Media Bias on Pablo Milanes in Miami: Obstacle to Cuban Reconciliation
The extensive coverage the media has given to an very small number of vocal Cuban-Americans who opposed the celebration of a concert held in Miami by Cuban artist Pablo Milanés stands in stark contrast to the sentiment of the majority of the exile community, which has gone largely unreported. For years, we have seen how the media has sensationalized protests by these (most likely the same) small number of exiles who, blinded by their hatred for the Cuban regime, have worked tirelessly to maintain the status quo in both Washington and Havana.
These Cuban-Americans have every right to feel hurt and even hatred as many suffered greatly at the hand of the Cuban government several decades ago. They came to this country in search of freedom and the right to voice their beliefs and we should respect and protect their right to do so. The media has done more than its share to defend these protestors and their rights. But this small minority of Cuban-Americans does not represent the entire exile community. Unfortunately, headlines such as “Exile groups oppose Cuba musician Pablo Milanes’ Aug. 27 concert in Miami,” do little to report the true diversity of the community and sensationalize the small but vocal minority whose main purpose is to make headlines. More damaging however than the sensationalist headlines and all the attention that is given by the media to defenders of the status quo, is the lack of attention given to the majority of the exile community that has long advocated for and supported greater contact between Cubans on both sides of the Florida straits.
For weeks leading up to the Milanés concert, many Cuban-American organizations voiced their support for cultural exchanges with Cuba, with little to no attention from the media. More importantly, Cuba’s democracy advocates, the people the protestors purport to defend, published a number of excellent articles over the past week in defense of the Milanés concert in Miami. In a post on his blog, former political prisoner Oscar Espinosa Chepe stated that:
“The absurd campaign against Pablo Milanés is part of an ongoing campaign to hinder greater contact between Cubans on the island and those living abroad, and to weaken family ties.”
Meanwhile, Cuban blogger Yoani Sanchez also posted an article on her blog cautioning that:
“Welcoming Pablo Milanés with insults and screams could delay the necessary embrace between Cubans on the island and those living abroad…but it will not prevent it.”
Perhaps the media, like the protestors it has covered so extensively, has failed to understand the important role that reconciliation will play in building a better future for Cuba. Most Cuban-Americans unerstand the importance of reconciliation, as expressed in over 300,000 trips annually to visit family in Cuba, over one billion dollars in family remittances and the support for cultural exchanges. While this process of reconciliation happens one person at a time, the media has an important role to play in accurately reporting not only those who defend the status quo, but also, the majority of Cuban-Americans whose focus is on helping the Cuban people instead of hurting the Cuban regime. The narrative of the Cuban-American exile community has changed dramatically over the past decade, unfortunately the media has frequently failed to take note.