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Last Updated: Wednesday, 15 September, 2004, 10:48 GMT 11:48 UK
Press: Castro conquers Ivan
By Steve Gibbs
BBC correspondent in Havana, Cuba

Cuban President Fidel Castro with civil defence officials in Pinar del Rio
Castro made a surprise visit to the west as Ivan approached
In Havana, the close shave that Cuba experienced as Hurricane Ivan passed by dominates the country's two daily newspapers.

But the lead story in both is not the damage that the storm caused but the role Fidel Castro played in unifying the country in the face of danger.

"Fidel, alongside the people of Pinar", is the headline in Granma. It describes how Fidel Castro made a surprise visit to Cuba's western-most province, Pinar del Rio, as Ivan approached.

The paper has a large picture of the Cuban president in his military fatigues meeting the press at a hurricane shelter.

Granma is the official paper of Cuba's Communist Party and it is incidentally named after the boat in which Fidel Castro returned to Cuba in the 1950s to start the Cuban revolution.

It runs to eight pages, has no advertising and costs just under half a British penny.

Smooth evacuation

Around two-thirds of Wednesday's edition covers the hurricane. Fidel Castro is quoted as saying that the natural phenomenon is going to become more frequent as global warming is now a reality.

Cuba after Hurricane Ivan
Cuba avoided a direct hit from the hurricane
There are lots of references to how Hurricane Ivan has given Cubans an opportunity to triumph in the face of adversity.

Much attention is given to the evacuation of 1.6 million people to safety as the storm approached.

Cuba has perfected a system with which to confront such dangers, says the paper.

Juventud Ribelde, Cuba's other daily newspaper, which is aimed at a younger readership, takes an almost identical line.

It has a different picture of Fidel Castro on the front page but almost exactly the same headline as Granma.

Cuba's world view

On its international news page it covers three stories: political reform in Russia, the possible trial of General Pinochet in Chile and also alongside a large photograph of protesters at the recent Republican convention in New York, a piece about election monitors preparing to travel to the US expecting irregularities, as it says, in the forthcoming elections.

In an opinion column, the paper notes that 1,000 US soldiers have died Iraq, something it says the US media has maintained a suspicious silence about.

There is little light relief, it has to be said, in either paper although many Cubans might perhaps raise a smile when they see the photograph on the back page of Granma.

It shows the protester at Buckingham Palace in his Batman suit. The caption reads that once again British security has been ridiculed.


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