How Indoctrination Plays Out in Cuba

By Carlyle MacDuff

Learning the letters and sounds in Cuba. Photo:

HAVANA TIMES – Indoctrination works. It would take a fool to deny that. The evidence is overwhelming throughout recorded history. Religions, nationalism and indeed totalitarian politics are consequences despite their evident illogical persuasions. Various forms of supportive propaganda are pursued relentlessly through all available means of communication.

Cuba is an island where the isolated population has for almost sixty years, received only that information provided by a totally controlling authority, where the basic requirements of life are controlled by that same authority along with education.

Virtually from the creche at a year old, throughout grade school education and university. children are subjected by law, to communist indoctrination, indeed it is an offence punishable by three years imprisonment for parents to teach their own children in their own home, anything that is contrary to communism.

School textbooks from the earliest age are designed for indoctrination. C is for Che, F is for Fidel, G is for Granma, R is for revolution and so on. Classroom walls have pictures of the leading figures in the cult of the personality and political slogans.

University students studying for advanced degrees place quotations of Fidel Castro in thesis. All media, newspapers, radio and television are state-controlled and all reporters are committed to complying with the instructions of the state.

Billboards and placards bearing communist slogans are seen throughout the island, no others are permitted. Two successive generations of Cubans know nothing else. Censorship is rigorous with libraries only permitted to display books approved by the state.

Books like Boris Pasternak’s Dr. Zhivago being banned. All that has now been imposed in Cuba by the Castro regime upon two successive generations. The Castro’s purpose was to establish a Stalinist type communist state with a conforming proletariat and to date they have succeeded. Capitalism as practiced in China and Vietnam has no place in Cuba.

The obvious purpose is to create a confusion between being a loyal Cuban proud of one’s nationality and support of the totalitarian communist system as if the two are synonymous and creating an internal mental tug of war.

Criticism of communism is defined by law as dissention. The flag of Cuba is promoted as the flag of revolution and only communism is entitled to have revolutions for others such as those of Hungary in 1956 and Czechoslovakia in 1968 are condemned as “counter-revolution”.

Today in Cuba when in discussion if one lays responsibility for regime incompetence – the abysmal distribution system, the shortage of basic commodities, the declining agricultural production, the crumbling infrastructure and describe those as a consequence of the communist system, many Cubans will bristle in reaction, not by denying the evident truth, but by denying that communism – now described as socialism has responsibility, somehow through distortion, the fault lies with the capitalist world..

Propaganda has succeeded!

It is indeed surprising that there remain any with views contrary to those with which they have been indoctrinated since birth, through all those years of indoctrination in the creches, schools and universities, through all the communist controlled media and through the fear of knowing that even the walls have ears of the Party. But many such people are evident to the discerning eye when living in Cuba.

18 thoughts on “How Indoctrination Plays Out in Cuba

  • June 2, 2019 at 10:25 am

    You are correct sky in pointing out the dangers of anyone who has family in Cuba or who spends time there being subject to repression. That is how the communist system works – by fear and intimidation.

    As illustrated by the European Union elections of 28 countries, NOT ONE candidate standing as a communist was elected, although eleven of those countries had experienced communist rule, obviously, given freedom of choice, people prefer democracy. Cubans have been denied such choice by two successive dictatorships. Note that I am opposed to dictatorship whether communist or fascist.
    As for Nick, he chose to repeat a comment made previously and merited my response.

  • May 31, 2019 at 7:43 pm

    Oooh. Not nice, Carlyle. I don’t think Nick – or anyone – needs your pity. I wonder though whether you have ever considered the potential implications of your anti-Cuban authority sentiment. To be so very visibly/audibly against it all while expecting to be able to return to the country as you want, may well blow up in your face one day. I mean, you are not in Cuba all year round are you? Do you ever wonder about whether your beloved family will one day suffer the consequences for their intimate relationship with/dependency on someone so critical of Cuba – when you are not there, or even when you are?

  • May 28, 2019 at 1:43 pm

    The communists would lose a real election badly if there were legal opposition parties, an open media with freedom to campaign, and no nasty regime thugs to scare everyone.
    It rules through fear, some just choose to deny that reality.

  • May 27, 2019 at 9:09 pm

    That is so true in the CAPITALISTS SYSTEM with the GIANT MONSTERS CORPORATIONS. You enter the militarary too not to defend the people and the NATION, but only the GIANT MONSTERS CORPORATIONS you go to war for…

  • May 27, 2019 at 4:46 pm

    A wise comment Guy. The essence of Cuban society is “la familia”, there is a strong sense of community and they love children. The soul of the people is the Afro-Cubana music. It has to be noted that each of those characteristics can be pursued without cost – for unless receiving remittances from other countries, it is a struggle for a family to survive.
    Despite that struggle, there is a generosity of spirit and concern for others – as you illustrated. The scale of difficulty is such that there is little that visiting caring individuals can do to address it. At the moment in these pages, a lady is inquiring what she can do to assist a family in Granma Province. She reflects a concern of many visitors to the country who witness the reality of repression.
    Maybe a system of “Adopt a family” would help – but the regime would not support or even allow it.
    I have funded the purchase of homes for two families, but the shortage of accommodation makes even that difficult.
    Like you I have much admiration for the Cuban people – and for that reason, dedicated my book to them.
    Jose Marti the “Apostle of Cuba” summed up what is required by Cubans:

    “A land without tyrants for a soul without tyrants is what they seek.”

  • May 27, 2019 at 12:50 pm

    I Iearned from the cuban people Carl ..not from the system as you mention..

  • May 26, 2019 at 4:54 pm

    Mr MacD, you mention Zimbabwe, Haiti, North Korea, Mali…….
    I’m referring to Cuba’s neighbouring countries. I’m referring to the social problems, violence, homicide rates, health care issues etc in places such as Jamaica, Columbia, Mexico, Dominican Republic.
    I am confident that these countries have certain advantages over Cuba, but is is an irrefutable fact that in many ways they are actually very much worse off.
    As always we shall have to agree to disagree.
    But even though we disagree, there will always be something in common. For example when you say: ‘…….excess in a world of limited resource is counter to the interests of democracy’.
    I entirely agree with that point.
    But I would go further:
    The type of right-wing capitalism we are seeing in the modern era is actively committed to subverting the kind of democratic principles which you aspire to.
    I understand that, back in the day, everyone was brought up on the good vs evil, democracy vs totalitarian story…………………….
    But if that was ever a true depiction of reality at any point in time, it most certainly isn’t now.

  • May 26, 2019 at 12:20 pm

    OK Nick, things are even worse in Zimbabwe, Haiti, North Korea, Mali et al. So that makes the problems of dictatorship and repression in Cuba OK?
    i have never described capitalism with its numerous problems as ideal, merely as far preferable to communism. Where we might actually agree is that excess in a world of limited resource is counter to the interests of democracy.
    To revert to the US – your favorite whipping boy, excess is evident and personified in Donald J. Trump, but his time in charge is limited, unfortunately for Cuba, that of the Castro regime is not.
    Remember what Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez said when having the sash of the President of the Council of Ministers draped around him:
    “Comrade Raul will head the decisions for the present and future of the nation.”
    There are those who may regard that statement as a promise. Others including myself, as an ominous threat! Where is the hope for change and an improved standard of living for the people of Cuba.

  • May 26, 2019 at 12:04 pm

    and nothing to learn Guy from the imposed communist political system – except that freedom of choice by the people is preferable.

  • May 26, 2019 at 9:18 am

    Having lived in 5 different countries and travelled most of the world..i have also been to Cuba often ..i find cubans to be the happiest,warmest,most affectionate,willing to help regardless of their socialist system.i shall never forget the day i fell from my bike at midnight and broke my shoulder in the middle of the least five neighbours came down and escorted/carried me to where i lived and refused to accept any gratuity I never met an unhappy cuban despite the lack of some necessities.God bless them . We have a lot to learn from the cuban people .

  • May 26, 2019 at 4:52 am

    Oh to be young and in love !!
    I am pleased to say that I have on various occasions gorged on the emotional bounty of being in love and am very pleased for you Mr MacD.
    I would likewise be pleased to see Cuba’s economy improving (if copying the Vietnamese or Chinese model were to achieve this, that would be please me also).
    Unfortunately Mr MacD, when faced with a serious question, rather than address it, you choose to play that old ‘fellow traveller’ card.
    I am highly critical of aspects of the Cuban system but that criticism does not render me deluded.
    I state an absolute irrefutable fact when I say that some of Cuba’s capitalist neighbours are in many ways worse off than Cuba. You have simply zero answer to that point. Equally you have zero response to questions regarding the disturbing and ever increasing overlap between your beloved Capitalism and the Far Right.
    It would appear that you are as much of an ideologue as some of Cuba’s Communist Hardliners. They too suffer from certain delusions. The normal recourse of the ideologue is to peddle simplistic solutions to complex problems.

    Cuba needs more than ideology. It needs pragmatism. Cuba needs to get away from being led by ideologues. Swapping Communist ideologues for Capitalist ideologues may very well simply make matters worse.

    Having expressed my normal disagreement with your ideological rhetoric Mr MacD, I remain, as I say, very pleased that you have found true love.

    As a footnote to your remark:
    Yes. Many voted for trump. But more voted for his opponent. Those are the vagaries of an electoral system designed for the US Revolutionary era of 250 years ago. But the figures don’t lie.

    However I think Victor’s point was more subtle.
    He suggested that Liar-in Chief-trump and Warmonger-in-Chief-bolton care about elections but do not care about democracy.
    This is a very subtle and ingenious way of describing one of the biggest problems we currently face.

    Responsible capitalism underpinned by genuine democratic principle is one thing. But the type of overt, greed-based capitalism (and it’s increasing overlap with the far right) we see in the modern age is of a different breed and is not in any way compatible with democracy.

    Mr MacD, your ideological definitions and preference may have been an easier sell in a certain era, but we are no longer in that era.

  • May 25, 2019 at 9:54 pm

    Do you Tevfik Sertel deny that there is indoctrination in Cuba? Do you Tervik Sertel deny the existence of the Propaganda Department of the Communist Party Of Cuba? Does the existence of indoctrination elsewhere – North Korea with its mass parades held at the whim of its dictator for example, justify the indoctrination in Cuba?
    Can you provide a pictorial illustration of indoctrination in US schools in any way similar to that shown above?
    There is a marked and substantial difference between teaching children the history of their country and the deliberate distortion of that history as practiced in Cuba. Can children and adults in the US access literature from other countries without censorship? In Cuba they can’t.
    You like Nick (see my response below) pursue the usual practice of defenders of the Castro regime by saying: “every country has indoctrination”
    I can guarantee that you have been but a casual visitor to Cuba – if you have actually even been there. You may have noticed that within the first paragraph I noted that religions provide evidence that indoctrination works. That applied in Cuba where the Catholic Church burnt the leader of the native Taino people Hatuey at the stake for failing to comply, in order to save his soul.

  • May 25, 2019 at 9:32 pm

    Although I have on previous occasions explained why I live most of my time in Cuba, you Nick continue to repetitively take the same cheap shot of querying my sincerity. I will repeat for the last time here, that I have a deep love for my Cuban wife an emotion which clearly you fail to understand – probably because such love is beyond your experience. If so, I pity you!
    As one with humanitarian concerns, I am unable like you, to casually toss aside concerns about individual freedom of expression and action.
    i wrote a previous article in which in describing fellow travelers I spoke of their practice of saying that matters may be even worse elsewhere than in Cuba, as if that justified totalitarian repression. I note without surprise, that you have done just that yet again. “in a lot of ways they are significantly worse”
    You may – if you were not blinded by your concerns for the Castro regime – that I have commented that capitalism has its faults, but that it is far preferable to communism, the removal of individual rights, the denial of being able to raise children as parents rather than the State determine and to openly express ones views without fear of imprisonment.
    I openly admit that I would like the Cuban people to know the freedom that you and I both enjoy. Would you prefer to deny them? Or is it that you just love to prevaricate?
    Regarding the adoption of capitalism, China and Vietnam have both done so. Were they wrong, would you prefer that like the people of Cuba, their standard of living should deteriorate rather than improve – is that the measure of your concern for fellow humans?
    Love Nick is a wonderful emotion – none better.

  • May 25, 2019 at 4:49 pm

    Mr MacD, your mission is to criticise the Cuban System at every turn.
    But no matter how much you criticise, you still choose to live in Cuba part of the year. This fact would seem to raise a question mark and would quite clearly imply that Cuba is nowhere near as bad as your criticisms suggest. You have a choice as to where you live Mr MacD. And your choice would to a large extent, appear to refute your own criticisms.
    Furthermore your one and only solution to Cuba’s problems seems to be the introduction of Capitalism.
    But if you look at some of Cuba’s Capitalist neighbours, you would see that they are not necessarily preferable.
    In fact, in a lot of ways they are significantly worse.

  • May 25, 2019 at 3:56 pm

    Indoctrination is everywhere, not only in Cuba. In the US children are indoctrinated with an exaltation of the founding fathers and capitalism as well as patriarchal and judeo-christian values. The masses aren’t aware of alternatives that would make their life better. Every country has indoctrination to ensure the status quo. Also, any and all religious establishments are pure indoctrination.

    Your view while based on some truths is only a snapshot of a much bigger picture and thus sound like pure capitalist propaganda when it’s making it out as if in only Cuba there’s indoctrination. Sad.

  • May 25, 2019 at 12:10 pm

    That is what the left wants to do to you & your children. That indoctrination is exactly why my parents were willing to ship me out of Cuba via the peter pan flights. Thank god we all came together in 1966. God bless my parents for having the wisdom of knowing that socialism is communism !!!

  • May 25, 2019 at 7:28 am

    just like “one nation, under god”… after all, what sort of god but the devil himself, would “protect” the most evil nation on the history of earth.?. hipocrites

  • May 24, 2019 at 3:39 pm

    Absolutely true.We can add to all these that those, like me, who liked to hear radio stations and listen to rock bands, were doomed to be in great trouble and be called antisocials, counter revolutionaries.

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