The Miami Herald is investigating how it published a paid insert with what it called “racist and anti-Semitic commentary” and distributed to readers of its Spanish-language sister paper.
The Florida daily’s publisher, Aminda Marqués González, earlier this week said it will no longer publish or distribute the content of the weekly supplement LIBRE.
Marqués González and the managing editor of El Nuevo Herald, Nancy San Martín, apologized to readers in a letter, saying they had not previously read the advertising insert until a column was widely shared on social media with commentary berating Jews for supporting the Black Lives Matter movement while comparing violent demonstrators to Nazis.
“The fact that no one in leadership, beginning with us, had previously read this advertising insert until this issue was surfaced by a reader is distressing,” Marqués González said, adding that the paper did not have a process in place to review the content for that and other similar supplements.
LIBRE accused the newspaper of censorship in an online statement posted on its website Wednesday while saying it provided advance copies and right to revoke content.
The column that was flagged was written by Cuban exile Roberto Luque Escalona, who arrived in the US in 1992. While still in Havana, he was once profiled in The New York Times and said to be “Cuba’s only declared leader of an opposition party active in the country.”
In his column, Luque Escalona was reacting to a full-page ad published by The New York Times in late August signed by hundreds of Jewish groups backing the Black Lives Matter movement.
“What kind of people are these Jews? They’re always talking about the Holocaust, but have they already forgotten about Kristallnacht, when Nazi thugs destroyed Jewish businesses across Germany? So do the BLM and Antifa, only the Nazis didn’t steal; they only destroyed,” he wrote in the column published last Friday.
An Associated Press account of the Kristallnacht pogrom of 1938 said Jewish stores were looted.
The Miami Herald has not said how long it has been publishing and distributing LIBRE to subscribers of El Nuevo Herald. Marques said the company was investigating the business relationship with LIBRE.
After reviewing past issues of LIBRE, Marqués González wrote the company was “appalled to discover multiple instances of anti-Semitic and racist commentary since January,” the letter to readers said.
Luque Escalona wrote in June about speculations that former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, who was President Trump’s first U.N. ambassador, could replace Mike Pence as Vice President.
“Daughter of immigrants from India, a country that has nothing to do with ours, her original name is Nimrata Randawa. Just hearing it puts me off,” he wrote in Spanish.
LIBRE was founded in 1966. The owner is Demetrio Perez Jr., a Cuban-born owner of a private school chain who has served as city commissioner and school board member. In 2001, he pleaded guilty to fraud for overbilling tenants while pocketing rent-subsidy money.
In response to the Miami Herald pulling the weekly supplement, LIBRE said it disagreed with the columnist but defended his right to express his views. It also said Luque Escalona was a columnist for El Nuevo Herald for more than a decade.
“At a moment in our nation’s history when every journalist should be demanding a free and unfettered exchange of ideas and full expression of them, El Nuevo Herald’s leadership has chosen to try to silence a vital community newspaper,” said the statement posted on its website.