Accepted paper:

The 'inevitable' end of Cuba: Media coverage of post-Fidel reforms in Spanish and US newspapers


Sara Garcia Santamaria (The University of Sheffield)

Paper short abstract:

Fidel Castro's step down from power is the starting point of this paper, which will look at change in Cuba through the lens of the foreign press. This paper will argue that a series of assumptions and constraints have limited foreign correspondents' ability to explain the new era to their readers.

Paper long abstract:

Fidel Castro's temporary handoff of power to his brother Raul in summer 2006 has closed an extraordinary chapter in modern history. However, it has created passionate debates about the future of a post-Fidel Cuba, showing once again the different conception of change by Cuban officials and foreign governments. Raul Castro's leadership has opened the island to once unthinkable economic and social changes. However, whereas the western world is eager to see significant changes in Cuba, the reforms seem to follow a deliberately slow pace. In 2014, it remains uncertain whether Raul Castro will lead the historic opening of Cuba towards liberal democracy or, conversely, will remain the loyal guarantor of Fidel's heritage.

Fidel Castro's temporary transfer of power to his brother Raul in July 2006 is the starting point of this paper, which will examine change in Cuba through the lens of Spanish and US quality newspapers. It will do so from a qualitative approach, combining discourse analysis of media texts and interviews with foreign correspondents.

The analysis suggests that the foreign coverage of a post-Fidel Cuba has been framed from two assumptions: (1) the personification of the Revolution in Fidel Castro and (2) the inevitable transition of Cuba to liberal democracy. This paper will explore whether these assumptions, as well as the many constraints faced by foreign correspondents, have produced an oversimplified account of the 'inevitable end of Cuba' at the expenses of Cuban citizen's interest.

panel P43
Media and public interest in 21st century Latin America