What the Cuban Press Says and How it Says It

Dariela Aquique

HAVANA TIMES — As we know, obtaining reliable information in Cuba is a problem because the media – all of them controlled by the government, only report what they want to and do so in accordance with their interests. That is why some incidents are given broad coverage, others very little and, of course, some none at all.

The world is still shaken by the abhorrent terrorist acts perpetrated by Islamic extremists in Paris, which cost 12 people their lives at the offices of the satirical journal Charlie Hebdo. The international media spoke of nothing else for several days, but the incident was given very little coverage in Cuba.

Almost immediately after the tragedy, many world leaders – even Arab ones – publicly condemned the action. The Cuban government, however, took its time to issue a communiqué condemning the attack and offering its condolences to the French State, press and people.

It isn’t hard to understand why Cuban government circles do not share the opinions of the world in certain circumstances and limit themselves to mentioning only some of the facts, instead of analyzing all of them in depth.

To write a journalistic report on the incident, they would have to explicitly mention the religious motivation behind it (to touch on fundamentalism and its assault on freedom of expression and democracy). As we all know, the latter is a subject the Cuban government has yet to pass.

The political leaders who condemned the attack emphasized the need to defend these rights. What could the press say here? Condemn a Muslim who believes they can kill in the name of Allah, because their idol has been mocked, and leave it at that?

It wouldn’t be too ethical to reprimand them when, a few days ago, Cuban artist Tania Bruguera was arrested after being accused of “resisting arrest and inciting disorderly conduct,” merely for organizing a performance where citizens could express their opinions in front of a microphone set up at Havana’s Plaza de la Revolución.

This was yet another of the many such indicents that are common on the island. The detention and even beating of peaceful civil society members and activists who exercise their right to free speech by Cuban authorities is something very common.

The worst part is that only those involved, the few eye-witnesses who were there (and those who are able to read the news in non-Cuban Internet sites) found out about this. Here, the newspapers keep mum, or “prioritize” other news.

As the Bruguera incident unfolded, the Cuban press reported on a gathering that activists from the US and other countries organized in New York to celebrate the release of the Cuban 5.

Since Wednesday, the most important news out there has been the Charlie Hebdo incident. In Cuba, however, we were shown photos of Gema, the new-born daughter of Adriana and Gerardo (one of the Cuban 5 who recently returned to Cuba). They are considering creating a workshop for children in Ciengfuegos as they put together the typical gift basket for the baby.

All of this reminds me of Brainstorm, the short by Cuban filmmaker Eduardo del Llano, in which the editorial staff of a country’s most important newspaper await instructions from above to put together the front page. All the while, they make bets and debate as to whether the most important news item was an international sporting record set by a Cuban athlete, a meteorite impact that cost human lives, the rescue of the survivors by a fortuitous hero (a dwarf, incidentally), the death of a renowned visual artist, or a power cut that affected one fourth of the Cuban capital.

Ultimately, the instruction from above was that the most important news item was the fact the capital’s port workers had won a national productivity competition. All the while, an alien attack was devastating Havana.

Dariela Aquique

Dariela Aquique: I remember my years as a high school student, especially that teacher who would interrupt the reading of works and who with surprising histrionics spoke of the real possibilities of knowing more about the truth of a country through its writers than through historical chronicles. From there came my passion for writing and literature. I had excellent teachers (sure, those were not the days of the Fast-track Teachers) and extemporization and the non-mastery of subjects was not tolerated. With humble pretenses, I want to contribute to revealing the truth about my country, where reality always overcomes fiction, but where a novel style shrouds its existence.

3 thoughts on “What the Cuban Press Says and How it Says It

  • Thanks for a learning experience.
    Religions persist because of what some believe is humanity’s inherent desire to create deities to explain all the mysteries that so dominated life from way back some 100,000 years ago and even to the present day when science has pretty much explained how the universe works.
    Religion is force-fed to infants held in their mother/father’s arms in church and that from-birth indoctrination coupled with the social criticism that comes from dropping out of the God Club in one’s family is a most powerful reason for the persistence of belief in the supernatural not only in God but in angels to the extent that some 75% of Americans believe in angels and in Europe , even in Italy the home of the Vatican , you cannot ask that question without them looking at you as if you were asking if they believe in the Volcano God or the Flying Spaghetti Monster.
    Religion is most certainly behind the Charlie Hebdo attacks .
    Islam is now as dangerous as was Christianity/The R.C. Church when they were burning heretics in the name of God. .
    The GOUSAU, whether it realizes it or not is in a transition from fighting blowback from its imperial ( for money) wars everywhere to now fighting against a jihad : an Islamic holy war in which these atavistic believers , these nouveau barbarians are fighting a war to force us all to live as they do: in total subservience to a murderous religion.
    Go out and buy Christopher Hitchens’ book ” God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything . The title and subtitles really say what the book does prove and in a fashion you’ve never seen before and from perspectives science now makes possible , It radically changed my perspective and his logic and facts are unassailable , as were his magnificent abilities with the English language .
    His English is a joy to both listen to and to read.
    His logic and debating skills are prodigious.
    But again..it is not radical Islam that is the problem . It is the total obedience to hashed-over and redacted hadiths ( testimonials) and the Koran as interpreted by as crazy an imam as you choose to listen to .
    Like the TV evangelists on US TV who are predicting that the end times are here and we must defend Israel in order that prophesy be made true.
    That the JEWISH Son O’God will then return to save………..????
    The JEWS ?
    Those who are expecting to be “raptured ” ( btw, a hysterically funny crazy-Christian concept and they made an unintentionally funny movie from one of the “Left Behind ” religious -Christian-crazy novels .
    In about ten years it will be a cult classic and with a little legalized pot, a very, very funny -if sad -movie.
    Sorry- all religions which are based on a supernatural being are real only to the people who have stopped thinking as God Controls Everything seems to suffice in most religious people for deep research into the universe; how and why it exists and where it’s going.
    As Bill Maher ( U.S. comedian TV host) said : “Religion is making a virtue out of not thinking ” .
    If you believe that God is omniscient and omnipotent, then that God is handling everything , has created everything , knows when you are sleeping, he knows when you’re awake He knows if you’ve been bad or good …………..and in the Christian version , if you’ve been bad then you are not merely admonished to be good for goodness sake but cast into the fire and torment of Hell for an eternity .
    And the Muslims are the crazy ones……… right ?
    Right…them too. .
    Like the Christians during the Crusades, Inquisition, burning of witches and heretical scientists, the Muslims are in a modern world that doubts their religion and they are so insecure in those beliefs for some very obvious reasons having to do with this being the 21st century and not the 14th that like those good Christians of a just few centuries ago and the anti-Semitic, Catholic Church-driven propaganda against the Jews: The Christ Killers of the Holocaust just 70 years which culminated in Hitler’s Holocaust doings.
    There was a huge anti-Semitic community right across Europe and into Russia that resulted in the diaspora Jews being relentlessly persecuted and all for a fiction: That THEY killed the Son Of God who BTW was sent by his rather humanly brutal Father to be killed to forgive all our sins.
    In which case the Jews should have been receiving candy and flowers for life from every now-saved Christian for causing his death and our collective vicarious redemptions .
    See what happens when you try to make sense out of religion ?
    It is a poison that deadens the intellect .

    Reply
  • “the media – … only report what they want to and do so in accordance with their interests. That is why some incidents are given broad coverage, others very little and, of course, some none at all.”
    Sounds like CNN, BBC, VOA, ABC, CBS, etc..
    great.

    Reply
    • Partially true, although exaggerated. However keep in mind that those of us in the free world also have total access to Al Jazeera, the current edition of Granma, The Moscow Times, the newsletter of the Communist Party of the US, etc. etc. etc.

      Reply

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