We are Carlos García-Pérez, Director of the Office of Cuba Broadcasting, and Lizandra Diaz, reporter for Radio Martí -- we're here to answer your questions about Cuba and journalism. AMA!
submitted 19 days ago * by CarlosGarciaPerezCARLOS GARCÍA-PÉREZ
About Us: We have a unique view on how Cubans on the island are reacting to recent U.S. policy changes and news of loosening restrictions. We also report on Cuba to Cuba every single day.
Carlos García-Pérez is responsible for the strategic planning and direction of TV Martí, Radio Martí and martinoticias.com. Under his leadership, the Martís have transformed into a multimedia operation that encompasses radio, television, Internet, mobile and social media.
Lizandra Diaz is a reporter that writes for martinoticias.com and hosts a daily radio program called 1-800 Online. She came from Cuba not too long ago where she studied journalism. She is completing her degree at Florida International University and has daily communication with the island.
Here's our proof of who we are!
UPDATE: Thank you all for your questions. We are wrapping up now. Hope to do it again sometime! Follow us athttps://twitter.com/martinoticias
All 56 Comments
Have you ever been in trouble with the police or government for any reason? Do you show "censored" content?
No. Well "censored' in Cuba is anything that is not controlled by the government. So our live broadcast of major league baseball and NBA games is "censored" on the island. Our sport show " Al duro y sin guante" is also censored.
Hola Lizandra Diaz y Carlos García-Pérez. Tengo tres preguntas, pero las tres relacionadas: Teniendo en cuenta el anuncio de cambio de política con respecto a Cuba del presidente Barack Obama el DIC/17/2014, los acuerdos y mesas de negociaciones que están sucediendo entre ambas partes, la sorpresiva y acelerada velocidad con que el gobierno USA está moviendo las fichas hacia Cuba, y la importancia que ha tenido Marti Noticias para informar dentro de Cuba y también a la comunidad cubana en Florida y en el exilio. PREGUNTAS: ¿Sería realista pensar en un acuerdo USA-Cuba para una corresponsalía permanente de Martí Noticias en Cuba en el futuro cercano? ¿Pudieran explicarnos que ventajas tendría una corresponsalía permanente de Martí Noticias en Cuba? ¿Está preparado profesional, tecnológica y psicológicamente el equipo de periodistas de Martí Noticias para moverse a una oficina en la Habana si fuera posible un acuerdo USA-Cuba de este tipo?
1. Si por que no,hay otros servicios del BBG que tienen buros en sitios como Myanmar y Beijing
2. Tener un contacto mucho mas cercano y directo con nuestra audiencia
3. Nuestro equipo esta dispuesto a llevar a cabo su trabajo donde quiera que sea necesario y la Habana es una gran ciudad asi que no estaria nada mal.
How do you get stories from inside Cuba?
We also have get news leads by text messages and email from the island. We are able to contract Cuban nationals to file news reports and they are send to us through different means
How do you verify leads that come through text message? Do you have relationships with the people sending them, or are they from anyone who wants to send in news?
Any one can send the text but regardless of the relationship we double source the news before publishing or airing. We adhere to the highest journalistic standards but we are an open platform to our audience. As an example we seek reaction from government officials, when the news is related to them, an air their side of the story when they are able to speak.
We talked to the people in the island every day. Also, they have been using a section at martinoticias.com, named Reporta Cuba (Report Cuba), to incite Cubans to be reporters themselves. Every day they send us pictures and short texts showing their reality. Lately many people contact us through their nauta.cu email. This email service is provided by ETECSA, the only telecommunications company in the island. Other members of the audience prefer phone calls. We give them the option to pay for this service. For Cubans political activists who wish to report any abuse against them, our journalists return the call immediately. We allow their voices to be heard inside and outside the island.
How has your reporting changed since the US normalized relations with Cuba?
We provide news and information that is relevant to the daily lives of our audience. So our priority is to provide information of events that occur on the island so that our audience can make an informed decision as to their future. The government continues to control the media on the island so our mission continues to be very relevant. The change in diplomatic relations does not alter our mission to provide free flow of information on the island.
Will the change make it easier for Cubans to access free media?
The media control continues to exist on the island. It all depends on the Cuban government willingness to provide connectivity to the people in Cuba and the US federal regulations. There are some negotiations taken place with private entities please see Lizandra's comment
If I have learned anything about technology and the way it’s developed this days, a government or any entity can only control it for a limited time. The willingness of the US to provide tech to Cuba is the first step, but we need to see the steps Cuba is prepared to take. For example today, the Empresa de Telecomunicaciones de Cuba SA, ETECSA, and the American company IDT Domestic Telecom, INC. (IDT) have concluded talks in order to sign a Service Agreement for the Operation of International Telecommunications, which will allow direct interconnection between the US and Cuba. See the link: http://www.martinoticias.com/content/empresas-de-cuba-y-eeuu-firman-acuerdo-en-telecomunicaciones-/87097.html
Can you tell me more about how Radio and TV Marti preserve and promote Martis poetic legacy?
Jose Marti’s poetic legacy is everywhere in our programming, but there is an especial column at martinoticias.com written by Orlando Gonzalez Esteva about all things Marti. Here is a link so you can discover the articles at your own pace: http://www.martinoticias.com/archive/noticias_opinion_orlandogonzalezesteva/latest/105/112.html
If I lived in Cuba and I turned on my TV, what kind of programs would I see?
You’ll see only 5 channels control by the government: Cubavision, Tele Rebelde, Educativo 1, Educativo 2 and Multivision. The first two transmit a diverse programming: newscast, soup operas, talks shows, shows for kids, cartoons, etc. Educativo 1 and 2 were made to teach classes to students of all educational levels, when the number of teachers alarmingly decreased in the country. Multivision is the youngest and its main programming is canned programs they buy or take without permission from foreign channels. The Communist ideology is steeped in each message they transmit. When you live there you barely notice any more. For Cubans the political speech in the media is just boring.
This question is for Lizandra: What was it like studying journalism in Cuba? Did it prepare you for doing journalism in the US?
The class schedule is very strict. There's certain amount and type of classes that you need to take on specific semesters. Usually you are in class with the same people for 5 years. It's a very difficult career to be admitted, because there's only a few positions for each province. I studied very hard to get it. The elements of journalism are the same everywhere and I had very good professors, so yes, it helped me a lot. The challenge for me here has been the language, the technology and the freedom, the freedom to question issues that never crossed my mind before.
Question for Lizandra Diaz: Do you expect to return to Cuba one day and if so, would you continue in journalism?
Sure I do and soon. I least that's what I hope. One of the things I miss the most is to be on the field and see the things for myself and talk to the people face to face. I have this dream to broadcast my radio show from the island and I have my mind on it, so let's see what happens. Maybe in the future I get to be the correspondent for the Martis in the island.
I've seen American journalists reporting from Cuba in the past few weeks - why can't Marti journalists report from there?
We contract Cuban nationals to perform journalism on the island. They are not Marti employees but contractors. In the past the Cuban government has not allowed Marti journalist to enter the island. Remember that the news that the American journalists were reporting from the island was not broadcast to the island
Is Cuba going to play America in baseball? What if the Cuban players defect?http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/02/19/u-s-cuba-thaw-is-not-so-hot-for-mlb.html
We don' know if Cuba will play baseball in the United States on a consistent basis but it happened before with the Baltimore Orioles . Yes there are many Cuban players, with great success, in the roster of Major League teams and also in the minors.
Just for your information we broadcast major league baseball games to Cuba as well as NBA games
Do most Cubans understand their media are biased, or do they believe everything they are told?
They absolutely do. They just can't do anything about it, or at least they feel they can't. When you have never experienced freedom before you don't feel it's missing. You just think, "That's the way it is." The propaganda is very strong, so sometimes people believe some part of what they see in the media. Of course, the reality they are experiencing don't let them be tricked for too long.
What do Cubans usually eat for breakfast?
There's "el cafecito". Coffee is very important to start the day. Even people with very low resources manage to get some. Bread and soft drink are some of the most common foods for breakfast in Cuba. The milk is hard to get and an expensive one, around 7 pesos the bottle. The kids entitled to a liter of milk daily until they are 7 years old, after that people have to buy milk on the black market.
The US has a looooong history of trying to undermine the Cuban regime, most recently through the creation of Zunzuneo, an ostensibly Cuban version of twitter. How does this context of US interventionism affect your work and the way you interact with your audience?
We just provide accurate and balance news pieces that are relevant to the daily lives of our audience. A lot of the topics are simply not covered by the state run media. Our mission is in part based on article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.
How is the Cuban state media covering the change in US policy? Is it accurate?
When Asssistant Secretary Jacobson was in Habana they did broadcast her press conference in the national media. This was a big event. However the coverage continues for the most part to be one sided and not balanced.
You say it is one-sided -- how? Is Cuban media covering this as a positive or negative move by the US?
The Cuban media are covering the issue with caution. They are been very careful to qualify it as a positive or negative move from the US. Here is an example of the one-sided issue: Today the website Cubadebate is reporting about the new telecommunications deal between ETECSA and the American company IDT. In the article they said now Cuba is waiting for the final authorization from the US, and they are omitting that the Cuban Government have to change the Investment Law, because it makes it difficult to foreign investors to bring their own technology to the island.
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Even before the change we are allowing all opinions on our programs. As an example their are participants that are in favor of the government and we allow them to speak freely. Some do not have a define opinion and they also participate. Some are fearful or shy away from political topics but we wish they could speak freely. We get more participation in our programs when the topic is of a social nature, sports or business. We have a women's show that its main goal is to discuss freely issues related to women. When the Cuban government allows the call to go through they have active participation from women and men. We also have a show that broadcast goods and services being sold in Cuba but are only advertised in the internet. Since the access to the internet is very limited we are providing through our radio and tv platforms information that is available on the internet but that most of the population does not have access
How has your job changed since the December 17 joint announcement by Obama and Castro?
I haven' t experience any significant changes in the way we report to the island. But I do see new hope in Cubans and this reflects is our articles. Let me tell about the reactions that I've been receiving from the island. Cubans have high hopes in the restoration of diplomatic relations with the United States. The official discourse blames the United States for almost every ill afflicting the Cubans. If the enemy becomes a friend, the prosperity should follow. This is simple logic to Cubans. Others believe the changes will only benefit the government and people in power. At the very least, they understand the new status quo will make the travel and remittances easier. The growth of U.S. tourists visiting the island won’t hurt either.
How does your agency strike a balance between simply reporting facts and advocating for the changes articulated by the executive branch? Do you face a lot of domestic pressure to be heavily critical of the regime in your coverage?
We are a news organization and there is a fire wall that protects our journalistic integrity. The executive branch has not interfered with our work.
What's the atmosphere like in Cuba at the moment? Do the general population feel excited about the proposed US relations or couldn't give a damn?
From our audience reaction the atmosphere is of hope but with awareness that its really up to their government for the changes to have a real effect. Some feel that nothing is going to change. The entrepreneurs are optimistic and some are seeing great relative opportunities. Some entrepreneurs although seeing the opportunities ahead they also realize the potential for additional competition. So a cautious optimism is probably the best way to describe it and yes they do care
What are your favourite types of pie?
We had a teacher from cuba that came to talk about your culture, and she said that you have classes where you educate for The defense of the country (Defensa a la patria). In what does it consist?
how are race relations in Cuba compared to other hispanic/carribean countries with similar demographics?
Also how would you describe some of Cuba's young people? (teens- mid twenties age group)
I thought Cuba was free now. Why do they still need Radio Marti?
Because the government continues to control the media. Free association and free press are not permitted on the island. So Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which Cuba is a signatory states:Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers. You are not allowed to listen, watch or read independent media on the island
n Rights which Cuba is a signatory states:Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers. You are not allowed to listen, watch or read independent media on the island
What are the penalties for citizens of Cuba for listening to or accessing your content if they are discovered? Fines? Or jail time? ... or worse?
I don't know the specific answer to the question but we know that the government tries to jam our transmissions and block our website. Also we have a section on our website that is only for citizen journalism. We have reports that some of the participants have been put in jailed and their equipment seized by the government.
I just contacted a Cuban lawyer and he explained to me that whoever hear or disclose what Radio Marti says could be sanctioned by Article 103.1 of Section 5 of Chapter II Crimes against State Security: Enemy Propaganda and can go to jail for 1 to 8 years.
What kind of dogs are there in Cuba?
All kinds including"satos" mutts and they roam the streets. Cats are not excluded from the island so there are also cats.
What about pets?
Oh, Cubans love all kind of pets. The more common are dogs and cats, but you can find turtles, fishes, birds, hamsters, you name it.