By Alejandra Garcia on August 19, 2021 from Havana
On January 22, 1959, three weeks after the triumph of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro summoned journalists from throughout the world to thwart a US campaign against the island related to the trials of dictator Fulgencio Batista’s henchmen.
Operation Truth, as Fidel called it, was Cuba’s first confrontation with the false facts, fake news and slander that befell on the country since day one of the triumph of the Revolution.
“We have seen this story repeated a thousand times in more than 60 years. The only thing that has changed is the era, hand in hand with the socio-technological Revolution led and controlled by the United States,” Cuban journalist Rosa Miriam Elizalde explained during an event organized by the Casa de las Americas, Resumen Latinoamericano, the Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba (UNEAC), and other institutions in the country.
During the session “Cuba Trending Topic: what happened?”, Elizalde explained how the July 11 riots on the Caribbean island were not fortuitous. The background and causes of the revolt, which was incited from Florida through social networks, date back to the first decades of Revolution.
“Since the administration of Bush’s father (who promoted the Torricelli Act, that allowed Cuba’s access to the Internet but banned us from taking advantage of all of its potentialities), until today, Washington has taken advantage of the so-called information highway with the aim of destroying the Cuban government,” the academic reflected.
Information and evidence abounds as to how early the U.S. think tanks saw in digital glasnost an opportunity to achieve their strategic objectives in Cuba, she added.
Successive White House administrations set up two structures of communicational intoxication against the island. The first one was created during the Barack Obama era (2009-2017), aimed at professional and academic sectors. Although the audience is small, the impact is considerable because they are sectors that help build consensus in society.
The second structure emerged during the Donald Trump administration (2017-2021) and was characterized by the proliferation of junk websites that do not respect the traditional values of journalism. They follow the school of Steve Bannon, who was an advisor to the former president during his 2016 campaign and is the great guru of the so-called alternative right, deeply anti-communist.
“Those sites manage the fragmentation of audiences; they tap into Cuba’s identity and focus on popular sectors marginalized or self-marginalized from our institutions. Social networking platforms are their main space of expression and articulation,” the also first vice president of the Union of Cuban Journalists (UPEC) added.
During the meeting, the journalist clarified that “both groups respond to laboratories that have studied the communication gaps we have and know in depth what they think, what are the expectations and interests of Cubans who are on social platforms.”
The leaders of these structures have access to data that are forbidden to the Cuban government and that Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Google and other private companies sell to the highest bidder.
“The Cuban communicative public space is characterized by having a very cohesive nucleus that trusts the institutional systems. Outside this group, numerous dispersed bubbles can be seen – they come together when there is an emotion in which they coincide, rather than rational discourses – whose relationships of trust are anchored in the unregulated space of the digital environment, as also occurs in other societies,” the expert explained.
These are two very polarized worlds trapped in analogical practices, and it is this gap that Florida’s toxic machinery is targeting, she commented.
Another reality joins with these problems, as experienced by the whole world during the pandemic: for example, isolation, increased technological dependence; further synchronization of the transnational right-wing, which is moving at the speed of a click.
“The world is also experiencing an increase in the battle to capture the attention of users, the predominance of emotion over reason, and the emergence of a new media architecture that further empowers the hegemonic media: those who frame the agendas, resignify reality, and model the political scenarios,” clarified the expert.
As if this were not enough, Cuba is facing an unprecedented wave of viral Fake News, which is actually part of an information war that using military tactics targets the civilian population.
In the midst of this reality, we can affirm that the July 11 riots did not begin on that day, but much earlier. In February 2020, the toxic machinery in Florida focused on two strands of the same cause: the reelection of Trump and the end of Cuban socialism, with the support of the allies of the transnational right-wing.
That month, when Cuba still did not have a single case of COVID-19, a campaign began to unfold, changing its name as it went along, but reduced to a few semantic ammunition: Cuba in crisis, hunger, repression, and coronavirus, highlighted Elizalde.
“Today Cuba is unleashing a new Operation Truth. It is unfair and unacceptable that, with all these elements, a nation under siege and communicational warfare would not be expected to defend itself”, she concluded.
Source: Resumen Latinoamericano – English