As Cuba Supports Putin, Ideological Manipulation in Schools

The start of the school year at a junior high school in Havana.  Photo: Xinhua

“It bothers me that they are brainwashing the children, and you can’t do anything about it, because it’s the school, and they impose it,” says a mother from Holguín

By Antonio Rodríguez Paz (Diario de Cuba)

HAVANA TIMES – “My son doesn’t know anything about politics, let alone understand what’s going on between Russia and Ukraine, at age 13, but at school they talk to him about it, and I’m worried about what they’re teaching him,” says Milagros, a mother from Holguin worried about the excessive ideologization in Cuban schools.

“As soon as the year began, they held a parents’ meeting so that we would help them watch the Mesa Redonda (Round Table) and the Noticiero (News Broadcast), as they are required to know what is being said there. Otherwise, they will be left reviewing that ‘content’ after school,” adds Milagros.

“It has always been like that, but now the emphasis on politics is much greater. And now they are focused on the war in Ukraine; they want the kids to learn that the culprit is the United States, that the United States forced Russia to invade that country.”

“Most parents don’t care, they don’t see how serious the issue is, because they are uninformed, but not me. My brother lives in Spain and sends me news of what is happening. This is a crime and they want, as always, to blame it on the United States. It bothers me that they are brainwashing the children, and you can’t do anything about it, because it’s the school, and they impose it,” she concluded, upset.

Indira, another mother with two children at school, does not think it is serious, as she believes that “what they study at school is not that important.” In her view, for the children, “both mathematics and politics are just things that they’re going to be evaluated on, they’re not going to retain it after the exam. They?re not interested in politics, in any of those things they don?t see reflected in practice.”

“I have two, one in eighth grade and the other in eleventh, and the only thing they talk about is going abroad, about leaving, about neighbors or friends who have left and communicate with them. They know that the future isn?t here or in those policies; although they try to ingrain it in them, it doesn’t work,” she adds, confident in the power of reality to overcome manipulation.

The Cuban educational system is characterized by its marked ideological component, but this has lost its effectiveness in recent decades, and the regime has been showing signs of concern for years.

This worry visibly increased after the July 11 protests. The regime responded, firstly, by inducing fear through the imprisonment of young people and adolescents detained for participating in the demonstrations. Second, it has intensified propaganda aimed at the young, something that Miguel Díaz-Canel has called “differentiated attention.”

Propaganda in schools about Russia’s war against Ukraine is, apparently, part of this worldview that the regime is striving to instill in the minds of young people.

Yoleisis Torres, from Holguín, is concerned that “political manipulation and indoctrination are part of the content in the classes” because he and his family, including his sixth-grade son, are Jehovah’s Witnesses.

“We have to put up with such political content and, worst of all, distorted reality. We have our interpretation of the events of the war in Ukraine, and it’s very different from what is cited on the news. But, out of caution I have told my son not to give his opinion at school because there you can only say ‘it’s America’s fault.’ It would be bad for him to refute that imposed view, even in religious matters. The atmosphere is very politicized. “

“We prepared our children to ignore that information, but without confrontation, without controversy, so that it doesn?t affect them in their scholastic or Christian development according to our precepts, but there are always risks, and they’re vulnerable,” he added. “There is peer pressure and the effect of the teacher’s leadership in that environment. It’s a challenge, but there’s nothing else that can be done to avoid it.”

The Cuban regime is one of the few governments in the world that has justified Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which began last February 24, violating the sovereignty of that European country and already producing thousands of deaths, 2.5 million refugees, and millions in material losses. The international community’s condemnation of the act is almost unanimous, with the exception of dictatorships and authoritarian regimes such as Cuba, which abstained from voting at the UN on the subject.

The government media is portraying Russia as a victim and accusing the United States of forcing Moscow to invade Ukraine.


Read more from Cuba here on Havana Times

9 thoughts on “As Cuba Supports Putin, Ideological Manipulation in Schools

  • Nick has called me a “supremacist”? Of what variety? As an 60+ African American man, I pretty much don’t check any of the boxes typically touted as supreme. On the contrary, because of a lifetime of living with an American boot on the back of my neck, I am unwittingly an expert on boots and what people look like who lick them. To disagree with me doesn’t make anyone a bootlicker. But to agree with the Castro dictatorship, and these days, by association, with Putin, the war criminal does make you bootlicker…and worse!

  • Curt, communism is great is like fascism but with less freedom that is the reason perhaps communism never has win in the ballot boxes and when they are in power kill the opposition Perhaps that is why In Poland the ppl voted for almost neofascist government after lived under communism. Or plenty ppl got shot trying to escape to East Berlin to the West. How dare were those teacher trying to tell you communism is bad.

  • “But Curt quite rightly points out that regarding the UN vote on the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Cuba abstained.” Abstaining is often a cowardly vote. However, inside Cuba and on their websites sides are very clear. In the Cuban media (Granma, Cubadebate, etc.), which has paid little attention to the invasion, when they do its always Putin’s “special military operation” and all the fault is on the USA. The word “invasion” never appears. I wonder why?

  • I would broadly agree with Stephen and Curt.
    Indoctrination clearly occurs in Cuba. But it also clearly occurs elsewhere.
    Cuba tends to side with Russia on an ‘enemy of my enemy is my friend’ basis.
    But Curt quite rightly points out that regarding the UN vote on the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Cuba abstained.
    Putin uses propaganda and indoctrination to justify his invasion. He states that there is a threat. This was the same type of propaganda used to justify the invasion of Iraq. In their propaganda war the USA desperately tried to present a link between Iraq and the 9-11 atrocity. There was no link. No link at all.
    Pure propaganda in order to justify invasion.

    Trying to expand NATO right up to Russia’s border is clearly a provocation. If China formed a defence pact with Mexico, the USA would see it as blatant provocation.
    But this doesn’t in any way justify what’s going on in Ukraine.
    The atrocities being carried out in Ukraine are appalling. The Cuban Government would do well to recognise this.

  • I was indoctrinated when I went to school. I was taught that Communism was bad and everything the U.S governments throughout history was good. Those are opinions, not facts. If that’s not indoctrination, I don’t know what is. FYI Cuba abstained from voting that Russia was right in invading Ukraine. They never came out and endorsed it.

  • “My son doesn’t know anything about politics, let alone understand what’s going on between Russia and Ukraine, at age 13, but at school they talk to him about it, and I’m worried about what they’re teaching him,” says Milagros, a mother from Holguin worried about the excessive ideologization (sic) in Cuban schools.”

    As an outsider looking in at the Cuban school system regarding politics taught to teenagers, I offer my opinion.

    Milagros the mother from Holguin, and the countless other Cuban mothers worried about their children’s Cuban education, there is no need to be overly concerned about students not knowing anything about politics at a young age. I am willing to bet that if one was to ask a Canadian teenager about what is happening in Ukraine the surveyor would probably receive a blank stare. Youth today are so, so immersed, even glued, on their “smart” phones and tablets, 24/7, they are pursuing everything but politics and what really matters in this world.

    Ask a teenager to offer an opinion about Justin Beiber, or any international musical teen idol for that matter, and I am sure every Cuban teenager like every Canadian teenager is exceedingly well versed and has an opinion about the said idol. To be averse and not pay attention to politics for teenagers is normal whether the teenager is Cuban or Canadian. The teenage crowd does not do politics.

    With regard to Cuban youth, absolutely, they receive an indoctrination to their surrounding political and economic system whether good or bad. This is not any different than an American or Canadian student receiving the indoctrination of the system they are raised in and surrounded whether good or bad.

    Unquestionably, the indoctrination in Cuba is totalitarian in nature because students are frowned upon, to put it lightly, to engage in any other discussion or support of what the Cuban educational system dictates. Any overt discussions praising a system other than the communist, socialist, totalitarian systems found in Russia, Venezuela, China or any other oppressive locale is not tolerated, acceptable, and moreover can be indiscreetly punished. Obviously not so in political democratic countries. Political debate is encouraged.

    Grandparents, parents, of these schooled Cuban teenagers have been through the indoctrinating Cuban school system. They know exactly what is being taught and how to react to their education system. As the article states, “ . . . they want the kids to learn that the culprit is the United States, . . .” No new news there.

    These Cuban grandparents, plus parents have been hearing this erroneous indoctrination in their school system for over sixty plus years and know it isn’t true. The United States is labeled the so called “bad guy” yet when these indoctrinated Cuban students reach an age where they can rightly discern for themselves who is the bad guy and who is the good guy, they invariably all want to, unfortunately for the island, vote with their feet and exit their homeland as many are doing today.

    Similarly, American and Canadian kids exposed to American media see the Russians as the “bad guys”. Canadian kids, particularly, exposed to their national sport, hockey, at a very early age come to see that those “bad” Russians produce some of the best hockey players in the world, some say even better than American or Canadian hockey players. Anyone ever hear of Alexander Ovechkin, captain of the NHL hockey team Washington Capitals, who is about to overtake Wayne Gretzky the iconic Canadian hockey player in goal scoring?

    I agree with Indira, the Cuban mother with two children at her Cuban school, when she says in the article “what they study at school is not that important.” She isn’t saying that studying the core academic subjects, like math and science are not important, of course they are. However, whatever they are told – “educated” – regarding political indoctrination should simply be discounted and not to be taken seriously as it has not been taken seriously for the last 60 plus years. So, why start now?

  • Mr Patterson is self confessed supremacist. He has previously stated in his comments here that people of his nationality are by definition more exceptional than the other 7.5 billion inhabitants of planet earth. And that they therefore do not need to abide by the democratic will of the U.N.
    He refers to anyone who’s opinion differs to his narrow world view as a ‘boot licker’.
    All sounds a bit too putinesque to me.
    The U.S. President’s immediate predecessor called Putin a genius right after he began his brutal invasion of Ukraine.
    I’m glad to see that in comparison to the ease of getting his nominated yes-man into the White House, Putin is finding it a whole bunch more difficult to have his way in Ukraine.

  • One has to wonder what a Cuban child is being taught about the Canadians, are we also the enemy as we are so close; connected to the USA at the hips as friends and family.

  • Silence from the cast of Castro bootlickers who normally comment in support of the Castro regime. No surprise?

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