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calendar   Tuesday - July 08, 2014

A True Miracle Has Happened

A Worthless Government Program Has Been Canceled




I know, right? I had to sit down too. My head is spinning. But it’s true!!

“Aero Marti”, a pirate television broadcast by the US government from a high altitude airplane over Florida, so that the signal would reach Cuba, has been canceled. It’s been known for years that Castro and his minions easily jammed the broadcast, so that in all the years of it’s daily broadcast, NOT ONE CUBAN EVER SAW ANY OF IT.

9 or 10 years later, and $36 million or so down the hole, and the program was finally cut for good.

Called Aero Martí and purchased in 2006, the program included a single 1960s turboprop plane that tried to transmit US government broadcast signals to Cuba – except for the fact that the Cuban government easily jammed its signal every day so it never really worked.

For several years, the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which oversees all US government media abroad (VOA, Radio Free Europe), called for Congress to end the program but vocal anti-Cuba members of Congress refused to cut funding.

Then the plane became the victim of budget sequestration, so it was grounded in 2013 but its storage and maintenance was still paid for, to the tune of $79,524 per year – “just enough money to do nothing,” the Washington Post wrote last year.

The doomed program was finally cancelled for good in April 2014, today’s OIG report said.

The plane, whose programming was nicknamed by Cubans as la TV que non se ve, (“the TV that can’t be seen,”) cost taxpayers a total of almost $36 million in the nine years it was funded.

Even back at the very beginning there were folks who realized it was all a bunch of nonsense, but nobody would listen then either:

[Miami, September 26, 2006] U.S. Pushes Anti-Castro TV, but Is Anyone Watching?

Soon after Fidel Castro announced his mysterious illness in July, the Bush administration stepped up its anti-Castro television broadcasts to Cuba with a new $10 million system.

For the last two months, a twin-engine plane has beamed the signal of the American broadcast, called TV Martí, toward the island from over the Straits of Florida for four hours a day, six days a week, up from four hours of transmission from an Air Force plane on Saturdays. Because the plane flies at 20,000 feet, administration officials say, the Cuban government cannot jam the signal as easily as in the past, when a blimp tethered 10,000 feet over the Florida Keys did the transmitting.

But in interviews in the past two weeks, many Cubans said they still saw just snowy interference where the TV Martí broadcasts should be. About a dozen people in Havana said they still had never glimpsed the station even after the expanded airborne broadcasts began, raising questions about the usefulness of the $10 million expenditure.

Some said they would not watch the station even if they could, because they assumed that it would be biased.

“In my opinion, that is wasted money,” said a 35-year-old homemaker in Havana who, like all those interviewed, asked that her name not be used. “It’s propaganda.”

She and her husband said many Cubans tried to pick up commercial programs broadcast from Florida, but what they wanted was Spanish soap operas, not TV Martí.

The federal International Broadcasting Bureau, which also operates the Voice of America, says the purpose of Radio and TV Martí is to broadcast “accurate and objective news and information” to Cuba, where news is tightly controlled by the government.

The stations, which have broad political support among Mr. Castro’s many opponents in southern Florida, hope to have legions of Cubans tune in to pro-democracy news and talk programs and others like “Office of the Chief,” a laugh-track comedy with Cuban exile actors playing dimwitted versions of Mr. Castro and his brother Raúl.

Cuban exiles in Miami do most of the writing and acting for TV Martí, which was moved here from Washington in 1996 after intense lobbying by exile leaders. On a recent episode of “Office of the Chief,” which TV Martí calls its most popular show, an actor playing Raúl Castro said he would mummify Fidel Castro when he died by wrapping him in the pages of a book by Karl Marx, then display him on Havana’s seaside boulevard.

The laugh track went wild.

For years, though, critics of the stations have called them overly blunt tools in what should be a nuanced campaign to promote democracy in Cuba.

“The really shrill, outrageous kind of stuff they broadcast has no credibility in Cuba,” said John Nichols, a communications professor at Pennsylvania State University who studies Radio and TV Martí.

Mr. Nichols said elected officials in Washington would not dare to anger Miami’s 350,000 Cuban-American voters by eliminating a popular anti-Castro program, even if it was largely symbolic.

“It’s a litmus test of support for a certain policy on Cuba,” he said. “Few right-minded politicians or government bureaucrats are willing to take that on. So essentially we’ve created a pork-barrel patronage system and the policy is hands-off.”

Both stations have been accused of shoddy journalism and hiring practices, especially since the move to Miami, where some say they are primarily a jobs program for hard-line exiles.

In 1999, the inspector general of the State Department told Congress that the stations had “problems with balance, fairness, objectivity and adequate sourcing that impacted credibility.”

So, the broadcast had been going on for quite a long time before they got their high altitude airplane in 2006. So, the real question is: What got canceled? Is it the whole idiotic, pandering propaganda program, or just the airplane part? Is our government finally pushing back against the ornery exiles in Florida as they slowly die of old age and actually cancelling a nonsense waste of tax money that’s been pissing it away for generations, or have they only shut down the more expensive part of it, and somewhere in a rusty shack in the Florida Keys a bunch of old guys in those big white guayabera shirts are huffing and puffing, trying to re-inflate that old broadcast balloon, while the son music from BVSC plays in the background?

Or does this signal a change of attitude at the high levels of our government? One tyrant not really feeling it against another tyrant? 


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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 07/08/2014 at 05:48 PM   
Filed Under: • Miscellaneous •  
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