Mr. Diaz-Balart Goes to Washington

When an unsuspecting Colorado congressman tries to cut funding to Radio and TV Martí, the freshman lawmaker gives a taste of exile politics, Miami-style

The question in my mind was the effectiveness of spending millions of dollars on these programs to accomplish that purpose, and clearly, that effectiveness had not been demonstrated. In these difficult budget times, it seemed to me that there was an area where we could save some money and not jeopardize our national interests.

I am grateful to the gentleman. I believe he feels the same way about our basic objectives here. It is not what our goals are with respect to a free Cuba, but how we use scarce taxpayer dollars to effectuate those goals.

MR. SERRANO: I am totally in agreement. One of the things that I had mentioned to the gentleman before is that if you happen to listen to short-wave radio, you will hear there is a lot of communication between the United States and Cuba. This, as he well pointed out, is something that is not necessary.

Interestingly enough, not that we negotiate with individuals we do not deal with, that we do not recognize as leaders, anyway, but when TV Martí came in it created such a difficulty in Cuba that the Cuban government then started jamming Radio Martí, and on many occasions had said, "If you lift TV Martí we will stop jamming Radio Martí."

So to that extent, what we are doing is creating another layer on top of what we already had because we were not allowing either one of our institutions to get in.

As you well know, TV Martí at times is ridiculous. A balloon up in the air is called Fat Albert, and every so often it gets loose and we have to chase it all over the Florida Keys and the Everglades to bring it back so they can broadcast Popeye cartoons at 3:00 in the morning.

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