Cuban Television’s Self-Sabotage

Dmitri Prieto

The weather report frozen on the screen with a “No Signal”, message.

HAVANA TIMES — When I was a teenager, I read Curzio Malaparte’s book Coup d’etat: On the Technique of Revolution. In it, this energetic and multifaceted Italian author (who had gone from being a fascist to a Marxist and had ultimately converted to Catholicism), advised all who aspired to stage a coup to make use of scientific breakthroughs and to involve experts practically in all strategies (what he called “Trotsky’s tactic”).

The media, Malaparte suggested, ought to be among the first things targeted by the coup.

According to Malaparte, any terroristic device – from a knife used to cut a telephone wire to a grenade launched at a radio relay station, could be useful in terms of taking State power.

Now that I think about it, Soviet literature dealing with the October revolution – one of the undeniable sources of inspiration of Curzio, who, next to George Sorel, is one of the most controversially virulent political thinkers of the 20th century – evoked images reminiscent of those in The Technique of Revolution.

One can well imagine what the Bolsheviks would have done with a television network, had one existed in the times of the bourgeois provisional government of the first Russian Republic.

No Signal!

The screen doesn’t lie: again and again, Cuban television broadcasts the color bars which signal a lack of signal. The sets do not make any noise, nor are they broken: the relay stations simply cease broadcasting and stagnate in an unchanging frame.

This can go on for hours. I’ve confirmed it personally, and seen it happen on several channels at once.

Some say it happens because digital television has been introduced into the country. This is the opinion of those who have installed provisional interfaces designed to receive such signals in an experimental fashion.

I haven’t installed any of that and still run into one of those screens every day.

I wonder if anyone on television or in the government cares one bit about such acts of self-sabotage.

As for me, I am reminded of my adolescence and of Curzio Malaparte’s brilliant book every time I see it.