The Media That Says Nothing / Iván García

The spectacular and moving rescue of 33 Chilean miners, carried out from 632 meters below the dirt after 70 days, was just another piece of news in the Cuban press.

In the online version of Granma – the main newspaper of the island – in the October 14th edition, this news was in 16th place in “relevance.” The front page was reserved for the fourth set of Reflections of Fidel titled The Empire Within, and a report of all the floral offerings sent by the Castro brothers to the ex-Salvadoran guerrilla fighter, Shafik Handal.

Even more prominent than the news of the miners from Camp Hope, was the news of the increase of inflation in Spain, the visit of the Venezuelan autocrat Hugo Chavez to Russia, and a national report, which was interesting and exotic, about how cows which are taken to the slaughterhouse should never be underweight.

Among the 2,000 journalists from over 300 media stations that covered the events of Chile, none of them came from our official press, despite the fact that we actually do have Cuban reporters in Venezuela, Ecuador, and Bolivia, all of which are relatively close to Chile.

The opaque coverage of these events cannot be attributed to the Bureau chief editors who work in the regime’s media outlets. In Cuba, the ones in charge of choosing what is important and what is not are the chiefs from the fierce Ideological Department of the Party (DOR), who commonly receive personal tips and orders from Fidel Castro, the real editor of the mediocre national press.

There are many layers which news must first go through on this island. The first one is that of political affinity. If the report is about a country which is considered our “friend,” then such news will have priority.

We must remember that when we were a satellite state of the Soviets, the Cuban media never dared to denounce their military interventions in Prague in 1968 and in Afghanistan in 1979.

Cuba also never provided coverage about the events which occurred in 1989 in Tienanmen Square, China. Just as there have been zero criticisms of the anti-Semitic discourses delivered by Ahmadineyad in Lebanon. For Castro, the enemy of his enemy is his friend.

The entire arsenal of analysis, criticism, and front page news in the Cuban media is strictly reserved for the axis of all evil – with the United States in first place, and then the European Union. Any government that decides to criticize the situation in Cuba is targeted by the regime’s censors.

From that very moment, all the dark stains of that country start to be reported throughout the Cuban media: violence, unemployment, organized crime, corruption…

The flow of information is controlled personally by Fidel Castro. His power stems from this. In the case of the Chilean miners, a seemingly innocent bit of news, which consisted of tons of stories to tell, it was reduced to an insignificant event because, perhaps, president Sebastian Pinera has openly and publicly criticized Castro.

It also wouldn’t be healthy to demonstrate on national news how a capitalist society also relies on human solidarity, something which the Cuban government considers to be unique to Marxist systems.

In Cuba, any bit of important news first needs the approval of high ranking party officials or that of Fidel Castro. They are the owners.

Photo: stereosimo, Flickr

Translated by Raul G.