Fidel Castro is one of history’s greatest villains, having turned his island nation into a prison while looting, perhaps, a greater percentage of its wealth than any warlord or tyrant on record. Yet around the world, he and his corrupt regime are viewed mostly with amused tolerance, if not outright approval.
In large part, this is due to the regime’s skill in producing propaganda. In fact, propaganda may be the only product that Cuba produces in an internationally competitive manner. The latest manifestation of this skill is a sort of all-Cuban Wikipedia. The Daily Caller terms it the “most elaborate propaganda creation ever.”
Last week, Cuba launched EcuRed, its own version of Wikipedia. It was an intriguing move for a country whose population has very minimal Internet access. But the Cuban regime produces a large amount of propaganda targeted at the outside world, and EcuRed fits neatly into that framework.
“They do these extensive media operations,” said Mauricio Claver-Carone, the executive director of Cuba Democracy Public Advocacy, and a member of the board of directors of U.S.-Cuba Democracy PAC, “so that eventually the rest of the world, they hope, is seeing that, and they think it’s the truth because it’s coming from all kinds of different sources.”
It’s the ultimate in astroturf; one wonders whether George Soros consulted on the project. But whom, exactly, are they trying to fool?
“It’s their way of continuously rewriting history, essentially, for a foreign audience,” he said, because “domestically, the Cuban government is not going to convince anyone that all is good … they survive basically off foreign political support and foreign economic support.”
Frank Calzon, executive director of the Center for Free Cuba, agrees. “This is not for the Cuban reader,” he said.
Cubans are much too aware of the poverty and oppression in which they live to be fooled. The reality of Cuba is summed up in this news story: “11 Cuban dissidents spend 8th Christmas in prison.”
It was another lonely Christmas for the wives of 11 imprisoned dissidents slated to be freed under a deal between the Cuban government and the island’s Roman Catholic Church, as the holiday came and went with no sign they’d be released anytime soon.
“Christmas is a family holiday, and for eight Christmases, there’s been an empty seat at the table. We hope that next year, that won’t the case,” said Laura Pollan, a leader of the Ladies in White, a group made up of the wives and mothers of the dissidents.
Still, Pollan added, “There’s been no sign that any of them are going to be released soon.” …
The 11 still behind bars have said they want to remain in Cuba, a demand some observers see as a possible stumbling block to their release.
One must admit that for the last fifty years, the Castro regime’s propaganda effort has been remarkably successful. But why? Mauricio Claver-Carone explains:
“There is a huge audience out there that consumes anti-Americanism,” said Claver-Carone, calling it “the blame America first model.” The regime’s propaganda “feed[s] that anti-American audience.”
It’s sad but true: in many precincts, including some here in the U.S., being anti-American is enough to get you forgiven almost anything.