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Cablegate: Cuban Transition in the Surinamese Media: Welcome Balance

VZCZCXRO0146
RR RUEHGR
DE RUEHPO #0082 0591907
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 281907Z FEB 08
FM AMEMBASSY PARAMARIBO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0008
INFO RUCNCOM/EC CARICOM COLLECTIVE
RUEHUB/USINT HAVANA 0020
RUEHAO/AMCONSUL CURACAO 1230

UNCLAS PARAMARIBO 000082

SIPDIS

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

WHA/CAR for Jackie Rosholt
WHA/PDA for Chad West, Charlotte Peterson, and Barbara Rocha
INR for Bob Carhart
US EMBASSY BRASILIA for Brian Butcher

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL CU NS

SUBJECT: CUBAN TRANSITION IN THE SURINAMESE MEDIA: WELCOME BALANCE
AND CUSTOMARY INDIFFERENCE

REF: Paramaribo 74, Paramaribo 81

1. (SBU) SUMMARY. Coverage of the transition of power in Cuba by
the Surinamese media featured mostly wire stories. Limited
commentary was characterized by balance and mild criticism of the
Cuban regime. Government of Suriname (GOS) public reflection was
also balanced, with the exception of praise for Fidel Castro by GOS
Minister of Health Celsius Waterberg. Criticism of undemocratic
practices in Cuba was a welcome departure from customary Surinamese
reticence on controversial issues. END SUMMARY.

----------------------------------------
Media Coverage: Balance and Indifference
----------------------------------------

2. (U) Coverage of the transition of power in Cuba in Surinamese
newspapers was largely made up of wire stories taken either from the
Associated Press or Dutch sources. Limited editorial reaction to
Castro's resignation was typified by the quote, "what does that have
to do with Suriname? At first glance, nothing..." courtesy of the
"Times of Suriname," an opposition-oriented daily. This February 20
editorial went on to say Castro's resignation would be a good
example for Suriname's aging leaders to follow, and featured a
cartoon showing Castro resigning while Suriname's prominent
politicians sat at the table drooling, snoring, and sucking their
thumbs. Other commentary was more critical and outward-looking.
"Dagblad Suriname," a second opposition-oriented daily, opined on
February 22 that "[Castro's] promises of good leadership for the
most part remained promises..." damaged by, for example, "eager use
of bullets against Batista supporters." The editorial did praise
the education and health systems in Cuba, but concluded it is now
time for Raul Castro to take advantage of the opportunity reform the
Cuban economy. The editorial repeated, without comment, remarks by
President Bush calling for democracy in Cuba. A popular television
talk show discussed the opening of a new Democracy Center in
Suriname; when asked whether Cuba could be considered a type of
democracy, one guest, a prominent local academic specializing in
democracy, said no. The second guest, Jenny Simons, a prominent
opposition parliamentarian from the nationalist, left-oriented
National Democratic Party of Suriname, said the system currently in
Cuba is not wanted here.

---------------------------------------
Government Reaction: Balance and Praise
---------------------------------------

3. (U) On February 25 the consensus paper-of-record, "De Ware
Tijd," carried commentary on Cuba by major figures from the GOS.
Speaking prior to the selection of Raul Castro, GOS Vice President
Ramdien Sardjoe said "we are all curious, but with the intention
that we get a leadership there which responds to the aspirations of
the Cuban people." Minister of Health Celsius Waterberg had praise
for Castro, calling him a "world leader of stature." Commenting on
Castro's health, Waterberg said "we find it only too bad... I think
people will always be able to fall back on him for council."
Waterberg was educated in Cuba and has a Cuban wife.

--------
Comment
--------

4. (SBU) Despite Cuba's prominence in the region, Surinamese
reticence and overall indifference to political events in Cuba
should not be surprising; Surinamese are typically inward focused,
and loathe to get involved in controversy. For this reason, the
mild criticism implied by Vice President Sardjoe's remarks, the
direct criticism from a leftist opposition politician, and a
balanced account including direct criticism in one of Suriname's
opposition-oriented newspapers are bigger surprises. These are also
good signs that Surinamers - as a rule practical and cynical - are
less convinced by local Cuban propaganda than the steady stream of
Cuban-Embassy-engineered press releases would like to suggest. END
COMMENT

Schreiber Hughes

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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