14ymedio approaches 6th anniversary

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Yoani Sánchez

Cuba has “the most restricted climate for the press in the Americas,” according to the Committee to Protect Journalists in New York.
“Print and broadcast media are wholly controlled by the one-party Communist state… The government targets critical journalists through harassment, physical and online surveillance, short-term detentions, home raids, and equipment seizures.”
Despite such straits, Cuba’s first independent digital media outlet, 14ymedio, will mark its 6th anniversary in 2020.
Cuban blogger Yoani Sánchez founded 14ymedio in May 2014 “with the financial help of a dozen friends, mainly from Spain.”
14ymedio states:
“We cover Cuban affairs and Cuban-linked international topics. We do it from a Cuban point of view and we are the only independent newsroom inside Cuba. Besides the original capital, which allowed us to support our newsroom during the first two years (2014-2015), our revenues come mainly from private donations, subscriptions (Membership) and publicity. We don’t accept any money from Governments and political parties, directly or indirectly.
“Our main Newsroom is in Habana and we have local correspondents in cities such as Santiago de Cuba, Camagüey, Holguín, Cienfuegos, Santa Clara y Pinar del Río. We have a smaller Newsroom in Madrid (Spain) which is in charge of editing and uploading all our texts to our web because in Cuba we have a very slow Internet which makes nearly impossible to upload our production. We used to have a correspondent in Miami but we had to dismiss him because we could no longer assumed the cost.”
Sánchez gained fame as the creator of Generación Y, a popular blog that chronicled the struggles of ordinary Cubans. She named her news site 14ymedio because her newsroom – and her home – is on the 14th floor of an apartment building in Havana and medio means media in Spanish.
14ymedio had 198,350 monthly views in November, according to SimilarWeb, which tracks website traffic. That was less than El Nuevo Herald, with 5.19 million monthly views; Cibercuba, with 5.04 million; CubaDebate, with 1.94 million; CubaNet, with 1.37 million; and Radio & TV Martí, with 445,390, according to SimilarWeb. Even so, press freedom advocates credit 14ymedio for paving new ground in Cuba.
The site has published some 1,000 articles and more than 1 million comments since 2014.
In November and December, 14ymedio journalist Luz Escobar complained that state security agents had prevented her from leaving her home. Escobar, the daughter of Reinaldo Escobar, Sánchez’ husband, said it amounted to house arrest.
In response to a tweet about the episode, Cuban official Johana Tablada tweeted:

…in the entire world it is illegal and sanctioned to receive funds from a foreign government that threatens a sovereign country. The United States approved in 2019 alone, $20 million, a part of which is for a salaried U.S. embassy ‘opposition.’


Sánchez complained that Tablada had no proof that Luz Escobar had received U.S. government funds. She demanded that Tablada apologize to Escobar and resign from her post as assistant director of U.S. affairs at Cuba’s Foreign Ministry.
It’s difficult to know if 14ymedio has received U.S. support because the outlet does not disclose details about its financial operations.
In 2015, the Bacardi Family Foundation reported paying $10,000 in “humanitarian aid” to 14ymedio and Raíces de Esperanza, or Roots of Home, records show. Records give no other details.

I have not seen any records showing that the Bacardi foundation received any U.S. government money in 2015. The U.S. Agency for International Development did give the foundation $1,553,494 in 2018. Bacardi’s latest available tax records are from the 2016 and 2017 tax years. They don’t show any contributions to 14ymedio, although they do report support for the Fundación para la Democracia Panamericana, led by Rosa Payá, daughter of activist leader Oswaldo Payá; People in Need, based in the Czech Republic; and other groups.

Bacardi contributions in 2016 included $10,000 to the Fundación para la Democracia Panamericana, led by Rosa Payá, daughter of the late activist Oswaldo Payá.
Bacardi contributions in 2017 included $30,500 to the Fundación para la Democracia Panamericana and $13,050 to People in Need.

Even if Bacardi has passed along USAID money to 14ymedio, it may be difficult to prove because private and public funds could be intermingled in the foundation’s budget reports.

The Bacardi foundation’s website lists 14ymedio as one of the groups it has supported.

My guess is that Raíces de Esperanza’s connection to 14ymedio is due to specific events, not sustained financial support. The group says on its website that Sánchez had planned to travel to Coral Gables, Florida, in April 2015 to join in a conversation with Miguel “Mike” Benito Fernandez, author of a memoir called Humbled by the Journey: Lessons for My Family and Yours. I don’t know if that has anything to do with the $10,000 Bacardi contribution.
Raíces de Esperanza also organized Sánchez’ first Tweetup in 2013.
The Miami Beach organization touts a network of more than 3,000 students and young professionals in the U.S. and abroad.
The group says it does not accept U.S. government funds, however, the Associated Press reported in April 2014 that its leaders “quietly provided strategic support for the federal government’s secret ‘Cuban Twitter’ program, connecting contractors with potential investors and even serving as paid consultants.”
14ymedio is registered as CLYS Comunicaciones 3.0, at Calle Torpedero Tucumán 17 in Madrid, Spain.

A Google Maps screenshot of 14ymedio’s Madrid address.

Records show that CLYS Comunicaciones was formed on Jan. 15, 2014, and listed two employees in 2017. Its administrator is Rafael Mira Prieto-Moreno. His LinkedIn profile says he is an expert in collaborative intelligence and founder and CEO of Collaboratorium.

Rafael Mira Prieto-Moreno

On Dec. 31, 2017, CLYS Comunicaciones reported total assets of 105,778.62 euros, then worth about $119,529.84 U.S. That was down from 111,384.06 euros, or about $125,863.98 U.S., in 2016, according to
informa.es. The company had net equity of 91,275.19 euros, or $103,140.96 U.S., up from 60,598.60 euros, or $68,476.76 U.S., in 2016. See 6-page financial report.

Listed at the same address as CLYS Comunicaciones is the Fundación 14ymedio. Records show its founders started the organization with 32,400 euros, worth roughly $35,964 at the time.
The group’s mission is:

The promotion, promotion and defense of democratic principles and values and the contribution to the development of political and individual freedoms and human rights in Cuba, as well as the social, cultural and political welfare of Cubans and the international dissemination of its inspiring principles, through any means. The promotion and drive of business entrepreneurship and the creation and development of a democratic and modern business ethics and culture, mainly in Cuba and Spain, as well as its dissemination by any means. The consolidation of the existing links between the Cuban and Spanish nations, as well as the promotion, reciprocal promotion and protection of the cultures of both nations and their dissemination abroad.

The organization’s founders are listed as:

  • Reinaldo Marcial Escobar Casas
  • Yoani María Sánchez Cordero
  • Carlos Francisco Abad Rico
  • Rafael Mira Prieto-Moreno

Officers are Yoani Sánchez, president; Rafael Mira Prieto-Moreno, vice president; Alberto Castañeda González, secretary; and board members Reinaldo Escobar, Carlos Francisco Abad Rico, Bertrand de la Grange and José María González-Garilleti Fernández.
I don’t know how many people 14ymedio employs. According to LinkedIn profiles, some of those who have worked with 14ymedio include:
Social media and public relations coordinator Valentina A. Pecoraro; marketing and social media manager Carolina González; social media intern Kenia Zelaya; development and innovation manager Alejandro D. González; research analyst Paola Pesant; senior user experience consultant Paxton Brewer; consultants Katie Yaeger and Kamila Jambulatova; digital media fellow Jasmine Ortega; investigations assistant María Gracia Naranjo Ponce; video producer Lowell Thomas; project manager Jorge Mediavilla Martínez; chief editor Bertrand de la Grange; editor Maria Font Oliver; translators Fernando Fornaris, Carly Dunn and Chavely García; correspondent Diana Ramos; advisor Javier Cabrera; and journalists Mario Pentón, Ihoeldis Michael Rodríguez, Reyes Theis, Gabriel Martínez Bucio, Tiziana Trotta, Karolina Guillen and Rosa Pascual.
LinkedIn also lists a co-founder named Gonzalo Rodríguez Marizcurrena.

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7 thoughts on “14ymedio approaches 6th anniversary”

  1. Excellent reporting as always.

    You should include the stats for the on line magazine Joven Cuba

    “La Joven Cuba’s relationship with the Cuban authorities has been marked by numerous ups and downs. Emerging at the University of Matanzas spontaneously and not by government order in 2010, it was then supported by the authorities and later banned for content considered “hypercritical.” It had the public support of President Miguel Díaz-Canel in 2013 but after calls to terminate criticism by part the country’s leadership in the following years, its relationship with the country’s political institutions has deteriorated.

    Opposition sectors in Cuba are also critical of LJC’s defense of the social achievements of the revolutionary period and its reaffirmation of the socialist idea on the island. Opposition media that receive funds from the United States for regime change in Cuba qualify the project as “officialist.”

    Members of LJC have insisted on several occasions that their objective is to make a critical assessment of bureaucratic and totalitarian socialism, while prosecuting capitalism for its excessive exploitation of the human and natural resources of the planet.”

    Several months ago, Joven Cuba began to translate to English two of its best articles every week. https://jovencuba.com/category/series/english/

    Reply
  2. Tracey, this Jan. 1-2020 article is a reminder that in the New Year, as usual, your journalism pertaining to Cuba is uniquely the best in the USA, including your diligence to utilize the Freedom of Information data to buttress your data and observations. You began this update with this sentence: “Cuba has ‘the most restricted climate for the press in the Americas,’ according to the Committee to Protect Journalists in New York.” That stand-alone judgment tends to imply that US journalism related to Cuba, by contrast, projects the best “climate” for honest and unbiased reporting on the enigmatic Caribbean island. That’s simply not true, and as a pro-democracy zealot I believe that allowing a handful of the most extremist Counter Revolutionary Cubans to dictate America’s Cuban media narrative regarding Cuba has drastically and irreparably harmed the image of US democracy since the 1950s. It was in Miami’s Little Havana, not Cuba’s Havana, that America’s best Cuban-American journalist, Emilio Milian, was car-bombed for reporting honestly about Cuba. Decades ago the best and bravest US journalist who dared to report honestly about Cuba — Jeffrey Kofman of ABC-TV News — aired the definitive report on Radio-TV Marti in Miami, pointing out that it was a laughable anti-Cuban propaganda machine whose primary purpose was to provide extreme pipelines of tax dollars from Washington to Miami into the bank accounts of selected Cubans, which has been the case since the 1980s to January of 2020. {The Radio-TV Marti, Jorge Mas Canosa, became the first Cuban exile from Batista’s Cuba to be a billionaire with a B in Miami}. For decades unchecked “journalists” such as Humberto Fontana have been allowed by the U. S. media to depict Batista’s Cuba as the planet’s best government in the 1950s and Revolutionary Cuba since 1959 as the world’s worst government. What happened to respected Cuban-American journalists such as Emilio Milian should, in my opinion, have never been allowed to send pertinent messages discouraging honest media coverage in the US relative to Cuba. When you suggest that Cuba has extremely “restricted” media honesty, you might want to compare that assumption, for example, with Radio-TV Marti that is not only unrestricted but also lavishly funded by U. S. government-provided tax dollars. Thus, it begs the question: Is Cuba’s Cubavision International more of a propaganda machine than the USA’s Radio-TV Marti?

    The video included with this article promotes the dissident views of Luz Escobar, the daughter of Yoani Sanchez’s husband, while disparaging Johana Tablada’s views as a “Cuba official.” As a wife, mother, and “Cuba official,” I believe a majority of Cuba’s 11.4 people probably respect Johana Tablada more than the Escobars or Yoani Sanchez. Yoani, the…uh…famed and well-funded dissident journalist on the island, has been allowed with a legal visa to fly to Madrid where you established a office, to Miami where she, of course, was featured on Radio-TV Marti, AND to Washington where, of course, she had important meetings with Senators Rubio & Menendez. Meanwhile, Americans…and now even Cuban-Americans…are restricted and limited from visiting Cuba so the USA can strangle Cuba’s tourism economy but ALSO, it appears, to restrict Americans from personally judging Cuba and Cubans on the island as opposed to being TOLD TO THINK via well-promoted, well-protected, and media-enhanced propaganda.

    The decent President Obama and Ben Rhodes, his top aide related to Cuba, invited Cuba’s young television journalist Cristina Escobar to attend {and ask six questions at} a White House news conference. Also, Tracey, you got a video interview in Cuba with Cristina Escobar that was aired on YouTube {and elsewhere} in which she suggested that Cuban journalists have “more freedom” to tell the truth about the United States than American journalists have to tell the truth about Cuba. The talented, well educated, and respected Cristina Escobar BELIEVES that to be true, and I think she has the right to that belief ALTHOUGH whether OR NOT she is correct is left to different interpretations.

    For decades John McAuliff has been one of America’s greatest and most honest Cuban experts. Those assets serve to make him unused and supposedly unavailable by the mainstream U. S. media related to Cuban issues, and that fact demeans US democracy, I believe. John’s reply/comment added to this article is pertinent as was, for example, his Facebook reply on Dec. 31st to the Miami Herald’s article about newly added and newly planned {in 2020} U. S. sanctions on Cuba, which many decent people consider to be genocidal {especially since Trump activated Title 3 of Helms-Burton, which EVEN President George W. Bush refused to activate because EVEN he considered it TOO CRUEL AND GENOCIDAL. John McAuliff’s Dec. 31st Facebook comment about the current and planned Cuban sanctions was: “Sounds like more Claver-Carone pettiness which the State Department can’t overcome.” Such important comments are the kind that the mainstream media should provide to the American people from true and honest Cuban experts by John McAuliff. Mauricio Claver-Carone incredibly is the U. S. State Department’s Western Hemisphere Affairs leader and his Deputy is Michael Kozak — both of whom are purposely positioned strategically as extreme anti-Cuban zealots. Yet, few Americans even know who they are OR that they have unchecked powers to exact an unending array of official US rules pertaining to Cuba that many decent Americans consider genocidal against everyday Cubans on the island WHILE ALSO further enriching and empowering a handful of Counter Revolutionaries in Miami and Washington. When not even ONE moderate expert attuned to US-Cuban relations is permitted to be involved in Cuban decisions in the Trump White House, I believe that basic fact is more a problem for America and Democracy than it is EVEN for the totally innocent Cubans who are viciously targeted victims of what John McAuliff correctly labels “pettiness” by the likes of self-serving zealots like “Claver-Carone.”

    INCREDIBLY, it is my opinion that, except for Tracey Eaton’s Cuban Money Project, Americans are totally devoid of honest journalism relating Cuba — AND CUBA IS THE ONLY TOPIC IN THIS WHOLE WORLD THAT POSSIBLY COULD EVER GET THE UNITED STATES UNANIMOUSLY CONDEMNED BY A 191-TO-ZERO VOTE IN THE UNITED NATIONS {In 2016 when even President Obama wouldn’t let the U. S. itself support the egregious U. S. policy regarding Cuba}.

    Reply
    • Rich is far too generous in his words about me, although I certainly share his frustration about how the main stream media covers Cuba.

      I have been astounded at the lack of criticism by the media, cruise companies, air lines and tour operators as the people doing Cuba in the Administration destroy piece by piece the achievements of President Obama which they previously exalted and profited from.

      A small correction, the extremely partisan Mauricio Claver-Carone is the Director of Western Hemisphere Affairs in the National Security Council, a far more damaging and inappropriate job, not a deputy of Michael Kozak. Having Claver-Carone in that job is as though someone from the Solidarity organization held it during the Obama Administration. During the Obama era Claver-Carone was the principle lobbyist for the ultra hard liners, publishing the Capitol Hill Cubans blog and directing Cuba Democracy PAC which moved money from south Florida to Republican and Democratic candidates all over the US.

      Kozak is a puzzle. His reputation when he headed the Interests Section in the 1990s was as a balanced and open diplomat. His tweets now embody the extreme polemics of Claver-Carone. Given the deterioration of the State Department in the Trump Administration, who knows what he really believes.

      Reply
      • My clarification was not clear. Kozak is not a deputy of Claver-Carone except in a figurative sense since they are in different agencies. Kozak is Acting Assistant Secretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs in the State Department, in some sense Claver-Carone’s counterpart but with less real influence in US policy.

        Reply

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