Tag Archives: Cuba

Behind the Scenes: Gina Barroso

Gina Barroso with Rosa María Payá

Gina Barroso with Rosa María Payá

“The death of Oswaldo Paya was a huge moment for me. He’s a name that I remember hearing growing up. My parents mentioned him often. He was a household name. He died in a car crash in 2012. I cried. One day you are writing about his work and the impact. The next day, his death. I found out about his death while at work at OCB. Initially, the staff worked to confirm the news. We had all of the monitors tuned to news on his death. Everyone went live with the news, it was that huge. We were one of the first to broadcast the news. The Cuban government, at the time, said his driver lost control of the vehicle and ran into a tree. Not everyone believes that story. We always felt there was foul play.

Oswaldo Paya was a wonderful human being, a spiritual man. He never gave up fighting for democracy. To lose someone like that is a huge loss to the entire country. Cubans on the island who are aware of him were touched by his death. He was very involved with the Catholic Church. When he died the Pope sent a letter of condolence to his family. Through the church in Cuba, many young people knew who he was.

What is making his legacy even more important now is his daughter. She is a world traveler and visited the White House and the U.N. to carry on his work. She is making sure that next generation of Cubans will know his importance.

One week, Oswaldo Paya’s daughter, Rosa María, visited the OCB studios. Her visit to the studios was emotional and all of a sudden, she turned, and came to me and gave me a hug. I have no idea why she chose to hug me. I could not help myself and started crying. We are family and we are here for our family in Cuba. We are not going to stop until all Cubans have the same liberty and opportunities.

We are the only thing they know, we are their voice.”

Gina Barroso works as a Public Affairs Specialist for the Office of Cuba Broadcasting in Miami, Florida. The Office of Cuba Broadcasting (OCB) oversees the operations of Radio and TV Martí from its headquarters in Miami, Florida. Radio and TV Martí serve as consistently reliable and authoritative sources of accurate, objective, and comprehensive news for people in Cuba, where media are controlled and highly censored by the authorities.

October 22, 1962 – U.S. International Broadcasting Covers the Cuban Missile Crisis

Fred Schiele, Hamid Khosrovi, Jose (Pepe) Perez Del Rio prepare for a broadcast during the Cuban Missile Cris

Fifty years ago on October 22, 1962, President John F. Kennedy made an alarming announcement to the world: The Soviets possessed nuclear missiles in Cuba capable of striking the United States.

The western world erupted into a frenzy, and VOA veteran and former Spanish Service senior producer Hamid Khosrovi watched as the events unfolded before his very eyes.

The now retired producer, who dedicated 51 years of his life serving VOA, was thrust into overdrive during this critical period.

“We were fully staffed 24/7. They started me from 9 p.m. to 11 a.m.,” recalled Khosrovi. “We had a producer on duty. Even at 11 a.m. when I was supposed to leave, I could not until someone came.”

As the crisis unfolded, news agencies across the country scrambled to gather any information pertinent to the crisis and VOA and Radio Liberty were no exceptions.

“With the world threatened with nuclear Armageddon, the United States had no better national informational vehicle than VOA to reach as many people — and leaders of influence — instantaneously and globally,” said former VOA Deputy Director Alan Heil.

In addition, Radio Liberty broadcast Russian-language newscasts to Soviet forces in Cuba using U.S. commercial A.M. transmitters, noted Woodrow Wilson Center Senior Scholar Ross Johnson.

Gene Sosin, who worked for Radio Liberty in New York, recounted how tense the situation was.

“Those days were tense for everyone in our country, and in particular for those of us who were responsible for communicating with the Soviet audience,” Sosin said, adding that the Kremlin’s reactions to Radio Liberty’s broadcasts were a good indicator that the message was getting through.

Meanwhile, VOA anxiously awaited any news from the American government and other sources, and when they received word, went on the air immediately.

“[We] put out any announcements from the White House or State Department. Sometimes we quoted newspapers like The New York Times or The Washington Post. If our division chief saw anything useful we would translate and broadcast it,” said Khosrovi.

VOA also interviewed various Latin American ambassadors to give perspective to the Crisis.
When news of the crisis was sparse, VOA drew upon what Khosrovi recalled was a “huge musical disk” to fill the airwaves.

Although the work proved difficult and the hours long, veterans like Khosrovi, Heil, and Sosin served the agency during one of the most critical periods of American history. The events of the Cuban Missile Crisis set the stage for U.S. international broadcasters as important mediums for delivering accurate and balanced news to countries with unreliable media.

In honor of the Cuban Missile Crisis’ 50th anniversary, T.V. /Radio Marti recently aired a three part series with an emphasis on the release of new information and documents, as well as CIA reports about Fidel Castro’s psychological profile.

For more information, check out the series on  Martí Noticias

By Paulina Kosturos