Associated Press, imperialist media and CBC fakes photos from Cuba

Government supporters gathering at the Máximo Gómez monument in Havana on Sunday. Photograph: Eliana Aponte/Associated Press

By TONY SEED*

(July 13, updated July 16, 23, 27) – On July 12, 2021 the London Guardian newspaper published a sensational decontextualized article on riots in Cuba. Along with other “serious” newspapers on every continent throughout the world, it claimed that “thousands took to the streets in cities throughout the island, demonstrating against food shortages, high prices and communist rule.”

It included the tendentious and manipulative claim ”…the fact that the protests were spontaneous rather than organised indicated the level of discontent in Cuban society.”

On July 11, twelve ”spontaneous“ protests uniformly broke out in 12 locations across the island at exactly 9 a.m. on the same day, involving between 100 and 500 people, as well as in Miami and Tampa, Florida. All were reportedly coordinated through the Miami-based Foundation for PanAmerican Democracy, run by Rosa María Payá. Each rally had the merchandise (wristbands, bags, etc.) #CubaDecide, also produced in #Miami .

As visual evidence of the “thousands” of Cubans “spontaneously” demonstrating in Havana, the Guardian published the photograph by Eliana Aponte pictured above from the Associated Press (AP).

The Guardian was forced to publish a footnote later: “This article was amended on July 12, 2021. The original agency caption on the image of people on the Máximo Gómez monument incorrectly described them as anti-government protesters. They were actually supporters of the government.” [1]

Thousands of people had taken to the streets demonstrating support for revolutionary Cuba. The black propaganda disseminated by the media is intended to divert from the fundamental point that Cuba is defending every life – the most essential human right.

Propaganda multiplier

Media-Culpa

The use of so-called fake photos can hardly be described as yellow journalism, corporate “bias”, or knee jerk anti-communism. The information war against Cuba is an integral part of the US blockade in which global news agencies and social media monopolies of the NATO countries play a leading role. The major international news agencies are the focus of this article.

The Associated Press has over 4,000 employees worldwide. The AP belongs to US media companies and has its main editorial office in New York. Media ownership in the US like Canada is highly concentrated and it plays a role in disinforming the polity. It is a fraud that AP is an “independent co-operative.” Since April 2017, the chairman is Steven Swartz, president and CEO of Hearst Communications. AP news is used by around 12,000 international media outlets, reaching more than half of the world’s population every day.

The second largest is the British agency Thompson Reuters in London which employs just over 3,000 people. Here is what they had to say on July 16: Reuters titled an analysis of recent Cuban events thus: “Fake news muddies online waters during Cuba protests” (Fake news online muddies the waters during protests in Cuba.) Of course, Reuters gives the options that these fake news may be sown either by the opposition or by the Cuban government. It would be the only case in history in which a government sows false news that its ministers are fleeing and airs photos of massive demonstrations of support presenting them as opponents. 

Reuters is privately owned. It was originally formed in 1851 and emerged during the Crimean War in 1854 as a means to gather intelligence. It was acquired in 2008 by Woodbridge Co. Ltd., holding company of Canadian billionaire Thomson – one of the 25 richest people in the world – and merged into Thomson Reuters, headquartered in New York. Along with being controlling shareholder, Woodbridge also owns The Globe and Mail, a corporate sponsor of the NATO Association of Canada. Steve Hasker, President and CEO, Thomson Reuters, is a member of the International Advisory Board of the Atlantic Council of NATO, New York. The Globe and Torstar (Toronto Star) jointly own the Canadian Press agency. [2]

The third-largest is the quasi-governmental Agence France-Presse (AFP) based in Paris and with around 4000 employees. The AFP sends over 3,000 stories and photos every day to media all over the world. It has operations in multiple languages and 151 countries. The primary client of AFP is the French government, which purchases subscriptions for its various services and has three members on its 18-member broard of directors. In practice, those subscriptions are an indirect subsidy to AFP, amounting to as much as 40 per cent of the agency’s revenue.

The three global news agencies have been described as the “invisible nerve centre of the media system.” Imperialist governments, military and intelligence services use these global news agencies as multipliers to spread their messages around the world. To foster the belief that “hostile foreign states” and non-state actors are the problem, the intelligence agencies themselves churn out “fake news” and conduct a large number of disruptive activities through their communications networks to spread fiction as fact. The recent examples of what India, Britain and Israel have been up to worldwide, including in Canada, is a case in point. The already revealed and as yet unrevealed activities of the intelligence agencies into which Canada has been integrated, which do the exact same things, is another.

In addition, many countries run their own state-owned news agencies. These include, for instance, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) and Radio Canada International funded by the Government of Canada, the German DPA created in 2009, the Austrian APA, and the Swiss SDA.

The US Agency for Global Media (USAGM) includes six entities: Office of Cuban Broadcasting (Radio and TV Martí); the Voice of America (VOA); Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty; Radio Free Asia; Middle East Broadcasting Networks (Alhurra TV and Radio Sawa); and the Open Technology Fund. The US-based Cuba Money Project reports that the US government spent $911 million for broadcasting aimed at Cuba from fiscal years 1984 through 2019, according to the Congressional Research Service. Funding ranged from $27 million to $29 million from 2014 to 2019. Its current budget is $28 million. Overall, US President Joe Biden is requesting $810.396 million for the USAGM, not including $20 million for “democracy promotion” programs targeting Cuba. (See Biden wants $20 million for Cuba programs, not including Radio & TV Martí)

When it comes to international news, however, national agencies usually rely on the three global agencies and simply reproduce their images and/or copy and translate their reports. The US-government’s VOA duplicated the AP photo on two separate occasions.

To disinform the people, scores of US, British, Spanish and Canadian media resorted to using the identical image from AP to falsely promote how large and impressive the so-called “anti-government protest” in Cuba allegedly was. In the United States, over 100 media used it. Fox News (7/11/21), New York Times (7,11,21), Boston Globe (7/11/21), Financial Times (7/12/21), Yahoo! News (7/11/21), Washington Times and NBC’s Today program (7/13/21) were among those that used the same photograph. Today, NBC’s flagship program in the US, used the image in its programs for at least three days in a row.

Boston Globe: Cubans Denounce 'Misery' in Biggest Protests in Decades
Boston Globe, which is owned by the New York Times

Media such as El País, MSN Noticias, DW of Germany, FOX News, ABC News and Shepparton News from Australia, VG from Norway, South China Morning Post used it.

CBC: So close to the United States, so far from the truth

On July 15, the CBC used three AP photos to illustrate a pathetic attack by Evan Dyer, a regime change scribbler, on the “complicity of this government (Canada) with the dictatorship.” These included the above-mentioned fake photo – four days after it had been exposed as a fake and corrected by AP itself (see below). The deception, pictured below, did not last long before it was exposed. The lie had short legs. Journalism is supposed to be fact-based but what the CBC is passing off as journalism is the work of the political police.

The treatment shatters the pretence that the CBC is something different to a state propaganda broadcaster. It also makes plain that this propaganda exercise to smear and provoke Cuba was calculated and deliberate.

Screenshot above is corrected version, published just nine hours later at 1:00 p.m.

The CBC’s attempt to disinform Canadians was not limited to its “senior reporter” reciting what those in the regime change camp had to say. Its headline blares out “As Cuba erupts, Cuban-Canadians accuse the Trudeau government of turning its back.” A subtitle blares, “Government statement echoes regime’s spin, says critic.”

The allegations are anything but insignificant, because of the leading position Canadians play in the travel sector. Dyer alleges, “Canadian tourist dollars and Canadian investments are important for the survival of Communist Party control.” The Cuban economy and the US blockade of Cuba simply do not exist objectively in the real world for this scribbler. Dyer demands that Canada align itself with Biden’s “call for freedom.” But Canadians have long experience with and respect for what Cuba does and represents to the world. They also know a lot about the aims of U.S. imperialism and how it operates.

To further the economic war against Cuba, Dyer creates a scandalous slander against Canadians of Cuban origin. He uses scurrilous allegations and untruths spread by counterrevolutionary sources he sought out. He calls these shady characters “democracy” and “human rights” activists – “sources.” He falsely portrays them as being representative of the will of Cuban Canadians. His aim is to split the polity, cast doubt on the principled positions of the island republic and poison the decades of friendship between the Cuban and Canadian peoples.

His main “source” is Michael Lima Caudra of Niagara Falls, whom Dyer presents as an “exile.” Not one single person has ever been exiled from Cuba and many “dissidents” abroad travel back and forth, many of them on the US dime. Antonio Rodiles twice attended the US-organized Halifax International Security Forum, all expenses paid by the Department of National Defence, travelling from Havana to Halifax and back. Lima Caudra represents a US government-connected agency “El Consejo para la Transición Democrática en Cuba” (Council for the Democratic Transition of Cuba) and is directly linked to and works with the Conservative Party. Dyer omits informing us that this “council” was formed just three weeks earlier on June 13th on the evening of the historic vote in the United Nations General Assembly condemning the cruel and vindictive blockade. [3] At its head was put one Jose Michael Ferrer, a recipient of US funds according to the Cuba Money Project. It represents the scum the US is trying to prop up in that country

Using the screen of his “sources”, Dyer demands that Canada reduplicate its crude opposition to Venezuela and its role on behalf of the United States in organizing the long-gone Lima Group, when it was “at the forefront of calls for the removal of the Nicolas Maduro government in Venezuela.” CBC News and Global Affairs Canada failed in their miserable attempt at a coup d’état and invasion to overthrow the Maduro government. They did not succeed in their grand attempt to conjure up a mass uprising of the Venezuelan people and mass defections from the Venezuelan armed forces. Now they have as their Plan B to blame the Cubans for Venezuela and disrupt the diplomatic and other relations of Canada with Socialist Cuba including tourism. Journalism is supposed to be fact-based but what the CBC is passing off as journalism is the work of the political police. (The CBC’s black propaganda will be examined in more detail in a forthcoming article.)

Monopoly media features one fake photo after another

Leading monopoly newspapers in Spain such as El País and El Mundo joined the offensive together with the monopoly media of rich oligarchs in Latin America.

Image
The newspaper La Nación de la Argentina, July 11, 2012 Julián Macías Tovar

Along with the New York Times, the newspaper La Nación de la Argentina published in its July 11 issue an article entitled “A massive and unprecedented protest in the streets surprises the Cuban regime,” signed by journalist Daniel Lozano. 

It was illustrated with a close-up AFP photograph of a group of protesters marching with a Cuban flag. It allegedly depicts thousands (“milles de cubanos”) marching in the small Havana town of San Antonio de los Baños. However, one can see in the middle of the photo, in a black-and-white t-shirt, Gerardo Hernández Nordelo, President of the Committees for the Defence of the Revolution, can be seen behind the flag. [Gerardo is one of the Cuban Five, the Cuban anti-terrorist fighters who were imprisoned in the US for the “crime” of informing the US authorities of terrorist attacks being launched against Cuba from US soil.) That same group appears in a video of a mobilization favourable to the government that same day, in the streets of Havana. It is the same woman with a light blue chinstrap, the same man with very short hair and a black T-shirt, and the same woman with her fist raised, who were marching shouting: “This street belongs to Fidel.” See the video on the Argentinian information portal Tramas here.

This disinformation was not limited to the misappropriation of photos. They used many of the same scurrilous phrases – a phenomena that would otherwise rather be blamed on “controlled media” in so-called authoritarian states.

CNN (Instagram, 7/11/21) used a photo of a rally in Miami to promote an article headlined “Cubans Take to Streets in Rare Anti-Government Protest Over Lack of Freedoms, Worsening Economy.” The image in question was taken by an AFP photographer, and a search through the agency’s photo gallery shows the rally was actually held in Miami, Florida. CNN appears to have omitted the first portion of the AFP caption, which made clear the protest was based in the US. (The post has since been deleted.) National Geographic (7/13/21) pulled a similar trick, although they at least included a caption informing eagle-eyed readers that the image was taken in Florida. 

CNN photo labeled “Cubans take to streets in rare anti-government protest” – but actually taken in Miami. (Note sign for Eighth Street in the background, top.)

When Egyptians became Cubans

Although people of Arabic origin who migrated to Cuba and the Antilles beginning in the 1600s, mainly from the Levant, the “Union Arabe de Cuba” would be amazed to learn how many Cubans are actually from Egypt.

A photo widely disseminated on the networks claimed to correspond to a protest “on the boardwalk of Cuba” and hundreds of thousands of protesters appeared. The post was replicated on Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp groups accompanied by the text “The malecón of Havana #VivaCubaLibre” (see herehere Y here). The team of AFP Factual, a news verification service of the AFP agency, along with Bolivia Verifica discovered that this spectacular fabrication was an Associated Press photo of a mobilization in Alexandria on February 10, 2011, after the fall of the 30-year-old regime of Hosni Mubarak. in Egypt. Reuters also had to deny it.

Social media sites also shared photos of gatherings in Spain and Argentina and claimed they depicted unrest in Cuba – some racking up thousands of shares.

Media manipulation and fake news have been protagonists in crude attempts to destabilize Cuba through social networks. In this photo, Cubans are even holding Egyptian flags.

The photograph by Tarek Fawzy is from the agency AP Images. Here is a higher resolution image, with the AP caption from 2011:

Thousands of Egyptian anti-government protesters march in Alexandria, Egypt, Friday, Feb. 11, 2011. Mubarak has refused to step down or leave the country, and instead handed his administrative powers to his vice president Omar Suleiman on Thursday, remaining president and ensuring control over the reform process, prompting mass protests by anti-Mubarak demonstrators. (AP Photo/ Tarek Fawzy)
In the same photo, the Egyptian flags have been highlighted by the website Bolivia Verifica.

An almost identical photograph by the same photographer was posted on the same AP site with a caption, which has been removed from its data bank:

Thousands of Egyptian protesters shout anti-Mubarak slogans during a protest in the Medierrean sea city of Alexandria, Egypt, Friday, Feb.4, 2011. The Egyptian military guarded thousands of protesters pouring into Cairo’s main square on Friday in an attempt to drive out President Hosni Mubarak after a week and half of pro-democracy demonstrations. (AP Photo/Tarek Fawzy)

Fox News, in a segment with US Republican Senator Ted Cruz of Florida, ran footage of Cubans in the streets, ostensibly to support Cruz’ anti-revolutionary diatribe. The people on the screen, though, held signs that… were curiously pixalated. Fox News’ editors blurred out the signs at what they claimed were “anti-government” demonstrations in Cuba because they said things like “Long Live the Cuban Revolution” and “The Streets Belong to the Revolutionaries.” Yes, it was a pro-Revolutionary march, and the signs were pro-government. [3]

Who decides?

On July 20 the US Congress welcomed one and the same Rosa María Payá of the Miami-based Foundation for PanAmerican Democracy, founder of its silly and misnamed Cuba Decide and other US-financed so-called NGOs and “civic platforms,” and goddaughter of Senator Marco Rubio who originally trained her. She was joined in the show by another mercenary, José Miguel Vivanco, executive director of the Americas Division of Human Rights Watch, well-known wing of the US State Department which remains silent on the true violations against human rights carried out by the United States. The media seems to have overlooked the theatrical session.

Hailing her counter-revolutionary role Julie Chung, Acting Assistant Secretary for U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs. tweeted “Thank you @RosaMariaPaya for amplifying what the world needs to know and for your recommendations on what the world can do.” The hearing was full of clearly visible despair (pictured) with the failure of the latest attempt at a “soft coup.”

Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, Civil Security, Migration and International Economic Policy of the Foreign Relations Committee of the House of Representatives, July 20, 2021 | Twitter @ CubaDecide

As an old saying goes “God creates them and the Devil gathers them together,” although the latter also creates covers for them.

It is true, Cuba Decides. But that Cuba is not Washington, Cuba is the people who massively demonstrated against Washington, who elected at the polls those candidates they entrust to carry out their wishes. Cuba is the one that believes in a united and conscious polity, that is the Cuba that Decides to Be.

Every little bit helps

It is now important for every Canadian to realize that he or she can get little to no reliable news from the US and national media on Cuba, or even the United States and Canada itself.

This entire offensive of the imperialist media to wreck public opinion illustrates the mindset and modus operandi to oppose the mobilization of the human factor. The aim is to disinform the population at home so that nobody develops their own reference points to decide what our society needs to do to oppose intervention, aggression and war and make Canada a factor for peace. This latest infamy shows more than ever the necessity of building independent media and having independent vantage points.

The orchestrated pattern of disinformation does not show the so-called power of the media, a thesis that itself is a form of disinformation. In many parts of Canada a solidarity movement is quietly going on, which is not reported on. Canadians admire the courageous spirit embodied by Cuba; a spirit that today is so powerfully manifested in Cuba’s steadfastness against the efforts of the empire to destroy the island’s independence. The CBC’s anti-Cuban articles have aroused intense public criticism, with over 2,000 comments on one and over 4,000 on another. People are discussing very substantive issues such as: what kind of friendship and relations do we wish to have with the Cuban people; how to strengthen this friendship; and what contribution we can make to defend and assist the right of the Cuban people to be. It gives a practical opportunity for Canadians to assess what kind of government Trudeau and Freeland’s Liberals stand for and whether this is the foreign policy and democracy Canadians want. It has every possibility of breaking the taboo of the cartel political parties that issues of foreign policy are simply not to be discussed during federal elections and left as the royal prerogative. Ordinary women, men and youth are discussing these important issues including strategies, tactics and mechanisms to realize their vision. This work is inspiring because it sets down the building blocks of renewal and renovation.

A starting point is to sign the House of Commons petition issued by the Canadian Network on Cuba to the government of Canada asking it to tell the U.S. to end its punishing economic war and campaign of subversion against Cuba. I encourage you to take a minute and do that now. As I have personally found, this is not a matter of merely collecting signatures but also an opportunity for political discussion and to encourage people to activate themselves to talk with friends, family and co-workers to do so too. Every little bit helps. This is particularly relevant as there is escalating pressure for Canada to align its policy more closely with the hostile, regime change policy of the US.

The petition can be seen and signed at the link below. Please also share it with others.

Notes

1.The misappropriation of the photo is akin to labelling a photograph of a Black Lives Matter rally as a demonstration for the US Confederacy.

To anyone with knowledge of Cuba, the giant red and black flags emboldened with the words “26 Julio” (Fidel Castro’s political party) in the AP photo will have been a dead giveaway.

The imperialist hubris and ignorance of AP about Cuba is further illustrated by its assertion that the “opposition” forces had gathered at the famous Máximo Gómez monument in Havana. It would never happen. Máximo Gómez (1836-1905) was a general in the Ten Years War (1868-1878), commanding the cavalry forces, and the Commander in Chief of the Cuban revolutionary troops in the War of 95 (1895-1898). In 2016 Fidel Castro declared “We also acknowledge Máximo Gómez as the most disciplined and discrete military leader in our history.”

He was a native of Baní in the Dominican Republic, one of no less than 88 Dominicans who participated in the ranks of the Cuban Liberation Army during the period from 1868 to 1898. Proof of the virtues of those men is provided by the fact that approximately half of them reached the rank of officer, including three who were made major generals and three brigade generals. On October 26, 1868, General Gómez earned himself a place in the pages of Cuban history in Pinos de Baire, where he defeated a column of reinforcement troops sent in to aid the Spanish forces besieged by the Mambises, or independence fighters, in Bayamo. It was on this occasion, Fidel Castro has stressed, that the feared machete charge was used for the first time in the Cuban wars; this strategy would prove to be highly effective in the struggle against the Spanish colonial army. In 1998, the city of Baní awarded the keys to the city to Fidel Castro as a symbol of solidarity. A monument dedicated to Máximo Gómez Báez is in the park of Baní that bears his name, as well as a replica of his maternal home.

2. Reuter’s self-admission on its work on behalf of British intelligence in the 1960s and 1970s is here. The British government’s funding of Reuters in the 1960s and 1970s was disclosed in a 1992 authorized history of the news agency The Power of News: The History of Reuters. For more recent revelations, see Hans Blumenthal, “Reuters, BBC, and Bellingcat participated in covert UK Foreign Office-funded programs to ‘weaken Russia,’ leaked docs reveal,” Grayzone, February 20, 2021. The evidence of the collusion of the US media with the CIA is voluminous.

3. For the 29th consecutive time, the global community overwhelmingly stood with Cuba, voting 184 to 2 in the United Nations General Assembly, resoundingly repudiating the U.S. economic war against Cuba as a flagrant violation of international law. Canada was once again counted in the vast ranks of the world’s nations resoundingly rejecting the coercive, unilateral, and extra-territorial U.S. policy.

3.See twiiter feed of Alan MacLeod here:

With files from Julián Macías Tovar on Twitter, Alan MacLeod, FAIR Media Watch, Bolivia Verifica and RT

Many thanks to members of the Nova Scotia Cuba Association, Ottawa Cuba Connections and End the Blockade on Facebook for their contributions to Internet investigation of this infamy.

*Tony Seed is an award-winning journalist formerly with The Globe and Mail and publisher for 13 years of Shunpiking Magazine, Nova Scotia’s Discovery Magazine.

* * *

The Canadian Network on Cuba informs that a petition to the Government of Canada against the U.S. Economic Blockade of Cuba and on Canada-Cuba Relations is now open for signatures. See here.

3 Comments

Filed under Americas, Media, Journalism & Disinformation

3 responses to “Associated Press, imperialist media and CBC fakes photos from Cuba

  1. The link to the Guardian needs to be fixed.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Reblogged this on The Most Revolutionary Act and commented:
    This photo actually depicts a pro-government protest.

    Like

  3. Pingback: Invented journalism: When a journalist covers herself in mud to ‘make it true’ | Tony Seed's Weblog

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