Cuba Politics

US makes first TV Marti broadcasts to Cuba from military plane

Posted August 22, 2004 by publisher in Cuba Politics.

ANITA SNOW | Associated Press

The U.S. government’s TV Marti broadcast from an airborne C-130 cargo plane to the island for the first time this weekend, but it was not likely seen by many amid ongoing electricity problems after Hurricane Charley.

Cuba’s communist government on Sunday had no immediate response to the Saturday evening programming beamed from an American military plane off its coast.

A number of people around Havana said they had not seen the broadcasts, nor were they aware they had occurred.

Electricity throughout western Cuba has been unreliable since Charley battered Havana on Aug. 13 and a general blackout affected most of the capital for about 45 minutes early Sunday evening.

When electricity does work in Havana, most Cubans have been tuning in to 24-hour coverage of the Olympic games in Athens being carried on state-run television.

Fidel Castro’s government earlier this year warned that the planned TV Marti broadcasts were dangerous, coming from an enemy aircraft so close to its territory.

In the wake of the United States pre-emptive strike on Iraq, Castro has warned that a similar American attack on Cuba is possible - something U.S. officials have repeatedly denied.

The U.S. State Department had no immediate comment about the weekend broadcasts, which were announced in a small notice on the Web site of the U.S. government’s Office of Cuba Broadcasting, which runs TV and Radio Marti.

“Television Marti at this moment is transmitting for the first time from an airplane in the United States of America,” read the Saturday evening announcement. “It is already in flight, sending the signal from Television Marti to Channel 13, fulfilling the initiative adopted by President George W. Bush to speed up a democratic transition in Cuba.”

Among a series of other measures, Bush announced earlier this year that the United States would also spend US$18 million to evade Cuba’s jamming of Radio and TV Marti by broadcasting from a military cargo plane inside U.S. territory.

Although many Cubans in the past have reported receiving Radio Marti on FM or shortwave frequencies, very few say they have actually seen TV Marti broadcasts.

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