Granma, Napoleon and the Insurgents / Miguel Iturria Savón

Tuesday 9 May, on listening to the reading, on the National Television News, of the official daily press note from Granma, the official organ of the Communist Party of Cuba, I remembered the old joke about Napoleon, Granma and the Battle of Waterloo: “If Napoleon had had a newspaper like Granma nobody would know, yet, of his defeat at Waterloo. ”

The praise has a Spanish-Creole version: “If the Spanish monarchy had had to rely on reports from Granma, the world still wouldn’t know who lost, in 1898, the islands of Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Philippines.”

The evocation of the joke about the usual disinformation of the partisan scrap of paper comes to mind because in the press note above, as serious as the pompous voice of the announcer, the paper reports on the police who caused the death of the peaceful opponent Wilfredo Soto Juan Garcia, who received a beating on Thursday May 5 at Vidal Park in Santa Clara, from where he was taken to the police station and from there to the provincial hospital, where he died three days later.

The free-form and biased version from Granma doesn’t limit itself to masking the death of former political prisoner and member of the Central Opposition Coalition; as if that were not enough it goes on to talk of alleged criminal record of the decedent’s and blames his death on his health problems, which did have but which were compounded by the caresses of the military.

Granma’s press note would not have been written if the incident had no significance in and out of the island. The night before, the Spanish reporter Mauricio Vicent published in El Pais (Spain): “Death of a dissident after being beaten up by the police.” The Spanish writer cites the twitter of Yoani Sanchez, who warned that “this police brutality is not an isolated case.”

The network of bloggers and independent journalists such as Guillermo Fariñas, Martha Beatriz Roque and others, knew the agony of Soto Garcia, whose crime was to refuse to leave the park in their city, located 280 km from Havana.

Clothes make the man. Granma distorts what happened instead of denouncing it and demanding criminal responsibility for those responsible for the death of a sick citizen, kicked in the public street. In February and March 2010, Granma and Cuban National Television News denigrated Orlando Zapata Tamayo, who died in prison after a prolonged hunger strike to demand an end to the beatings in prison. They also slandered the journalist Guillermo Fariñas Hernandez for declaring a hunger strike to demand the release of ailing political prisoners.

Granma reporters, like Napoleon, who sent Paris fictitious reports from the battlefields, and like the colonial government in Cuba, who embellished the reports to Madrid and described supporters of independence as “rascals, lowlifes and highwaymen,” entangled themselves in a lie rather than conform to the truth.

May 15 2011