Neither Pravda nor Granma nor the NY Times

By Martin Guevara

HAVANA TIMES – Today there are not two blocs like when the mutual mistrust between Russia and the US and their satellites arose. When such blocs existed, in terms of information it was noticeably worse in the socialist one. Not only could one not be informed of anything published by the “enemy” press, but you could not even chew gum or eat a hamburger, buy a Ford, or travel to a capitalist country. There was even a fabric considered to be an enemy product: the blue jean, “pitusa” in Cuban.

When it was not oppressive it was suffocating. TASS gave the order from the USSR and Cuba’s Prensa Latina, as well as each agency of the CAME countries, then COMECON and the like, had to publish what they said and not deviate an iota.

Let’s use our memory. Of course, we have seen more manipulation than the horror of tendentious management of the news in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and Bush’s wars in Iraq or Afghanistan. Much more, to limits that today seem dystopian.

For example, we in Cuba did not know anything about the deterioration of the European socialist camp, until the overnight fall of communism in Germany, Poland, and until it fell completely. We didn’t know about the strikes of the Solidarity union, which were some of the largest in the world. The Cuban press told us that there were just a few hotheads manipulated by the CIA.

When the Chernobyl disaster occurred, the Granma and Pravda newspapers reported that there had been a small release of radioactive material and that it had only affected “two workers”, I remember it as if I were reading it today.

Then years later when I found out that it had been the worst nuclear accident in history, I was overwhelmed by a mixture of anger and sorrow, thinking of how many more things they must have lied to us about every day for so many years. I suppose in all events that were of interest to them. From there was born what we came to say in Cuba, that the only true information from Granma was the date.

Many times, even generals who actively participate in wars, after years suffer from serious depression upon learning that they were used with spurious excuses for perverse purposes and with objectives completely different from those declared.

In Las Malvinas (Falkland Islands), until the very day of the surrender of the Argentine troops, the press said that Argentina was winning, that the British were almost defeated. Hitler himself, at the same time that he sent the population to the sewers and tunnels of Berlin, where a little later, in the cruellest way, he ordered to sacrifice them, he ordered to publish that even when Germany was making notable and notorious sacrifices, however, they were winning the war, when they had literally lost everything.

The same thing happened with Russia in Afghanistan. Likewise, with the United States in Vietnam, when after sacrificing the lives of two million Vietnamese from bombings, shooting, Napalm, Agent Orange, and people were running towards the few helicopters that had not left the devastated area, their press told its public opinion that it could still be won. However, it must be said that, in any case, it was the best reported war, in which a high point of journalistic excellence was reached, more thanks to the struggle and emancipation of the journalists than to impartial information licenses of the media. It should also be said that in New York there were hardly any media outlets that supported the war, due to the parade of US casualties and, in that instance, due to the generalized universal disrepute.

Each society is sensitive to different emotional stimuli. In Cuba, to keep the morale up to support the sending of troops to Angola, Mozambique and Ethiopia, they emphasized the hunger and the extremely poor living conditions of their populations and the cruelty of their exploiters.

In the United States, what the media can never show are US soldiers returning home in coffins, the images of crates getting off planes have more than once turned public opinion against a war that they initially supported. Images of children hit by Napalm did much more damage outside the United States than inside.

In Russia, unlike in the US, since the enormous battles of World War II, culminating in Stalingrad and Leningrad, which ended in mythical resistance, showing the dead who fell in combat increases the commitment of the people, although less so with the troops. What is not recommended there is to show the steadfast resistance of the enemy troops and much less of common people of the town.

It happened in Afghanistan, Chechnya and could happen in Ukraine if the war drags on for longer than is recommended and Zelensky gives the appearance in the networks and media of exercising exactly such resistance.

The Red Army’s history of greatness is in resistance, not in attack. For the ordinary Russian greatness lies in resistance, for the average US citizen, in “kicking ass.” They have reverse histories. The US strong point is to invade, they were never invaded. Each country has its Achilles heel and the media knows it very well.

On the other hand, the first sacrifice that is carried out in all wars, since the beginning of time, is at the expense of the truth.

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2 thoughts on “Neither Pravda nor Granma nor the NY Times

  • Excellent article. As are all articles from Martin.
    The ‘truth’ was easier to control in years gone by.
    A limited amount of media outlets and no internet.
    These days scoundrels such as trump and Putin attempt to control media and refute the factual but there are so many ways in which people can access versions which differ from those that suit the people in power.
    Martin mentions the Falklands (Las Malvinas). From the British side there were very strict reporting restrictions. All media was censored throughout the ten week conflict.
    I forget the name of the military guy from the USA who said something along the lines of ‘If we had the same control over the media in Vietnam that the British had in the Falklands we woulda won the war’.

  • The British invaded washinton in 1812
    Pancho villa raided El Paso twice

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