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Elio Delgado-Legon: I am a Cuban who has lived for 80 years, therefore I know full well how life was before the revolution, having experienced it directly and indirectly. As a result, it hurts me to read so many aspersions cast upon a government that fights tooth and nail to provide us a better life. If it hasn’t fully been able to do so, this is because of the many obstacles that have been put in its way.

Mainstream Media Silence about Cuba

May 17, 2017 | Print Print |

By Elio Delgado Legon

Members of the Henry Reeve medical brigade in Perú. Photo: cubadebate.cu

HAVANA TIMES — The so-called Great Western Press, that is to say, the most influential in the United States and in other developed and not so developed capitalist countries, but revolve around these, regularly echo news and articles that offer an absolutely distorted and lying image of Cuban reality.

However, they remain silent when they could report about truly important issues from a journalist’s standpoint, which instead show a not so negative image of the island’s reality.

I’m going to give as an example the role that the Henry Reeve Contingent of doctors and other medical personnel which is specialized in providing relief in the wake of natural disasters and great epidemics and how this has been ignored in the Great Press.

Recently, a medical brigade from the above-mentioned contingent spent a month working in solidarity with the people in the Piura region, in Peru, which had suffered devastating floods where thousands of families lost their homes.

This brigade’s work has received the local population and authorities’ recognition, as they have provided 11,241 medical consultations as well as prevention and health promotion campaigns and epidemiology tasks, in line with the profile of the brigade and the existing conditions, because after the floods, stagnant water becomes a breeding ground for mosquitoes, who transmit diseases such as dengue, Zika, chikungunya virus and yellow fever.

Patients have been seen at both health centers in the city and in camps with tents, where thousands affected by these floods are currently living. It has been a titanic size mission for this group of 23 Cuban health professionals and it continues to be so, but Western media have remained silent.

In an article published in Salon magazine, under the heading “It’s time to recognize Cuba for its global medical achievements” written by Stephen Bartlett, the following is stated:

“Many people will never hear about how, in late 2016, 38 medical professionals from the Cuban Henry Reeve Brigade returned home after two exhausting months of caring for the Haitian people. They were sent to provide support to Cuba’s permanent medical teams in Haiti after Hurricane Matthew…

“After the death of Comandante en Jefe Fidel Castro, corporate media have been obsessed about representing Fidel as the brain behind a “dictatorship”. However, the death of this historic leader gives us the opportunity to celebrate the Cuban Revolution’s victories in its 56 years of existence, which many people all over the world are deeply grateful for and even owe their lives to.

“Reports from Haiti, Chernobyl, Western Africa and many other places, tell us about the extraordinary contributions Cuban medical internationalism has provided. In 2014, there were 50,000 Cuban doctors and nurses working in 60 different developing countries, according to an investigation carried out by Canadian writer John Kirk which he published in his book “Cuban medical internationalism has saved millions of lives.” However, this unprecedented solidarity is hardly covered by Western media.”

As you can see, this isn’t just my opinion. When it comes to insulting the Cuban Revolution and its leaders, all of the press’ power is used by the most conservative forces, but if news could offer a positive aspect to a country, which has been attacked and blocked for almost 60 years, the only thing we can hope for is complicit silence with these attackers.


What's your opinion?

  • Moses Patterson

    Elio, stop being a crybaby. Real journalism should be balanced and fair. In order to assure the journalist of such balance, the journalist must be given unfettered access to the raw data. The Castro dictatorship has never been willing to allow that. That is to say, if Elio would like to have seen a puff piece about the efforts of Cuban doctors working outside of Cuba, he must be willing to allow the press to have access to the doctors themselves without Castro goons standing nearby. Also, for every puff piece, he should expect a hard news piece as well. The upside to government-controlled media is obvious. You can control the story. The downside? You can’t control ALL media.

    • Ken Hiebert

      If there are in the neighbourhood of 50,000 Cuban doctors working abroad in 60 developing countries, that seems to me to be newsworthy. If it has not been reported in foreign media, then it should be.
      It would be reasonable for media to report this as well as report criticisms directed at this program. If various media believe that they are not getting reasonable access to Cuban doctors, they can report that as well.

  • Chuck Bailey

    From what I read, Venezuela pays about 500.00 per month for this service. Cuba pays the doctors 50.00 dollars a month. Medical renting is the largest income producing of exports from Cuba. Some one correct me if I’m wrong!!

    • Carlyle MacDuff

      Pretty accurate Chuck, a medical sister-in-law did three years in Venezuela. Cuban doctors and nurses are in my experience very good, but the hospitals leave much to be desired.

  • John Q Smith

    When you need medical attention….just crawl in the woods and die.

  • amelrodriguez

    It is so funny (or so enraging) when people defend, for afar, a system where they will not bear to live under.

  • Moses Patterson

    Each one of those tragic events you mentioned was vigorously reported on by the US and Western media. If it were not so, you and I would not have heard of them. In Cuba, “Castro’s media” frequently ignore events in and outside of Cuba which would reflect negatively on the “Castro dictatorship”. As an American, the only choir that concerns me with regards to US foreign policy is the American choir. So far, despite more than 20 years of the lopsided UN vote, the US choir, our Congress, has agreed with me.

  • Moses Patterson

    Well said. The one-sided nature of the Castro media has left many otherwise well-meaning folks in Cuba ill-informed.

  • richardmuu

    I am not sure Cuba should want U.S. media coverage of any kind at the moment. Carlyle, I’m in Havana this Sunday and Monday the 21st and 22nd, and again the following Saturday and Sunday (in Matanzas in between). Hotel or Hostal Zaza in Vedado, near the Ministry of Education. I regret to say I have not read your book yet. It looks like I’ll be able to in August.

    But in the meantime, you say that the news media report news, as if that were as natural as the sun coming up in the morning. I acknowledge your expertise on Cuba but I hope you will acknowledge that when it comes to news, a statement like yours hides substantially more than it reveals. Cuba should emphatically not open its doors to the world’s commercial media, especially those based in the U.S. and the U.K. There are other options.

    • Carlyle MacDuff

      Please explain richardmu why the Castro family regime’s activities ought not to be exposed?
      Do you agree with Fidel Castro that free press ought not to be allowed the right to speak and write freely against socialism?
      Secondly is that because you agree with Dr. Ernesto Guevara that all newspapers should be done away with as revolution cannot be accomplished with freedom of the press?
      Thirdly, should the free press in the US be denied the right to report upon the activities of President Donald Trump?
      I ask, because if you agree with Fidel Castro and Guevara, then logically you must think that the narcisstic activities of President Donald Trump ought not to be exposed.
      In my opinion, all societies ought to have freedom of the press and access to information. Cubans have been denied that for too many years, first under Batista as a Dictator and then under Fidel and Raul Castro as Dictators.
      I wrote my book as one living most of the time in Cuba, because Cubans cannot write to describe their lives, because doing so would involve criticism of the Castro regime which is forbidden by law, and they would be unable to get it published. I hope you are able to read it and would welcome your subsequent opinion.

      • richardmuu

        You and Moses have asked a lot of questions. I know nothing of Cuba; my media theories are my own and have nothing to do with Dr. Guevara’s, whom I have not read. Plug me into whatever stereotype you need to. It makes no difference to me.

        What will make a difference is my visit. Not that I expect much as I know no one and therefore have trust with no one. That’s ok. Relationships start at some point and mine with Cuba are starting late. I bring one stereotype, and that is that I think Cubans are smart.

        As an aside, if you are interested in my media theories, you can see them in the first and last chapters of my 1993 doctoral dissertation. Search with my name, Brian Nienhaus, in the University of Michigan’s online repository, I think it’s called Big Blue. It’s free. President Trump embodies one of the relationships I described in the last chapter. He is a product of the attention economy, which at that time I called second-order commodity relations.

        A journalist in my home town was fired from our newspaper because he inquired too persistently into our D.A.’s treating lightly a son of one of our town’s powerful families. The son had drug and drinking problems, and accidents while driving. He was a good journalist but I couldn’t sort out in my own mind what I regretted more, his being fired or his spending all that time and wasting all that talent in a single story of abuse of power. We already know that power is abused. We need to know more than that.

    • Moses Patterson

      Why are you “not so sure ” about the US media? What other options would guarantee more (and not less) free speech?

  • Merv Roth

    It’s a bad dictatorship there is no denying it.

  • Ken Hiebert

    I googled The New York Times and the Miami Herald re Cuban doctors. We could argue that their coverage is inadequate, but they are by no means silent. Judging from the headlines The Herald has been entirely negative re the Cuban missions in other countries.

    The New York Times praised the work of Cuban doctors…
    http://www.cubaheadlines.com/2014/10/20/p6/the-new-york-times-praised-the-work-of-cuban-doctors-in-the-fight-against-ebola-in-afr

    http://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/world/americas/cuba/article129125864.html

  • emagicmtman

    While wife O.D.’s on MSNBC (or, as Jeffrey St. Claire calls it: MSDNC!), I’ve found the twice daily Noticias Estelar more refreshing, and less parochial, than our own cable and satellite news. To travel into another dimension, periodically I turn the clicker to FOX, which gives me a good laugh (unlike my friend Tim, who has an apoplectic fit every time he views FOX). Whether Left or Right, most American “news” is really entertainment. As such, it is one dimensional. At least the Cuban news goes beyond the “talking–and often SHOUTING–heads” of American “news.” Every Noticias Estelar has more diversity, beginning with (1) a resume of the international and national news, (2) economic news, (3) Cuban sports, (4) a “field trip” or two out to a farm, construction project, a conference, etc. (5) Cuban weather, (6) another “field trip” or two (as #4, above), and finally (7) cultural news, often focusing in on a major cultural event, or interview with an artist, dancer, musician, writer, etc. Unlike American “(s)news,” Cuban news goes beyond the beltway (even beyond the “Green Belt of Havana,” where I planted some coffee trees in early 1970. What ever became of them? or the Green Belt of Habana?!) One final benefit of Noticias Estelar is the improvement in my Spanish with repeated dosages. There is no excuse to rely on the major media up here (nor likewise, for Cubans, to rely exclusively on Radio Reloj, Radio Progreso, Radio Rebelde, or the Cuban tv channels, as the news from Miami and elsewhere can be clearly received on the radio, if not tv, in Cuba. Of course most young folk in America don’t get their news from the major news media anyway (as reflected in the Ads for these channels: mainly geriatric drugs, reverse mortgages, Viking River Cruises, and other advertisers who target old folks (such as myself!).

    • Carlyle MacDuff

      Noting your comment about FOX emagicmtman, when not in Cuba I have watched it, but find the BBC US based news programme much more accurate and interesting.