Manipulation And Silence, Cuba’s Information Policy On Venezuela

Maria Jose Castro, known as ‘the woman of the tank’, blocks the passage of an armoured tank of the National Guard during a demonstration by the Venezuelan opposition. (Miguel Gutiérrez / EFE)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Yoani Sanchez, Havana, 9 May 2017 — Cubans have not seen the images of that lady who, armed only with her determination, stopped an armored police tank in the streets of Caracas. The official press also conceals the tears of those who have lost their children because of the repression of the those in uniform and the government-allied militants known as colectivos. Instead, the media controlled by the Communist Party of Cuba appeals to silence and distortion to narrate what is happening in Venezuela.

On Tuesday, the front page of the Juventud Rebelde newspaper went a step further and compared the demonstrators against Nicolás Maduro with “those hordes that gave rise to the fascism that triggered the Second World War.” The text, sprinkled with words like “right,” “counterrevolutionaries” and “onslaught,” reinterprets the events in the South American country and adjusts them to the information agenda of Havana’s Plaza of the Revolution.

A journalistic manipulation that is repeated – again and again – whenever an ally of the Cuban government faces popular protests or commits some political blunder. Recent history is plagued with examples in which the national newspapers have wanted to adjust reality to their editorial line in order to finally swallow the bitter evidence that life follows another path.

The island authorities stood up for Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, presenting him as an inflexible revolutionary who would never accept “the impositions of the European Union.” But they were silent when Greeks took to the streets to protest the policies of austerity, impoverishment and deprivation embraced by the left-wing Syriza party itself, after its sell-out to the Troika of the European Union-International Monetary Fund-European Central Bank.

It is time to “sweeten the pill” of what is happening in that country and fill the pages of the daily newspapers to accommodate the desires of the Miraflores Palace rather than the truth

A few years earlier, the government newspaper Granma said that the Polish union Solidarity had been totally dismantled and its leading leader Lech Walesa was nothing more than a memory of the past. A few months after that note appeared in the official press, Cubans knew that president Wojciech Jaruzelki had agreed to sit at the negotiating table with his opponents.

During the United States’ invasion of Granada in 1983, the information distortion became immensely scandalized. The national media reported the immolation of Cuban soldiers – while wrapped in the Cuban flag – when in fact they ran for their lives and surrendered without any heroism. Soon afterwards, those who had supposedly perished returned to the country.

The list of lies or omissions spans decades and includes the silence on the Island when a man stepped foot on the moon, the falsehoods around the fall of the Berlin wall, and the indescribable journalistic neglect in not specifying the cause of the death of former President Fidel Castro.

Now it is Venezuela’s turn. It is time to “sweeten the pill” of what is happening in that country and fill the pages of the daily newspapers to accommodate the desires of the Miraflores Palace rather than the truth. The ink of praise for Nicolás Maduro will run, protesters will be branded enemies of the country and the images of repression will be censored.

However, nothing will stop the reality. On Venezuela’s streets citizens are demanding change, and not even experts in editorial manipulation can turn their cries to applause.