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  • A billboard in Cuba proclaiming, " Long Live Cuba Free."

    A billboard in Cuba proclaiming, " Long Live Cuba Free." | Photo: Reuters

Published 13 February 2017

As we celebrate World Radio Day, teleSUR looks at the dark side of radio created by the U.S. government against socialist Cuba.

In 1981, former President Ronald Reagan signed executive order 12323, creating a "Presidential Commission for Broadcasting to Cuba," which analyzed the creation of a new radio service directed specifically against socialist Cuba. One of its members was Jorge Mas Canosa, president of the counter-revolutionary and terrorist organization, the Cuban American National Foundation.

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The CANF, based in Miami, got approval for an official U.S. radio station, overseen by the Broadcasting Board of Governors, aimed at the destabilization of Cuba in 1985 and it was inappropriately named Radio Marti, after the Cuban liberator who fought for the poor and marginalized, something antithetical to the Cuban right wing.

In violation of international agreements and costing U.S. taxpayers about US$25 million per year, the station was denounced by Cuba, but the island nation has been unable to block its transmission, which arrives via AM and shortwave radio and actually interferes with the state-sponsored Radio Rebelde. In 1990, the U.S. added TV Marti to its propaganda arsenal, but the Cubans have been able to interfere with and block its broadcast.

President Raul Castro has repeatedly called for the "elimination of programs aimed at promoting subversion and destabilization" and the cessation of radio and television broadcasts to Cuba. It is one of several things that Cuba has said impedes the normalization of relations between the two countries.

The transmissions are part of the worldwide apparatus of Voice of America, which many scholars, commentators and activists consider a form of propaganda. The International Telecommunication Union, a U.N. agency, stated in Radio Regulation 428A in 1971, that states are required to reduce “spillover broadcasts” into other countries “to the maximum extent practicable” unless a previous agreement is established between the countries.

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The World Radio Communication Conference, held every three or four years in Geneva and part of the ITU, has affirmed that the U.S violates the rules it is subject to by invading Cuban territory with radio frequencies sent from aircraft, which interfere with television channels and radio frequencies that are in service on the island.

Radio and TV Marti began broadcasts from an aircraft in August 2004. The deployment of airplanes for illegal transmissions is one of the most provocative and dangerous actions and can constitute an act of war, while clearly violating Cuban sovereignty.

The radio station has not been without scandal. In September 2006, journalist Oscar Corral exposed in the Miami Herald that some 50 Florida journalists were paid by Radio Marti for propaganda material aligned with the anti-Cuban policy of the U.S. State Department.

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