituary for Vilma Espin, "Cuba's unofficial first lady" -- and Cuban Communist Party leader by reporter Anthony DePalma (pictured at right).
"Vilma Espin, an idealistic socialite who fought alongside Fidel and Raul Castro in the mountains of Cuba and later, as Raul Castro’s wife, became a prominent advocate of women’s rights and a powerful member of the Cuban Communist Party, died Monday in Havana." Aren't those mutually exclusive terms? How in the world can a Communist leader be a credible advocate for anyone's rights?
The text box repeated the howler:
"A revolutionary, Cuba's unofficial first lady and a proponent of women's rights."
As Ken Shepherd notes at Newsbusters (in his dissection of a similarly biased obit in the Washington Post), that probably didn't include the "right to private property, the right of free speech, the right to free and fair elections, or the right to travel freely outside of Cuba."
As biased as the Post's obituary was, it did at least eventually reveal the ruthless heart behind the old grinning face of Vilma Espin, albeit in the 17th paragraph: Raul Castro's late wife "was reportedly ruthless when it came to ordering the killing of suspected informers." DePalma's piece in the Times didn't mention that.
"Ms. Espín was a revered figure of the revolution. The image of her and several other prominent women shouldering rifles and wearing combat fatigues during the rebel war helped change attitudes about the role of women in Cuba. She founded the Federation of Cuban Women in 1960, and remained president of the organization until her death. Although few women were allowed into Fidel Castro's inner circle, women advanced in most other fields in Cuba, and Ms. Espin became an international figure in the struggle for women's rights."
Except in Cuba itself, of course.
For more New York Times bias, visit Times Watch.