Media narratives inscribe disasters with cultural meanings and politically consequential interpretations. Examining newspaper coverage in Mexico and Cuba of the emergency response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005 reveals (mis)perceptions of the role and effectiveness of government different from perceptions in the United States. International frames of the US response to this natural disaster not only highlight different underlying sources for the tragedy but also shift attention away from material conditions to subjective perceptions that produce trauma, and they chart the part played by media in shaping them. Mexican and Cuban narratives underscored what mainstream US politics today rejects: effective government counts.

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