The Event: Death of Fidel Castro A Media PERSPECTIVE

Fidel Castro died on November 26, 2016. He was the Prime Minister/President of Cuba from 1959-2008.

In his early years he had studied law at the University of Havana. He ran for political office in 1952, but General Batista's coup ended elections in Cuba. Castro eventually led the revolution in 1959 that ousted Batista. He became the Prime Minister until 1976, and the President of the Council of State until he relinquished power to his brother Raul, in 2008, because of illness (Castro, 2016).

“My work reflects the Cuban spirit.” Eladio Rivadulla was a revolutionary and an artist. He created this poster on the eve of Castro’s Army's triumphant arrival in Havana on January 1. 1959 (Rivadulla, 2017).

The International Media and the Death of Fidel Castro

The death of Castro was reported across the globe. The slant of reporting by each news organization took many different forms, positive and negative.

ACN: The Cuban News Agency; it is the official voice of the government and people of Cuba. Only referring to Castro as the "Commander of the Revolution;" the article addressed the announcement by Raul Castro of Fidel's death and funeral plans. Fidel's body was to be cremated and a commission will plan the funeral arrangements. There was no emotional or sympathetic references, only a report. (ACN, 2016).

Aljazeera: A global news source, backed by a Saudi prince, Aljazeera reported predominantly about the long-standing feud between the US and Cuba. A staff reported made reference to the changes that may come in the politics of Cuba, now that Fidel is dead. Citizens of Cuba were interviewed who mourn the loss of the leader. Interviews with Cubans living in the US and reports of social media showed a celebration taking place with Champagne and parties (Aljazeera, 2016).

BBC: The image on BBC was of Fidel Castro, raising his arm in an obviously emotional speech. Comments from President Obama and Donald Trump were both reported on the site. The views of Cuban citizens and the exiled US Cubans was given in a side-by-side feature. It was noted World leaders were paying tribute to him, while trump called him "a brutal dictator." A history of how the US tried to assassinate Castro 638 times was a full featured article on the main page of the death announcement (BBC, 2016).

CBS: The description of Castro was "a fiery demagogue, a dictator, a Soviet puppet. "The article outlined his hostile relationship with the US and how he had done little for the people of Cuba. The article told of his affair, the divorce that followed, a child from that affair that fled to the US. Overall, it was a tabloid-type editorial with little redeeming value as an announcement of the death of a leader of a country (CBS, 2016).

CNN: The only report found of Castro's death was on the CNN Money site. It only had one line, reporting he was dead, and a video that would not play. The image was the defiant Castro, in fatigues, with his defiant arm in the air. A search on the main CNN brought no further results, only links to commercial sites and advertising. It had a listing to find Fidel's address and phone number (CNN, 2016).

Deutsche Welle: A simple one paragraph statement reported the death of Castro. Calling him "iconic" and "a thorn in the side of the US." The2:54 minute video featured was a moving and emotional look at Castro from his celebrated entrance in to Havana when he defeated Batista; to his meeting with the Pope and his final weakened state before his death (Deutsche Welle, 2016).

Fox News: Searching the Fox News site did not produce any results for Castro's death. A Google search found the news report. A video on the site was not available. It was an historical presentation, with a few insults from Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney. Newt said Castro was going to Hell when he died and Mitt said, "Thank Heavens." This article was the only one that mentioned his relationship to "Che" Guevara, the revolutionary who was executed in Bolivia. He was an icon of the anti-establishment Leftist Movement (Fox News, 2016).

Euronews: Details of the death were the most prominent introduction, with videos of the weakened Castro in his last days, The announcement by Raul Castro of his brother's death was also a main feature. The article include a full slate of screen shots of Tweets and comments from World leaders, expressing their sympathies and feelings about Fidel. Iconic photos of Fidel were shown, meeting with World leaders, such as Nelson Mandela, His long conflict with the US was featured in a video entitled, "A Brief History of US-Cuban Relations" (Euronews, 2016).

Japan Times: The featured photo on this news site of Fidel Castro and his rebel followers entering Havana could have been taken from a Hollywood movie. The article was a condemnation of the US-led effort to oust Castro; including the assassination attempts by the CIA. It referred to pre-Castro Cuba as a "playground for rich Americans" (Japan Times. 2016).

Reuters: This news article reporting the death of Castro was all about the reaction of the Cuban people. The gathered crowds at Havana University were shouting," I am Fidel." Interviews with people were quoted as saying such comments as, "He gave me my humanity, I owe him everything." The closures and suspension of alcohol sales and a giant rally in Revolution Square were also reported. There was no mention of the US/Cuban conflict (BBC, 2016).

Zee News: This Indian site reported the facts and when opinions were expressed; gave both sides of the argument. His opponents called him a "cruel tyrant; while at home he was a "hero. A timeline of his life was available and comments from World leaders about his passing was on the site." The video of the original newscast in the native language was posted (Zee News, 2016).

Photo from Japan Times (2016)

Castro would be very excited to see the full press turnout for his demise. He learned very early how to manipulate the news. Media and Castro's long relationship is no accident, according to Michelle Chase in her article for Age of Revolutions. The members of the revolutionary movement realized the importance of international media and made an extraordinary effort to harness the power. The members of the press were provided transportation and the revolutionaries helped move the heavy equipment required to make film and photos. The iconic black and white photos created an image of a romanticized force of machismo. The beards and uniforms with the long rifles played well with the media and the World. The early images of "Che" and Fidel, with their clean-shaven faces, were replaced quickly to gain the attention of the World (Chase, 2017).

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