Posted on Wednesday, 03.03.10
Radio, TV Martí fight for freedom
BY PEDRO ROIG
The tragic death of political prisoner of conscience Orlando Zapata
Tamayo has touched off profound revulsion in Cuba against the brutal
tyranny of the Castro brothers. Thousands of Cubans have raised their
voices to protest the Cuban dictatorship's criminal inaction in the
death of this humble and heroic man who sought respect for human rights
through his hunger strike.
From day one, Zapata Tamayo's death was broadcast live by Radio Martí.
That is why we were surprised to see Francisco “Pépe'' Hernández
utilize this latest Castroite crime as a platform to engage in a tirade
against Radio and Televisión Martí, a U.S. government agency that
provides accurate, objective and balanced radio and TV programming.
As a citizen of a free country, Hernández is entitled to his critical
opinions, but such opinions must be based on facts, which is the essence
of our struggle for liberty.
If he had bothered to conduct adequate research before submitting his
Feb. 25 Other Views column Encourage change from within to The Miami
Herald, he would have learned that Radio Martí — in an unprecedented
move — was able to broadcast live via cellphone all the drama that
surrounded the burial of this new Cuban martyr, including the cries of
“Liberty'' and “Down with the dictatorship'' during the interment in
the town of Banes. Radio Martí's microphones were there for Reina
Tamayo, the martyr's mother, and dozens of Cuban dissidents to speak to
Cuba and the rest of the world without censorship.
The statement that Radio Martí has canceled programs where opponents of
the regime participated is false. On a daily basis, newscasts such as
Contacto Cuba, Sin Censores, Periodismo.com, Las Noticias Como Son, La
Mujer y la Noticia and Primera Plana open Radio Martí's microphones to
Cuba's growing civil society. Day after day, the Cuban dissident
movement from across the island resorts to the uncensored waves of Radio
and Televisión Martí to speak their truth.
Another falsehood is to proclaim that Televisión Martí has canceled its
newscasts. All our programs carry news of interest to Cuba, at half-hour
intervals, in a manner that increases the audience's access. Televisión
Martí also offers three half-hour programs: Cuba al Día, Nuestra América
and Washington al Día, each carrying news and views on the island's
When I took over as director of Radio and TV Martí, the only way we
could broadcast to the island was using an aerostatic balloon anchored
in the Florida Keys. We have come a long way since then, significantly
expanding the platforms used to beam the signal of Televisión Martí to
We now employ four broadcast platforms: The Direct TV satellite (Channel
8); the Hispasat Spanish satellite; the “Aero Martí'' aircraft, which
flies over the Florida Keys transmitting simultaneously in VHF (Channel
13) and UHF (Channel 20); and our digital webpage martinoticias.com,
available to those Cubans with secret Internet access that's banned by
This has been a difficult year for the budget of Radio and TV Martí. It
is distressing that certain influential Cubans, with access to the U.S.
Congress, kept silent and did not join the efforts of those who fought
to prevent the drastic $7-million budget cutback slammed on the Office
of Cuba Broadcasting (OCB).
For the past 6 ½ years, as the head of Radio and TV Martí, I have
dutifully carried out OCB's critical mission and have had several
inspections by the General Accounting Office and the Inspector General.
The conclusions of their respective reports were generally positive.
I have chosen to remain silent throughout the years, but recent
ill-intentioned statements have forced me to respond, particularly
because those statements have come from a member of the Cuban exile
I have no intention of engaging in debates. Today, as the head of Radio
and Television Martí, or tomorrow, as an attorney, historian and
grandfather, you will always find me engaged in the struggle we began
more than 50 years ago to ensure the right of all Cubans to speak
without the fear of reprisals.
That remains our patriotic obligation — and the best tribute to all
those who, like Orlando Zapata Tamayo, sacrificed their lives for the
liberty of Cuba.
Pedro Roig is the director of the Office of Cuba Broadcasting.
Radio, TV Martí fight for freedom – Other Views – MiamiHerald.com (3