Cuban Media and "demonization"
to www.marxmail.org on March 24, 2004
In today's Counterpunch (March 24, 2004), there's an interesting article by
Benjamin Dangl and April Howard on the Cuban media, which
originated on their website: http://www.upsidedownworld.org.
Howard is a student at Bard College,
my alma mater. No doubt she made the acquaintance there of Ali Tonak, the son of E. Ahmet Tonak, a professor at Simon's Rock
College, a Bard affiliate. You will
find some of Ali's articles on the website.
Although the article contains many useful facts and
insights, it is marred by the concluding paragraph:
in the U.S. has reached a fevered pitch, at times
comparable to the extreme nationalism of places like Cuba. Overuse of the word "Terrorism"
in the US has come to be as hollow as the word
"Imperialism" in Cuba. The "War on Terrorism" has given
the Bush administration an excuse to clamp down on civil liberties due to the
"threat" these terrorists pose to U.S. society. The U.S. trade embargo and the five Cuban prisoners
in the U.S. give Castro an excuse to clamp down on
civil liberties and control of freedoms of expression. Cuba
detains possible dissenters in their jails and the U.S. detains possible
terrorists in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Though the political perspectives of these
two countries are opposite, their ways of demonizing "the enemy" are
the same. Both governments depend upon their respective vague and omnipresent
enemies in order to create fear, solidarity and remain in power. Media is the
fundamental tool for these objectives. Though the manipulation of Cuban media
is less subtle, media crusades in both countries glorify and over simplify,
making news mean what those in power want it to mean, and leaving the
discerning citizen trying to read between the lines.
First of all, the arrests of dissidents in Cuba, which led
to a hysterical campaign in the pages of such publications as The Nation, The
Progressive, New Politics and now the Village Voice (an interminable series of
articles by the execrable Nat Hentoff), was not
prompted by a desire to clamp down on civil liberties and freedom of
expression. It was instead a reaction to interference by James Cason, the U.S.
head of Cuban interests who was lavishing money, material aid and organizing
advice on a group of anti-Communists. If you want to understand why Cuba
reacted in the way that it did, it is useful to watch the film "The
Revolution Will Not Be Televised" which deals with the attempted coup
against Chavez. Although the documents were not available to the film-makers at
the time, it has recently been discovered that US funding and advice is crucial
to the counter-revolutionary movement. (See: http://www.venezuelafoia.info/)
Although the USA
has not been successful in Venezuela,
it was successful in Nicaragua.
Funding through the National Endowment for Democracy and other US
agencies was critical to the counter-revolution. Key members of the domestic
opposition were just as much on the US
payroll as were the armed contras operating out of Honduras.
There is heavy circumstantial evidence that the CIA and other US
repressive bodies were also deeply involved in the overthrow of Aristide in Haiti.
This is the sad history of Latin America.
Although Cuba would obviously prefer to operate on a more permissive basis, the
fact that it has been invaded, bombed, subjected to chemical and biological
warfare, hostile overflights and television/radio
transmissions for the past 43 years no doubt determines its view of the USA.
Rather than characterizing the Cuban view of the USA
as "demonization", I would suggest that the
operative principle is realism