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Monday, July 03, 2006


12,000 dead...and it's not news

This editorial from Granma Internacional deserves to be read widely, and I can't bring myself to excerpt it (I've only chosen to highlight two sentences):
IF four buildings - four twin towers for example - full of boys and girls, killing 12,000 were destroyed, surely it would not occur to anyone to argue against that terrible news being the lead story on all news broadcasts, all front pages.

No one, on any editorial board, or in any radio or television studio, would object if the news of those 12,000 dead children dominated all the headlines and columns, opinions and reports, photos and testimonies.

No public figure would miss the opportunity to refer to such a dramatic event and to proclaim that a similar disaster must never happen again.

If an earthquake hit a country or a tsunami unexpectedly slammed into a coastline killing 12,000 children, no one in the media would dare suggest that such a terrible disaster should yield the spotlight to a soccer game, for example, or the illness of a popular singer. No police chief or religious leader in the world would fail to display his or her dismay over the incident, and every government or humanitarian aid agency would mobilize their resources.

If a terrorist gang kidnapped 12,000 children and threatened to execute the hostages if their demands were not met within 24 hours, every plaza in the world would be full of people clamoring for the release of the victims, not one person would be indifferent to the possible fate of these children.

Nevertheless, every day, each time we wake up, 12,000 more children have died. Not from the tsunami that didn't happen yesterday, or from the tower that didn't collapse, or from the terrorist gang that doesn't exist; these 12,000 children have died of starvation, of simple and wretched starvation. And starvation and its miserable consequences are not news.

Audiences would get tired --says the media director-- of a fixed eight columns, every day, in which the only variable would be the increasing tally.

There is no way that these 12,000 dead would merit a brief headline, a lamenting feature, or even a summary in the section "Strange World."

Neither does the opportunity exist to commemorate anniversaries because every day the deaths and their causes reoccur, so every day is both a tragedy and an anniversary of the same misfortune.

Twelve thousand boys and girls who have died between breakfast and dinner, between the morning paper and the evening news.

And we are only talking about starvation. There are many other buildings that fall every day for related reasons: tsunamis of illnesses for which vaccines can not be acquired, earthquakes that demolish schools and playgrounds, terrorist bands that enrich themselves by exploiting child labor and prostitution.

And we are only talking about children.

But not one plaza has filled with people to condemn a crime that does not cease being a crime because of its repetition, neither has any one of the media outlets that have covered similar attacks, interrupted its regular programming to give "live and direct", up to the minute on the spot coverage with a correspondent adjusting the totals of dead and disappeared and interviewing neighbors, before the broadcast turns back to the studios and yields to another barrage of commercials.

According to a United Nations report, "every seven seconds a child dies from starvation." About 12,000 per day.

The press would need several special editions or have to add 60 more pages to each edition in order to superficially report the names, which they have; their faces, which are real; and the agonized and despairing families of those 12,000 cadavers who have no mourners nor headlines, no history, for whom no one organizes anniversary masses or tributes. These 12,000 little ones dead each day at the hands of a rotten economic order sold to us as progress, whose laws protect the solidity of its immune building, and which terrorizes via its monetary gangs the deposed government of life.
Just one final thought. Granma is the official paper of the Cuban Communist Party. A prize to any reader who can find concerns such as the ones expressed here on the websites of the Democratic National Committee or the Republican National Committee. Please don't spend too much time looking, though. You have better things to do.

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