222 communication media from 31 countries had covered the Pope’s visit to Cuba (1). As in the two previous papal visits (2), a legion of foreign journalists -more than a thousand- arrived to Cuba looking for the image, the event, the statement that became in a international news the Pope’s condemnation tothe Cuban government. But, they were left with honey on their lips again (3).
A sample about the frustration of these media are holders of the Spanish newspaper “El Pais”, which instead of reflect what happened in Cuba, it highlighted what did not happen: “The Pope is not making any critical message to the Castro´s” (4) “The pope avoided any reference to the dissidents in his first act in Cuba” (5), “Silencing of Francisco” (6) or “Pope admits that he never thought meeting with Cuban dissidents” (7).
But the media didn´t conform to convert non- news in news. In addition, shamelessly manipulated the statements of the protagonists.
“El País” adulterated the message of a well-known supporter of the Cuban Revolution: the Brazilian Dominican friar Frei Betto (8). “In Cuba there may be a ‘shock ‘ between austerity and consumerism ” was the headline, focusing all the news in a brief reflection of Betto about the dangers of mass tourism from US on the island, which just took a few minutes to a long wheel press. For knowing all that “El Pais” condemned to their readers we must turn to the Cuban press, which reported about the reflection of the theologian (9), but also reflected other more central statements: for example, that the Cuban people “have pride to defend their revolution”, “whose values are similar to the “gospel values” of “solidarity (and) sharing of possessions”; or the recognition about the failure of the blockade by the United States as similar to “US defeat in Vietnam” (10).
The Spanish newspaper “El Mundo” did the same with the words of the Cuban singer Silvio Rodriguez. “Silvio Rodriguez: we had to approach before to the United States” (11) was the headline of an interview, aimed Cuba as guilty of political “alienation” to US in recent years. But if we read the interview -realized in a written way as is the usual manner of the singer to avoid manipulations- we discover that what Silvio said was another thing: “the rapprochement between Cuba and the United States” (…) “had to happen before”. He didn´t mark out guilty explicitly. In any case, the position of this troubadour is well known. A few days ago, in his blog “Second Date”, he reminded the Cuban literacy killed by gangs paid by the CIA and how he “had to learn how to handle weapons” to defend “from their political and military” (referring to US) (12).
Other media even twisted the words of the Pope. In the Argentine newspaper “Clarin” we read that “in his first Mass in Cuba, the Pope criticized ideologies” (13). But though he did not speak about what ideologies, there was “Clarin” to clarify the situation: “the definition of the Pope -we read- sounded powerful for being said in a country like Cuba, with a regime that gives to the Marxist ideology –which “consecrate“ the State- a great importance”.
Days later, Pope Francisco was traveling to US. Do you think that any of these media had titled in a condemnatory way that “Pope hadn´t made any critical message to the US government” -for police repression, causing two deaths every day in that country (14), by participation of its army in armed conflicts in 74 countries (15), or by the tens of thousands of people who die each year due to lack of public services and universal health (16)? Do you think they talked about the “silence of Francisco” because “he avoided any reference to dissidents” imprisoned in the US, as Oscar López Rivera, Mumia Abu-Jamal, Leonard Peltier (17) or Bradley Manning (18)? What you believe?
(Por José Manzaneda, Cubainformacion´s coordinator)