What’s Happening in Ukraine?

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.

24 thoughts on “What’s Happening in Ukraine?

  1. Neutral Observer,

    Thanks for your comment, guess I have missed the major point of Yoani Sanchez.

    I understand your approach of taking every source with a grain of salt — and it’s pretty much how I react to the news myself.

    Once I have downloaded a copy of a 1982 Soviet textbook on “Scientific communism” and looked through it. As I have expected, it was full of propaganda about the Communist party. However, there was much in it of what would be considered a mere point of view in today’s world, effectively passable for any large Socialist party. Although I’m some decades late to that debate, now I believe the Communist party of the Soviet Union wouldn’t have been that bad if it allowed a multiparty system, free press and various point of view.

    Evgeny.

  2. evgeny,

    I can check out other viewpoints, including various Russian viewpoints, on the internet, the radio, the TV and newspapers. I take everything, including the English media, with a grain of salt.

    The point that Yoani is making is that they only get Castro’s propaganda, nothing else.

    The Castro media doesn’t try to be balanced or report facts. They just serve Castro.

    They even have to lie about the weather, because when Castro says there’s a drought, they have to report a drought even if it’s soaking wet outside.

    So Cubans don’t know what’s going on in the rest of the world except for word of mouth or illegal shortwave radios they hide from the police.

    Castro even jails foreign journalists when they criticize his government. At the very least, he expels any foreign journalist who steps out of line.

    So we don’t know what’s going on in Cuba except for word of mouth and a few dissident blogs.

  3. (1) Russia isn’t moving its troops inside the Ukraine any time — contrary to what someone has been suggesting. The reason is simple: there is nothing in the Ukraine for Russian soldiers to die for.

    (2) The real problem with reporting the Ukraine is that anti-Europe protests aren’t given sufficient coverage in the press. E.g., I know from a Russian friend in the Ukraine that he has joined anti-European protest in Simferopol a few days ago — but guess what? Anti-European protests aren’t covered by the English media.

    The real situation is that the country is divided on that issue. But unfortunately, most of the English media insist that only one side of that struggle is legitimate. What’s so wrong with that approach? You can get some answers in the blog of Mark Adomanis.

  4. This has got to be the most bizarre series of posts ever.

    Those who publicly support Apartheid in Cuba are quoting Mandela.

    Maybe Nick should explain why he feels Cubans aren’t intelligent or human enough to be allowed to vote, to form trade unions, or criticize their government.

    What master race is Nick part of?

  5. Nick,

    Don’t forget to quote the old socialists Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Mao Zedong and Pol Pot.

    They all agreed with you and condemned the human rights abuses of the USA.

    Since you don’t object to the gassing of Syrian children by Castro’s friends, I would say you have a lot in common with those above.

  6. THE CASTROFASCISTS ARE SHAKING IN THEIR FATIGUES BECAUSE THE CUBAN PEOPLE ARE GATHERING TO TALK ABOUT CHANGES TO THEIR LIVES AND CURRENT “GOVERNMENT”! THEY ARE NOT KINGS ANYMORE! THEY ARE ON THEIR WAY OUT! WAYYY OUT!

    WASHINGTON POST EDITORIAL: Antonio Rodiles boldly confronts the Castro regime – 12/10/2013

    A HUMAN rights conference is scheduled to open Tuesday in Havana, the capital of a regime with one of the world’s worst human rights records. A driving force behind the conference is Antonio Rodiles, a democracy activist trained in physics and mathematics who has been working for years to create more space in Cuba for open debate. That space usually has been in his house, which he has turned into a kind of think tank and creative performance center for intellectuals, artists and human rights activists.

    Mr. Rodiles, who left Cuba in 1998 and returned in 2007, has been a critic of the regime and has suffered for it. He was arrested, beaten and held without charge for 19 days in November 2012. Last summer, he and others started a movement, Citizen Demand for Another Cuba, urging the government to ratify and implement two U.N. covenants on human rights. Now Mr. Rodiles has organized a conference marking the 65th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. But the regime of Fidel and Raúl Castro does not lightly tolerate such challenges to its authority.

    In a letter to Raúl Castro dated last Friday, Mr. Rodiles said his activism continues to be met with threats from Cuban state security. His car tires were punctured and a “chemical liquid with a fetid smell was poured on its seats.” After that, urine was poured on the car seats. On Monday, we are told, Mr. Rodiles was confronted anew by state security.

    “The situation in which we live is untenable,” Mr. Rodiles wrote in his letter. Anyone who disagrees with the regime “is destined to be treated in a humiliating and degrading way.” Cuban citizens are kept in “a total state of defenselessness” by the abusive state. “It is impossible to remain indifferent to a power that systematically steps over the dignity of citizens and its own laws with total impunity,” he wrote, “a power that orders its representatives to act as common criminals.”

    CLICK LINK FOR ENTIRE ARTICLE!
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/antonio-rodiles-boldly-confronts-the-castro-regime/2013/12/09/958473f8-6110-11e3-94ad-004fefa61ee6_story.html

  7. HUMBY!!
    I think it very doubtful that any Cuban President would lower themselves to the point of offering or accepting a handshake with George W Bush if he were still in power regardless of protocol.
    It would have been avoided.

    And George W Bush almost certainly would not been invited to speak at the service.
    What an embarrassing two-faced spectacle that would have been.

    And Humby don’t forget whose memorial service the were at:

    Nelson Mandela said: “If there’s a country that has committed unspeakable atrocities in the world, it is the United States of America. They don’t care.”

    and:

    “We admire the sacrifices of the Cuban people in maintaining their independence and sovereignty in the face of a vicious, imperialist-orchestrated campaign”

    Don’t forget that Cuba fought against apartheid South Africa.
    USA and UK supplied apartheid South Africa with weapons…….

    All conveniently airbrushed out of the majority right-wing owned western media reports on this memorial day.

  8. NBC NEWS: Obama shakes hands with Cuba’s Castro at Mandela service – by Erin McClam

    Minutes later, Obama offered implicit criticism of governments like Cuba’s when in his speech he said too many people embrace Mandela’s legacy of racial reconciliation but passionately resist economic and other reforms.

    “There are too many who claim solidarity with Madiba’s struggle for freedom but do not tolerate dissent from their own people,” Obama said, referring to Mandela by his clan name.

    On his way to the rostrum, Obama also shook the hand of Robert Mugabe, the strongman ruler of Zimbabwe, and hugged Dilma Rousseff, the president of Brazil, who has stridently opposed spying by the National Security Agency and criticized the U.S. government.

    Leaders of almost 100 countries turned out for the service for Mandela, who died last week at age 95.

    CLICK LINK FOR ENTIRE ARTICLE!

    http://worldnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/12/10/21846669-obama-shakes-hands-with-cubas-castro-at-mandela-service

  9. ALL THESE CASTRO AGENTS/APOLOGISTS ARE HAVING A FIELD DAY BECAUSE PRESIDENT BARAK OBAMA HAD TO EXTEND A HAND TO CASTROFASCIST #2 RAUL CASTRO! REMEMBER THAT THIS IS PROTOCOL AND OBAMA HAS TO PLAY NICE TO GET ALAN GROSS BACK! BUT LETS HEAR WHAT BARAK OBAMA ACTUALLY SAID ABOUT THE DICTATORS IN CUBA!

    LISTEN CAREFULLY CASTROFASCISTAS! ESPECIALLY YOU RAUL CASTRO!
    YOUTUBE: Palabras de Barack Obama a los opresores durante funeral de Nelson Mandela

  10. On a positive note, there’s a picture of Chamberlain shaking hands with Hitler.

    Nick, has your hero stopped gassing children in Syria yet?

    Nick is now hinting he met some Cuban pig farmers who caught some CIA agents spreading swine flu around.

    Double-0 Nick looked them in the eyes and they told him all about it.

  11. On a positive note President Castro and President Obama have apparently just shaken hands in front of a global audience at Mr Mandela’s memorial service.
    That’s good news.
    Anticipating disapproval from Miami though.

  12. Hank,
    If you wish to correct what you regard as errors in my diction then feel free.
    If you feel the need to refer to me as a ‘maroon’ because of what you regard as grammatical errors then that’s fine with me.
    As I say, I’ve never been referred to as a ‘maroon’ before so it’s quite a novelty and I’m chuckling as I type this.
    I will respond in my own chosen to this pedantry of yours and your attempts to insult.
    You could of course, choose to make some comment on the substance of what I wrote.
    but perhaps that would be expecting too much.
    You have in actual fact put yourself forward in the past as someone with some kind of historical knowledge on the history of pig rearing in Cuba Hank.
    Or to put it another way:
    If you ever get around to going to Cuba.
    Head out east.
    Go talk to some pig farmers.
    Make some proper good eye contact.
    And ask them about the swine flu episode.
    Then you’ll maybe understand what US taxpayers money was being spent on back in the day.
    On the other hand of course you could choose not to do this.
    Maybe, as I say, you do not actually want your opinions to be challenged which is fine.
    Either way Hank…
    Be happy.

  13. HUMBY!
    ‘TRUST ME’ you say. Continuing with the recent cartoon theme, isn’t that what the snake says in Jungle Book??
    Well I certainly would have no reason to trust you myself,
    but then again, no reason not to trust you either.
    Regarding the fact that Gross had skulked in and out of Cuba several times before he was picked up, you are absolutely correct in this assertion.
    Gross was working for a foreign superpower which allocates a certain amount of taxpayers’ money toward efforts at ‘regime change’ in the sovereign territory of Cuba.
    It would seem logical for the Cuban Authorities to follow this individual around for a spell to see who he links up before picking him up.
    No expert on such matters myself but this strikes me as a reasonable standard procedure given the circumstances.
    The amazing thing to behold is that this naïve fool and his handlers actually thought that he could carry on in this nonsensical way without being detected.
    Astonishing.
    As I’ve said before, its just the latest little chapter in the long litany of the ineptitude and pathetic failure of US policy towards Cuba.

  14. The better response, Nick, would have been to graciously acknowledge that you stand corrected and you made a mistake.

    Instead, you chose to lash out.

    I’ve never held myself out to be an expert on anything, much less the history of Cuba or pig farming.

    All I did was point out an error in your choice of words. Words have meaning, Nick. The words we use are important. You made a mistake, and I was merely pointing it out.

  15. Yoanie reports cuban “announcers insinuating that some foreign power is behind the revolt.”

    This is very accurate.

    Big banks, car and oil industries want shore a share in this big european country. Western media are masters in promising paradise and they know how to reach the targeted audience. Western secret services are financing this “popular revolt” as they did financing Polish Solidarnosc 30 years ago and Syrian “revolt” today.

  16. ALAN GROSS VISITED CUBA 4 TIMES IN 5 MONTHS BEFORE HIS ARREST UNDER HIS OWN NAME! WHY NOT ARREST HIM ON THE FIRST ONE, SECOND, THIRD, FOURTH??? THE CASTROFASCISTS KNOW WHO COMES IN AND OUT OF CUBA! TRUST ME!
    MIAMI HERALD OPINION: Cuba’s American hostage
    Unfortunately, the Cuban government has other plans. Where the rest of the world sees a victim of an arbitrary and unfair government, Cuba’s leaders see a human pawn that can be used to advance their own selfish political objectives. The regime said last week that it was ready to hold talks over Mr. Gross’ freedom, but that any such dialogue must include the situation of the four imprisoned spies who have been held in this country since 1998. In fact, the Cuban government has repeatedly declared that it would be prepared to exchange Mr. Gross for the four so-called “anti-terrorist fighters” in U.S. jails. The Obama administration would be wrong to give in to this blackmail because the two cases are totally distinct. Alan Gross is a hostage; the Cubans committed espionage. The four Cuban spies (a fifth was released after completing his sentence and now lives in Cuba) were sentenced for spying not on Cuban exile organizations, but on U.S. military installations and for their part in the downing of airplanes belonging to Brothers to the Rescue in 1996.

    Mr. Gross, in contrast, was arrested when he was sent as a private contractor by USAID with equipment that could be used by Cuba’s tiny Jewish community to connect to the Internet. The Cubans were involved in espionage activities that had fatal consequences. Alan Gross was part of an effort to increase the freedom of communication — which may be a crime in Cuba, but not in the rest of the civilized world. The two cases could not be more different.

    CLICK LINK FOR ENTIRE ARTICLE!

    http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/12/09/3808805/cubas-american-hostage.html

  17. Mandela in his inaugural speech, 1994, said: “Democracy is based on the majority principle. This is especially true in a country such as ours where the vast majority have been systematically denied their rights. At the same time, democracy also requires that the rights of political and other minorities be safeguarded.” Any citizen using non-violent means has the fundamental right to try to bring about change in their own country without being send to prison. It’s the essence of democratic freedom.

    Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet said: “I am of the opinion that as long as a Castro-communist dictatorship exists in Cuba, we, Cubans, will not be able to live in freedom and democracy and that the violations of human rights will continue. I ask the democratic governments of the world and the individuals who love justice and freedom to support the Cuban people and not the government of the island which usurped power, betrayed the people, by sullying them.” He is a black Cuban physician and anti-abortion activist promoter of non-violent civil disobedience, served a 11 year in a Cuban prison.

    Dr. Darsi Ferrer said: “We have dedicated ourselves to offering free medical attention to those in need and visiting extremely poor communities where scarcities strike marginalized Cubans daily, to offer health services, give medicine, clothing and toys and to share the suffering of those beings.” He has been inspired by the example of men like Dr. Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi. He has employed non-violent methods of civil disobedience to wake up the Cuban people, and demand respect of the fundamental freedoms and rights for all Cubans. He is a black Cuban physician who established an independent health and human rights clinic.

  18. @Neutral Observer:

    What’s wrong with you? Don’t you know that everything in Granma is the absolute truth? Marabu says so!! Jajajajaja!

  19. I can honestly say that I have never read the truth in a Cuban newspaper about anything.

    Except for the weather forecast, but they just steal that off the US service.

    Actually, even the weather has to be politically correct in Cuba.

    Because Castro likes to blame the lack of drinking water in Cuba on droughts, Cuban (and foreign) journalists often report “the worst drought of the century” while record rains are flooding the streets outside their offices.

    Years ago Castro used to blame the CIA for all bad weather in Cuba.

    He blamed them for droughts and he blamed them for hurricanes. And every reporter had to repeat every last one of his paranoid delusions as fact.

    Thanks to Yoani and dozens of other very, very brave people, all that has started to change.

  20. Humberto,

    That’s a sure sign Castro has promised the Russians a full return to capitalism and specific promises for Russian business.

    But there are still some very deluded Castro groupies out there who haven’t learnt a thing from Soviet, Chinese and Vietnamese history.

    The only question is how long North Korea will keep on with the socialist charade.

  21. THE PUTIN OLIGARCHY MAFIA FORGIVES THE CASTROFASCIST MAFIA! AND THE RUSSIAN PEOPLE AND CUBAN PEOPLE GET MORE OF THE SAME DICTATORSHIP SERFDOM!

    REUTERS EXCLUSIVE: Russia signs deal to forgive $29 billion of Cuba’s Soviet-era debt – diplomats – by Mark Frank

    Russia and Cuba have quietly signed an agreement to write off 90 percent of Cuba’s $32 billion debt to the defunct Soviet Union, a deal that ends a 20-year squabble and opens the way for more investment and trade, Russian and European diplomats said.

    The two sides announced an agreement to settle the debt dispute earlier this year and finalized the deal in Moscow in October. It would have Cuba pay $3.2 billion over 10 years in exchange for Russia forgiving the rest of a $32 billion debt – $20 billion plus service and interest, the diplomats said.

    It must still be approved by the Duma, Russia’s lower house of parliament.

    Cuba’s total export earnings are around $18 billion, including tourism and medical and educational services.

    Neither Cuba nor Russia has made any official comment on the debt agreement. Cuban officials were not immediately available for comment.

    Cuba defaulted on its debt in the late 1980s but recently has been trying to restructure the old debts to improve its international credibility.
    PARIS CLUB CONTACTS

    The Paris Club is an informal group of creditor governments including Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States as well as a number of smaller European nations.

    The Paris Club reported that Cuba owed its members $35 billion at the close of 2012, now estimated at around $37 billion, which would leave the island owing $5 billion to $6 billion of non-Soviet debt to the club’s members.

    CLICK LINK FOR ENTIRE ARTICLE!

    http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/12/09/us-cuba-russia-debt-idUSBRE9B813P20131209

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