Miami — Radio and Televisión Martí provided critical coverage of the massive July 11 anti-government protests throughout Cuba, helping audiences stay informed on the rapid developments as well as sort fact from fiction amidst Cuban government propaganda. The Martís – radio, TV, and digital platforms of the Office of Cuba Broadcasting (OCB) – are the premier international broadcaster delivering journalistically sound, fact-based news and information focusing on audiences in Cuba.
“Reporting by the Martís is crucial,” said Kelu Chao, Acting Chief Executive Officer (CEO) for the U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM). “The OCB team in Miami mobilized quickly and effectively to offer Cubans the very thing their government denies them — access to the unvarnished truth.”
Shortly after the demonstrations across Cuba began, the Martís went live. The network spent the next 12 hours providing continuous coverage on radio, social media, and radiotelevisionmarti.com. The Martís’ coverage included reports from independent journalists on the island, curated live Facebook feeds from the protests, reaction from the Cuban diaspora, and expert analysis. The network captured responses from multiple U.S. government representatives, who answered the Cuban government’s accusations that the troubles prompting the demonstrations had been caused by the United States.
Interest in the Martís’ coverage has been substantial. From July 6 to July 12, despite disruptions to social media platforms in Cuba, 3.2 million people consumed its content on Facebook, a 324 percent increase over the previous week. Overall interactions on Facebook increased as well; more than 238,000 people reacted, commented or shared a post, a 10-fold increase over the previous week. Accompanying the engaging Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and Instagram content, Radio Martí broadcast continuing coverage via short and medium wave radio to the island, and surged its shortwave transmissions out of Greenville, South Carolina, adding six hours to its schedule. This multi-platform approach enabled audiences to access the information in spite of rolling internet blockages imposed by the government.
One journalist, who until recently was based in Havana, relayed a message from sources in Cuba imploring Martí staff to do what they could to stay on the air saying the network’s radio broadcasts were likely one of the few, if not the only, sources of news during internet disruptions.
“Cubans on the island have limited options for where to get their news: the Cuban government, international broadcasters whose audiences are primarily overseas, or unverified reports, rumors, and posts on social media,” explained Sylvia Rosabal, Director of OCB. “Our programming provides Cubans with contextualized, reliable, and truthful information they can’t find anywhere else.”
The Martís’ connected Cubans on and off the island and provided important information including reactions in the Cuban diaspora in North Florida as well as Madrid, Spain; Mexico City, Mexico; and Montevideo, Uruguay. Across Latin America, USAGM affiliates sought out Martí reporting on the protests. In Chile, Radio Recital carried four hours of Martí coverage; along the border of Colombia and Venezuela audiences accessed Martí content on Radio Norte Stereo Colombia; and throughout Latin America, affiliates interviewed Martí journalists about developments on the island.
“It is not a stretch to say that the Martís were the broadcaster of record on Sunday,” added Rosabal.
Rallies against the Communist-led Cuban government took place across the island amid a collapsing economy and rising COVID-19 deaths, circumstances the Martís have been covering daily since the pandemic began.
The Office of Cuba Broadcasting oversees Radio and Television Martí at its headquarters in Miami, Florida. The Martís are a multimedia hub of news, information and analysis that provide the people of Cuba with interactive programs seven days a week through satellite television and shortwave and AM radio, as well as through flash drives, emails, DVDs, and SMS text. Combined with the online platform, martinoticias.com, the Martís are a one-of-a-kind service that brings unbiased, objective information to all Cubans.
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