Today, May 20, 2010, is a very special day for all Cubans. On this same date in 1902, the sacrifice of the long saga of the Ten Years’ War, resumed in Baire in 1895 and finally triumphed. Also successfully concluded on this date, the four uncomfortable years of U.S. occupation.
Cubans were masters of our country and destiny, at noon was that unforgettable time when our national flag was raised on free soil. The Republic was born. Cubans elected, a democratic and sovereign exercise without precedent, their first constitutional president: the exiled Don Tomás Estrada Palma who succeeded Martí in his position as delegate of the Cuban Revolutionary Party.
Now to build the country, a new republic, and set the country on the path of the free and civilized world. Something that, despite errors and mistakes, was achieved, until that March 10, 1952, when Fulgencio Batista, a very intelligent, opportunistic, and extremely ambitious sergeant, not only cut short the democratic process but led to the development of revolutionary terrorism, and the subsequent emergence of the cruel, ruthless, and inhuman regime that the contemporary era has known: Castro-communism.
But fighting has continued. At 5:00 am on May 20, 1985, Cuban homes awoke surprised with an unbounded joy, almost like that of 1902: the broadcast was on Radio Marti. Soon the news spread like silent wildfire; no one could talk about anything else. Students were impatient to finish their classes and hear about things that they thought did not exist; housewives gathered to enjoy the soap operas, fans of major league baseball delighted in listening to games; many clubs were created to listen to that interesting program “The Art of Living” which was even offered as a subject to college students. The program “Early in the Morning” accompanied workers drinking their coffee before leaving for work.
The island was revolutionized and filled with enthusiasm.What the people needed in their struggle — transparent and objective information to discern without dogmatism of information — had come. The official press, unable to interfere, tried to slander the so-called enemy radio, pretending to be offended by its bearing the name Marti, as if for them the most important thing was the Apostle and not breaking the censorship, be it Martí, or Maceo, Robespierre, Carlos Manuel de Cespedes, Alberto Guanterona, Bruce Lee or Abraham Lincoln, any name for them would have resulted in the same tantrum, because henceforth they would end the monopoly and manipulation of information for Cubans, with one radio, one newspaper, one opinion on everything that is published.
But not only did the attacks on Radio Martí come from Castro and his lackey reporters. The dictatorship of Havana and millionaires with powerful resources, which need not pass any Congress or Legislature, began buying intentions, to manipulate personalities, so much so that some in the grand and hospitable United States have had the cruelty to propose ending this important news service. When I hear of this cruelty I am taken aback and do not try to attack, I say for reasons, which if I’m wrong please would someone do me the favor of proving otherwise.
First: Radio Martí, like its counterpart Radio Republic, is a clear window of information that without emotionalism, radicalism, or fanaticism of any kind informs Cubans what is happening inside and outside their borders.
Second: Radio Martí, without personally attacking political opponents, and with a surprising system of checking its sources, has been exposing the crimes of the Castro regime.
Third: For Cubans who, for well-known reasons, have no access to the Internet or digital cable television and can only buy the official newspapers, their only opportunity is to listen to these “enemy” radios for information.
Fourth: In the absence of stations such as Radio Marti or Radio Republic one would have to be very cynical or mean to not realize that ordinary Cubans would not know of the Ladies in White and their heroic struggle, they would not know what is happening in their own towns, even things right around the corner. Without stations like these the situation of our prisoners – the beatings and other mistreatment they receive – would remain within the four walls of the cell that imprisons them.
To paraphrase Martí: “Those who pay more attention to the shade and the spots than in the light,” those who destroy from afar the source, have in Radio Martí a ghost that strikes back, that really hurts, that hurts the guilty and their accomplices.
For these reasons, despite the enemies inside and out, overlapping or open, there is Radio Marti completing 25 years on the air despite attempts to silence it, despite the shady maneuvers to undermine its incalculable value. Radio Martí is there in its 25 years in spite of envy, despite the Machiavellianism of those who seek geographically far from the exile community. On Radio Marti and its programming is the effort of the beloved and unforgettable Mas Canosa, the Cuban-American congress and many others who despite being outside their homeland do not for a minute stop thinking about it and those who fight for freedom.
Radio Martí exists and will exist as long as we Cubans have no voice and until freedom is achieved.