PULLMAN, Wash. Former NBC News correspondent Ed Rabel spent decades covering an evolving political climate in Cuba, interviewed Fidel Castro several times, and routinely served as the voice of the otherwise unheard Cuban people broadcast into American homes.
On Wednesday, Rabel spoke to a classroom full of journalism students at Washington State University’s Edward R. Murrow College of Communication via conference call, sharing his insight and answering various questions about the communist country.
“The Cuban government is at odds with the United States government because of an economic embargo against Cuba since 1962,” said Rabel.
“We broke off normal diplomatic relations because we’ve had a very harsh foreign policy towards them.”
Rabel still travels to Cuba with aspiring young journalists from the university in order for them to experience life as a foreign correspondent and build their portfolios.
The next trip is in May and he assured that attending students will be greeted with open arms from the Cuban people.
“We’ve always had a very nice time and never any problems,” said Rabel.
“The relationship between Americans and Cubans is very good but it is the two governments that are hostile.”
Rabel told the students the Cubans leave the country (or attempt to) in order to find work and better their lives financially.
“Cuba is a poor country, make no mistake about it,” he said.
“If people were permitted to leave, then about three million of 12 million would leave for economic reasons.”
According to Rabel, Cuba’s new political leader Raul Castro has permitted his people to buy and sell houses and automobiles, and has allowed limited travel outside of the country. There is still very little access to the Internet with restrictions to the media.
“The jury is still out on where Cuba is going to go in the future but I suspect that they will open up more.”