Tag Archives: rene gonzalez sehwerert

Burson-Marsteller, Alan Gross, and the light at the end of the tunnel

The lesson at the Salpêtrière (1887), by Pierre-André Brouillet (1857 - 1914)

PR as Valium español, traducido por Manuel Talens, de Tlaxcala

Machetera

Saltpêtrière is a legendary Parisian hospital.  Built in the 17th century, it was known as the cradle of neurosciences for having hosted great teaching doctors such as Charcot, Babinski and Freud.  In the image above, a famous painting by Pierre-André Brouillet, the French doctor Jean-Martin Charcot is portrayed explaining how to diagnose hysteria in a female patient whose name has gone down in the annals of medical history: Blanche Wittman.

The scene is unmistakably sexist: a roomful of men deciding how to treat a woman for a condition whose very etymology reveals its sexism.  Simply by virtue of the fact that she is a woman, she is at the mercy of their decisions. A victim.  The two nuns waiting to catch Blanche as she collapses are mere voiceless spectators.  The men in this image know everything, the women, nothing.

A century and a quarter later, the story behind this painting suggests nothing so much as the case of Judy Gross, the wife of the USAID contractor imprisoned in Cuba. Paternalism remains very much alive, and both The New York Times and Washington Post confirm this through their participation in the inane media campaign to pressure Pope Benedict XVI to counsel Cuba to exchange Rene González for Alan Gross.  Counseling Cuba, as though it were an unruly child, not a sovereign country, is offensive enough.  But it’s nothing new.  The counsel that Judy Gross is receiving on the other hand, is another matter.  Instead of being treated as an active subject, capable of taking her future into her own hands, Judy’s campaign to bring her husband home is being managed and reported by people who have their own, very different priorities. Continue reading

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The Marketing of Yoani Sánchez: Translation as invention

Machetera and Manuel Talens español

“There are no accidents.” – Sigmund Freud

As one might have expected, Bloomberg and Reuters dutifully shaded their reports on the recent visit to Cuba of Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff with mentions of the Yoani Sánchez Twitter campaign to pressure Rousseff to intercede on Sánchez’s behalf and persuade the Cuban government to grant her an exit visa to attend a propaganda event in Brazil.

That’s not so surprising.  Sánchez is an egomaniac, for sure, insisting that anyone should care in the first place, when her compatriots Olga Salanueva and Adriana Pérez O’Connor have been denied entry visas by the United States for more than a decade to visit their husbands (Rene González Sehwerert and Gerardo Hernández Nordelo, two of the Cuban Five) unjustly imprisoned in the U.S.  – but if all she has to do is tweet and the press come running, judging the tweet as equal in value to Rousseff’s criticisms of the U.S. gulag at Guantánamo, well, that’s not really her fault – it’s just part of a marketing plan that counts on press complicity. Continue reading