While this Sunday in Libya the final hours of the Gaddafi dictatorship transpired, the official newspaper Juventud Rebelde, in an article published on page 7, affirmed, citing a Telesur report, “The Libyan government denied the alleged departure of Muammar al-Gaddafi.” According to this newspaper, echoing a Gaddafi’s spokesman, Ibrahim Mussa, such fabrications were part of NATO’s “psychological warfare and media campaign to spread panic among the population”. The spokesman added that the Libyan population responded to these slurs “with loud laughter because they do not believe that the Libyan leader will leave the country.”
Just two days before (on August 19th), page 7 of Granma stated, also citing Telesur, that “Despite constant bombardment that has killed more than 1,200 civilians, Libyans gathered in the Green Plaza confirmed their willingness to defend the nation while listening to a new audio statement from the leader Muammar al-Gaddafi”. On Thursday the 18th even Granma had omitted any reference to the situation in Libya, while a headline on page 4 on Wednesday the 17th read: “NATO admitted that the conflict in Libya ‘is far from over’.”
Over the past five months, the official Cuban press has supported the amazing audio exhortations of the Libyan satrap – vain with the arrogance that befits a dictator, but well-protected in some unknown bunker — calling on his people to sacrifice themselves for the dictatorship, and he has also presented his words as credible when he claimed “There will be an end to this, to the opposition, and end to the defeated NATO.” Judging by the “news” and official media analysts, the Libyan Government had (has) the unconditional and massive backing of the people, and the defeat of the rebels and of NATO would just amount to a few negotiations. In all cases, the “information” for Cubans has been so biased that the numerous media reports of foreign agencies that have followed step-by-step the conflict in that country in North Africa have been deliberately ignored. The unequivocal source of the official Cuban newspaper has always been Telesur, which is no accident, given the wave of friendship that flows between the owner of that TV station, the apprentice of totalitarianism, Hugo Chavez, the Libyan despot and the Cuban regime. Birds of a feather.
The truth is that wires regularly consulted on our Internet connections, and our training to interpret the official press in reverse, have been telling us that events in Libya were developing differently. It was evident that the rebels (the contemptuous Castro media calls them “mercenaries and traitors led by the self-proclaimed National Transitional Council”), supported by NATO, were closing the net around Gaddafi. Contrary to the false triumphalism of Gaddafi’s friends, it was obvious that the days of the “socialist” Libyan regime were already numbered.
This past Sunday August 21, 2011 I was getting several messages on my mobile phone and other information confirming the departure of the rebels from Tripoli, the arrest of Gaddafi’s sons and a group of his closest collaborators and the surrender of his security guards, so I tuned in to the stellar broadcasting of the TV news program, awaiting the official confirmation of the imminent fall of the Libyan regime, and I had the time of my life watching the stuttering and baffled newscasters who didn’t seem to understand the nature of the dis-information they were reading. In the first report, they presented a speech by Gaddafi’s son stating that “he wouldn’t raise the white flag”, alluding to his refusal to give up (the same son who, it’s rumored, was captured), and immediately afterwards they showed pictures of agitated crowds in Green Square, the same plaza in which a short time before, according to Telesur and the Cuban press, “The Libyan people were meeting in mass” vowing to defend Gaddafi’s government to their death.
The astonished expression of the poor Cuban media professionals, while reading reports that were inconsistent and contradictory to what was happening in Libya, were the epitome of the ridiculous: “NATO is responsible for the deaths that occurred in Libya. Gaddafi’s security guards have given up. It is confusing what is happening at the Green Plaza. Angola and Zimbabwe have offered the Libyan leader political asylum”, the newscasters stated. On screen, the people’s cheer belied any possibility of “confusion”; it was all very clear: Gaddafi had been defeated and the people were happy about it. However, at no time during the program did they acknowledge the true situation in Libya.
At the same time, many old and new images circulated through my memory, including Gaddafi still young, arrogant and proud, many years ago, receiving the highest distinction awarded by the Cuban government: the Order of José Martí, perhaps as a reward for the many crimes he committed against his people and, more recently, just in recent days, the image of the General-President Raúl Castro in a friendly embrace with a senior representative of the Libyan government, though we were never told what he was doing in Cuba. I also thought of the General’s own indication to develop a new brave, honest and transparent journalism during the Sixth Congress of the CCP, just four months ago. If the coverage of what happened in Libya is an example of what our reformist General considers information transparency, we can clearly intuit how little faith we should place in the “renewal” of the press, and similarly, in the sincerity of larger undertakings.
August 22, 2011