The Impunity of Cuba’s MediaFebruary 24, 2014 | Print |
Yenisel Rodriguez Perez
HAVANA TIMES — In a country where news programs offer very little space for true public opinion and silence the discourse of the political opposition entirely, one can expect news to be completely skewed and for no one to feel the need to defend its coherence and significance.
The lack of journalistic professionalism is evident in the way the official news disguises a change in the country’s policies.
One of the causes of this phenomenon is the monopoly over Cuban television which the State maintains. Within it, official journalists answer to practically no ethical principles.
Some time ago, to mention one example, a vigorous campaign condemning the production of transgenic foods around the world was launched by the evening broadcasts of Cuba’s National Television News (NTV). These were the times when Fidel Castro had a more significant presence in Cuba’s political panorama, a fact which gave the campaign the touch of catastrophism that the leader always brought to his ecological militancy.
The verdict at the time was unequivocal: the legalization, production and sale of transgenic food products were part and parcel of the financial imperialism of agro-industrial transnational companies seeking to appropriate the agricultural heritage of the Third World.
Several NTV broadcasts showed statistics on the damages to people’s health, domestic economies and local production brought about by these genetically altered products. These same news programs announced the screening of documentaries that delved into the issue in depth and demonstrated the economic, political and ethical unsustainability of transgenic food production.
Some weeks ago, to the surprise of many, this same news program reported that transgenic crops would be introduced into Cuba – a 180-degree-turn which makes no mention of the campaign in which the program enumerated the disastrous consequences that a decision of this nature had on the food sovereignty of countries and the health of consumers.
The impunity with which journalists lie becomes even more evident when one knows, beforehand, that the “preliminary studies” referred to have been in the works for a very long time and have actually been denounced by eco-activists, who lost their jobs for revealing this State secret.
Everywhere, the media respond to the interests of their owners: the State, the market, international organizations, popular movements and others. Many a time – almost all the time – these interests define how the news is made.
In Cuba, however, the State media know no limit in their subservience to those who pay their bills. They are perhaps outdone only by North Korea’s totalitarian information system, to risk an analogy.
Cuba is stifled by an official discourse that says what it pleases, to the stupefaction of the people, degrading the national debate beyond the limits of imagination.