The Committee for U.S. International Broadcasting (CUSIB), a former Voice of America (VOA) director, president of Women’s Rights Without Frontiers and representatives of other free media and human rights organizations have signed a petition to the United States Congress asking for Congressional support to continue Voice of America Spanish broadcasts to Latin America.
The Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), which controls VOA, wants to severely cut journalistic positions and broadcasts to this important part of the world for the United States. The BBG had earlier proposed and then canceled, in response to numerous public protests, elimination of Voice of America radio broadcasts to Tibet and VOA Cantonese radio, television and Internet news to China. Because of its even closer links to the United States, its fragile democracy, and anti-American propaganda coming from Cuba, Venezuela, Russia, Iran, and China — Latin America must not be abandoned to hostile voices while the Voice of America is silenced by BBG bureaucrats.
The BBG proposal to cut broadcasts to Latin America is not about saving money. BBG officials do not plan to give this money back to the U.S. Treasury. Instead, they want to spend it on themselves.
American taxpayers should demand that this mismanaged agency must keep VOA broadcasts to Latin America rather than keep investing in its own bureaucracy.
Here is an introduction to the petition on change.org:
“Voice of America Spanish Service celebrated a milestone in its communications with the countries of Latin America last year, including its immensely popular Breakfast Show, Buenos Dias America, as well as other broadcasts throughout Central and South America on AM and FM affiliate stations and satellite and also available on podcasts, the VOA website and on mobile phones.
This legacy of communication, which impacts the people of an important part of the world strategic to our interests, will stop if the cuts are approved by Congress. The BBG is wrong in concentrating its resources only on the Middle East and Asia while ignoring the nations of Latin America, whose trade surpasses those of China, India and Russia all together.
Don’t let the Broadcasting Board of Governors deny essential and uncensored Voice of America news and hope to the people in Latin America while BBG executives divert U.S. taxpayers’ money to create new high-level bureaucratic positions, pay themselves bonuses and sign a $50 million multi-year contract with the Gallup Organization.
As U.S. taxpayers, you fund and support the Voice of America. Demand that your money be used to bring uncensored American news to Latin America and other regions of the world that do not have free media rather than being spent on the salaries of government officials at the Broadcasting Board of Governors.”
SAVE VOICE OF AMERICA SPANISH BROADCASTS TO LATIN AMERICA
Dear Member of Congress,
This letter is to request your strong support to restore the funding in the FY2013 Budget for Voice of America (VOA) Spanish Broadcasts to Latin America.
We adamantly oppose plans for FY2013 by the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) to enact a major Reduction-in-Force for the essential VOA Spanish Service which broadcasts to Latin America. Over 20 employees are scheduled to be fired or displaced. We believe that the cessation of U.S. broadcasts to an extremely important region, which is strategic to U.S. interests, is a major blunder for our foreign policy.
For over 50 years, the Voice of America has been broadcasting to this critical part of the world in our hemisphere. At its anniversary celebration last year, the VOA Spanish Service celebrated the milestones in its communications with the countries of Latin America including its immensely popular Breakfast Show, Buenos Dias America, which covers historic events, news about our country, and international events in a style accessible to both elites and working people. This show, as well as others are broadcast throughout Central and South America on AM and FM affiliate stations and satellite and are also available on podcasts, the VOA website and on mobile phones. This legacy of communication, which impacts the people of an important part of the world strategic to our interests, will stop if the cuts are approved by Congress. The BBG is wrong in concentrating its resources only on the Middle East and Asia while ignoring the nations of Latin America.
This region which had become synonymous with the words junta, banana republic and turmoil, is now emerging with a new level of political and economic maturity: exactly the audience that we want to reach. Democracy as well as economic upward mobility in many of the countries of Latin America is starting to grow which could be a definite stimulus for tourism to the United States.
However, the Hugo Chavez and Castro models of centralized control with their strong anti-Americanism and opposition to the free market are undermining the growth of democracy in Latin America especially with the constant anti-American diatribes of broadcasting agencies like TELESUR, a 24-hour TV network. The Chavez model in Venezuela is negatively affecting other countries in the region including Bolivia, Ecuador, Argentina and Nicaragua. Most important, if America stops its communication with the emerging democracies of Latin America, the results could be most serious for U.S. national security.
China and Iran have expanded their influence in Latin America. China has now replaced the U.S. as the major trading partner of Brazil. Both countries are opening new cultural centers throughout Latin American countries. At the beginning of the year, Iran launched a 24-hour TV network which is broadcasting an aggressive anti-American message. Most seriously for global security, Iran is getting uranium for its fuel rods from Brazil and has negotiated an agreement with Bolivia’s leftist leader, Evo Morales, to extract lithium in commercial quantities. Their political and economic ties are growing, while the U.S. does not seem to be paying attention, which could directly impact our national security. Cutting VOA Spanish broadcasts to Latin America at this critical time makes no sense.
There are 50 million people of Latino heritage in the United States and their individual success stories in politics, business, culture, medicine and entrepreneurship in our society are an important and inspiring factor in our communications with the people of Latin America and in forging alliances with those countries. Cutting U.S. broadcasts to Latin America sends the wrong message to the Hispanic-American community, alienates Latino voters, and destroys the possibilities of communicating U.S. ideas, ideals and institutions. This would be a blow to U.S. public diplomacy in the region.
In its budget submission for FY2013, the BBG states that its actions are part of a long-range consolidation of VOA Spanish and Radio/TV Marti. To our knowledge, there is no mechanism for consolidation of VOA Spanish and Radio Marti in the language of the Radio Broadcasting to Cuba Act (P.L. 98-111) where the mission of Radio Marti is specifically spelled out. We do not believe that there has been any directive from Congress to change the mission of Radio/TV Marti whose broadcasts are targeted to the Cuban people. The mission of the VOA Spanish Service is codified in the VOA charter contained in P.L. 94-350. Therefore, we do not understand how and why the BBG is undertaking these actions unilaterally without consultation with or approval from the U.S. Congress.
The most glaring example of how vital the VOA’s Spanish Service is for the United States was the recent Summit of the Americas in Colombia. As never before, the United States was isolated while nearly 30 regional Presidents refused to sign a joint Summit Final Declaration in protest against U.S. policies towards Cuba. In fact, there is growing support for the inclusion of Cuba at the next scheduled Summit. This highlights the steady decline of U.S. influence in a region whose economic growth rates are the envy of the developed world.
We urge you to require that the FY 2013 Budget funding for the Voice of America’s Spanish broadcasts be restored, and to undo the proposed cuts in other news and information services so that Voice of America can continue to fulfill its mandate to provide an accurate, balanced and comprehensive view of significant American thought and institutions and to clearly present the policies of the United States in news-restricted nations.
The Committee for U.S. International Broadcasting (CUSIB)
Roberty Reilly, American Foreign Policy Council
Tim Shamble, President Local 1812, American Federation of Government Employees
Robert Senser, Human Rights for Workers
Manny Papir, Human Rights Advocate
Ted Lipien, Committee for US International Broadcasting
Ann Noonan, Committee for US International Broadcasting
Herb Stupp, Adjunct Lecturer at Baruch College
Marie Ciliberti, Retired VOA Broadcaster
Reggie Littejohn, Women’s Rights Without Frontiers