The Impunity of Cuba’s Media

Yenisel Rodriguez Perez

HAVANA TIMES — In a country where news programs offer very little space for true public opinion and silence the discourse of the political opposition entirely, one can expect news to be completely skewed and for no one to feel the need to defend its coherence and significance.

The lack of journalistic professionalism is evident in the way the official news disguises a change in the country’s policies.

One of the causes of this phenomenon is the monopoly over Cuban television which the State maintains. Within it, official journalists answer to practically no ethical principles.

Some time ago, to mention one example, a vigorous campaign condemning the production of transgenic foods around the world was launched by the evening broadcasts of Cuba’s National Television News (NTV). These were the times when Fidel Castro had a more significant presence in Cuba’s political panorama, a fact which gave the campaign the touch of catastrophism that the leader always brought to his ecological militancy.

The verdict at the time was unequivocal: the legalization, production and sale of transgenic food products were part and parcel of the financial imperialism of agro-industrial transnational companies seeking to appropriate the agricultural heritage of the Third World.

Several NTV broadcasts showed statistics on the damages to people’s health, domestic economies and local production brought about by these genetically altered products. These same news programs announced the screening of documentaries that delved into the issue in depth and demonstrated the economic, political and ethical unsustainability of transgenic food production.

Some weeks ago, to the surprise of many, this same news program reported that transgenic crops would be introduced into Cuba – a 180-degree-turn which makes no mention of the campaign in which the program enumerated the disastrous consequences that a decision of this nature had on the food sovereignty of countries and the health of consumers.

The impunity with which journalists lie becomes even more evident when one knows, beforehand, that the “preliminary studies” referred to have been in the works for a very long time and have actually been denounced by eco-activists, who lost their jobs for revealing this State secret.

Everywhere, the media respond to the interests of their owners: the State, the market, international organizations, popular movements and others. Many a time – almost all the time – these interests define how the news is made.

In Cuba, however, the State media know no limit in their subservience to those who pay their bills. They are perhaps outdone only by North Korea’s totalitarian information system, to risk an analogy.

Cuba is stifled by an official discourse that says what it pleases, to the stupefaction of the people, degrading the national debate beyond the limits of imagination.

Yenisel Rodriguez

Yenisel Rodriguez Perez: I have lived in Cuba my entire life, except for several months in 2013 when I was in Miami with my father. Despite the 90 miles that separate Havana and Miami, I find profound reasons in both for political and community activism. My encounter with socio-cultural anthropology eight years ago prepared me for a commitment of love for cultural diversity.

18 thoughts on “The Impunity of Cuba’s Media

  • June 28, 2015 at 11:03 pm

    I said nothing about single source in Cuba. Although in very many cases, that is the reality. Why can’t we fix ourselves AND help Cuba at the same time?

  • June 28, 2015 at 11:41 am

    Cuba indeed has a variety of news sources that are not state run. It is untrue that any country in the history of the world could have existed without an outlet of its own, uncontrolled by the state. It is impossible to enforce such a regime. Yes, Internet is not as readily available, but the sources do exist, as they always have. Blogs are prevalent, Marti media from the US are prevalent, and people share information, to mention a few. Eleven million people is not that great of a population to make it impossible for the flow of information to happen.

    It is also offensive for Cubans to presume that people in Cuba are simply stupid for thinking that all they are served is true. They are no different from us, and your argument sounds like the old slavery-defense argument (I am sure it wasn’t intended, though)–they are incapable of discerning the truths themselves, so let us do it for them. If we wish any contact at all with anyone in the world, we need to primarily address everyone with respect.

    In the end, as far as I am concerned, it is their own system, and I really don’t care how they lead their own country. It doesn’t affect me in the least. However, what we live in the US affects me deeply, and I am seriously concerned with our own state of media freedoms. I do wish to see my country as great as it had been before all of the massive trade deals starting with China (look what we are buying! Is China buying any of our goods? Of course not), NAFTA, CAFTA, now TPP and TTIP. Thirty years ago China was a third world country, and now it’s a super power because of Nixon’s deal with it. How is that not disconcerting?

    We hear about the TPP and TTIP only by dissident voices, and not in the corporate media. We cannot even know legally what is in there! How is that Constitutional?

    Sorry for the long message. In effect what I am trying to say is the following–let us join forces and fix our system to be as good as it had been (at least job-wise) before the Nixon’s era of “free” trades. Let us call our Senators and House Representatives and tell them to stop exporting our jobs with the trade agreements as TPP and TTIP. Cuba can fend for itself. We need our human resource power for us to help ourselves.

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