Video Project: Inside Communist Cuba

This source is a news story from the Associated Press dating back to 1963. It shows Cuba in a post-revolutionary state under the leadership of Fidel Castro. Differing from the 1959 video, this is American-produced content and shows us Castro’s Cuba from an American perspective. The video begins by introducing Cuba under Castro as “a sorry island” “conquered by communist imperialism,” playing on Cold War fears of potential Soviet and Communist invasion in the United States. Yet, the shots Soviet-influenced armed guards guarding an incoming shipment that accompany this narration show the men smiling with casual posture, typical signs of being happy and in a good mood.

The video then explains Cuba pre-revolution when it was under the rule of Batista. This Cuba seems much more appealing to the Americans; the narrator describes it as a massive tourist attraction, bringing in many Western tourists to significantly boost the island’s economy. The people of the island are described as “peace-loving and good-natured,” and the island is said to be joyful, fun, relaxing, and carefree. A lot of positive language is used to accompany the footage of Cuba before the revolution. People, Cubans and tourists alike, are shown dancing, dining, and smiling.

Then the video explains how sounds of joy turned to sounds of shooting as Castro’s militia violently took over the government. No kind words are said about Castro. He is portrayed as a manipulative figure who slyly convinced Cuba to support his position as Liberator, a government position he apparently betrays as he shifts the island toward communism. Under Castro, the narrator says the island’s life and joy has vanished. Sugarcane fields may be sabotaged, there is no fresh bread or meat, education and entertainment are both extremely influenced by Soviet propaganda, and the island heavily relies on communist (Chinese and Russian) support. Finally, it ends alluding to America as a saviour, as sick Cubans and refugees are taken aboard a ship embarking for the United States with food and medical supplies funded by the Red Cross, aid the narrator said they could not get in Cuba.

Being an American source looking into Cuba from an outsider’s perspective, this newsreel allows us to see the views Americans had on Cuba at the time when Cuba so adamantly opposed any American intervention. It is extremely biased and explicitly anti-communist and anti-Castro, so using the video as an informational source will be not be a priority for our video project. The American perspective of this video will be useful to exemplify the tensions between the United States and Cuba in this time period. We will reflect on the lasting anti-American ideology during the Castro regime, and this American source will come in handy when dissecting why Cuba felt so strongly against American interference in the island.

Instead, the footage itself is very telling of the conditions and affairs that went on in Castro’s Cuba. Sugarcane is a huge part of the Cuban economy and is linked to the revolutionary movement both motivating the government takeover and after during the revolutionary process. Having footage of that crucial aspect of the Cuban economy will be helpful in telling a complete story of the Cuban revolution. Also, the video provides shots of Cuban militia members, most of which are smiling and seem happy. From the armed guards protecting imports and exports to the young militia members patrolling the streets in groups at night, they sport smiling faces and a hopeful attitude based on body language. While the narrator does not attempt to analyse this, we will most likely use this footage to accompany information about the popularity of the Castro regime, especially in the early years.

British Movietone. “Inside Communist Cuba – 1963 | Movietone Moment | 2 Dec 2016.” YouTube. December 2, 2016. Video, 6:44.

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