Cuban exiles in Miami vow to boycott if Radio Mambí is ‘silenced’ by new owners

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MIAMI — Promising boycotts, protests and strikes, Cuban leaders in exile have expressed concern that two Miami stations, Radio Mambí and WQBA — which have traditionally advocated for Cuba’s freedom — will be silenced after being taken over. by Latino Media Network, a media company run by “social activists with a left-leaning progressive political agenda.”

TelevisaUnivision Inc. has reached an agreement to sell 18 stations, including Radio Mambí and WQBA, in different cities to Latino Media Network (LMN), founded by Stephanie Valencia, who worked in the White House as a special assistant to the president and as director of public engagement during the Barack Obama administration, and Jess Morales Rocketto, who worked in the Obama and Hillary Clinton campaigns.

The newly created LMN, which managed to raise $80 million for its start-up, also has funds from investment firm Lakestar Finance LLC, associated with liberal billionaire George Soros.

The Cuban Resistance Assembly, on behalf of 35 exile organizations, called a meeting Wednesday at the Bay of Pigs Museum and Brigade 2506 headquarters in Little Havana to express concern over the “silence and to the marginalization of radio stations that have historically been the voices of support for Cuban freedom,” according to a letter delivered to the media.

Related: Cubans in Miami open up to listen to the radio en español de demócratas

The group of exiled leaders that included Sylvia Iriondo, of MAR for Cuba; Rafael Montalvo, president of Brigade 2506; and businesswoman Irina Vilariño, candidate for a seat in Congress, expressed their rejection of any form of censorship against radio stations and conservative opinions.

“We remain united to defend and safeguard the rights of the Cuban people and to express their suffering in public spaces,” Iriondo said, reading the letter from the Cuban Resistance Assembly, which says they will resort to “legal resources and legitimate”. available in this country, including boycotts, strikes and demonstrations.

The first step organizations will take will be to send “a letter of concern” to the Federal Communications Commission within the next 48 hours.

“It is a very diverse community, but united in the pain that Cuba and the people of the island are suffering, it is involved in a struggle for life, which is why we want to express our concern with a letter,” said declared Orlando Gutiérrez Boronat, coordinator. of the Cuban Resistance Assembly.

The event included speeches from Florida Lieutenant Governor Jeanette Núñez, State Senator Ileana García, State Representative Tom Fabricio and Hialeah Mayor Esteban Bovo, who recalled the community service provided by the stations and updated information on the situation of political prisoners, the Ladies in White and opponents of the island.

Brigade 2506 President Rafael Montalvo sits next to Lieutenant Governor Jeanette Núñez, as she joins a group of exiled Cuban community leaders at a press conference at Brigade headquarters 2506 in Little Havana to announce their opposition to the sale of Radio Mambi and WQBA, La Cubanisima, to the new Latino Media Network, Wednesday, June 08, 2022. [ PEDRO PORTAL | El Nuevo Herald ]

In her speech, Núñez said that she grew up listening to Radio Mambí, which became a benchmark in her political education.

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“Ever since I was little, my father insisted on turning on the radio every morning on the way to school. I used to say to him, ‘Dad, why do I have to listen to this again?’ and he ignored me, and it’s good that he didn’t because today my 23-year-old daughter, since she was a child, listens to these radio programs too, “said she declared.

For Núñez, the sale of radio stations could have an impact on young people’s access to historical information on human rights violations committed in Cuba.

“We cannot let our young people not be informed firsthand of the evils of communism. It is important that young people know this because today we are witnessing a very dangerous movement, ”she said.

The lieutenant governor assured that George Soros would finance LMN and the purchase of the radios and criticized the origin of the funds.

“We cannot let a harmful activist billionaire, who is used to funding radical causes and candidates, buy our stations, which have been the voice of our exile,” Núñez said.

Bovo pointed out that Radio Mambí has ​​opened the doors to Democrats, Independents and Republicans, “as long as they put Cuba’s freedom on their agenda.”

“When I was a child, I also heard in our car that everyone who came was committed to the Cuban cause,” said the mayor of Hialeah, explaining that the station also reported on violations of freedoms in Nicaragua and the United States. Venezuela.

“Radio Mambí has ​​become much more than a door to the freedom of Cuba, to be the door to the freedom of many countries. They are not going to silence us,” Bovo said.

For his part, Colombian activist Fabio Andrade said he supports the cause because the sale of the stations also impacts the Colombian community in South Florida.

“If they start censoring people, I think there will be protests, boycotts and many issues that will influence the radio sector. They can censor people who are the voice of Cuban exile and who have been on the air for many years,” he said.

In South Florida there are more conservative Cuban stations, so why is the sale of Radio Mambí relevant? he was asked. The Colombian activist and businessman replied that he had a symbolic background.

“He is an icon of Hispanic radio and of the Cuban-American diaspora, of freedom. For example, if they wanted to change the Freedom Tower, they would go against our reality. Icons should be retained,” he concluded.

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