And the English Took Havana … Again?

Dmitri Prieto

HAVANA TIMES — The title makes an allusion to what Cuban children used to study in our 4th grade history classes: that day back in the 18th century when Havanans woke up to find themselves living under the “Union Jack” (the common name for the “Union flag”).

This occurred after the city capitulated to the British troops, which — defeating the heroic creole resistance — were left with half of the island … but only for a few months, as fate decided.

Cuba?…in the Commonwealth? That’s not as crazy as it might seem. The idea came to my mind that we could be part of the Commonwealth. I figured that if Mozambique could join, why not Cuba?

But this post isn’t about how to reassemble the remains of the “Empire of the Seas” starting with this little piece of earth… it’s about something more trivial: How recently Cubans have been wearing clothes with the Union Flag on them.

Once again we’ve been invaded by the ubiquitous emblem of the three crosses (St. George, St. Andrew and St. Patrick – although the Irish say the latter is a Unionist invention) … which often appear poorly delineated, clearly.

First, we see them on the shoddy products “Made in China.” Then, though similarly tacky (though perhaps more authentic!) we find these produced by “self-employed workers” here (see photos).

They’re on bags, sweaters, slippers, sneakers, backpacks, stickers…

What is this, really? Why are we seeing this trend? Is it part of a global trend?

A friend suggested that it’s merely a leftover from last year’s London Olympics, or the marketing of the residue of the excessive pre-Olympic advertising.

Who knows?

It’s retro-fashion in any case.


The Malvinas are Argentina’s! But even Argentina — perhaps anti-British by nature? — is a country with soccer teams with colorful names like Boca Juniors, River Plate and Chaco Forever.



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.

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2 thoughts on “And the English Took Havana … Again?

  • The British took Havana in 1762, while the Union Jack became the flag of Britain in 1801. The Falkland Islands are not now nor have they ever belonged to Argentina.

    History matters.

  • Hahaha! Funny post. I have always found Cubans to be very conformist in their fashion choices. My wife disgrees and asserts it is simply due to generations of limited options available. Yet, young Cubans in Miami continue to similarly adorn themselves even though they have virtually unlimited choices available to them. Quien sabe? This ‘union jack’ fad is just that. It is certainly no international trend and is thankfully limited to the island. This too shall pass….

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