Office of Cuba Broadcasting
Repression of dissidents, activists and independent journalists continued in Cuba in 2017 despite the previous year’s visit by President Obama and the reestablishing of diplomatic relations between the two countries.
TV and Radio Marti, along with its digital properties on martinoticias.com and its social media sites, continued to provide a trusted and reliable source of unbiased fact-based journalism to Cubans on the island.
With the change in U.S. administration came changes in U.S-Cuba relations, and many rumors and half-truths circulated on the island. On January 13, 2017 OCB provided complete coverage of the changes on the “Wet Foot/Dry Foot” policy of the Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966 that allowed anyone who fled Cuba and entered the United States by land or sea would then be allowed to pursue residency a year later. Newscasts were dedicated to the policy announcement and included analysis from lawyers and reaction from Cuba, Congressional reactions and statements.
When the US State Department expelled two Cuban diplomats in response to the alleged sonic attacks on American government employees at the U.S. Embassy in Havana, the Martis provided comprehensive and balanced reporting.
The Martis were the go-to source on information about changes in U.S. policy toward Cuba. All three platforms provided complete coverage of President Donald Trump’s June speech from Miami and the official policy announcement in November. Radio Marti covered the announcements and examined the ramifications for people on the island as well as the Cuban diaspora. The coverage on the Marti website was especially we received and engagement related to the coverage was high on its social media platforms. Many audience members from Cuba called in with concerns and opinions in the days following the announcement.
As the crisis in Venezuela grew, OCB launched a multi-platform one-hour program called En Dabate, to provide Cuban audiences with complete coverage of developments in Venezuela and provide analysis of regional impact.
The Martis continue to innovate in its distribution methods on the island. Consistent censorship from the Cuban government makes traditional broadcasting difficult. Hand-to-hand distribution of DVDs and USB drives continued to thrive as did social media and other online distribution.
In support of the burgeoning internet community in Cuba, OCB hosted its second annual Cuban Internet Freedom Conference in November. Held at the Miami Ad School, the conference focused on Cuban apps, independent media, social media and methods of access to the internet. More than 40 Cuban journalists and internet activists participated.
The importance of free and independent media remained a mainstay throughout the year in OCB’s reporting. A significant portion of Marti programming covered the cases of activists, dissidents and students speaking out against the government. Efforts to silence these individuals meant their story was even more important to tell, and the Martis remained the chief source of information on government censorship efforts.