[Marxism] Cuban media

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Wed Mar 24 11:36:03 MST 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 

Although the article contains many useful facts and insights, it is 
marred by the concluding paragraph:

 >>Recently, patriotism 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: 

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.


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