Elderly Cubans Thank Castro for Keeping Them Alive

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In today's tour of worldwide propaganda, Cuba's elderly thank Castro for their longevity, Syria's elections are a huge success and "gay propaganda" in Russia receives its first fine. We begin in Havana. 

The Secret to Eternal Life: Castro-Style Socialism

You see these old people playing checkers? They're happy to be alive and  they know just who to thank: Cuban patriarch Fidel Castor! According to a possibly-true story by the state-owned Cuban News Agency, a group of Cuban Centenarians gathered in Havana on Friday to thank Castro for giving them a long and happy life:

Blanca Rosa Leon Contreras, born in 1909 in Villa Clara, said the Cuban social system had given a lot to the whole people and particularly to the senior citizens and pointed out that Fidel Castro had contributed a great deal for Cubans to have a decent old age. 

Feeling lucky for having passed a century of age with such vitality, Marino Rodriguez, 102, from Guantanamo, thanked the Revolution for its achievements in health, social security, education and other fields and stressed how much he has benefited from those attainments.   

The story is a little suspect for its lack of direct quotes and its overt tendentiousness but a couple things make us think it could be real: a) There are only 5 people in this photograph (not a difficult event to organize in a country of more than 11 million); and, b) Cuba's health care system isn't actually that bad. Maybe not as good as Michael Moore claimed in his documentary Sicko but not that bad either. (In life expectancy, Cuba actually outranks the United States with an overall life expectancy of 78.3  years compared to America's 78.2.) ¿Viva la revolucion?

Syria's Elections Are an Unequivocal Success

Think Syria is a war-ravaged dictatorship? That's because you're reading all the wrong stuff. Give a listen to Syra's state-owned media, and you'll hear a vastly different story about the country's first multiparty elections on Monday. "It's clear Syria is heading toward democracy, and God willing, it will become an Arab model, an Arab dream," says Hussein Makki, a journalist for the President Bashar al-Assad's Addounia TV, according to Time's Rania Abouzeid. The journalist hands the microphone over to a mustachioed man who says "We have proven to the world that Syria is fine" adding "We will forge the plan for our country." All this despite reports from The Associated Press that "opponents of the regime have largely boycotted the vote, saying it is a sham and that the government is not serious about change." Yep, sounds like a paragon of democracy over there.

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Gay Propaganda Is Punished in Russia 

We've been covering Russia's draconian legislation against "gay propaganda," for months and were always curious if the crime of disseminating "gay propaganda," i.e., free speech, would be enforced. Turns out, it was finally enforced on Friday. "Nikolai Alexeyev, the leader of GayRussia, was fined 5,000 rubles ($170) by a court on Friday, after he was detained for picketing outside St. Petersburg's legislature building last month in protest at what he described as the 'homophobic' new law," reports RIA Novosti. "Several politicians and church figures have called for the law, which sets fines of up to to 500,000 rubles ($17,000) for violations, to be passed at a federal level." The kinds of things the law clamps down on are gay parades. But in this case, gay propaganda includes complaining about laws banning gay propaganda. We would imagine a law like that makes it somewhat difficult for opponents to defeat it. Can no one express dissent against it for fear of being accused of gay propaganda?

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.