Next week, the world will witness an historic event: Barack Obama will be the first sitting U.S. president to visit Cuba since Calvin Coolidge nearly 90 years ago.
That was long before the Cuban Revolution and the dissolution of ties between the U.S. and Cuba. And it was long before the severe media restrictions on the island prompted the U.S. to create Radio Martí, a Spanish-language broadcaster providing uncensored news and information to Cuba.
Just last year, Radio Martí celebrated its 30th anniversary. This is how the U.S. media covered the launch.
While the hairstyles and TV graphics have changed considerably, the mission of the Martís remains as relevant today as 30 years ago.
Next week, U.S. and international press will cover the event extensively, but for the millions of people living in media restrictive countries, the news they receive about the President’s trip and the normalization of U.S.-Cuba relations will be censored and biased.
And that is precisely why the networks of the Broadcasting Board of Governors will be front and center in Havana, reporting on the historic visit and providing accurate and unbiased information to audiences in Cuba, Venezuela, Russia, the Middle East and throughout Africa.
Cooperation between the networks of the BBG to provide coverage of President Obama’s trip is unprecedented. Voice of America is sending a team of reporters who, in addition to covering the trip, will produce online, social and video reports on topics such as Internet freedom, small enterprise development, civil society, youth, and Cubans’ expectations of the president’s trip. That coverage, including reporting by VOA’s Russian and Spanish Language Services will be shared with other language services at VOA as well as Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and the Office of Cuba Broadcasting (OCB). In addition, Alhurra TV is sending its State Department correspondent to Havana to provide coverage of the trip to audiences throughout the Middle East.
TV and Radio Martí continue to be a valuable source of accurate and uncensored information for Cubans. The Martís will tap into their extensive network of independent journalists on the island for personal stories and Cuban reaction.
The eyes of the world will be on Havana next week. And thanks to the networks of the BBG, they’ll have access to a true and accurate account of the historic event.