Cuba Over and Out

Matos was a popular figure around the Reagan White House, and when the FCC fined CID $2000 for broadcasting without a license, he complained vociferously. Quoted in the Miami Herald as saying the action only helped Castro and "his Russian masters," Matos bolstered his rhetoric by sending the FCC a copy of a letter President Reagan had written CID, dated nearly a month after CID's stations were shut down. "You have my best wishes and encouragement for progress in your work," the letter read. Still, the fine was paid, and CID moved its operations off United States turf. After buying licensed time, and broadcasting clandestinely in Central and South America, in 1984 CID purchased a powerful, 50,000-watt transmitter, which began beaming its signal from an undisclosed location, calling itself Camilo

"Donations," says Angel D'Fana, CID's program director, when asked how the radio station meets the demands of its obviously high budget. About rumors the group receives CIA money, his only comment is, "We wish." The CIA and the State Department aren't talking, but CID now is represented in Washington by lobbyist Elliott Abrams, former assistant secretary of state for Inter-American affairs under Ronald Reagan.

La Voz del CID's Dade headquarters are two houses in a quiet residential neighborhood, on Southwest 37th Terrace at 100th Avenue. One single-story residence has been converted into a maze of passageways and offices, with two production studios where most of the network's programming is taped (the group owns another studio in Costa Rica), and even a small newsroom where staff members scan the Agence France-Presse news wire, monitor radio receivers, and type copy into lap-top computers.

Across the street, the front door of another house opens into administrative activity, with secretaries scrambling from fax to phone outside the office of Huber Matos, Jr., in which the most striking decoration is a poster of CID's 50,000-watt Camilo Cienfuegos radio tower. "Our radio programs are one of the most important things we do," says Matos, spouting the party line. "It's how we can make our views known, how we can inform the people still in Cuba." In 1988 the group even announced plans to broadcast clandestine television programming into Cuba from a 50-foot fishing boat anchored offshore. The FCC warned them not to try.

Clandestine or not, La Voz del CID broadcasts some of the slickest, strongest programming on short wave. Brazilian singer Roberto Carlos croons between reports about the crisis in the Persian Gulf. Comedians and pundits punctuate commentary about recession in Latin America. Program highlights have included an ongoing baseball sketch that featured "Los Yanquis" against "Los Rojos" in a contrived political "game," complete with canned crowd sound effects. The announcer, speaking with a guajiro (hillbilly) accent, pointed out in 1988 that then-Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega, who used to play for Los Yanquis, was traded to Los Rojos, where he was slated to play left field. Los Rojos, needless to say, never managed to win a game.

In July 1984, FBI agents armed with shotguns raided a barn near Chekika State Recreation Area in South Dade. Inside they found a sophisticated commercial transmitter with no manufacturer's identification numbers. Once again, big bucks were at work. This time it turned out to be the clandestine station Radio Mambi, the voice of the Junta Patriotica Cubana. ("Mambi" is the Indian name given nineteenth-century Cuban independence fighters; it was the name of the prerevolutionary Cuban station from which much of Castro's Radio Rebelde staff was drawn, and, since October 1985, has been the moniker of licensed station WAQI-AM 710 in Miami.)

Heading the junta was another exile leader, Manuel Antonio "Tony" de Varona, who had been prime minister of Cuba under Carlos Prio Socarras, and who had led Prio's "Autenticos," the Authentic Revolutionary Cuban Party. Varona had been exiled by Batista for his role in a September 1957 military mutiny at Cienfuegos, but in the waning days of the dictator's rule, he led a CIA-backed airborne invasion force on December 28, 1958.

At that time Varona was seen by the U.S. government as a strong alternative to Castro: he was anti-Batista, anti-communist, politically legitimate, and had not been implicated in the corruption of the Prio government. The invasion, however, was a failure, his force stranded in rural Camaguey as Batista fled Cuba on New Year's Eve and Castro prepared for his triumphant march into Havana.

In the summer of 1960, Varona's CIA-backed Democratic Revolutionary Rescue Organization began clandestinely airing daily three-hour anti-Castro programs from a cabin cruiser off the coast of Cuba. These Radio Cuba Independiente programs were taped in studios in Miami, then beamed to select areas on the island. Now, in 1984, Varona had signed on clandestinely once again, broadcasting from a barn in the east Everglades. The FCC fined the Cuban Patriotic Junta $1000, but reduced the charge to $750 when the group agreed to donate its transmitter to an undisclosed Central American organization and support the establishment of Radio Marti.

The most beautiful sight that can be seen in a tobacco growing zone is a curing house full of tobacco - and burning away like a torch. If the Russians want cigars, let them grow (tobacco) themselves. Sabotage and assaults!

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