Press advisory: CFC warns Cuba and China crises need more uncensored news and public diplomacy

Press advisory

CFC warns Cuba and China crises need more uncensored news and public diplomacy

Layoffs at Radio Martí and reduction of programming on Taiwan at VOA is the wrong path

Contact: Janisset Rivero (786)208-6056

Center for a Free Cuba (CCL). Washington, DC, August 26, 2022. The Center for a Free Cuba has prepared a report on the budget cuts and reduction in personnel of the radio station Radio Martí and the programming in Chinese of the Voice of the Americas (VOA) at a time when the internal crisis in Cuba is increasing and China’s threats to its internal opponents and against Taiwan are increasing.

The Center has received reports that two dozen Radio Martí employees will be laid off for budgetary reasons. Cutting staff and programming in the midst of multiple escalating crises in Cuba is short-sighted.

Equally disturbing are reports that Voice of America has canceled Chinese-language programs in Taiwan at a time when Beijing is engaged in an increasingly hostile military posture against Taipei, and has been expanding its shortwave and AM broadcasts throughout the world to further their propaganda goals.

It is concerning that the United States has been reducing its AM and shortwave radio programming while relying more on the Internet, which can be shut down and blocked more easily than these older technologies.

According to the research conducted by the Center, efforts to cut the budgets and programming of MartÍ Noticias and VOA’s Chinese-language programming have been underway for some time, especially the trend of moving all programming to digital platforms and eliminating short wave.

However, that these cuts materialize precisely at this time are alarming.

“That both cuts in Marti Noticias and VOA Chinese broadcasts are occurring at the same time should raise concerns in Congress.  Especially when Russia, China, Cuba, and Iran are conducting joint military exercises in Venezuela, and China is sending troops to Russia.

This trend has been ongoing for sometime, but the present moment demands more, not less public diplomacy through channels that will reach more Cubans and Chinese nationals, and that Beijing and Havana will find more difficult to shut down or jam,” according to the report.

The Center confirmed that 25 federal employees working in Radio Martí will be fired, and that some have sent a letter to Members of the United States Congress asking for explanations.

“The peoples of Cuba and China now, more than ever, need uncensored information with a greater shortwave presence, a technology more difficult for regimes in both countries to block. Now is not the time to cut staff or budgets. Both crises are impacting the national security of the United States, ” said John Suarez, Executive Director of the Center for a Free Cuba.

The CFC executive director concluded, “In the Cuban case, street protests continue to break out across the island, despite continuing repression. In addition, tens of thousands of Cubans are on dangerous journeys to enter the United States. China’s threats to Taiwan, its increased internal repression of dissidents, and threats against the United States are a fundamental challenge for the free world. Both crises require an increase in the breadth and quality of public diplomacy with everyday nationals in China and Cuba.”