Cuba’s Political Analysts & Syria

Erasmo Calzadilla

Cristina Escobar is a new face on the Cuban Round Table program.

HAVANA TIMES — For some years now, Cuban television viewers have had the “pleasure” of seeing three new faces in the field of international political analysis: Walter Martinez, the host of Telesur’s program Dossier, Oliver Zamora, who has a light opinion segment in the Sunday news and Cristina Escobar, the new host of the Mesa Redonda Informativa (Cuba’s well-known round table program)

I had hopes that Zamora and Cristina, who are very young, would bring some changes to these programs. Not radical changes, we can’t ever expect that. I was simply hoping they would address a broader variety of issues, and approach these with a different perspective, or at least a less Manichean and over-simplified conception of reality.

I was also hoping that Walter Martinez, who was educated in the “free world”, would not be as crassly biased towards a fiction, sorry, faction, as his peers are. Today, I no longer have any hopes at all. They have settled into their niche and do not seem to be exploring any new ways of doing things.

Take a concrete example: the conflict in Syria.

When these media professionals address this issue, they assume an almost shameful unilateral position.

The responsibility for the crisis, the deaths, the displacement of persons and human suffering is always totally and invariably laid on Western powers, who are adding fuel to the flames in order to protect their geo-strategic interests in the region.

I don’t doubt that this is so, but that is only part of the story, and it may not even be the most important part.

In their respective commentaries, these analysts never, under any circumstance, care to mention the political and social situation that spawned the present conflict.

At the most, they allude to religious differences. They never make reference to the absence of political liberties, the shameless violation of human rights, the lack of constitutional guarantees and the way an elite dynasty has used a firm hand to remain in power for over 40 years gets richer and richer. Of course, they also keep mum about the crimes against civilian populations perpetrated by the Syrian army since the beginning of the conflict.

I am not repeating what the mass media at the service of Capital or the Syrian Human Rights Observatory is saying. My main references are Left-wing analysts who aren’t often accused of double standards.

These analysts did the same thing during the conflict in Libya: they didn’t say a word about Gadhafi’s crimes, but they pulled their hairs out because they were about to destroy the African country with the highest standard of living in the continent. A country’s standard of living is an issue of the essence, no one is questioning that. But, is it the only thing that matters?

Isn’t the dignity of citizens, trampled on by deified rulers, important? Aren’t human rights important? Aren’t we interested in issues such as ownership over the means of production, hegemony, the exploitation of workers, land distribution, the situation of women, and others that are the traditional concerns of the Left?

It seems as though these analysts reduce all of the world’s conflicts to a simplified comic-strip plot: the neo-liberal Empire and its lackeys want to take over the world, while we, the renegades (with Venezuela, China, Iran and Russia leading), fight to prevent this.

That an alienated television viewer should have such views would be understandable, but that a professional analyst should do so is a serious issue, for that would entail a kind of conscious complicity in crimes against humanity and the premeditated manipulation of public opinion.

In short, we have new faces and a fresh, light-hearted approach of informing the public, but the same propagandistic junk of old. The Cuban Communist Party continues at the helm.

Erasmo Calzadilla

Erasmo Calzadilla: I find it difficult to introduce myself in public. I've tried many times but it doesn’t flow. I’m more less how I appear in my posts, add some unpresentable qualities and stir; that should do for a first approach. If you want to dig a little deeper, ask me for an appointment and wait for a reply.

2 thoughts on “Cuba’s Political Analysts & Syria

  • “I had hopes that Zamora and Cristina, who are very young, would bring some changes to these programs.” Are you kidding me? Don’t be so naïve.Television announcers have NO editorial influence over the content of their broadcasts. Even with programs that seem to be open discussions, these announcers have been ‘coached’ as to what is to be said and what is off-limits. The Information Ministry tightly controls the message. The only ‘personal’ opinions allowed are the ones that line up exactly with the state. Anybody who knows Cubans knows that Cubans love to argue. It is a national sport. So how is it that they never disagree on these programs?

  • It’s unlikely the Cuban government would allow an open and honest discussion of the Syrian crisis. The Cuban ambassador to the UN has staunchly defended the regime of Bashir el-Assad, voting against sanctions. When the Syrian diplomat, Mohsen Bilal, described as a “special envoy” of Assad, visited Cuba in June, 2013, he met with CUban Vice-President Diaz-Canel.

    It would be interesting to hear a report about what they discussed, but it might prove a bit awkward.

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