Sunday, February 9, 2014

Curiouser and curiouser at Radio Martí

Timeline of payments

Cuban journalist Gilberto Dihigo left U.S. taxpayer-financed Radio Martí in 2012 and finds it peculiar that payments to him continued in 2013, at least according to federal records.
That's a little strange. I left Radio Martí in April of 2012. Not even my shadow was there anymore in 2013.
Screenshot showing Dihigo at work in March 2012
Radio Martí's website displays interviews and 26 articles by Dihigo. The last article is dated March 27, 2012. There is no mention of Dihigo after that.
The Office of Cuba Broadcasting, or OCB, which runs Radio Martí, reported a payment of $13,200 to Dihigo on July 17, 2013. (See government's response to this post here).

I told Dihigo that perhaps there is an innocent explanation, a time lag in payments showing up in federal records. He replied:
There could have been an accounting mistake, but I doubt it. Those payments are suspicious. Where did that $13,000 come from?
Payments to Gilberto Dihigo
Records show that the OCB paid Cuban journalist Manuel Vazquez Portal $465 on July 17, 2013.
Vazquez said he doesn't understand it. He left Radio Martí in November 2011 (see resignation letter).
"No one paid me anything," said Vazquez, a former political prisoner in Cuba. It's possible, he added, that the $465 is money owed to him that he never picked up.
The payment to Dihigo is more troubling. At first glance, it gives the impression that someone at the OCB is paying a ghost employee for unknown reasons. And if that is so, then the federal government ought to look into it. Perhaps there are other questionable payments.
At the same time, I am reluctant to read too much into these payments without knowing more about the agency's accounting and payment practices.
If any readers have information that sheds light on the topic - or if you see errors in need of correction - feel free to get in touch.
Below are links to PDFs showing Broadcasting Board of Governors' vendors hired for Cuba work since Jan. 1, 2013:

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