Inside Cuba’s Party Newspaper

Aida Calviac Mora headed the International Section of Granma daily.
Aida Calviac Mora headed the International Section of Granma daily.

HAVANA TIMES — For decades Cuba’s official Communist Party daily Granma has strived to present the island as a country of monumental David versus Goliath efforts, near utopian wellbeing and willing to share its progress with other nations.

At the same time it has painted the rest of the world as being mired in inequalities and poverty, especially its arch rival the USA, presented as a virtual hell on earth, with a never-ending desire to control Cuba.

Granma specializes in a black and white picture of the planet, of good and evil where the governments of Cuba’s allies can do no wrong and its enemies no right.

One of the journalists in charge of presenting the rest of the world to Cubans over recent years was Aida Calviac Mora a 29-year-old woman who left Granma in 2012, where she headed its international section. She came to Granma in 2007 after graduating from university, notes Café Fuerte.

Aida is now in Miami, and telling her account of the Cuban media and the frustrations faced by young journalists wanting to do a more professional job.  She appeared on the TV program El Espejo and voiced the frustration of being part of a type of journalism she said is detached from the realities and information needs of the Cuban population.

Calviac said that the country’s leaders and those in charge of the media continue to be trapped in a “siege mentality” which goes against any attempt at professional journalism.

The following is part one of an interview (in Spanish) on the Miami TV program El Espejo with Calviac and her husband Abel González Veranes, who had been a reporter for Radio Rebelde, the leading Cuban radio station.

28 thoughts on “Inside Cuba’s Party Newspaper

  • I visit as family. Does that count?

  • Visit Cuba not as a critic, and not just the nostalgia of Habana City but get to other provinces and township,you will love it,don’t be afraid off being mugged the most ,i got was mugged with was smiles.

  • That link was supposed to take you to Fidel Castro’s ZSpace Page, but the linking process doesn’t work. Take my word for it, or do a search at ZNet.

  • I noticed even this guy has a page at ZNet:

    Does George W Bush have a regular page on a Cuban based website?

    Diversity and freedom of the press is still alive and well in the USA. Not so much in Cuba (or Venezuela, Ecuador, North Korea…)

  • Yes, Cubans are free to think. They simply are not allowed to express those thoughts publicly. Most Americans have neither a good nor bad impression of Cuba or Cubans. Most Americans couldn’t find Cuba on a map nor name 5 famous Cubans. Most Americans don’t know if Fidel Castro is alive or dead and don’t care either way. US media has largely ignored Cuba and the result is indifference.

  • What you just posted above indicates clearly that you did not and have not read anything at Znet past the first two sentences .
    ZNet does not present its own ( anarchist) views except in separate parts of the website .
    It presents articles and essays from authors of varying political stripes from around the world that are pertinent to current events .
    You have been caught in a lie.
    Define ” crappy” and especially as ZNet compares to the NYT as far as intellectual content goes.
    Third , you yourself stated in a previous post that the inequitable distribution of wealth in the U.S is a serious problem .
    Wealth is not evil. Nothing at ZNet ever said that.
    A hugely inequitable distribution of that wealth certainly should be considered evil were you to be a practicing Christian.
    You’re spouting catch phrases from right wing radio entertainers which does not make for a serious argument.
    I thank you for being such an inept liar . You have proven what many recent studies have found and that is that e on the moron right cannot and will not look at anything that seriously challenges their preconceived and erroneous thinking .
    You need to think about this .

  • Moses,
    You make the historical error of accepting that there were two countries; North Vietnam and South Vietnam when they were creations of the U.S in contravention of the Geneva Accords signed between France and Vietnam.
    As specified in that agreement to which the U.S was NOT a signatory , the country was to be divided TEMPORARILY along the 19th parallel and reunited no more than two years later by that election.
    Your statistics on the numbers of total Vietnamese, Laotians and Cambodians killed by that U.S. intervention and denial of independence from colonial France are self-serving fictions that seek to minimize the brutality of that war in which the U.S dropped more tonnage in bombs than were dropped in all of WWII .
    That the Vietnamese who wound up fighting the U.S for some 23 years when you factor in 1950-54 during which the U.S funded 80% of the French war there fought for as long as they did and held the U.S to a draw at best is indicative of their will to be independent and also indicative of the fact that Ho Chi Minh would have won any vote held easily .
    Of course you never question the U.s right to decide for a country what sort of society they will have .
    What those people want is irrelevant to you because you’re an imperialist.

  • You are being a pest! I have and do read that crappy ZNET. I don’t agree with their basic worldviews. I like earning money and I believe I deserve to keep the money I have earned. It seems to me that the politics of envy govern the views of the extreme left. There is an implied bias against wealth. I do not share that perspective. Move on.

  • First, you should admit you were wrong, or intentionally misleading, when you wrote that the US killed millions of Vietnamese. Second, assuming Ho Chi Minh would have been elected with 80%, it was widely accepted that the electoral process in Vietnam at that time was worse than corrupt. OBVIOUSLY, I did not list the number of South Vietnamese who were killed because your error had to do with the number of North Vietnamese killed by the US. Our ally, the South Vietnamese, largely killed by the NVA were not relevant to our exchange.

  • Some do, most don’t. Don’t you read the statistics about the number of Cubans not returning home since travel restrictions were lifted ?

  • Agreed. I think the proof is in the pudding. Being interested in Cuba, I see it all the time. Look at the perception of Cuba in most Americans eyes. It is almost comical, in its inaccuracy and uniformity. Fidel is really brutal, making, lets say Trujiillo look like a pusseygato. He has executed tens or hundreds of thousands of people.He is a hedonistic billionaire. People are starving. Spies and snitches are everywhere. Everyone is yearning to vote in US style elections. Everyone would leave if they got the chance. Where does everyone get these ideas? They were implanted somewhere. I lived in Europe many years, before I went to Cuba, and that is the first thing that impressed me about people there. They are, or were, freer to think for themselves, without the cradle to grave ideological contraints that exist in the US. Many Italians refer to Americans as bambinone = big children – because of their unsophisticated,upside down and good-evil views of the world. That is why US ridicule of other country’s cruder forms of propaganda is so out of place. Our leaders have been as successful as anybody in engineering peoples perceptions to their benefit.

  • I’m waiting for your answer.

  • What was the purpose of the U.S. .invasion of Vietnam ?
    You needn’t look it up.
    Between 1950 and 1954 the U.S supported the French in trying to recolonize the country -not allow the Vietnamese independence.
    When the French lost and made peace in 1954 the two warring parties made an agreement which TEMPORARILY divided the country at the 19th parallel with those who favored independence going north and those who favored staying a French colony going south.
    The agreement said that there would be a free and fair election in 1956 that would reunify the country .
    The U.S UNILATERALLY set up a separate government in the south which cancelled the scheduled election because, as President Eisenhower himself acknowledged , Ho Chi Minh ( a nationalist ) would have won 80% of the vote.
    So you can quibble about whether the U.S was responsible for killing 200,000 or 3 million Vietnamese but it does not obviate the fact that the U.S. intervened to prevent a democratic election just as it did in some 54 instances after WWII and detailed in “Killing Hope” : a book you will not, cannot read .
    By intervening the U.S can be said to be the cause of all the deaths that followed 1956 .
    I notice that you did not list the numbers of south Vietnamese killed and for obvious reasons

  • I.C.
    If the failings if Cuba are all internal , then why the necessity of the ongoing and 54-year old economic war on the island by the U.S. ?
    Why don’t you and the U.S. just back away , normalize relations and let the Cuban society collapse of its own internal contradictions ?
    The reason is obvious to me and the Cuban people who have resisted this economic war waged upon them and all the hardships they must endure because they know that they have a better system and that the future will be better once the U.S calls off its hostilities and allows the Cubans the society THEY want. .

  • Wrong as usual. The failures of Cuba are the failures of communist central planning and a authoritarian regime that concentrates power in hands of a person called Castro.

  • According to Vietnamese government estimates, the US military is blamed for the death of as many as 200,000 North Vietnamese soldiers and civilians. Cambodian and Laotian casualties are harder to quantify but experts believe the number does not exceed another 100,000 deaths due to US military operations. Before and after the US military presence in Vietnam, the Vietnamese themselves are acknowledging responsibility for millions of lives lost. You play fast and loose with facts that matter to people.

  • Go back to Cuba? Are you serious? First of all, she has to wait a year and a day to retain her green card in the US. I am sure that she and her husband defected to the US for economic and professional reasons and likely have no plans to permanently return to Cuba.

  • Granma represents one side of Cuban news and life just as the corporate media in the U.S. does.
    You have to read both sides of an issue at length and until it reaches a conclusion such as the WMD issue .
    Then you see who was telling the truth .
    If , like you , you read and view only the corporate media which agrees with your preconceived ideas of what the truth is, you are in the same situation as a Cuban who reads only Granma and Juventad Rebelde .
    ZNet regularly reprints a number of author’s articles which present factual, scholarly and well-balanced news and views on Cuba.
    I fully understand your reason for avoiding comparing the NYT with the NYT Examiner website which exists solely to show the NYT for the yellow rag it is and to also avoid reading the daily articles at ZNet which is one of the few antidotes to the lies of the corporate media.
    Your “facts” will not, cannot stand up under the scrutiny and the truth of things these two websites publish .
    I know this because I have long read, viewed, listened to both the corporate media and these and a number of alternative websites and I know from long debating experience that those who have always gotten their info from the corporate media and are deeply tied to what it presents as the truth , CANNOT and WILL NOT look at the info at websites like ZNet and the NYTExaminer because of the fear of being proven wrong.
    If you have another reason . I’d like to know it.
    What do you or anyone have to lose by reading an alternative view of things ?

  • I am repeating this for the umpteenth time and will continue to continue posting it as often as people like I.C. make it necessary.
    The U.S has a 100 year history of overthrowing left and democratic movements around the world.
    Cuba is part of that history .
    The 54 year-old economic war necessitated by the U.S ‘s inability to militarily invade Cuba and overthrow the revolution by killing millions as it did in Vietnam has succeeded in making life very hard for all Cubans .
    This is the explicit purpose for this economic war and it is what hypocrites like I.C and Moses supports and then points to as a failing of the state run economy in Cuba ( which is NOT socialism since it is totalitarian. )
    People are leaving Cuba for the same reason all Latin Americans and people from the Caribbean leave for the U.S. : poverty.
    The big difference between the Cubans and all others is that Cuba alone in the hemisphere is having that economic war waged upon it .
    Were the U.S to call it off ( which they will not do for about ten years ) Cubans would be much better off and would not be leaving at the rate they have since that economic war and the “wet foot-dry foot” clause which applies solely to Cubans was put in place.

  • Hope she and her hubby return to Cuba soon. Her criticism is both valid and insightful, and is just what is needed for the Cuban print and broadcast media to do its job. Even back in the late 1960’s/early 1970’s, when some of us on the first Venceremos Brigade read the clap-trap in GRANMA about the Soviet invasion of Czhechoslovakia, we perceived that it was essentially a “house organ,” like that of any corporation, covering only the positive, rather than critical, side of stories. Ditto in more recent times, covering the civil war in Syria, for example (although GRANMA need not have been an uncritical cheerleader for the Syrian opposition, as was case with the U.S. media ’til its murderous tendencies against Syrian Christians, Alawaits, Shia and Kurds was suddenly discovered). Most major media, whether in Cuba, in the States, in Europe, or elsewhere, is not objective, and the stories it chooses to cover, and how they are covered, depends on the agenda–written or unwritten–of its corporate or government owners. To arrive at the truth, the reader or viewer needs to be an active searcher–usually via the independent media and by going to a variety of sources. Fortunately, this has become a bit easier via net, but beware of the reaction now setting in for the ISP’s and major corporations to have more control over the electronic highway.
    Finally, even in the pages of GRANMA some good stories can be found; they’re more likely to be found in the pages of JUVENTUD REBELDE and some of the provincial papers. (These stories usually concern local history, sociological observations, cultural events. biographies, and other FEATURE stories.)

  • How she made it to Miami?

  • …and they continue t leave. With all the free health care and equitable society fighting against capitalism nonsense spewed on this site …..they still nonetheless continue to leave.

    Perhaps it is these folks we should listen to instead of all the “so called experts who comment on this site.

  • You criticize US “media” in general yet promote an AMERICA-based left-wing site like Z Net.
    Do you understand that a website like Z Net which, by design, is
    anti-capitalist, anti-mainstream US policy would not be allowed to exist in the very countries that the site supports? Noam Chomsky, whom you hold out as some sort of political guru, would not be permitted to be as anti-Castro in Cuba as
    he is clearly anti-US here in the ‘States. No reasonable person should dispute that all media have a degree of editorial bias. This post highlights the ongoing anti-US editorial bias of the Castro newspaper Granma. The real crime is not in the bias Granma presents. The crime is that Granma is the ONLY editorial view permitted in Cuba. You like Z Net. I like the New York Times. As
    Americans, we have choices. Cubans do not have that choice.

  • Granma is a state-controlled publication that presents just one side of things just as the corporate media does in the United States .
    The U.S media is 95% owned by about six mega-corporations and/or very wealthy individuals . NPR and PBS are financed largely by the very wealthy through grants and cannot help but cater to those wealthy as reflected in the center-right programming that dominate them .
    Of course , when any country is under attack, the newspapers and other media always take on the job of indoctrinating the population and demonizing the enemy .
    This applies to Cuba but also to the United States where both the government and the wealthy must demonize the Iraqis, the Iranians, the Cubans and any other opponents of U.S imperialism .
    The lies and distortions of the U.S corporate media far exceed those of Granma which merely presents one side in a fairly truthful manner while totally omitting the negatives of Cuban society.
    The U.S. corporate media lies about both sides of things by exaggerating the benefits of capitalism and playing down its many negatives .
    It lies about U.S aims in the world and lies about those whom it seeks to demonize.
    Those who care to test what I say here are invited to take in their news from their usual corporate media sources and then read the articles at ZNet which relate to that news and compare what you’ve been told.
    Try this for a week or two and especially on stories that have a beginning and ending in which the veracity of the two sources can be compared.
    You will not come away from that exercise with the same perspective on the U.S media as you had before.
    Do note that ZNet is thoughtful, factual and scholarly and not given to sensationalism to hold your attention .
    Neither does it have wealthy sponsors to corrupt what it presents from authors from around the world .
    My favorite quote on this would be : “Telling the American people what the U.S. is really doing in and to the world is akin to telling them of your UFO abduction except that they are far more likely to believe the latter.”
    Granma may be one-sided but you really have to seriously critique the U.S. corporate media to see the extent to which censorship ( under freedom of the press) exists .
    A well informed populace is essential to any democracy and the U.S. populace is certainly one of the most deliberately misinformed.
    And please … before jumping on the messenger ( me ) do that two-week comparison of what the corporate U.S. media presents and what is to be found at ZNet so you will not be speaking from willful ignorance .
    You have nothing to lose but some time and your illusions.

  • It’s also on the Spanish side of HT. It just took a short while to post it. Thanks for asking.

  • Question: Why is this article/reportage only published in the English version of this site?

  • No surprises here. The Castros have filtered and manipulated the news that Cubans receive for 55 years. Yet Cubans have always managed to receive tidbits of the truth through other means. Today, through family members who visit from abroad, illegal satellite reception, and now, even the internet, it has become impossible for the maintain the distortions common in the past. The amazing part is the number of Castro apologists who live abroad who have access to a broad spectrum of international news and yet still read and BELIEVE what Granma reports as news. Some of whom even comment here at HT. Truly amazing!

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