Cuba Culture

Cuba Culture and Mass Media

Newspapers in Cuba

According to FRANCISCOGARDENING.COM, Cuba is a country located in North America. The daily distribution in Cuba is relatively large (118 items per 1,000 residents, 2000). In 1990, Castro announced that the Communist Party’s body Granma (400,000 copies) would become the only national newspaper. The remaining newspapers would be published weekly or closed down. No newspaper has more than about 10,000 copies. in circulation. The international news agency Prensa Latina (founded in 1959) provides information specifically on developing countries.

Radio and TV are centrally directed by the Instituto Cubano de Radio y Televisión (ICRT, founded in 1962). There are both national radio and a variety of local radio stations. There are two national TV channels, Cubavision and Tele Rebelde. The etheric media has some competition, as the neighboring countries’ programs can be easily heard and seen, which also makes the strict censorship limited effective. US broadcasts, especially from the US-funded TV Martí, are often disturbed. There are 353 radio and 250 TV receivers per 1,000 residents (2000).


According to CALCULATORINC, the main characteristic of Cuban culture is the mixture of African and European tradition, which is especially evident in music but also in poetry, for example.

Cuba’s most versatile writer during the 19th century was José Martí, who was a forefront of modernism and at the same time active in the Cuban independence struggle.

During the 1958–1959 revolution, several Cuban cultural figures joined Fidel Castro, including novelist Alejo Carpentier and poet Nicolas Guillén, who is considered the country’s national bald.

According to THERELIGIONFAQS.COM, Cuba became a cultural center for a time, but after only a few years the political climate and cultural figures who did not share the regime’s views were persecuted, for example the poet Armando Valladares and the author Ángel Cuadra. Many other well-known authors have left Cuba, such as Cabrera Infante, Herberto Padilla, Jesús Díaz and Zoé Valdez. In Sweden since 1975 René Vazquez Diáz, who has written, among other things, has written a triology about Cuba: the time of the emigration, the island of Love Flower and Foolishness and Love.

According to the Constitution, artistic creation must not conflict with the revolution. All book publishing is therefore controlled by a government institute as well as all production and distribution of film. However, it has not prevented directors like Tomás Gutiérrez Alea and Juan Carlos Tabio from making fairly outspoken feature films (Strawberries and Chocolate, Guantanamera).

Cuba is known for its rich music tradition that sprung from the mix of Spanish and African music. In the 19th century, the Cuban Habanan influenced both European and American music, leaving traces in both Bizet’s opera Carmen and New Orleans jazz. Other Cuban music styles, such as rumba and son, influenced the West Indian music scene throughout the 20th century. Salsa music has been developed in Cuba as well as the dances mambo and cha-cha-cha.

Conjunto Folklórico Nacional is a prominent dance troupe dedicated to preserving Afro-Cuban dance. Even more prestigious is the Ballet Nacional de Cuba, founded in 1948 by the internationally active dance artist Alicia Alonso and which stands for a classic European tradition.

The visual arts were developed during the 20th century by artists born around the turn of the last century. The country’s most famous artist is Wifredo Lam. The poster art is well developed in Cuba where propaganda signs border the roads both in the cities and in the countryside.

Mass Media

The traditional media is under the control of the party and the state. The selection of news is adapted to the messages the regime wants to convey. Independent media are allowed to operate within certain frameworks but only a small portion of Cubans can access them.

The range of newspapers is limited. The Communist Party’s five-day newspaper Granma is the only one sold across the country. Other magazines with wide circulation are Juventud Rebelde’s weekly newspaper Juventud Rebelde and the trade union movement’s Trabajadores. There is a regional party newspaper in each province as well as thirty magazines.

All TV and radio programs are produced by state actors. The Cubans are not allowed to have their own satellite TV receivers, and the authorities are trying to disrupt the radio and television programs broadcast by exile Cuban organizations to Cuba.

Although Cubans now have the right to buy computers, access to the internet is limited. Only certain occupational categories, such as academics, may have internet connections at home. In the larger cities, there are internet cafes and the government has set up so-called wi-fi hotspots in hundreds of public places across the country. In both cases, you have to pay to connect online. The fees for surfing are high and the connection is sluggish. Surfing an hour on the national network with limited content costs 5-10 percent of an average monthly salary.

Some of the content on the internet is conveyed through the so-called “package” which is sold in the cloud and which comes in new issues once a week. The “package” is usb memories or entire hard drives loaded with foreign news, movies, TV shows, magazines and websites.

Increased turning space

According to the Constitution, freedom of expression is to be used in a way that is consistent with the goals of socialist society. A number of laws can be used to stop unwanted opinions. For example, there are laws that prevent the spread of “hostile propaganda” or “unauthorized news.” Writing something that can be considered defamatory to someone in the country’s top leadership or parliament is also prohibited. Anyone who does not follow the rules risks being exposed to threats and harassment and, in the worst case, is imprisoned.

However, organizations in the West that monitor media development in Cuba believe that in recent years the authorities have become more inclined to accept critical articles of a certain kind. Both state and independent media can now criticize the government indirectly, by pointing out specific abuses, such as corruption and mismanagement of resources. Official bodies such as Granma and Juventud Rebelde also allow reader criticism of factual matters in connection with published articles. However, negative views of the government or the system as a whole are not tolerated.

Despite all the restrictions, independent media, in the form of blogs and websites, has expanded in recent years. Some examples are Periodismo de Barrio, Generación Y and 14yMedio, the latter run by renowned blogger Yoani Sánchez. But only a small part of the Cubans can access the material on the internet (see above) and it happens that the authorities are blocking the independent sites so that they can not be reached from Cuba at all. Writers are then forced to find other ways to get their texts published, for example by sending them via e-mail to contacts abroad who publish them on the internet.

What is accepted and what triggers repression is far from clear. Self-censorship among journalists is widespread. According to the organization Freedom House, a heated debate on censorship, press freedom and the role of the media has gained momentum among the country’s journalists, both government employees and independents.


Percentage of the population using the internet

57 percent (2017)

Number of mobile subscriptions per 100 residents

47 (2018)

Cuba Culture

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