Radio Marti: Ethics in Exile

"Mr. Bonachea had received the letter on January 29 or 30, 1992 while he was in Miami. He faxed it immediately to William Valdes, Mr. Alles's special assistant, and directed him to provide coverage of it in Radio Marti's news reports. On February 7, 1992, when asked about our coverage of the letter at the daily editorial meeting, Mr. Valdes said we had aired a story on it twice. Later Mr. Bonachea discovered that, to the contrary, we had not aired the story at all and did not air it until February 9, ten days after we first received the document, and after both Mr. Bonachea and I intervened to insist to Mr. Alles that the letter be covered.

"Our coverage of the letter sparked Mr. Mas's protest to Mr. Bonachea on February 12, 1992. Radio Marti then decided to provide additional coverage of the letter with a half-hour program on the night of February 12. Mr. Alles and Mr. Valdes prepared the program for that evening, interviewing Mr. Mas, among others," Sherman continued. "However, Mr. Mas's statements were vitriolic and ad hominem regarding the Cuban dissidents who had authored the letter. Mr. Valdes asked that I review the tape of Mr. Mas's statements. I did, decided they could not be aired, and advised Mr. Valdes accordingly. He then contacted Mr. Bonachea, who called Mr. Mas and asked him to provide us with another statement. Mr. Bonachea and I discussed the topic that evening, and he related to me Mr. Mas's extreme agitation over having been edited. Ultimately, Mr. Mas did give us another interview that we were able to broadcast.

"Having to edit Mr. Mas's remarks was never a happy task, in my experience."
In another telling incident related by Sherman, this one from March 1994, Richard Lobo, who at the time was the director of the Office of Cuba Broadcasting, decided that Radio Marti should cover the congressional hearings being held by Rep. Charles Rangel (D-New York) regarding the effects of the U.S. embargo on the Cuban people. "Mr. Lobo's proposal to cover the hearings live met with considerable opposition within Radio Marti and with Mr. Mas," Sherman wrote. "Given that Congressman Rangel argues for ending the U.S. embargo against Cuba, his views are strongly opposed by conservative Cuban-Americans, including Mr. Mas. Mr. Alles as well as Mr. Bonachea were not in favor of covering the March 18 hearings live, as they thought this was not an editorial priority (and, I would add, believed it would excessively highlight Mr. Rangel's views). On the day of the coverage, Mr. Alles was as much a hindrance as a help for the coverage. At the hearing's conclusion, Mr. Alles vociferously opposed our interviewing Congressman Rangel for his views on the proceedings. I, standing in Radio Marti's on-air studio, overruled Mr. Alles, and we went ahead with the interview.

"Mr. Lobo told me he had received a call from Mr. Mas just before March 18 in which Mr. Mas voiced his opposition to Radio Marti's live coverage of the Rangel hearings. This was his view, interestingly, despite the fact he was scheduled to testify (and did testify) at the hearings. I was a vocal and prominent supporter of Mr. Lobo's plan, not because I favored Mr. Rangel's views, but because I thought the coverage would make for dynamic programming. The coverage was a breakthrough for Radio Marti and even earned us kudos from Secretary of State Warren Christopher in a letter he sent to USIA Director Duffey."

Sherman recounted to investigators that he believed his continuing criticism of Alles's performance led to his being slowly stripped of all duties and responsibilities, leaving him with a job title but no authority. "I also believe my pointing out problems with Mr. Alles, among many other matters, caused me to run afoul of Jorge Mas Canosa, chairman of the President's Advisory Board for Cuba Broadcasting, which oversees Radio and TV Marti operations," Sherman stated. "I believe Mr. Mas has applied pressure on OCB management to remove me from any meaningful role at Radio Marti."

The deputy director, who remains at the station despite his severely diminished responsibilities, concluded his affidavit by noting to investigators: "I have much more information concerning the efforts by Jorge Mas Canosa to influence Radio Marti operations, including personnel and editorial matters, to further, what I believe, are his particular ends. I could provide this additionally, if needed."

In March 1995, Augustin Alles was transferred from the Washington office to Radio Marti's Miami office, where works as an assignment editor for the station.

Kristin Juffer joined Radio Marti in July 1986 as a research specialist, and within two years was named director of audience research for the Office of Cuba Broadcasting. She has an undergraduate degree in Spanish and Latin American studies, and a Ph.D. in education, specializing in the development of cross-cultural psychological testing. Before applying for government service, she worked for a private market-research firm that conducted radio and television surveys for clients such as ABC News, Disney, Lorimar, and Buena Vista Pictures. Juffer was also specially trained at Radio Free Europe to conduct surveys in closed communist societies. At the time of her sworn statement to investigators in November and December of 1994, she had accumulated sixteen years of experience conducting market research.

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