Thursday, April 29, 2010

"A call to dialogue"

Palabra Nueva published an interesting interview with Cardinal Jaime Ortega last week; the text is here (pdf), AP’s coverage is here, and Cuban Colada translated excerpts here.

At the Havana Note, Tom Garofalo wrote a very useful explanation of the meaning behind some of the terms the Cardinal used when he expressed his desire for dialogue in the interest of the common good of the Cuban nation.

Cardinal Ortega focused mainly on the situation inside Cuba, discussing Cuba’s sharp economic difficulties, and stating his view that there is basically a “kind of national consensus” on changes that are urgently needed to address them.

He is not swooning over President Obama. He makes a modest assessment of the new President’s actions toward Cuba, saying that “important steps were taken that modified some counterproductive measures imposed by the previous Administration.” But when it comes to dialogue, he said:

“…with time the campaign proposal was changed. The old policy prevailed again: to begin at the end. I am convinced that the first step should be to meet and talk and, as the dialogue advances, steps could be taken to improve difficult situations or to overcome the most critical points.”

In other words, President Obama has it backwards.

And Cardinal Ortega gives the issue of U.S.-Cuba dialogue more importance than one might guess.

The remarks cited above came in response to this question: “Do you truly believe that the conflict with the United States affects the lives of Cubans in a decisive way?” His answer began, “I believe a Cuba-United States dialogue would be the first step needed to break the critical circle in which we find ourselves.” That sounds as if he’s saying that the state of Cuba’s relationship with the United States affects the country’s internal dynamics. He wouldn’t be the first Cuban to express that opinion, but it would be interesting to know why he thinks that is the case.

Finally, the Cardinal described the coverage of Orlando Zapata’s death as a “war of words of the communications media of the United States, Spain, and others.” He went on to say that the coverage constituted “a form of media violence” to which the government reacted “in its own way.” I understand and support the Cardinal’s idea that dialogue all around would be a good idea. But news is news, and coverage of it isn’t “violence.”


Anonymous said...

there is no such thing as purely objective coverage of news. the media treatment of the death was as subjective as any coverage of cuba.

Phil Peters said...

Ok maybe so, but "violence?"

Anonymous said...

Agree that the term 'violence' may not be appropriate in this case, especially from a man of the cloth. I'd have to see the original comments and translation to put in context, if any.
The point I assume he was trying to make was the subjective (biased?) reporting of the hunger strike death from the United States in particular, has been, as is common practice, somewhat one-sided. The Cuban side of the incident was never given anything close to equal coverage. Whether one thinks the other side has a valid point or not, the media's basic tenant is to report both sides. Never happens with Cuba. On most if any issues. The coverage maintains the historical continuation of how the mainstream media has always treated Cuba, and the Cardinal is expressing that. Maybe one can take offense with his terminology, but the issue he is trying to address is a legitimate one.

Anonymous said...

the word "violence" there is an exaggeration. Of course, if the media don't care about their exaggerations on dealing with these piece of "news", I don't see why the cardinal should.