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Sonenshine on American diplomacy in Cuba

Case Study: Cuba. How American public diplomacy evolved in Cuba: Radio Marti, Castro. Fmr. Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs of the US Tara Sonenshine in conversation with Charlie Firestone of The Aspen Institute.

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  • piceratops ultimate style avatar for user ∫∫ Greg Boyle  dG dB
    In a previous video, Tara Sonenshine stated that the State Department did not broadcast propaganda to U.S. citizens. Her example in that video was to Polish-Americans living in Chicago. Could U.S. citizens in south Florida pick up the Radio Marti signal broadcast over Cuba?
    (4 votes)
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Video transcript

I'm Charlie Firestone with the Aspen Institute here with Tara Sun and shine let's take another example of Cuba the United States of course had a very strict policy about dealing with Cuba but also had something called radio Marty how has that worked and how has our approach to public diplomacy evolved in Cuba Cuba again gives us the competing storyline case study Castro and communism were perpetuating their view on the island of how the world should work America and Miami had a very different view and we had an embargo we had no diplomatic relationship so it wasn't as if we could use each other's embassies to gather people and share stories we were really frozen in a conflict and that's where public diplomacy is also really useful because you have to then be creative about how are we going to get our message in if our boats aren't in and if our diplomats aren't in and so radio Marty and later TV Marty became a US government funded but quasi-independent in that schizophrenic way we have of spawning off these media services and it would literally fly information over the island in a blimp that would satellite ping Cuban citizens the equivalent of an airdrop during the war you think about leaflets and public diplomacy from the air during a conflict this was similar only using television and radio to be men now the Cuban government would also try to block those signals and you would have the equivalent of an information war going but a lot of information did creep in and a lot of dissidents and advocates of a free or Cuba got information they spoke up and pressure began to build and it could have boiled over into a full confrontation but we've reached accommodation with Cuba we are now opening formalized diplomatic patient's the embargo will hopefully be or some would say hopefully will be lifted and so a normal business relationship and normal government relationship will come in following on the public diplomacy that was so roundly criticized because of its expense in its methodology and did it really rank and importance enough to put information in but the public diplomacy preceded the traditional diploma how will public how do you see public diplomacy changing now that the American policy is changing I think there'll be an am/fm radio station in Cuba you won't need so much radio Marty to play music and bring news I think they'll be indigenous local independent media I think you'll have companies you know setting up shop in Havana and you'll have more of the normal and this goes back to what happens when public diplomacy's mission in hard places succeeds then what and the same thing is going on with Iran is a good example we don't have an embassy in Iran but we do have an embassy in Iran we have a virtual embassy in Iran that nobody talks about we have a website and an ear on page that we beam in every single day Iranian citizens can pull down information and every single day it gets blocked and then we put it back up and we play a cat and mouse game we're ahead of the diplomacy again because we are already seeding the ground for a relationship and actually in Iran's I understand it among middle eastern nations there are more people who favor the United States than pretty much any of the other countries we've sold our story about America on the air and we've televised and internet dies our view of America such that it is successful even before the opening and you know the same we've tried to think about this visa V North Korea very difficult the new weapon of choice in the Wars of course the cell phone and I think for public diplomacy the next iteration it's really going to be we'll wait a moment if everyone has this device should we be spending money on television studios and newspapers and radio or even internet there are countries in Africa take Molly that only have a hundred and fifty thousand landlines but enough cell phones for every woman man and child so we still have new chapters yet to come