It was the first month of 1959, the recent Cuban revolution had triumphed, and a voracious foreign media campaign was mounting against the process led by the young Fidel Castro.
At that time, misinformation from the large US news agencies reigned.
The most important US newspapers and Life, Time, Newsweek, and U.S. and World Report magazines were dedicated to distorting the trials of war criminals and repressors of the defeated Fulgencio Batista regime.
It was increasingly necessary to extinguish the prevailing lie, so just three weeks after Cuban Leader Fidel Castro’s revolutionary triumph, a historic meeting was called, organised in under 72 hours with the help of Cuban embassies in various countries.
This call, known as Operation Truth, was made by the revolutionary government to more than 400 journalists around the world, in order to refute the media campaigns and with the desire for Latin America to have its own true voice.
At the meeting, Fidel Castro described the campaign as “the most slanderous, most criminal and most unjust that had been launched against any people” and added that “the press in America should have the means to know the truth and to not be victims of lies”.
A necessary agency
With the objective of spreading a vision of the world that is emancipatory, antihegemonic, and different from that of the news media monopolies, a group of journalists from t
he region, led by the Argentinian Jorge Ricardo Masetti, founded the Latin American news agency Prensa Latina (PL).
Celebrated journalists from the continent, such as Gabriel García Márquez (Colombia); Rodolfo Walsh and Rogelio García Lupo (Argentina); Aroldo Wall (Brazil); Carlos María Gutiérrez (Uruguay); together with Cubans Francisco V. Portela, Juan Marrero y Gabriel Molina, and other professionals, formed part of the agency’s initial group, which was given impetus by Fidel Castro and Ernesto Che Guevara.
On the 16th June 1959, the first cable was published, from this definitively Latin American agency, in service of the truth and with an editorial line defined by Masetti (director-founder) as “objective but not impartial”.
Thus, PL began to take a stand against the big media monopolies, establishing a network of correspondents in Latin American and other capital cities around the world.
The 60th Anniversary
Six decades after Prensa Latina was founded, despite the predictions of US authorities that it would last less than a month, PL has become a centre of recognised journalistic influence.
With 40 correspondents throughout the world; radio, television and multimedia services; portals in six languages; and a constant social media presence, PL remains in service of the truth.
On the occasion of the anniversary, Cuban president, Miguel Díaz-Canel recognised Prensa Latina’s work “in taking the truth of the Revolution to the most remote corners of the world for 60 years” with a message.
The Head of State emphasised that in this work for the truth, PL has been loyal to the ideas of its founders, Fidel Castro and Ernesto Che Guevara.
At a political-cultural event attended by workers and founders of the media, in addition to diplomats here, Victor Gaute —member of the secretariat of the Central Committee of the Communist Party in Cuba and head of the Ideological Department— presented Díaz-Canel’s framed message. Once this recognition had been presented, Gaute congratulated the agency’s staff and emphasised that it is ready for the fight. “It is an agency to take up the fight for the truth, to defend the causes that assist us to build an ever-better society,” he noted.
For his part, PL president, Luis Enrique González, noted that Prensa Latina continues to be an alternative media: mature, thriving and continuously developing, despite those who persist in obstructing its reach.
Additionally, he emphasised that the agency’s responsibility is to the future, to Cuba’s message and the world revolutionary vision, over and above the difficulties and obstacles to come. (PL)
* Journalist at the National Editing Department, Prensa Latina.
(Translated by Rebecca Ndhlovu – Email: firstname.lastname@example.org)