Criticisms Abound as Radio Marti Features Angelina Castro; The Station Strikes the Interview

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from www.globalvoicesonline.org- Broadcasts on the Miami-based, US government-funded radio station known as Radio Martí typically aim to highlight the virtues of liberal democracy and free market economics. But the recent airing of an interview with Cuban adult film star Angelina Castro proved that the station has become more than just a vehicle for providing “unbiased” news to Cubans.

“Ronald Reagan established [taxpayer-financed] Radio Martí in 1983 to help promote freedom and democracy, but the…program featuring Angelina Castro was all about sex,” Along the Malecon’s Tracey Eaton wrote of the broadcast.

Speaking on 1800 Online, a program hosted by Juan Juan Almeida and Lizandra Díaz Blanco that generally focuses on Internet-related initiatives and citizen journalism in Cuba, Castro described how she began making adult films in order to pay her student loans after graduating from college.

She soon fell in love with the work and has since become a celebrated porn star and producer in Miami, a major hub for adult filmmaking and websites in the US.

The actress spoke at length about her desire to “break stereotypes” about the industry by showing the public that acting in adult films is “a job like any other.”

Although pornography is illegal in Cuba, Almeida noted that illegal, informally produced pornography from Cuba is on the rise online. Castro, who moved from Cuba to the US at age twelve, encouraged Cubans interested in working in the pornography industry to contact her through her website.

Bloggers on both sides of the Florida Straits reacted to the program with indignation. While flatly rejecting the mission of Radio Marti, Norelys Morales Aguilera, a state journalist and blogger in Santa Clara, Cuba, was deeply offended by the program.

Parecía que la maquinaría de propaganda yanqui había utilizado todas las técnicas y todos los argumentos imaginables para intentar inspirar a los cubanos un disgusto hacía su Revolución y el deseo de emigrar. Faltaba lanzar la idea de que uno puede soñar con prosperar en el paraíso norteamericano donde se puede disfrutar la “libertad” de convertirse en “estrella” de la industria pornográfica.
[…]
Voice of America toma generalmente precauciones para no ensuciar la imagen del gobierno que representa oficialmente, pero su sucursal que derrocha anualmente millones para intoxicar inútilmente las ondas radiofónicas, rompió las reglas para estimular algo que ni se promociona en las radios comerciales.

Translation: It had seemed that the Yankee propaganda machine had used all of possible techniques and vehicles [in an effort] to make Cubans feel disgust towards the Revolution and to want to migrate. But they had yet to try [promoting] the idea that one could dream of prospering in the paradise of North America where one can enjoy the “freedom” to convert oneself into a “star” of the pornography industry.
[…]
Voice of America generally takes precautions not to tarnish the image of the government that it officially represents [the US government], but the office that allocates millions of dollars each year to uselessly contaminate the radio waves, broke the rules in order to stimulate something that isn’t even promoted on commercial radio.

At Diario de las Américas, Angel Cuadra called the discussion and the topic at large “disgusting,” lamenting the fact that the conversation was being broadcast to Cubans on the island. He wrote:

Porque estimamos que para ese tipo de mensaje no se han asignado los fondos para esa importante emisora, sino para llevar a los cubanos el recado edificante de libertad, ética cívico-patriótica y los valores positivos que la democracia propicia…

Translation: We must presume that [the federal government] has not allocated funding for this type of message, but rather to bring to Cubans an inspiring message of freedom, civil-patriotic ethics and the positive values brought about by democracy…

Luis Díaz, host of TeleMiami’s Buenas Tardes, Miami, also questioned the value of inviting Ms. Castro to speak on the program. US-based Cuban blogger and scholar Emilio Ichikawa rejected these critiques:

Si lo que Díaz quiere es una opinión y no otra cosa, pues me parece que el programa de RADIO MARTI con la actriz Angelina Castro resultó más transparente y sano para las mentes de los compatriotas que el mareo pedagógico que él realizó hoy en su programa…
[…]
En cuanto a las repercusiones que todo esto pueda tener para la libertad de Cuba, obviamente creo que es más emancipadora la sonrisa y el sentido del humor de Angelina Castro que una crítica televisiva sin objetivos claros como la propuesta por Díaz.

Translation: If what Diaz wants is an opinion and nothing else, then it seems to me that the RADIO MARTI program featuring actress Angelina Castro was more transparent and healthy for the minds of compatriots than the pedagogical nausea that he produced on his program today…
[…]
As for the repercussions that all of this can have for freedom in Cuba, obviously I think that the smile and sense of humor of Angelina Castro are more liberating than a televised critique without clear objectives, as Diaz has given.

Although Ichikawa was not alone in defending Online 1800 and Ms. Castro, sharp criticism from multiple voices in Miami’s Cuban community appear to have caused the station to remove the Aug. 1 interview from their website. Interested readers can download a recording of the interview here.

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