The official Cuban media reports, immediately, when the citizens of the world’s imperfect democracies take to the streets. In these cases the words “injustice,” “capitalism” and “exploitation” are used by the court’s newscasters to explain the whys of such social protests. Something very different occurs if the protestors rise up against an authoritarian regime, or against a government “friendly” to the Plaza of the Revolution. In that case, the informative script is peppered with qualifiers such as “mercenaries,” “financed from abroad”…”insurgents” or the “so-called rebels.” The people are not people everywhere… this hemiplegic analysis seems to want to tell us.
Occasionally, however, something doesn’t fit within the strict patterns of our national press. This week with the events in Ukraine, for example, the Communist Party’s political news reports have seemed disoriented. Verbal malapropisms, caution and even actual stuttering, have been heard on TV from the mouths of those reporters who are most combative when addressing other topics. Why is what happened in the former Soviet republic so upsetting to them?
In the first place, because with Russia, the USSR’s old information pact of never questioning its foreign policy or reporting on its internal problems, has been left behind. Hence the awkwardness of reporting the popular rejection of President Viktor Yanukovich for preferring to approach the Kremlin instead of Brussels. In this scheme designed by the Department of Revolutionary Orientation, the European Union is to be vilified and whatever it does called into question whenever possible. Thus, it is now difficult for the same media to explain why so many Ukrainians are demanding to become a part of this political community.
Given the apparent contradiction, the newscasters choose to play down the news and limit the use of images of the crowded squares in Kiev. Instead, they accompany the reports with several scenes from inside the Kremlin, with the announcers insinuating that some foreign power is behind the revolt. Twenty-four hours after the first note we haven’t heard anything more.
I imagine that many viewers, like me, watching that incoherent sequence, are asking themselves, “What? What’s happening in the Ukraine?” But the official press can’t answer us, because they can’t even fulfill their role of telling us what’s happening in Cuba.