Reporter Hatzel Vela, who has been covering Cuba extensively since joining WPLG-TV in 2014, will now be reporting from Havana full time.
Miami ABC affiliate WPLG has moved Vela and photojournalist Brian Ely to the island after it got permission from Cuba to base a news crew on a full time basis, becoming the first local station to do so.
Vela will be providing daily reports for LOCAL 10 NEWS HAVANA.
“We consider Cuba news, local news,” Vela tells Media Moves. “Cuba stories are always desired. People who haven’t been here in decades want to see what’s going on…how Cubans live, survive and struggle.”
Station management won’t call it a bureau, but it had been working on getting a live-in news team in Cuba since President Obama announced renewed relations with Cuba at the end of 2014.
“This opportunity takes it to a whole new level. We are making this investment because the Cuba story is very important to our community,” WPLG President Bert Medina said in a statement. “Having a reporter and photojournalist living in Cuba will give all of us a deeper understanding of what is happening on the island. We will have the time to seek out stories we couldn’t tell on previous trips due to the limited time we could spend inside the country.”
Vela says he doesn’t know how long this assignment will last, but he hopes to stay “as long as I can.”