The first newspaper was the Gaceta de la Habana in
1782 followed by Papel periódico about eight years
later. In the Cuban province the first newspapers to
be published daily was El Espejo of Puerto Príncipe
from the year 1812.
The most important newspaper in the 19th century was
the Diario de la Marina, the second one La Discusión.
In the 1920s, the Heraldo de Cuba newspaper was the
first in circulation. In the 1935-1958 periods under
the governments of Machado and Batista, newspapers
were subsidized. Through a financial participation,
the regimes muzzle the press. Much space was
provided for many of state’s advertisement like
government jobs, advertisements and edicts. In this
era, many pro- governmental journalists were paid
from governmental funds.
In the year 1956, in Batista period presidency, 56
newspapers were in imprint. Only six to eight met
their expenses through sales and advertisements, 33
were published in Havana. Prensa Libre and The Times
of Havana were the only unsubsidized newspapers.
After the 1959 revolution, Batistano’s newspapers
owned by private middle class Cubans were
expropriated by the state while others could not
continue to work as they had financial constraints
and were no longer subsidized. There was also a
decline in the inflow of funds due to the decrease
or nonexistence of advertising in communist Cuba.
Along roads, only billboards supporting the
government ideology were seen. The change from a
capitalist to communist Cuba was not without
drawbacks. In 1960, a state decree limited the
American-sized Cuban newspapers pages to control
press. 16 pages on weekdays and 24 on Sundays were
allowed to be printed.
Furthermore, newspapers were on bad quality
newsprint made of ‘bagasse’.
The last commercial and independent organ of the
press was Información appeared in december in 1960.
La Quincena, a magazine supported by the Cuban
parish in 1961was closed down. By 1965, the
surviving newspapers of the revolution, all
semi-official ones, the Revolución, La Calle, El
Combate, El Mundo and the Partido Socialista
Popular's Hoy all disappeared and with the Partido
Comunista de Cuba, Granma, Juventud rebelde became
the only national dailies in Cuba.
There were also local provincial dailies but in six
years, since 1959, the diversity and number of the
newspapers had diminished drastically as well as its
quality and standards. The Cuban newspapers suffered
a lot with the emigration of independent analysts
escaping the repressive Cuban regime too. From 1960
to 1970, the communist regime stabilized the
Prensa Latina Agencia de Informacion Nacional was
installed to monitor newsworthiness, censorship and
the release of information to the different media
channels. From 1970 onwards the sole objective of
newspapers and media were to develop the Cubans both
economically ad culturally. With Castro open
alignment with the Marxist Leninist ideology, the
function of the newspapers changed. Newspapers were
used to shape and indoctrinate the mass and attain
the communist party goals.
The media together with the newspapers were used by
the state’s news agencies to disseminate their
ideology and orient their policies. The function of
the media and newspapers were to educate and inform.
Its prior function, to entertain people, was
overridden. The priority of the media and the
newspapers were to secure the support of mass,
promote homogeneity in population where there would
be neither the ‘exploited’ or the ‘exploiter’.
Today, there are Cubans who still don’t accept the
state control and dissemination of information while
others ignore the propagandistic manifestations of
the Cuban regime.