BBG Commentary

A reporter with the U.S. taxpayer-funded Voice of America (VOA) Russian Service who was in Cuba during President Obama’s visit to the island found in Havana a Cuban admirer of Russia’s President Vladimir Putin. His parents gave him a Russian name. It makes one wonder what they were doing for the Castro regime or what he was doing near the area where foreign journalists congregated. He is heard saying in English to the VOA Russian Service reporter that “Putin is a friend in Cuba.”

Here is full VOA Russian Service video report from Havana, also included in the VOA-RFE/RL “Current Time” TV program:

We did not see on the VOA Russian Service website any interviews with Cuban opposition leaders, human rights activists or independent journalists who oppose the Castro regime.

Will this VOA Russian Service video with President Putin’s Cuban admirer be included in the “Current Time” Russian-language TV program which the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) produce jointly to counter Putin’s propaganda in the periphery of Russia and in Russia itself?

Independent Russian media outlets, such as MEDUZA and RAIN TV, are doing a much better job than “Current Time,” VOA, or even Radio Liberty.

Perhaps a little pro-Putin propaganda might help the Broadcasting Board of Governors’ (BBG) Russia project?

Just asking.

ALSO SEE: Travel journalism from VOA reporters in Cuba, BBG Watch, March 24, 2016

Radio and TV Marti, also overseen by the Broadcasting Board of Governors, but not as micromanaged and mismanaged by the BBG as the Voice of America, appears to have done a much better job than VOA covering President Obama’s visit to Cuba. Note, however, that the BBG press release says nothing about the Castro regime not granting the Office of Cuba Broadcasting (OCB) reporters in Miami journalist visas to travel to Cuba to cover the historic visit by the U.S. president. It’s shameful that the BBG would say nothing about Radio and TV Marti journalists being denied Cuban visas by the Castro regime to report from Cuba.

BBG PRESS RELEASE

Martís Provide Cubans Non-Stop Coverage Of Obama’s Historic Trip, Go “LIVE” From Island For First Time

MARCH 23, 2016

New-Marti-Logo-Color-sml-300x193The Martís, which include TV and Radio Martí and martinoticias.com, successfully broadcast three days of live coverage of President Barack Obama’s historic visit to Cuba. TV Martí reached the island via DIRECTV, airing through local Miami station Mira-TV and digital streaming. Radio Martí listeners received the radio signal through shortwave and 1180AM. The live special coverage started Sunday, March 20 at 4pm with the president’s arrival on the island and continued through Tuesday, March 22.

Coverage by the Martís featured everything from scheduled events to the arbitrary detention of civilians and independent journalists including Martí collaborators. Martí also carried out live interviews with in-studio and on-island guests ranging from former U.S. diplomats, dissidents, religious leaders and citizens from all walks of Cuban life.

TV Marti made history when it broadcast live from the Estadio Latinoamericano before the baseball game between the Cuban national team and the Tampa Bay Rays. Independent international journalist Marian de la Fuente reported for the Martís live from outside the stadium.

Another highlight of the coverage was the participation of Alan Gross, the American aid worker released on December 17, 2014, after being imprisoned in Cuba for five years. Gross was a guest on all three of the Martís platforms and gave several hours of analysis and commentary on President Obama’s momentous speech to the Cuban people at El Gran Teatro.

The reaction from Cuban viewers was immediate. A Radio Martí listener from the town of Cabañas in Cuba said: “Through Radio Marti, we have been able to stay up to date on the minute-by-minute details of the president’s visit. Radio Martís coverage is very detailed and professional; it provided context regarding the president’s visit otherwise unavailable to us.” He added, “State-run media cut away from the joint press conference between the two heads of state (President Obama and President Raul Castro) after they made their official statements. Radio Marti, on the other hand, provided the full press conference with the question-and-answer session that followed.”

Cubans on the island also expressed their appreciation through the Martí Noticias Facebook page and followed all of the Facebook live shots that the Martí journalists provided from the island. During the coverage, the Martís launched a media aggregator website called www.obamaencuba.com, which served as a one-stop-shop for all things related to Obama’s visit. This site will live on as a historical reference, offering all stories published by various Spanish media outlets, including the Martís, of the president’s visit to Cuba.

“Our staff exemplified Marti’s mission in this unprecedented coverage,” said Malule Gonzalez, director of the Martís. “Hearing back from Cubans on the island watching and listening to our coverage was the catalyst that kept us going. It was great for the Martís and the people of Cuba.”

Contact: Emilio Vazquez, OCB – (305) 437-7176, evazquez@bbg.gov

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