Last week, Cuba launched EcuRed, it’s 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.”
If building an entire online encyclopedia seems overly elaborate for propaganda, one need only look at Cuba’s newspapers, says Claver-Carone. He points out that all six major newspapers in Cuba are state run, but each claims to represent a different voice in the population, leading to the perception that multiple different viewpoints are represented in the media.
“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.
Calzon credits this massive propaganda effort with the fact that “there are still some folks that give the Cuban government the benefit of the doubt.”
The targeted audience, obviously, is not the United States, a country that, as The Daily Caller reported last week, gets a pretty bad rap on EcuRed. “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 also, according to Claver-Carone, serves as a “distraction, so that people don’t pay attention to the real issues on the island.”
In spite of this massive effort, Calzon suggests that technology has ultimately made it more difficult for Fidel Castro’s regime to preserve this image to the outside world.
“People say technology is neutral,” he said, “but I think in our days technology is more in favor of democracy. It’s very difficult for a regime to have control to the extent that they are used to when people can take a photograph from a telephone.”