Saturday, April 18, 2015

Gutting Radio Marti: Ending Reagan's Freedom Legacy in Cuba

 "New Cuba Policy" goes back to the 1970s

Ronald Reagan backed the creation of a Radio Free Cuba to break Castro regime's information monopoly over the Cuban people beginning in 1981. In a 1983 address, President Reagan explained the importance of getting the truth to oppressed peoples:
The Soviets are terrified of the truth. They understand well and they dread the meaning of St. John's words: "You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." The truth is mankind's best hope for a better world. That's why in times like this, few assets are more important than the Voice of America and Radio Liberty, our primary means of getting the truth to the Russian people.[...]  We've repeatedly urged the Congress to support our long-term modernization program and our proposal for a new radio station, Radio Marti, for broadcasting to Cuba. The sums involved are modest, but for whatever reason this critical program has not been enacted. Today I'm appealing to the Congress: Help us get the truth through. Help us strengthen our international broadcasting effort by supporting increased funding for the Voice of America, Radio Free Europe, Radio Liberty, and by authorizing the establishment of Radio Marti.
When it finally went on the air in 1985 Radio Marti marked a before and after inside Cuba. At the time President Reagan hoped that Radio Marti would ''help defuse the war hysteria on which much of current Cuban Government policy is predicated.'' The Castro regime's response was to end an immigration agreement and suspend the visits to Cuba by Cubans living in the United States.The Hoover Institution in 1989 listed it as one of a 100 conservative victories. 

The White House in the current year's budget proposal advocated ending Radio Marti as a part of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, an independent federal agency. This would effectively gut the radio station and is the first step in getting rid of it. Apparently in the drive to engage the Castro regime the White House is willing to silence one of the few voices of free and uncensored information reaching the Cuban people.

The U.S. government did not protest when a Radio Marti reporter, who was properly accredited, was escorted out and expelled from a press conference by Cuban state security at the Summit of the Americas in Panama earlier this month and the Voice of America, apparently did not report on this. Thankfully CNN in Spanish did.

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