The progressive governments of Latin America are facing the fury of right-wing political forces, which are employing media strategies such as planting chaos and hidden truths, igniting a credibility crisis.
Joel Michel Varona
Paulo Cannabrava, a Brazilian journalist and editor of Diálogos del Sur magazine, the Franco-Spanish intellectual, Ignacio Ramonet, and the director of Chilean newspaper El Siglo, Hugh Guzmán, have solid arguments about how fake news and manipulation are weapons of war that are being employed in Latin America.
These were announced at the recent Latin American International Communication Forum, sponsored by Prensa Latina and which commemorated the 60th anniversary of Operation Truth.
This Operation was a meeting of 400 foreign journalists held in Havana, when the Cuban Revolution was not even 20 days old, so that they could learn first-hand details of the trials against war criminals from the defeated tyranny of Fulgencio Batista, in the middle of the lies revealed by the mass media on this process.
The meeting (dedicated to the debate around Latin American journalism in globalisation scenarios and new technologies, involving prestigious intellectuals and professionals in the sector) was necessary in those times in which the progressive Latin American governments were being discredited, defeated and criminally investigated.
What happened and how? What role did the media play in it? In this regard, Cannabrava and Ramonet’s opinions are very clear.
In the case of Paulo Cannabrava, this warning on the danger that mass media represents, turned into spokespeople of the dictatorship of the financial capital.
“Things are not as simple as they seem, the reality shows us a new planting of chaos. We are witnessing the substitution of political propaganda for media manipulation”, explains Cannabrava.
“The big advertising agencies promote the sale of their political candidates as if they were soap, and they are all the same, but you buy the one that marketing proved was better”, he emphasised.
According to Cannabrava, the campaigns are absurd from a financial viewpoint, and the result is that people vote without knowing what a candidate is thinking or what they propose to do.
It has produced criminal investigations of politics, judicial power transformed into legislative power, on top of the constitution.
“Political action is also criticised, disqualifying the political being, political parties and politics itself”, he asserts.
Cannabrava believes that something happens in the judicial environment, in which judges are transformed into a powerful breed and, as if bedazzled by power, they lost the sense of justice and use courts according to individual or business group interests, and even imperial power.
The Brazillian journalist thinks that such a complex panorama invites unity and outlines a combat strategy. “The dilemma is sovereignty or submission to the chaos”, he said.
In the case of the Franco-Spanish intellectual, Ignacio Ramonet, this warns about the ongoing challenges, in the face of what he described as a crisis of credibility that today affects the world of information.
“The lie”, he says, “always existed in the media, but now it is something more serious, it seems like a mass poisoning. Specifically, the truth is the truth, there is no before or after, but now with social networks, each person has their own, and this generates a crisis of credibility,” he stated.
“Meanwhile, controversy develops between social networks and the traditional media, the conservative press continues lying shamelessly, and this needs to be addressed”, said the investigator.
According to Ramonet, at these times, anyone can create content and a person is capable of achieving more audience than a television set and become a dominant medium.
“We are in a colossal communicational revolution”, said the journalist.
“Faced with this problem”, he said, “there appears the figure of an influencer with powers of persuasion, and they can become a worldwide celebrity thanks to social networks, even successfully being able to change their followers’ judgement.
“Fake news”, he says “spreads more quickly than real news, because the latter requires explanations and arguments.”
“Therefore, one has to know how to choose between the good and the bad, the false and the truth”, recommended the intellectual on the dilemma of “if you lose the truth, the most possible outcome is that freedom will then disappear”.
On his part, the other guest at the international forum, Hugo Guzmán, said that hiding the truth has an ideological, political and communicational intention.
“Fake news”, he says, “responds to financial, tactical and strategic goals, and it is often linked to operations destined to destabilise projects that are democratic, progressist, socialist and of national sovereignty”.
“We must address these practices popping up in intelligence or government communication agencies, groups or political parties, religious sects and the media”, said Guzmán.
And he points out that hiding the truth is related to tearing people’s eyes away from key issues, such as the need for changes in development models, demanding work and social rights, and the need to put an end to poverty. Guzmán explains that alongside the misuse of social networks, continues the actions of television channels, radio broadcasters and newspapers that give out lies and do away with the truth.
“We are”, he says, “facing a melting pot of concealment, ostracism and alienation; given the current conditions in the regional media space and the processes that our countries are experiencing, it would be best to set in motion another Operation Truth”.
For the director of the Chilean daily paper, “several operations of this type are needed, that will put out truthful, provable, backed up and quality information for our people”. (PL)
(Translated by Donna Davison – Email: firstname.lastname@example.org)