There is an abysmal gap between daily reality and the information offered by a clueless official press. Never in Granma, Juventud Rebelde (Rebel Youth) Trabajadores (Workers) or any of the 15 provincial press organs was there news of the Castro regime’s flagrant arms smuggling to North Korea in violation of the United Nations’ embargo of the Pyongyang dynasty.
The boring and disoriented national press, print, radio or television, to date, has not reported about the spaces open for dialogue by the Catholic Church. Or local news that has had resonance, like the protest by self-employed workers in Holguin or the unlikely walk by a nude woman in the city of Camaguey.
They also ignore less tense or contentious matters, like the visit to Cuba by Big League ball players Ken Griffey, Jr., and Barry Larkin or by famous people like Beyonce and her husband, rapper Jay Z.
Neither does it interest them for readers or viewers to find out that Cuban artists and musicians resident abroad visit the island and give performances, as in the cases of Isaac Delgado, Descemer Bueno and Tanya, among others.
They don’t even publish an article to analyze the insane prices for car sales or internet services.
On international topics, the old trick is to show only a part of the event. For those who only read official media and do not have access to other sources of information, those who protest in Ukraine, Venezuela or Turkey are terrorists or fascists.
In Cuba it was never published that the dictator Kim Jong Un summarily executed his uncle. Likewise, they kept silent about the atrocities that happen in the concentration camps of North Korea. And about the degrading treatment of women in Iran.
Newsprint is usually occupied by cultural commentary and sports in an undertone, the television schedule, optimistic news about agricultural production or the good progress of economic reforms dictated by President Raul Castro and his advisors.
Apparently, they considered it inopportune to inform Cubans about the talks between the Cuban-American sugar millionaire Alfonso Fanjul and Chancellor Bruno Rodriguez. Nor did they think it convenient for the common people to know that Antonio Castro, the son of Fidel, plays in golf tournaments.
Or that recently entrepreneurs with bulging wallets paid 234 thousand dollars for a handmade Montecristo tobacco humidor at the 16th Havana Festival where the most well known guest was the British singer Tom Jones.
Local reporting is directed by inflexible ideologies that presume that behind the vaunted freedom of the press is hidden a “military operation by the United States’ secret services.”
And they take it seriously. As if dealing with a matter of national security. That’s why the newspapers are soldiers of reporting. Disciplined copyists.
For the Taliban of the Communist Party, the internet and social networks are a modern way of selling capitalism from a distance. The new times have caught them without many arguments. They assert they have the truth, but the fear the citizens testing it for themselves.
Reading of certain reports should be suggested by the magnanimous State. They think, and they believe, that naive countrymen are not prepared or sufficiently inoculated for the propagandic venom of the world’s media.
Not even Raul Castro has managed to break the stubborn censorship and habitual torpor of the official press. For years, Castro has spoken of turning the press into something believable, entertaining and attractive. But nothing has changed.
Destined for foreign consumption, official web pages and blogs have been opened. With their own voice they try to promote the illusion of an opening. The warriors of the word are for domestic consumption.
Photo: Taken from the Cuadernos de Cuba blog.
Translated by mlk.
26 March 2014