The United States in Cuban Media: Framing of America Related News in Granma's Internet Archives

The United States in Cuban Media: Framing of America Related News in Granma's Internet Archives

Eduar Barbosa Caro (Universidad del Rosario, Colombia), Camila Andrea Granados Pérez (Universidad del Rosario, Colombia) and María Emma Jiménez Esguerra (Universidad del Rosario, Colombia)
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 26
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-9312-6.ch003

Abstract

This chapter sets out to examine Granma newspaper's representation of the U.S. in its news contents published from March 2010 to December 2018. Based on a content analysis of 989 headlines collected from the tabloid's Internet archives, the chapter answers the following research questions (1) which frames are dominantly used in news headlines related to the United States, (2) how these frames vary with time, and (3) which concepts or terms appear most frequently in the corpus of headlines. The results of the study reveal that Granma newspaper exhibits various forms of anti-Americanism in its issues. It constantly portrays the U.S. as an interventionist/imperialist power that should be blamed for the economic, educational, and housing difficulties in Cuba. The newspaper tends to constantly highlight serious inconsistency between some positive Cuban government declarations about Cuba's relations with the U.S. It equally mostly uses the conflict frame in its coverage of U.S. news events. The chapter thus argues that U.S. news in Granma's columns is constantly slanted according to some psychological biases, two of which include the us vs. them and the capitalists vs. communists. Furthermore, the newspaper constantly uses voices from experts, organizations, or authorities to suggest that lifting the blockade is a matter of utmost urgency that depends entirely on the U.S. Government's decisions.
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Introduction And A Brief Historical Context

Silva (2003) affirms that the conflict between the United States and Cuba is not entirely new, but rather worse because of the armed revolution that took place in 1959. Along with this, the measures taken by the United States, according to Amnesty International (2009), have had “an impact that affects especially the most vulnerable sectors of society” (p. 5) in Cuba, maintaining the conflict between defenders and opponents of the embargo.

According to Franklin (2006), the interest of the United States in Cuba goes back to 1809, when Former President Jefferson wrote to James Madison to let him know what he thought about the island, that is, that the territory could be a great addition to their system of States. In 1823, the Monroe Doctrine, in the words of Fernández (2009), “implied that the United States had notified Europe that they would not accept their advance in an area they considered of their exclusive hegemony” (p. 95). This led eventually to the explicit message delivered to the Spanish government by Alexander Everest in 1825, in behalf of the United States, in which they stated they would not allow “any changes in Cuba’s political situation unless they placed the island under the jurisdiction of the USA” (Fernández, 2009, p. 95).

From this point in history, Cuba suffered several political and social changes, such as liberation wars, the subsequent independence from Spain and what they called a pseudo-Republic (Fernández, 2009) between 1902-1959. The latter included the presidency of Fulgencio Batista (1940-1944), a public figure identified as a dictator (Figueredo, 2016), and his de facto government from 1952 to 1959. Here appears one of the most important historical milestones occurred in Cuban history: the implementation by the United States of an economic, commercial, and financial embargo against Cuba after the triumph of the revolution led by Fidel Castro and the guerrillas, which promulgated measures that restricted or prohibited commercial exchange with the island to this day. The consequences of this embargo, also known as the blockade, have been felt with more vigor since the fall of the Soviet Union (Marimón & Torres, 2013).

The blockade has pushed the Cuban government to fight in order to sustain a very fragile economy (Berríos, 1994) while perpetuating a communist worldview that touches (and penetrates) every aspect of Cuban’s life. Pardo and Valdés (1999) argue that the United States has never been open to negotiating the terms of this embargo and that this is the real reason for it to subsist. Nevertheless, the reality is much complex because each country has its own explanations.

In order to understand how a media setting reflects this conflict, and aware of the little attention paid to the media portrayal of the US on Cuban media, this chapter aims to describe, based on Framing Theory: i) which frames emerge in the news headlines related to the United States; ii) how these frames behaved in time, and iii) which concepts or terms appear most frequently in the headlines’ corpus. Thus, the study uses the complete Internet archive of Cuba’s official newspaper: Granma, as its dataset. This newspaper was first published in 1965 and is now available in six languages.

We focus on Granma’s headlines because they are often considered a summary or a first glimpse into the full story (Bleich, Stonebraker, Nisar & Abelhamid, 2015) or the result of editorial decisions (Bowman, Lewis & Tamborini, 2014) to attract non-engaged readers—as opposed to engaged readers, who will usually read the full article regarding an issue they’re interested about in very few words (Bleich et al., 2015). As an essential element of news production, we consider they can provide insights about the desired impact/meaning of the complete information and the newspaper’s intention to highlight some particular discursive or political element.

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Journalism In Cuba: Granma And Media Control

Before 1959, Cuba had one of the most advanced communications systems in Latin America “as measured by telephone service and television sets per capita” (Nelson, 2016, p. 5). The country had more than 50 daily newspapers, but this changed over time when Fidel and others took power (Nelson, 2016), and economical limitations began to increase along with the rigid structure of Cuban society (Arencibia, 2017).

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