Elio Delgado Legon
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.