Academic journal article The International Journal of Cuban Studies

Cuba, the Media, and the Challenge of Impartiality

Academic journal article The International Journal of Cuban Studies

Cuba, the Media, and the Challenge of Impartiality

Article excerpt

Salim Lamrani, Cuba, the Media, and the Challenge of Impartiality (New York, NY: Monthly Review Press, 2015) pb 160pp. ISBN: 978-1-58367-471-0

Reviewed by Alessandro Badella

The news coming from Cuba and their Western coverage and storytelling process has always been part of the (mainly false and negative) 'myths' surrounding the Cuban Revolution and the Cuban reality. For example, for decades, Cuba has been fighting its world bad (and extremely exaggerated) image broadcast by Radio and Television Martí (which is still working!).

In Lamrani's last book, the thorny issue of covering Cuba's news and reporting to a foreign public is part of the 'challenge of impartiality', or 'the ideologically selective nature of the information posted on Cuba' (p. 10). In particular, the author focuses on the case study of the Spanish leading newspaper El País. In the last years, its negative perception of Cuba was accompanied by several omissions and misrepresentations, such as the lack of references to the ongoing economic sanctions against the island (the unilateral US embargo) as main player in the island's economic problems, Raúl's public discourse against the corrupted bureaucracy, party sectarianism and other 'errors' of the past (see chapter 2), such as the data on the social and economic success of the Revolution (see chapter 3).

El País experienced a strong conservative shift in its views on Cuba: the case of its long-dated reporter from Cuba, Mauricio Vicent, is emblematic. In September 2011, the Cuban authorities denied Vicent the press credentials to operate in Cuba due to his negative picture of the Cuban reality (pp. 12-13). As the very same Vicent confessed later, he had to adapt his reports and coverage to the new anti-Cuban editorial line of the Spanish newspaper. In Lamrani's views, this artificially negative attitude and ideological shift could be related to two main factors: the growing antipathy for Latin American 'Bolivarian' and progressive governments (along with the will to please the US Department of State), and the joint venture between El País and the anti-Castro Miami-based El Nuevo Herald (in March 2011, El País started to be distributed as supplement to the Florida newspaper).

In each chapter of his work, Lamrani presents several thorny issues in Cuban internal and external affairs trying 'to confront the assumptions of the Spanish paper with fact-based reality' (p. …

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