Radio Marti’s Listeners on the Central Committee of the PCC / Juan Juan Almeida

Radio Marti’s Hertz waves arrived in the Cuban ether May 20, 1985. That Monday, the island radio scene was disconfigured. Today I want to tell the same history from another perspective.

Fidel Castro, the man of pride stuck to the military uniform, hated surprises, and that’s why, long before the day that Senator Paula Hawkins presented the draft bill, he had already ordered his most loyal ears, within and outside of the United States, to obtain facts and information about what later happened. And at the same time, he installed an invisible army that, like mold spores lurked, awaiting the opportunity to act.

Havana became another battlefield, where the leader desirous of a conflict was more excited than an egomaniac passing through a hall of mirrors.

With a strategist’s skill and the tantrum of a sodomized victim, he organized a commission of shysters who, lacking no resources, came to see the transmissions as a flagrant violation of international rights and not as a simple, alternative and informative radio service directed towards a population that, if it did not want to listen, could change the dial.

On the outskirts of Havana, and with the help of Moscow, an underground center was created in San Jose, from which was transmitted a sort of rebel signal with wide programming directed towards the United States; but this Radio Answer served only to send encrypted information to their spies. The dreadful programming was unattractive, and its hidden announcers showed themselves to be “Mr. Nobodies” with more love of money than sense of ideology.

By then, and whether because of novelty or because we Cubans are like receptive sponges exposed to the adrenaline provoked by the prohibited, plus the avidity for information and the satisfaction of curiosity, Radio Marti won space within Cuban homes.

Such a fact was demonstrated in an old study commissioned by the DOR (Department of Revolutionary Orientation) to a select group of sociologists and professors from the University of Havana.

Of all that could be heard through the dark hallways of a hermetic, Pepto Bismol-taking Central Committee, Radio Marti demystified the image of its leaders and of its Commander in Chief. Then they had to punish everyone who listened to it. Here, right here, began the big problem because many leaders, impelled by the logical shock of seeing themselves reflected, or because of the dark pleasure of knowing what is said of their political colleagues, became habitual radio listeners.

The nearest example was my own father who, although it is implausible, was a fervent follower of the prohibited broadcast; that’s why when he grew old and lost his hearing, he listened to Radio Marti at such volume that, by decision of the highest management of the country, it was ordered that his bodyguards keep their distance when this occurred and so avoid hearing news that might undermine the integrity of a Revolutionary.

But ancient history to one side and with a view to the future, I believe that today Radio Marti has an enormous task; that of being the impetus that helps us, as a people, to decide whether to continue the confrontation and all that it entails; or begin to heal the wounds of our Nation in order to found a new country on the basis of respect for diversity, justice, happiness and impartiality.

Translated by mlk.

27 May 2014