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Media discourse and the Cuban question

Reviews

Salim Lamrani is a French journalist and academic. His 2013 volume on Cuba and the West, The Economic War on Cuba (reviewed in CD 49:2, March/April 2015), performed a concise and careful demolition of pro-embargo myths, owing largely to the author’s devoted use of primary source materials. The effect was a sparkling and pragmatic expose of Western hypocrisy that felt free of much ideological incursion.

Too bad, then, that this latest instalment is advertised foremost as an analysis of media concentration and corporate bias. Here the author examines coverage of Cuba in Spanish daily El País across a variety of metrics: education and health, emigration, the case of American prisoner and accused spy Alan Gross.

The breadth and incisiveness of Lamrani’s research is on display, as before. And yet – or therefore – the author slips at times into the role of apologist. Fair enough, when deployed in the right argument – but here it only saps the book of its force. A chapter attacking Cuban dissident and media darling Yoani Sánchez relentlessly presses the reader with the purchasing power of her salary when spent in Cuba (9600 beers, 24000 scoops of ice cream, and so on). A good bit of today’s debate on Cuba hinges on disputed causality, not numbers; and so Lamrani’s study would profit from linking questions of media discourse with the former instead.

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