The showdown was averted, however, when Rep. Robert Torricelli -- New Jersey Democrat who, like Hollings, has embraced the goals of the Cuban American National Foundation -- brokered a deal that granted Radio and TV Marti full funding, but which also established a commission to determine TV Marti's effectiveness. The three-member commission will be appointed by Joe Duffey, director of the U.S. Information Agency (USIA), and will have to issue its report no later than July 1, 1994.
According to the compromise, "$2.5 million [of the $7 million allocated for TV Marti] shall be withheld from expenditure until after July 1, 1994, and after that date, funds shall be available only for the orderly termination of television broadcasting to Cuba unless the [USIA] director determines...that maintaining television broadcasting to Cuba is technically sound and effective, is consistently being received by a sufficient Cuban audience to warrant its continuation, and is in the best interests of the United States."
Given that nearly everyone acknowledges the station is not being received by the Cuban people, this language would appear to spell the demise of TV Marti -- which is why Skaggs proudly declared victory. Opponents of the television broadcasts say the language was specifically designed to give TV Marti a brief reprieve and then the time and money to phase out.
That would be news to Marti's supporters, who are now crowing that the compromise was simply a method by which Skaggs and his allies could save face. TV Marti, they claim, survived the most difficult challenge of its young life, and now it will be virtually unstoppable. "By putting this into the hands of a public appointee," argues one knowledgeable Marti advocate based in Miami, "it gives the Cuban community, and the [Cuban American National] Foundation in particular, greater power to see that Marti continues."
After all, supporters argue, Duffey's budget at the USIA is determined each year by a Senate committee chaired by none other than Fritz Hollings. "To Hollings the number of people who see TV Marti or don't see TV Marti will never be the issue," says a congressional insider. "To Hollings the issue is Fidel Castro. The agreement assures that TV Marti will function for another year, and I think we will be back fighting this issue a year from now regardless of what the commission report says. Of course, maybe Fidel Castro won't be there a year from now and it won't be such a big deal.