Saturday, December 18, 2010

WHAT'S THE DEAL? According to The Guardian, Cuba banned Michael Moore's Sicko:
The revelation, contained in a confidential US embassy cable released by WikiLeaks , is surprising, given that the film attempted to discredit the US healthcare system by highlighting what it claimed was the excellence of the Cuban system.

But the memo reveals that when the film was shown to a group of Cuban doctors, some became so "disturbed at the blatant misrepresentation of healthcare in Cuba that they left the room".

Cuba banned Michael Moore's 2007 documentary, Sicko, because it painted such a "mythically" favourable picture of Cuba's healthcare system that the authorities feared it could lead to a "popular backlash", according to US diplomats in Havana.

Castro's government apparently went on to ban the film because, the leaked cable claims, it "knows the film is a myth and does not want to risk a popular backlash by showing to Cubans facilities that are clearly not available to the vast majority of them."

However, according to a dispatch from Spanish news agency EFE, dated April 26, 2008, Sicko was indeed shown on Cuban national TV that day (link in Spanish)

So what happened? Is this a mistake by The Guardian or EFE? Or is it a mistaken / deliberately false information in the US embassy cable, as Cuban apologists seem to be saying? Does that mean that (oh, my God!) we can't take this cable as an article of faith? Because then the implications are clear: if one cable wrong / false, how many more are wrong, or false?

Or is this just the expected disinformation, planted in order to discredit the whole enchilada? In that case the implications are the same: the cables can't be taken at face value, as quite a few of us have been saying, no matter how much Assange's supporters want to deify him.

UPDATE. Yes, I'm aware that the cable is dated January 31, 2008, four months before Sicko was apparently broadcast on Cuban TV. Still it would seem a strange ban, since the reasons for it hadn't changed; it's not like the Cuban healthcare had improved all of a sudden to match how Moore depicted it. At the same time, it opens another objection to the whole Cablegate: even of all the cables that Wikileaks has release are true, we don't know whether there's more. We don't know if there's further cables that later contradicted / corrected / updated the initial information. This means that the most explosive revelations -- not just this one -- could be rendered moot if we only knew the whole thing. That is, another reason to not to take Cablegate as The Single Most Important Thing that Has Happened in Diplomacy in the Last Decades, or something like that.