A multi-year effort by the National Committee to Free the Cuban Five, the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund and Liberation newspaper has uncovered thousands of pages of previously unreleased materials that reveal that the U.S. government was paying Miami-based journalists who saturated the Miami media with reports that were highly inflammatory and prejudicial to the Cuban Five at the same time as the government conducted its prosecution of the men.
The Smith-Mundt Act of 1948 prohibits the U.S. government from funding activities to influence and propagandize domestic public opinion (see 22 U.S.C. § 1461).
More than 2,200 pages of contracts between Miami journalists and Radio and TV Martí have been released thus far to Liberation newspaper through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) petition. The Broadcasting Board of Governors—an official U.S. government agency—and its Office of Cuba Broadcasting have operated Radio Martí since 1985 and TV Martí since 1990.
The U.S. government has funneled nearly half a billion dollars into the Office of Cuba Broadcasting in Miami. With an annual budget nearing $35 million, the OCB and BBG put on their payroll domestic journalists to broadcast the same message inside and outside the United States on Cuba-related issues, effectively violating the law against domestic dissemination of U.S. propaganda.
These contracts evidence the U.S. government’s payments to journalists in Miami whose reports constituted a sustained effort to create an atmosphere of hysteria and bias against Cuba and the Cuban Five. Three of the Cuban Five—Gerardo Hernández, Antonio Guerrero and Ramón Labañino—have filed habeas corpus appeals arguing that their constitutional rights to due process were grossly undermined by the government’s media operation in Miami and payments to the Miami reporters.
The Reporters for Hire website will soon be publishing other articles and releasing additional documents obtained from the BBG exposing this illegal government propaganda operation and manipulation of the justice system.