Miami – The news transmitted by the U.S. government to Cuba via Radio/Television Martí is keeping pace with the times in its use of social networks and multimedia platforms.
The update is being organized by Cuban-American attorney Carlos García-Pérez, who for the past eight months has directed the Office of Cuba Broadcasting, in charge of circumventing the Castro regime's censorship in order to get the news to the Cuban people.
Internet, Facebook, Twitter and text messaging are the latest media being used to aid the free flow of news to the island, along with the programming of Radio and TV Martí, whose signals are jammed by the Cuban government.
"Our mission remains the same - trying to keep the Cuban people informed in the most truthful way possible about what is happening on the island, in the United States, Latin America and the world, and now we're also making use of social networking and multimedia platforms," García-Pérez told Efe on Monday.
Changes in content will focus on new radio programs like "Las Noticias Como Son" (The News As It Really Is) and "El Revoltillo" (Concoction), in which the buying and selling of all kinds of products is offered as a public service and has won great audience approval.
Nonetheless, the most visible, best-known medium is the renovated Web site, which in the few months since its makeover has multiplied the number of hits from around 600 to 4,000 a day.
"We've enlivened the Web page with more news and better content. Added to that is our use of social networks, because we have to make use of all media in an integrated way. They all support each other," García-Pérez said.
García-Pérez, a 47-year-old Miami native who practiced law in Puerto Rico, believes that now more than ever, "Cubans need to be informed so they can analyze what is happening and come to their own conclusions."
The other great challenge of Radio/TV Martí is staying in tune with the audience on the island, their preferences and how they get their news.
"Cuban government censorship is total and attempts to block our transmissions. The same can happen with the Internet, but now we have more possibilities of reaching people through different media," he said.
García-Pérez stressed that he does not receive instructions from the United States government concerning Radio/TV Martí's editorial line.
"We're supposed to broadcast the news in freedom and that is what we do. At the same time we want to insert Cuba in the panorama of Latin America so that this is not just a source of news from the United States," he said.
Under its new management, Martí's newscasts and programs have diversified their content with more input from countries of the region.
The increase in hits to the Web site, García-Pérez believes, shows the efficiency of that medium.
"Cubans are eager to get news on all subjects that interest them and our work consists in offering it to them through all possible media so they can make their own decisions."
The Office of Cuba Broadcasting has an annual budget of $29.5 million, a reduction of $4 million from the previous fiscal year.
Despite the budget cut, García-Pérez said that the quality of programming is as good as ever thanks "to the enormous professionalism of the journalists and employees."