A Legacy of Reason

It is interesting to note that one of the things that happened with TV Marti is its offices were moved to Florida, I think we did that last year or the year before, because, supposedly, I think, you could get closer to Cuba through your transmission, not from Washington but from Florida. I do not think that is what it was, but that is what we were told it was. I have a lot of respect for the chairman of the subcommittee (Mr. Rogers), but I keep watching him every time he defends TV Marti to see if he is smiling or not, because I want to make sure that he really believes everything he is telling us.

Let us understand something: TV Marti may survive today once again. We are going to get closer to defeating it one of these days, but it may survive again. If it survives, it is only because it is a political issue that we Americans do not know how to deal with. We found out how to deal with China; we found out how to deal with Vietnam; we know how to deal with Korea. We even, it looks like, know how to deal with Iran and Iraq. But we do not know how to deal with Cuba. So we keep taking taxpayer dollars to build this big monster called an island of 11 million people that is somehow going to invade us and take us over one day. We are not going to discuss that part. The only invasion they will make can be seen at Yankee Stadium and other places where their quality of baseball continues to increase our quality of baseball.

MR. SKAGGS: I just wanted to offer some response to the gentlewoman from Florida, who I know feels deeply and sincerely, and I respect her feelings. And if I thought that somehow TV Marti was able to be made successful in getting information into Cuba, then the very moving arguments that the gentlewoman made would have some real traction. But this is not David Skaggs saying this does not work. Every time we have asked some outside group to take a look at this problem of electronics, how do you overcome a 100-watt jammer with a TV signal from an aerostat balloon, they keep coming back and saying it is not feasible. It does not work.

That is what we heard from the president's task force in 1991 and 1994. It is what we heard from the U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy in 1991 and 1993. It is what the GAO said in 1992. It is what the advisory panel that the Congress set up in 1993 told us in 1994. It is what the Committee on Appropriations investigative staff said in 1995. It is what the Board of Broadcasting Governors, the entity we set up to supervise this whole part of the government, told us twice this year. It does not work. I am sorry, it does not work. We should not spend money on it.

MR. ROBERT MENENDEZ (D-NEW JERSEY): Mr. Chairman, I rise in strong opposition to the Skaggs amendment. The question that I think some have failed to ask themselves is why does Castro seek to abolish TV Marti? Why does he care if TV Marti does not penetrate Cuba? Because it does. TV Marti does penetrate Cuba and it does reach some Cuban households.

If we think about that, if we think about the messages that go to the Cuban government and the Cuban military who do have access to TV Marti and our ability to send messages at that level of the government, if we think about the ability to be ready in a time of transition when jamming may not be done, when there is a movement internally in the country, our ability to talk to those people by the power of images, such as CNN, it will be important. We will not be able to do that transmission if we do not have TV Marti at that time.

In our own Interests Section, TV Marti is played. Over 75,000 Cubans enter our Interests Section every year. What are they doing while they are waiting to see a counselor or officer? They are seeing TV Marti and the broadcasts that are recorded.

Yes, Cuba does jam TV Marti some of the time, but America has never responded to a recipient country's jamming of programming by simply giving up. That is the standard the members will set. If jamming is the reason why members will not permit TV Marti to go forward, then understand that if any other countries are jamming, we do not have the audience share, and the same situation will be sought to apply for others.

The Cuban people have not given up on their hope of democracy. I do not think we in America, who are a fountain and beacon of light to people throughout the world in terms of information, that we should be giving up on them and creating a different standard.

Even Joe Duffey of the United States Information Agency, the director, in letters to the gentleman from Kentucky (Chairman Rogers) and others have said that they in fact believe that TV Marti can be effective. We need to make sure that at this point in time we in fact stand with the free flow of information.

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