A Radio & TV Marti reporter, Manuel Vazquez Portal, has resigned from the U.S. government run radio and television station that broadcasts programs to the island of Cuba. One of the original Group of 75 opposition members in Cuba arrested and imprisoned during the Black Spring of 2003 crackdown, Vazquez Portal stated in a letter addressed to President Obama, Secretary Hillary Clinton, and the Cuban American members of congress that his resignation was due to the fact that Radio/TV Marti was no longer fulfilling its original mission of providing unfiltered news to the Cuban people.
Here is an excerpt from his letter published at Baracutey Cubano (my translation):
I hereby notify you that I, Manuel Vazquez Portal, former political prisoner from the Group of 75, sentenced during Cuba’s Black Spring of 2003 to 18 years of prison for working as an independent journalist for almost a decade inside Cuba, am resigning from my contract as a journalist (one that I have worked under for almost six years at the Cuba Broadcasting Office and for 35 years with other news agencies) at the internet department (martinoticias.com) because I feel the current trajectory of Radio Marti is absolutely inconsistent with the mission established by the Congress of the United States.
My resignation is non-negotiable because as an active member of the internal dissidence, upon my arrival to the United States, I saw in Radio Marti a channel where I could continue having contact with my people and help them in their struggle for liberty. However, it has been the opposite. I feel I have been used, harassed, and discriminated against by the new management at the Office of Cuba Broadcasting. Such instances have occurred with other contract employees and federal employees of the institution, all of them having exceptional professional reputations and recognized work in the struggle for democracy, freedom of expression, and respect for human rights . . .
Vazquez Portal goes on in his letter to describe how Radio/TV Marti has, in violation of its purpose as commanded by congress, shifted its focus to presenting entertainment programs instead of news. He also states that several well respected journalists and individuals at Radio/TV Marti have been summarily fired with no justification given.
Since the Obama administration took office, I have been hearing from various extremely reliable sources that Radio/TV Marti was changing drastically, and those changes were not for the better. A definite and intentional move away from direct confrontation with the dictatorial regime in Cuba was beginning to take place at the station, and new people were being brought into the organization that agreed with that softer policy.
Perhaps there is no better person to corroborate the disturbing changes taking place at Radio/TV Marti described by Vazquez Portal and others than one of its current supporters, Ted Henken. A City University of New York professor and so-called “Cuba Expert,” Henken is a frequent visitor to Cuba and believes the U.S. should abandon its strong stance against the murderous dictatorial regime of the Castro brothers and embrace them instead. In an article in Global Voices, Henken’s thoughts about the “new” Radio/TV Marti were described as thus:
According to Henken, under the Obama administration, Radio Martí producers are making greater efforts to diversify political viewpoints in their programming. As part of this effort, they have solicited interviews with bloggers who have been classified as supporters of the Cuban revolution, including Global Voices contributor and La Polémica Digital [es] author Elaine Díaz, who declined the opportunity [es].
So there you have it, perhaps from the proverbial horse’s mouth.
Here is a video of Manuel Vazquez Portal’s remarks regarding his resignation from Radio/TV Marti:
H/T Diana A.