Thursday, March 21, 2013
Radio Mambi Attacks Yoani Sanchez, Unknowingly Puts Foot in Mouth
As famed Cuban blogger Yoani Sanchez gets closer and closer to her Miami visit, militant and hard-line Cuban exiles are going through an interesting phase of introspection: How much respect or support should they show Sanchez during her internationally publicized trip around the world, while withholding their deep displeasure by her public opposition to the U.S. embargo towards Cuba and the presence of the U.S. Naval Base in Guantanamo. This is how Radio Mambi responded.
On Monday, the day before Yoani Sanchez's historic visit to Washington D.C., Radio Mambi's Armando Perez-Roura (founder and programming director) decided to make his position clear on the famous Cuban blogger. Some weeks ago, Perez-Roura admitted he thought about it carefully, especially after Sanchez's public comments in Brazil. He debated the issue with his group Unidad Cubana one Saturday, where he described the discussion as very divisive. I recall years ago Perez-Roura showing much admiration for Yoani Sanchez.
But, given her recent comments against U.S. policy, it seems that Perez-Roura can no longer give Yoani Sanchez his full support. Instead, on Monday Perez-Roura invited Tito Rodriguez Oltmans to his two-hour show "Tome Nota" to reflect their displeasure with Sanchez, and cast doubt on her motives.
Tito Rodriguez Oltmans, former exile militant of the group Salva a Cuba (Save Cuba) and Unidad Revolucionaria (Revolutionary Unity), is the long-time host of Radio Mambi's show "Puntos de Vista" (Points of View) which airs every Saturday at 8pm. In his two-hour show, Rodriguez talks about all sorts of conspiracies related to international communism, the infiltration of communists in the U.S., and his deep distrust of some dissidents inside Cuba. According to Rodriguez, Cuba's Ministry of the Interior has such complete control of communications inside the island that any regular mention of dissident activities in the international media is actually being permitted by the Cuban government. In other words, behind Yoani Sanchez lurks a communist plot in the shadows.
Armando Perez-Roura said he invited Rodriguez to his show because he had heard Rodriguez's previous show on Yoani Sanchez. Clearly, Perez-Roura had approved of those comments, as he approves of most guests who appear on his show, and continues to ban others he disapproves of, namely Democrats.
But, Tito Rodriguez Oltmans unknowingly made a huge error on Monday. As Rodriguez raised several questions about Yoani Sanchez and her blog, calling into question her motives for visiting Miami, and making absurd allegations, he was actually relying on questions being raised by Cuban government supporters who also oppose the famous dissident blogger. In other words, Tito Rodriguez Oltmans on Monday did a huge favor for his long-time enemy, the Cuban government.
If you listen carefully to the audio excerpts above, you'll notice that Rodriguez raised some of the same questions mentioned in Salim Lamrani's recent article titled "40 Questions for Yoani Sanchez" (If you were lucky to hear the entire show, Rodriguez relied heavily on this document). Lamrani is a journalist who writes frequently on several topics related to Cuba. To get an idea where he stands on U.S. policy towards Cuba, then check out his edited volume titled "Superpower Principles: U.S. Terrorism Against Cuba." He's written several other books about U.S. policy towards Cuba, which have been published in Spanish by Editorial Jose Marti, a publisher based in Havana. Lamrani has also been a long-time critic of Yoani Sanchez.]
I find it hard to believe that Tito Rodriguez Oltmans would use this material if he knew the author, especially given Lamrani's political stance on U.S. policy and support of the Cuban government. Most likely, Rodriguez was unconcerned about who wrote these questions, and more interested in his own agenda to defame Yoani Sanchez.
In their paranoid world, Rodriguez and Perez-Roura believe that Sanchez's message being transmitted throughout the world is another attack against their militant cause. They don't like the division and introspection that Sanchez's messages provoke. They prefer the unity of mind that exile militants are used to, where friend and enemy are easily recognized, and where the right solution for Cuba is clear: a political transition through righteous violence.
For those militants, Yoani Sanchez doesn't fit.