Keep Radio Marti in Washington Bad idea: Cuban-Americans would solidify

March 23, 1996

THIS IS NO TIME to put more control of U.S. policy toward Fidel Castro's Cuba in the hands of one faction of wealthy Cuban-Floridians. That is what Congress is about to do, by moving Radio Marti from Washington to Florida as a rider to a bill that President Clinton would sign.

Radio Marti was created in 1983 to give Cubans an alternative to the Communist state media other than the official Voice of America something more Cuban, more about their lives. It was controversial but it does a job and has listeners. In its wake, Television Marti was created in 1990. This, however, is easily jammed and reaches no Cubans. American taxpayers go on paying for this boondoggle.

Jorge Mas Canosa, the wealthy Cuban-American who heads the powerful Cuban American National Foundation, persuaded the Reagan administration to establish the stations. Since 1984 he has headed its advisory board. By all accounts, he has too much influence over personnel and message. His meddling is now under official investigation. His patrons in Congress are trying to move the station move from Washington to Florida. Then Radio Marti would become his toy more than ever.

Last summer, the Clinton administration considered replacing Mr. Mas Canosa with former Rep. Dante Fascell of Miami. Instead, in the wake of the Cuban downing of two planes flown by exiles, after signing of the bizarre Helms-Burton act attempting to impose the U.S. trade embargo on other countries, the administration appeases Mr. Mas Canosa.

It is not clear why President Clinton kowtows in an election year on issues he knows to be wrong to people who will support his Republican opponent. Mr. Mas Canosa leads the hard line among Cuban-Floridians. His influence is deplored by many who seek contact with Cuba as the effective way to undermine Castroism.

Mr. Clinton ought to replace Mr. Mas Canosa with Mr. Fascell. TV Marti ought to be put out of its misery. Especially if U.S. foreign policy is supposed to advance U.S. national interests, not private ones; and especially if the government wants to cut waste in an election year.

Pub Date: 3/23/96

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.