Friday, February 24, 2017

La Voz del Cuba Independiente y Democratica

Fidel Castro has been dead for about three months now.  So I was wondering about the state of the anti-Castro pirate radio stations. There are some in Miami, but those are local to Miami. They usually lack the power to reach the island of Cuba.  But there was only one remaining still active outside the USA: La Voz del Cuba Independiente y Democrática (CID).

Today they also have a nice website http://www.cubacid.org/ Comically they bought their domain through the U.S. company Godaddy, and it appears to be hosted on Amazon Web Services. The URL was set up in 2006 via ValueWeb. (ValueWeb, a member of Affinity Internet, Inc., used to advertise in PC Mag back in the 2000s.)  Their two main data centers back then were in Fort Lauderdale, FL and El Segundo, CA. [There's that Florida connection again.] So while their domain registry is "secret" it's American origins are not. It's CIA funding is harder to prove.
As clandestine broadcasters go, they always seemed to have a big budget. A note on the use of the word "clandestine" as opposed to "pirate."  Pirates are usually just self-funded enthusiasts. Clandestine broadcasters are government funded. They are propaganda outlets. Neither is legally licensed, but clandestine stations may be tolerated by a regulatory agency government as they may be operated or funded by another branch of the same government. More here.

La Voz del CID was first reported in to be operating from a horse ranch in Miramar, FL back in 1981. It was an unusually professional operation with two Heathkit transmitters rated at 490 watts housed in a van. The FCC still shut it down that year, remarking "This outfit has some big money behind it, they even buy time from stations in Venzuela and other countries (Dominican Republic)..." Today the same group claims a slightly different origin:
 "In October 1980 the CID was founded in Venezuela with the support of the government of that country and its two major political parties: Acción Democrática (Social Democrats) and COPEY (Christian Democrats). The Congress was attended by hundreds of Cubans and Venezuelans who approved the Caracas Declaration in which the organization commits itself to: 'fight for the establishment in our country of a society devoted to freedom and human dignity, totally democratic and sovereign, socially balanced and Fair."
The Miami Times states plainly [SOURCE] that Radio CID was founded by exile leader Dr. Haber Matos Garsault. To their credit he is a long time member of it's executive committee whose names at least used to be on their website.  The copyright notice at the bottom gives it away "Publicado por Huber Matos Araluce en 07" CID is rumored to be operating from Guatemala, at other times it may have broadcast from Nicaragua, Venezuela, Honduras, Costa Rica and/or El Salvador. At different times the political climate in any of these nations (or jamming from Cuba) may have required their relocation so any or all of those may be true. CID hints at some of that in the below:

 "From its beginnings, the CID strategy consisted in an effort of political persuasion aimed at the population, the Armed Forces and members of the Castro regime in order to create among all Cubans a climate of national reconciliation and faith in the future of Cuba. In 1981, with the support of the Venezuelan government, the CID began to transmit to Cuba La Voz del CID. The schedule was continuous 24 hours a day, seven days a week. During his more than 10 years of uninterrupted work he achieved a large audience in Cuba." 
They were off air in 1982 but returned 1983 with a set of well-produced programs.  Their shows were re-broadcast on both Radio Rumbos in Venezuela and Radio Clarin in the Dominican Republic, in addition to their own transmitted located "somewhere" in Central America.  According to SWL DXer and writer, Gerry Dexter CID claimed that its annual production and broadcasting costs exceeded US$750,000 - which came from "American foundations, businessmen in Latin America and individual contributions" According to Lawrence Soley in the book Clandestine Radio Broadcasting (1986) During the war in Nicaragua, La Voz del CID cooperated with CIA-backed Radio Quince de Septiembre. This is probably where the suggestions that they broadcast from Nicaragua or El Salvador originated. (Matos lived in Costa Rica which may be where that rumor originates.)

Everything changed for CID in June of 1994. CID began to purchase airtime over Miami-based shortwave station WRMI... then stopped. WRMI owner Jeff White spilled the beans. "Nobody will admit it, of course, but there are a lot of rumors here in Miami that La Voz del CID has long been funded by the CIA and that their funds were cut off several months ago... They've been appealing for money publicly here in Miami among the Cuban-American community to keep the station on the air" More here.

After a few weeks, it returned to its usual 9941.65, 6305, 7340 and 11940 kHz frequencies but in August 1997, it went silent again. Rumors circulated again that it was suffering from financial problems. CID returned in December 1997 and reappeared on WRMI. At the same time, CID member Enrique Encinosa was hosting a half-hour talk show on 1140 WQBA-AM. CID has not broadcast on WRMI since at least 2015 and their own signal was last heard on 6305 kHz. Perhaps they feel the future is now assured, and their clandestine radio station is no longer needed or perhaps it was actually the death of Haber Matos in 2014 that was more pivotal than even the retirement of Fidel.