A Clearly Deliberate ‘Blunder’?

Dmitri Prieto

Raul Castro and Vladimir Putín during the Cuban president’s trip to Moscow last July.

HAVANA TIMES — This past November 7 marked the 95th anniversary of the Soviet Revolution in Russia. Cuban authorities held the traditional celebration at the Soviet Soldier Memorial, which was attended by representatives of the military and the diplomatic corps.

On the evening news, Cuban television aired this activity, but there was also a “feature” about a huge parade in Moscow’s Red Square to celebrate that revolutionary date. In this, from what we could see on the screen, were processions of soldiers carrying red flags and columns of tanks and other formidable military weapons, including intercontinental missiles and anti-missile systems. To top it off, I could see the excited faces of the Russian president and the prime minister.

The news intrigued me. For a long time (since 1991), Russia hasn’t been governed the Communist Party, moreover the Putin administration has made every effort to “de-socialize” the country. His political organization, the United Russia Party, openly declares itself as professing a “conservative” and “right wing ideology,” while Communists are now the opposition and have all types of disagreements with the current government.

This even includes the traditional November 7 holiday, which was moved up on the calendar a few days by the government. Now, instead of marking the revolution of 1917, it commemorates the liberation of Moscow from Polish forces in 1612.

What’s more, I found it strange that the great commemorative posters in Red Square being shown on my TV screen didn’t allude to November 7 but to May 9 (the Victory Day against Nazi-fascism). Likewise, the Russian news sites that come to me via the Internet mentioned absolutely nothing about the “huge parade” that appeared so gung-ho on the Cuban news.

To find out more about this, I e-mailed my brother, who lives in the Russian capital. His answer was clear: That day there was only a small and symbolic military march to recall not the revolution as such, but the Soviet soldiers who during the frigid November of 1941 went straight from Red Square to the front, where the fate of Russia and its capital were defined.

All the rest of the paraphernalia displayed on my TV screen proved to be a generous “cut-and-paste” activity, including the rockets, the red flags and the images of an excited president (who, incidentally, was suffering from back problems on that date, making it impossible for him to appear at any public activity).

This was Cuban TV’s contribution to the myth that Putin’s Russia — in some strange and eerie way — is a country that can be described as “communist.”

Dimitri Prieto-Samsonov

Dmitri Prieto-Samsonov: I define myself as being either Cuban-Russian or Russian-Cuban, indiscriminately. I was born in Moscow in 1972 of a Russian mother and a Cuban father. I lived in the USSR until I was 13, although I was already familiar with Cuba-- where we would take our vacation almost every year. I currently live on the fifth floor of an apartment building in Santa Cruz del Norte, near the sea. I’ve studied biochemistry and law in Havana and anthropology in London. I’ve written about molecular biology, philosophy and anarchism, although I enjoy reading more than writing. I am currently teaching in the Agrarian University of Havana. I believe in God and in the possibility of a free society. Together with other people, that’s what we’re into: breaking down walls and routines.

2 thoughts on “A Clearly Deliberate ‘Blunder’?

  • Wow! A Communist Party controlled propaganda organ was telling lies? Who knew? What next?

  • No one should be surprised about Cuba’s cut-and-paste approach to news. Because of the failure of socialism, media manipulation is a primary tool to maintaining a false reality. My wife was a national newscaster on Cuban TV. Nearly every day, Cuban TV would retool the new feeds they would pirate from CNN, Al Jazeera or elsewhere to cast a pro-Cuba and its’s allies bias and to present the US and the west as violent, in disarray, or corrupt. No one in the newsrrom had the authority or the power to do otherwise as the news to be reported came directly from Ministry HQ. To tell the truth risked loss of job and priviledge at the least and imprisonment at the extreme. While media manipulation is not just a problem in Cuba, for Cubans thre is no alternative. If CNN gets it wrong, we can turn to another source for a different version. And when the news is reported badly, there are consequences. Witness the controversy regarding US Ambassor Rice having reported initially that the attack on the consulate in Benghazi in Libya was spontaneous and not a terrorist act. In Cuba there is only one source and there are no consequences when they get it wrong.

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