Ronald H. Wagenberg (University of Windsor)
Stuart H. Surlin (University of Windsor)
Abstract: The profound changes experienced by the international political system from 1988 to 1992, subsumed under the rubric "the fall of Communism," suggest an opportunity for changes in the way North American television news would report on events in Cuba. This article examines major network news coverage of Cuba in Canada (CBC and CTV) and in the United States (ABC, CBS, and NBC) from 1988 through 1992. Given the different histories of Canadian-Cuban and U.S.-Cuban relations since the revolution, the extent of similar negative coverage of the island in both countries' reporting is somewhat surprising. Also, it is apparent that the end of the Cold War did not change, in any fundamental way, the frames employed by television news in its coverage of Cuba.
Résumé: Les changements profonds dans le système politique international qui ont eu lieu de 1988 à 1992, et qu'on décrit généralement comme marquant la "chute du communisme", indiqueraient la possibilité d'un changement dans la façon que les chaînes nord-américaines auraient de rapporter les événements dans leurs programmes d'information sur le Cuba. Cet article examinera les programmes d'information des chaînes canadiennes les plus importantes (CBC et CTV) et de celles des États-Unis (ABC, CBS et NBC) de 1988 jusqu'à 1992. Étant donné l'évolution différente dans les relations Canada / Cuba et États-Unis / Cuba depuis la révolution cubaine de 1959, nous avons été frappés par le degré de ressemblance entre les reportages négatifs sur le Cuba faits par les chaînes des deux pays nord-américains. En plus, il est évident que la fin de la guerre froide n'a pas changé de manière fondamentale le point de vue des reportages télévisés sur les événements cubains.
Between 1988 and 1992, the years for which we examine coverage of Cuba on Canadian and American television news, the international system experienced a series of profound changes. The fall of the Berlin Wall in late 1989 signalled the end of Communism in Eastern Europe, while the failed coup in Russia in the summer of 1991 marked the end of Communist control in that country as well. These events ended the Cold War which had set the framework for international politics for over 40 years and, while scholars debated what it would look like and what forces would drive it, a "New World Order" was widely proclaimed (Cox, 1994; Huntington, 1993; Pfaltzgraff, 1994; Sideri, 1993).
From 1947 to 1992 the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union was waged on a global scale. While no country in the Western Hemisphere completely escaped the machinations of the Cold War, Guatemala, Guyana, the Dominican Republic, Chile, Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Grenada were deeply affected. Cuba, however, was the pre-eminent flash point for U.S.-USSR conflict in the Hemisphere (Dominguez, 1978; Geyer, 1991; Huberman & Sweezy, 1969; Oppenheimer, 1992). Most analysts agree that the few weeks of the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962 marked the closest point during the Cold War where a full-scale nuclear war between the U.S. and the USSR could have begun (Blight, Nye, & Welch, 1987; Garthoff, 1988). Thus, not discounting U.S. hostility to Fidel Castro's domestic policies and their impact on U.S. interests, it was Cuba's role as a military ally / base /surrogate which allowed the USSR to project its military power into not only the Western Hemisphere but also Africa that magnified U.S. opposition to the Cuban Revolution (Bernell, 1994).
Canada was a full partner of the United States in the Cold War as evidenced by military alliances such as NATO and NORAD. Nonetheless, a desire to conduct an independent foreign policy as a middle power frequently led Canada to...