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Radio y Televisión Martí
Radio y Televisión Martí.svg
Type Radio, television, Internet
Country United States
Availability Cuba, United States
Launch date May 20, 1985 (radio)
March 27, 1990 (TV)

Radio y Televisión Martí is a radio and television broadcaster based in Miami, Florida, financed by the United States government (Broadcasting Board of Governors), which transmits Spanish radio broadcasts to Cuba. Its broadcasts can also be heard in the United States.



Radio Martí was established in 1983 by President Ronald Reagan, at the urging of Jorge Mas Canosa, with the mission of fighting communism. Today, it broadcasts a 24-hour radio program on short and medium wave.

In the early 1980s, the U.S. Government planned to create a radio station to be known as Radio Free Cuba, modeled on Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, with the hopes of hastening the fall of Cuban president Fidel Castro. Existing North American broadcasters objected strenuously to these plans, fearing that they would lead Cuba to retaliate by jamming existing commercial medium-wave broadcasts from Florida. These fears proved true in 1985, when Cuba-based transmitters briefly broadcast powerful signals on the medium wave band, disrupting U.S. AM radio station broadcasts in several states. Cuba continues to broadcast interference with U.S. broadcasts specifically directed to Cuba, in attempts to prevent them from being received within Cuba.

On May 20, 1985, broadcasts to Cuba from the United States began. The first day of broadcasting was chosen to commemorate the anniversary of Cuba's independence from Spanish colonial rule, May 20, 1902. The station came to be named Radio Martí after Cuban writer José Martí, who had fought for Cuba's independence from Spain and against U.S. influence in the Americas.

In 1990, TV Marti was created to broadcast television programming to Cuba.

Radio Martí today

Radio Martí broadcast studio.

Today, Radio Marti transmits over shortwave transmitters in Delano, California and Greenville, North Carolina and a medium-wave transmitter in Marathon, Florida (GC: 24°41′58″N 81°5′19″W / 24.69944°N 81.08861°W / 24.69944; -81.08861). Cuba jams both the medium-wave and shortwave signals, but the shortwave program is heard in Canada and throughout Central and South America. On occasion, the medium wave transmitter at 1180 kHz can be heard as far north as Washington, D.C.

An hour of Radio Marti's news programs are carried each night, midnight to 1:00AM, by Miami's most popular Spanish language station, Radio Mambi (WAQI-710AM), which blankets the island of Cuba with its 50,000 watt signal, although it's jammed in Havana. [1] Government broadcasting over domestic media such that it can be directly received by US residents could be a violation of the communications act of 1934.

Radio Marti operates with about 100 employees and a budget of $15 million. Its mission, in its own words, is to provide "a contrast to Cuban media and provide its listeners with an uncensored view of current events." Former prisoners in Cuba and Cuban exiles often speak on Radio Marti; and on Saturdays a Spanish version of the U.S. president's weekly radio address, as well as the opposition's response, are transmitted.

There is much debate about the effectiveness of these broadcasts. As with Radio Free Europe during the Cold War, there is no way to judge the station's true audience through the usual listener surveys. Thus, the actual number of listeners is open to speculation. However, after the fall of the Soviet Union and the satellite communist governments of Eastern Europe, a Hoover Institution conference reviewing reports from citizens in newly independent Russia, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, and other countries tended to substantiate the effectiveness of RFE and U.S. Voice of America broadcasts both in providing information and bolstering democratic movements within those countries, despite attempts at electronic jamming and counter-propaganda.[1]

After the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s, the budget for all U.S. government-run foreign broadcasters, with the exception of Radio Marti, was sharply reduced. In 1996, its studios were moved to Miami, Florida from Washington, DC. The move, in addition to placing the station's studios closer to its target audience, also underscored its growing independence from the Voice of America, another government-run foreign broadcaster with which Radio Martí had previously shared studios.

Controversy and legality

Fabio Leite, director of the Radiocommunications Office of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), has condemned radio and television transmissions to Cuba from the United States as illegal and inadmissible and more so when they are designed to foment internal subversion on the island. The director emphasized that this constant U.S. attack is in violation of ITU regulations, which stipulate that radio transmissions within commercial broadcasting on medium wave, modulated frequency or television must be conceived of as a good quality national service within the limits of the country concerned. [2] This argument is made even though the Cuban government itself not only openly attempts to jam VOA broadcasts[2][3][4], but also directs equally powerful shortwave transmissions of English-language political broadcasts and communiques directed at the United States. Time interval signals identical to those used by Radio Havana Cuba have also been detected in coded numbers station broadcasts that have been linked to espionage activity in the U.S.[5].

The Radio Marti broadcasts are directed to Cuba, and can be picked up throughout North, Central and South America when not being jammed. However, Radio Marti programmes cannot be specifically directed to U.S. citizens under the same law that restricts Voice of American broadcasts.[3]

On November 15, 2007, delegates to the World Radiocommunication Conference 2007 declared illegal the U.S. government's use of airplanes to beam the signals of Washington-funded Radio and Television Marti into Cuba, stating "A radio broadcasting station that functions on board an aircraft and transmits only to the territory of another administration without its agreement cannot be considered in conformity with the radio communications regulations." [4] [5]

In February 2009, it was revealed that the station's TV and radio broadcasts reach less than 1% of Cuban population, resulting in calls to shut the company down due to ineffectiveness. A report by the Government Accountability Office accuses the station of engaging in political propaganda in the forms of editorializing, use of offensive and incendiary language in broadcasts, use of unsubstantiated reports coming from Cuba, and presentation of individual views as news.[6] The claims of unprofessionalism are strongly rejected by the station's management.

See also


  1. ^ Conference Report, Cold War Impact of VOA Broadcasts, Hoover Institution and the Cold War International History Project of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Oct. 13-16, 2004
  2. ^ IBB Fact Sheet
  3. ^ OCB Fact Sheet
  4. ^ Harr, Radio and TV Marti
  5. ^ Miami New Times, Espionage Is In The Air, February 8, 2001
  6. ^ "Time to scrap TV Marti, critics say". St. Petersburg Times. 2009-02-16. Retrieved 2009-02-17.  

NO WORKING URL TO reference number 5; it should point to the following URL:

External links



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