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Obama inauguration broadcast in Cuba

Many Cubans watch live broadcast of a US president taking the oath for the first time, thanks to Venezuelan TV Telesur.

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President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama attend the Inaugural Ball at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center on January 21, 2013 in Washington, DC. (MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

HAVANA, Cuba — Part of US President Barack Obama's inauguration ceremony aired on television in Cuba on Monday, a first for many on the communist island.

The Washington, DC event was broadcast in Cuba thanks to the Castro administration's decision to allow island viewers to see more programming from the Venezuela-based Telesur network.

But it did not come without criticism by a commentator on Telesur, the Los Angeles Times reported. More than half of the network is financed by President Hugo Chavez's government.

The broadcast also may have left out a segment that could have resonated with Cubans: the reading by Cuban-American Richard Blanco of his poem "One Today."

Dissident Cuban blogger Yoani Sanchez tweeted about it saying "Cuban American Richard Blanco poem present in inauguration of Barack Obama but in Cuba official press keeps silent."

Telesur is not independent, but it's a far cry from the skewed news programming on Cuban state television, which ranges from sort-of biased to downright Orwellian, explains GlobalPost's Nick Miroff in Havana.

In the rest of Latin America, it has to compete for viewers with major networks such as CNN International, so Telesur can't afford to be boring, Miroff adds.

"And unlike Cuban state television, Telesur has a news bureau in Washington, DC. So adding the network should give Cuban viewers another look at life in the United States, even if the ideological filter isn't too different from the one they're already used to," said Miroff.

Obama was publicly sworn in for his second four-year term as US president in Washington on Monday.

The US and Cuba have not had full diplomatic relations for nearly 50 years, although some on the island and in the US have held hopes for easing of US trade embargo against Cuba under Obama.

Before Obama's victory in November, GlobalPost asked Cubans their views of the US election and found an array of opinions.

Nick Miroff reported from Havana. Follow him on Twitter @NickMiroff.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/130122/obama-inauguration-broadcast-cuba