A critical eye exposes media manipulation
“The media war is more active than ever against revolutionary processes,” stated José Manzaneda, coordinator of Cubainformación TV, a website devoted to challenging media campaigns against Cuba
Nuria Barbosa Leónmarch 22, 2019 10:03:05
José Manzaneda, chief coordinator of the Cubainformación TV website.
Photo: Nuria Barbosa
“The media war is now more active than ever against revolutionary processes,” stated José Manzaneda, chief coordinator of the Basque-based website Cubainformación TV, during a recent visit to Havana. The site is a space to challenge media manipulation against Cuba, offering content on the reality of the Caribbean island, silenced by the mainstream international press.
“The large international media corporations based in the United States, Europe, and countries of Latin America, are currently focused on Venezuela. They are very clearly the civilian army in the psychological war to overthrow a political and social process, in which the great power, with a capital “P”, is international and too much is at stake. They focus their content on creating a scenario in which armed intervention is possible and feasible.
“They have attempted this in all ways, but in recent months, they have combined several very important factors: the death of the great leader of the Bolivarian Revolution, Hugo Chávez, the fall in oil prices, and the development of highly coordinated economic warfare, as well as a very intense psychological and media campaign. With that concoction, the imperialists believe that now is the right moment to deal the death blow to the Venezuelan government. To this is added a U.S. administration linked to the extreme right, and a regional context that has led to satellite governments in countries such as Colombia, Brazil, Peru, Chile, and others. The mass media act as never before against revolutionary processes, as seen in Syria, Cuba, Libya, and other sovereign nations.
“Perhaps Cuba is not currently within the eye of the storm, but if the conditions emerge, these media campaigns, which always exist, could be reinforced. Our team analyzes media manipulation. Every day the media in Spain, Colombia, and the United States publish news, reports and opinion articles about Cuba, always in a negative sense, but today we see them very busy with Venezuela.”
What are the key themes that they promote?
There are very well-designed news items. On Venezuela, they insist on characterizing it as a camouflaged regime or dictatorship, where there are no acceptable presidential elections, there is no separation of powers, therefore, the executive controls the rest of the powers present in the state. However, in that South American nation there are five powers, as the three classic branches are the legislative, executive and judiciary, while they have added the moral and electoral powers.
Hugo Chávez and the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela were, and are, targeted by slanderous media campaigns.
Photo: Correo de Orinoco
In a nod to Cuba, they claim that in those political systems that go against the free market, promoting the development of public companies and massive social programs, do not work, are a failure and cause scarcities for the population. They always omit and silence the external war and the economic blockade imposed on the island, led by the United States, with an absolutely overwhelming impact.
In the South American country there is a war of hoarding, hyper inflation, an attack on the currency, and also the theft of resources and bank deposits. We are not talking about a few million, but tens of billions of dollars. Those resources would go to the purchase of supplies such as medicines and food, or better develop the oil company or the economy. The Venezuelan state cannot invest in these sectors. They want to strangle the economy so that what they have always dreamed of will finally happen, as they also wish for Cuba: the rising up of the population, or a significant population sector, against the process and the government.
Surrounding Cuba, they develop other items. Firstly, the theme of democracy and respect for human rights are classic and recurrent. Right now, Cuba has shown, and few have been able to criticize this fact, that the construction of a Constitution can be submitted to popular consultation. It is one of the few countries, perhaps the only one in the world, that set forth a constituent process with a mass participatory nature. This is unparalleled and is silenced by the media. It is difficult to negatively evaluate the experience, even the fact of consulting the people in the drafting phase of the Magna Carta, debating and modifying it, can hardly become a negative report. That’s why they have tried to keep it low profile.
Another item is the discrediting of progressive leaders…
In the case of Venezuela, it has been the demonization of Hugo Chávez and Nicolás Maduro, and in Cuba, of the figures of Fidel and Raúl Castro. In addition, the campaigns are aimed at sectors of the population that participated in the initial process of the Bolivarian Revolution, those who were Chavistas or who sympathized with Hugo Chávez, describing Maduro as a kind of actor who has betrayed the legacy of his predecessor.
In the case of Cuba, there has always been a demonization of Fidel, Raúl, and accusations against Miguel Díaz-Canel are beginning to emerge. We have seen fake news in recent times. I offer the example of a story that circulated around the world regarding the reaction of the Cuban state after the tornado. A very clear fabrication was made during a visit by the President to a Regla neighbourhood. They built a picture of condemnation from the population that did not exist, through a cell phone recording to which audio was incorporated a few meters from the phone.
What experiences can Cubainformación offer regarding this media war?
First, dismantling the patterns of manipulation around specific news items. This involves having the greatest pedagogical and educational nature, but it has a fundamental limitation. We are not a mass media outlet, and we are visible to a specific audience. We have more than 200,000 followers on Facebook. We are followed by loyal people. We have never believed that we can compete on equal terms against the monster that is news corporations. Our message is addressed to readers with concerns about media criticism, who don’t have to support Cuba and its Revolution, but who realize that the mainstream media reflect untrustworthy interests.
We attempt to undertake systematic work producing videos, texts and other materials to combat fake news and the proven lies. Also against that “fine rain” that viewers and readers are showered with every day by the media, using stereotyped language like: Cuban regime, Cuban exile, government media and others; which disfigure both the political and socio-economic nature of a government.
We produce materials and then have them distributed, using the utmost common sense, avoiding demagogic language; without idealizing or ignoring the problems that Cuba is experiencing; seeking comparisons; citing reports from the United Nations and its organizations; exposing the concrete causes of the problems and phenomena, which in many cases, when contrasted with other countries of the Western Hemisphere, would be true anecdotes in comparison with the human tragedies that they suffer.
What happened to Cubainformaciónin 2018?
We suffered a cyber attack in August of last year, which at first completely destroyed the site, and it was only possible to recover a backup from six months earlier. That’s to say, the contents of the last six months disappeared. Through a manual reconstruction effort, we have recovered only those materials of own production. Subsequently, there has been no specific hack, but we have reinforced the security measures.
Will there be changes to the website?
We will present a site with a design very similar to the previous one, but with better features, qualitatively superior and with a series of content novelties. We are producing videos starring Cuban repentista Alexis Díaz Pimienta, which are titled “Asere ilustrado,” and mix humor, Cuban poetry, and analysis of media manipulation. We will also present messages addressed to potential visitors to Cuba, suggesting practical information and offering social and political context, so that this can be understood by anyone.
We are going to present a support campaign for Cubainformación, by our associates, with 19 new spots that mix the dissemination of some of Cuba’s social achievements, as an example for humanity, linking them to the traditional struggle against the unjust economic, commercial and financial blockade, and against the media blockade.
What does the future hold for Cubainformación TV?
First maintaining this web portal and ensuring it never disappears. We try to be a window to the solidarity with Cuba movement. We want to become an outlet for reference and consultation surrounding Cuban events. On many occasions there are thousands of people who turn to Cubainformación as an element of contrast. They seek our opinion or comments regarding what they have heard and read.