Distorted News About Cuba

Elio Delgado Legon

Bauta, west of Havana. Photo: ecured.cu

HAVANA TIMES — To my surprise, I came across a piece of news in Havana Times that was originally published by DPA, an article dealing with the murder of four men at a farm near Baracoa beach, in the Cuban province of Artemisa. The facts presented are completely distorted, such that, without lying, the article becomes libelous.

The news agency gives the article the following title: “Four Dead and Six Detained in an Attempt to Flee Cuba.” The headline leads one to think that Cuban authorities killed four men and detained six others because they were attempting to “flee” the country.

First of all, the news piece insists on using the term “fleeing” to refer to the act of leaving the country illegally. This gives the action a different connotation, as “fleeing” is used to describe what a person who breaks out of prison does. Second of all, the headline throws those killed and those detained into the same mix, as though those responsible for these two separate actions were the same people.

The first paragraph reads: “At least four people died and an additional six were detained during an attempt to flee the country by a group of Cuban citizens, the island’s authorities have reported.” Again, those killed and those detained are thrown together in an “incident”, maliciously trying to portray something false, as murder is not exactly an “incident.”

The official government statement used to prepare the ill-intentioned news piece said the following: “In the afternoon of Tuesday, June 10, the bodies of four idividuals who had been violently killed were found at the Niña Bonita farm, in the town of Playa Baracoa, Bauta, province of Artemisa.”

“According to the preliminary results of an investigation being undertaken by a multidisciplinary team, the crime is linked to an alleged attempt to leave the country illegally, financed from abroad.”

“To date, six of the individuals involved have been detained. Authorities will continue to inform the population about the case.”

As can be seen, the “incident” in question is a multiple homicide that the authorities are investigating. The authorities have detained six individuals to determine whether they took part in the crime or not, not because they were attempting to leave the country illegally.

A second statement by the Ministry of the Interior tells us that 11 people have already been detained, publishes the names of those killed and concludes as follows: “A group of detainees is currently under investigation for the purposes of identifying the perpetrators and determining the motives behind these regrettable events.”

Though the article published by DPA offers additional details about the case, journalists who handle this kind of information and give it a biased twist know well that most readers only read the headline and the first paragraph of a news piece (and only continue reading if they find the article interesting), as the pace of today’s world does not allow people to read full articles.

Knowing this, the journalist predictably uses the headline and the first paragraph to convey information that has been totally distorted, with a view to offering world public opinion a negative image of Cuban reality.

21 thoughts on “Distorted News About Cuba

  • WTF are you talking about? Read the entire thread.

    You have no shame .

  • Well said !
    My rule of thumb is to listen to what the U.S. State Department, the corporate media and the radio talk-show entertainers have to say about Cuba and either believe that the opposite is true or read between the lines to glean the truth.
    I personally recommend ZNet as a source to verify or gainsay the three right-wing sources listed above on the major issues .
    Their archives go very deep.

  • It happens that a great many contributors -those who respond to articles -are far-right anti-communists or simple-mindedly opposed to the Castro brothers as if Cuba would be far different were they to disappear .
    Circles runs the website which is one of the very few that permits all U.S. citizens banned from traveling to Cuba to get uncensored opinion from Cubans.
    The censorship and filtering done by the U.S. corporate media portrays an entirely different picture about life in Cuba AND THE REASONS FOR THAT HARD LIFE- than do the many diarists and writers whose articles appear at HT.
    Circles permits every opinion to be presented and does not have a quota system that permits just so many pro-revolutionary and so many counter-revolutionary viewpoints .
    It should be no secret that a great many more U.S. citizens have access to a computer, this website in particular and that being from the U.S. and heavily indoctrinated from birth to be counter-revolutionary, WILL naturally parrot the lies and propaganda long ago digested and accepted by them as truth.
    It is an open market of ideas .
    As an anarchist and one centered on democratic societal institutions, I do not understand your complaint.

  • Oh, you mean like Cecily McMillian ?

  • In the Cuban legal system convictions are based on all crimes.

    You make up all kinds of excuses.

    Antunez was indeed convicted and charged various times with “disorderly conduct”, “enemy propaganda”, “disrespect”, … all politically motivated charges under Cuba’s repressive laws.

    Human rights abuses are indeed “unfair” and need to be “repelled regardless of our individual opinions”.

    Note: propaganda enemiga, or “enemy propaganda.” It states that anyone who incites against the social order, international solidarity or the socialist state by means of verbal, written or any other kind of propaganda, or who makes, distributes or possesses such propaganda, can be imprisoned from between one to eight years. Anyone who spreads false news or malicious predictions likely to cause alarm or discontent among the population, or public disorder, can be imprisoned from between one and four years. If the mass media are used, the sentence can be from seven to fifteen years in prison.

  • Whatever Mr Robinson’s ideological self-perception, it is completely irrelevant to the anti-socialist tone of the website he edits. That tone is formed objectively by the aggregate of the contributors.

    If Mr Robinson considers himself to be socialist and pro-Cuban then his actual situation as promoter of a pseudo-left anti-Cuban site is all the more pitiable.

  • Right. Atunez was probably also charged with using his throat to assault a state security agent’s arm.

    While sleeping.

    In his own bed.

  • “So your view is that because Elio is pro-Castro and I am anti-Castro, we should not exchange opinions?”

    No. It’s not about you at all, Moses.

    My view is about Elio featuring as the token leftist contributor on an anti-Cuban site, not about his potential interactions with an egocentric imperialist troll.

  • I did not error in my comment. Just a little more than a week ago one of Cuba’s most respected dissidents, Jorge Luís García Pérez, widely known as Antúnez, said he was battered and choked into unconsciousness in a police station in Santa Clara, according to the Miami Herald. State security officials warned Antúnez to stop collecting signatures on a petition condemning international efforts to reduce US sanctions against Cuba.

  • Perhaps you could ask the editor of Havana Times, Circles Robinson, if he considers himself as “anti-Cuban, anti-socialist”. He does not strike me as such.

  • Elio, the verb “to flee” is morally neutral. One can innocently flee an assailant, just as a criminal can flee the scene of a crime. These people were indeed fleeing Cuba, which they felt compelled to do because they could no leave legally.

    Incidentally, I can leave my country anytime I like. There is no such thing as “leaving the country illegally” in Canada.

  • Sorry, buddy, but it’s you who needs to get his facts straight.

    Angel Santiesteban was falsely accused and falsely convicted for domestic violence against his wife.

    Jorge Luis Garcia (aka Antúnez) was arrested (again) on Wednesday, June 11th, 2014 in the manner Moses described above. He & his wife were jumped upon by state security police while he & his wife were asleep in bed

    Go ahead, you can look it up.

  • Read again what I said. He was charged with several accounts, of those one was disrespecting Fidel (I assume the actual charge was either libel of defamation).

    As you should know, in the Cuban legal system, the conviction is based on the WORST offense, any accessory offense acts as modifier to the baseline fine / jail time. In his particular case, I doubt that “disrespect to authority” was the worst offense (he was after all caught in an anti-government rally), but it most likely made the judge less prone to leniency in the conviction (not to mention that it looks better in the international headlines).

    I personally think that is wrong to convict someone based solely on that, but both libel and defamation are crimes under most western jurisdictions and either way, if thats the law of the country it has to be either obeyed or repelled regardless of our individual opinions. Unfair? Sure, but thats the way it works.

    That cleared, my intention was not to point out who was right or wrong, but to show that the extreme polarization of the Cuba issues even amongst posters is a big problem. Moses rather trivial mistake is not even the point here, the point is that he stated his own opinion as if it was a fact to advance his position and thats the same mistake EVERY news source makes about Cuba.

    The end result is always the same: distortion of facts and both sides are equally guilty of the same. That should not be a surprise to anyone, to me the real news is that someone expected unbiased reporting on anything related to Cuba o_O

  • So your view is that because Elio is pro-Castro and I am anti-Castro, we should not exchange opinions? That is similar to the positions, for example, taken by the websites CubaDebate and Pupila Insomne. They do not publish comments from anti-Castro commenters. Why do extreme leftists fear anti-socialist commentary and debate? For that matter, why does the Castro regime fear free speech? Is it because you realize that your viewpoints, if challenged, will not stand up to scrutiny and logic? This website, Havana Times, should be commended for its openness. It is available to everyone, even folks like you to comment as you wish. The fact is that when a building falls down in Havana and kills people, an HT writer will post an article about it. It must be hard for even someone like you to see the positive side of things, especially when your head is as far up the Castros butt as it seems to be.

  • Do you feel that “disrespecting Fidel” is a real crime.
    How would you feel if “disrespecting Bush / Obama / Blair / Hollande / …” would be a crime?

    The crime of “disrespect”:

    Article 144, which defines the crime of desacato, or “disrespect.” It states that anyone who threatens, slanders, defames, insults, harms or in anyway outrages or offends, verbally or in writing, the dignity or honor of an authority, public official, or their agents or auxiliaries, in the exercise of their functions or because of them can be imprisoned for between three months and one year or fined or both. If the act of disrespect is directed at the head of state or other senior officials the penalty is a prison term from one to three years.

  • The DPA and BCC are more impartial than any Cuban official source.
    I would also not call this site “anti-socialist”. It has been flagged by others as being “pro-Castro”. It surely shows no bias in favor of anyone ant-Castro.

  • Elio, I am surprised that you are surprised to find vicious anti-Cuban propaganda from imperialist news factories like DPA (or BBC) published here. That’s par for the course in the pages of the anti-Cuban, anti-socialist Havana Times, just as in the rest of the anti-Cuban blogosphere.

    The real oddity, Elio, is your presence on the site. I can understand why Havana Times wants you, because your open support for socialism stands out among the haters who make up the bulk of the contributors and thereby lends a spurious appearance of non-partisanship to the site. What I don’t understand is why you want to participate and thereby help this anti-Cuban, anti-socialist site to fly the false flag of its pseudo-leftism.

  • Case in point, you are mixing Jorge Luis Garcia (aka Antúnez) with Angel Santiesteban and talking like they were the same person. I know that is fairly hard to figure out who is who in the Cuban dissidence, but c’mon, at least get your facts right:

    -Angel Santiesteban was accused and convicted for domestic violence against his wife

    -Jorge Luis García Pérez was charged in 2000 for his participation in a rally against the government and the charges include disrespecting Fidel Castro

    Different people, different wives, different charges, confusing headlines, lot of opinions floating all around and stated as facts, but truth? There is some somewhere… probably.

  • Lol, EVERY S I N G L E news article about Cuba is HEAVILY distorted one way or another depending on the political lens used by the person who writes the article. The best you can hope is trying to aggregate different sources making sure you have the same news from different perspectives and try to figure out WTH really happened.

    Is a sad affair of things, and I’m sure there could be some mythical neutral party reporting facts instead of propaganda, but the rule of thumb regarding Cuba is “distrust and verify”

  • Wow! This is weird. A Castro sycophant like Elio complaining about news distortion? This is the same guy that goes deaf and blind when the ‘Ladies in White’ are detained, beaten and arrested. He never said a word when Castro’s thugs broke into the home of Jorge Luis García “Antúnez” in the middle of the night recently and arrested him and wife allegedly charged with “disrespecting Fidel”. But let a poorly worded headline that reflects poorly on the regime slip through the cracks…..

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