NPR Reporter: Kiss from Fidel Castro's Brother Felt Like 'Blessing of the Holy Trinity'

February 29th, 2016 4:04 PM

Penny Starr at found an appalling example of journalistic fawning over the Castro brothers of communist Cuba on Wednesday’s All Things Considered, the evening newscast of taxpayer-subsidized National Public Radio.

Ramon Castro, the older brother of Fidel and Raul Castro, died last week at age 91. NPR reporter Lourdes Garcia-Navarro warmly recalled his sense of humor from going to a party in Havana for American business people (despite the ongoing trade embargo).

“I walk into this lush, beautiful villa, and I am introduced to Ramon Castro,” Garcia-Navarro said on air. “And it's kind of jarring because even though he was Fidel's older brother, he looks a lot like him. As he's presented to me, he leans over and gives me a kiss on one cheek and says, this is from Raul, kisses me on the other cheek and says, this is from me, and then he kisses me on the forehead and says, this is from Fidel.”

Then came the jaw-dropper: “It was kind of like getting the blessing of the Holy Trinity.”

Not only did Fidel Castro run an atheistic dictatorship for decades – and only recently allowed a fraction of public space for religion – but how are these communists worthy of such supine adoration from reporters who supposedly prize freedom of the press?

On Inauguration Day 2009, then-Baghdad bureau chief Garcia-Navarro appeared on the afternoon NPR talk show Talk of the Nation to report that Iraqis wished good riddance to President Bush and hoped for change under Barack Obama. She said she had yet to find a single Iraqi who was grateful for the American defeat of Saddam Hussein:.

NEAL CONAN: And any reaction to the departure today of George W. Bush, the man who launched the invasion of Iraq?

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Well, he's not a popular man here, as you can imagine. I mean, if you remember, President Bush came here on his last visit, and he was, you know, a shoe was thrown at him at a press conference, and pretty much that was viewed, you know, favorably by many Iraqis that I spoke to.

His departure -- many people, you know, won't miss him, quite frankly, and many people here do believe that, and they're hoping, that President Obama will, you know, engage in a different way with Iraqis and will treat them with more respect. As I said before, you know, Iraqis really do feel that they've been humiliated.

And not only that, you've got to remember that the cost and blood of this war, the tens of thousands, possibly hundreds of thousands who've died here throughout the course of the last six years. Any Iraqi that you speak to on the street will tell you, and I ask them this question, was the war worth it for you? Did this invasion, do you feel, give you a better life? And across the board, I didn't find one Iraqi who said to me, actually, I'm glad this happened.

So the NPR reporter couldn’t find one person to say a nice thing about George W. Bush, but she thinks the Castro brothers are a “Holy Trinity.” That’s pretty amazing.

In the New York Times obituary for Ramon Castro, they mentioned that Washington Post reporter Sally Quinn wrote glowing prose like NPR’s after a 1977 interview with the oldest Castro brother:

“Physically, he is stunningly like his brother Fidel, an enormous, heavyset, gruff bear of a man, with a scraggly graying beard, a red face, a blustery manner, a ready teasing smile and bright dancing eyes,” she wrote.