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By Ciara LaVelle, Kat Bein, Carolina Del Busto, and Liz Tracy
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FCC files pertaining to the case have since been destroyed as part of federal paperwork-reduction regulations, and interagency memos that might provide clues about the contents of Gonzalez's CIA file have not been released to the public, but McKinney says it's clear Gonzalez's case attracted attention at the top levels of government. "It went deep into the White House. It went deep into the Reagan administration," says McKinney, who later became Reagan's deputy assistant. "Whether [Wampler] was responding to what he thought Washington wanted or to what they told him to do was never clear to me. All I know is I received several calls from the White House, wanting to know what we were doing going after these guys in Miami." Administration officials, McKinney says, were perturbed that the FCC was prosecuting a person who was taking an anti-Castro stand. "But as far as we were concerned," he asserts, "they were violating the law and causing interference." And besides obscenity, interference, not mere content, is the FCC's primary concern.
Wampler, now a private attorney in Miami, remembers the case somewhat differently. "There was no cloudy, murky, back-door stuff," he says. "There was no conspiracy. There was no political pressure. Nobody from any organization, including the White House or the CIA, ever contacted me. We simply approached it as we would any other case of that nature." His office was swamped by a huge case load at the time, Wampler adds, otherwise the U.S. attorney's office would have gone "out of its way" to prosecute a test case for another federal agency. "We just couldn't do it in that case," he says, "so we asked them to resort to other means."
Wampler readily admits that he felt no special warmth for Castro. "As I recall, the threat by Castro's officials was that if we didn't press this case to the limit, they were going to interfere with American radio broadcasts," he says. "Well, we were imposed on a bit at the time by the Mariel boatlift thanks to Mr. Castro, and I wasn't disposed to be extorted on anything by his officials. That certainly colored my attitude, I admit. And I was not about to make any concessions to anybody who was being extorted by foreign officials."
Theories about Comandante David, who continued to broadcast sporadically throughout the Eighties, still abound. Clandestine radio expert John Santosuosso and other short-wave enthusiasts even suggest the entire case against Gonzalez was fictitious, hatched by federal agencies and Cuban exile groups so that the real Comandante David could continue broadcasting without government interference. "They're not still saying it was Jose Gonzalez, are they?" asks Santosuosso. "Gonzalez is as close to being Comandante David as I am. That was all a big lie to keep Anglos guessing who the real David was." Cuban exiles who knew Gonzalez scoff at theories that he wasn't Comandante David; some even say they sat in the same room with him while he broadcast. Ofilia Gonzalez says her husband, who died of cancer this past year, was indeed the comandante. He never acknowledged his dual identity, she explains, because he was afraid his admission would endanger his family. She has kept all his radio equipment and the tapes of his broadcasts.
"Commander David is definitely part of history," says the FCC's James McKinney. "That case gave us considerable amounts of concern. It was the first time we ran into that kind of political judgment as to what would or would not be prosecuted with these clandestine folks."
It would not be the last time.
Power is slipping from [Fidel and Raul Castro's] hands. It now is a question of weeks and months, not years. The liberating revolution of the Cuban people comes with the unstoppable force of the march of history, and with all the push of the reasons and anxiousness restrained during a long night of 32 years of injustice, lies, and terror.
Huber Matos, Sr., broadcasting on La Voz del CID, October 1990
In Venezuela in 1980, after twenty years in Cuban prisons, Huber Matos formed a political exile group called Cuba Independiente y Democratica. At one time a commander in Castro's rebel army, Matos had been jailed for counterrevolutionary activities; now he had returned with a vengeance. Not long after the charges against Jose Gonzalez were dismissed, Matos's group began La Voz del CID. A far more ambitious project than Comandante David's shoestring operation, La Voz del CID broadcast on a veritable network of five stations. Two signals were beamed from small transmitters in the U.S. - one in a mobile van, the other in an office trailer in West Miramar - the other three from licensed, commercial short-wave stations Radio Clarin in the Dominican Republic and Voz del Tachira in Venezuela.
In its various guises, La Voz del CID signed on using famous names from Cuban history - Jose A. Echeverria, Antonio Maceo, Antonio Guiteras, Ignacio Agramonte, Maximo Gomez, and later, Frank Pais - with as many as three of them on different frequencies simultaneously broadcasting news, commentary, music, political satire, and the requisite calls for sabotage and mayhem. But in September 1982, the FCC cracked down, catching the mobile transmitter at work at an old pig farm west of the Doral Country Club.