Radio Marti, master’s thesis

Voices from the Distance:

Radio Martí and the (Pen)Insular Construction of Cuban Identity

by Diana Saco

A Thesis Submitted to the Faculty of The Schmidt College of Arts and Humanities in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts in Communications Florida Atlantic University (Boca Raton, Florida) August 1992 Thesis Advisor: Fred Fejes, Ph.D.

© 1992 Diana Saco. Permission to reproduce, distribute, and/or quote from this work for non-profit, educational purposes is freely granted, always provided that proper reference to the author be included and that this notice accompany copies of a section or more of text. Reproduction and/or citation for profit and/or non-educational purposes is expressly forbidden without prior consent from the author.


Abstract: In May, 1985, the United States government inaugurated Radio Martí, a broadcast-to-Cuba project with the avowed intent of providing the Cuban people with objective news. In this study I argue that an important though tacit political aim of this project is the reconstruction of Cuban identity. I take a cultural-studies approach in my “situated interpretation” of Radio Martí transmissions, foregrounding the mutual, discursive constitution of meaning and self-understanding. Situating my own voice within the multiple discourses on Cubanness, I note how the transmissions construct the voice of the Cuban exile in Miami and evoke an image of a separated Cuban community. I argue that Radio Martí invites listeners in Cuba to see themselves as belonging to this separated community and to translate the exile sense of loss into political agency directed against Castro and the Cuban government.

Table of Contents

Preface The work which follows was as much a personal exploration as it was a scholarly one. In the process of writing this study on Radio Martí, I had to confront my long-held discomfort with reading about and writing anything which touched on Cuba and on the tensions between Cuban exiles and Cuban revolutionaries. This discomfort emerged out of my own experiences as the daughter of Cuban parents who had left Cuba in 1960, a year after the revolution. I was born and raised in the United States but reared, as well, in an “exile” context. Growing up within this context meant being exposed, early on, to the image of a shadowy figure named “Castro.” Unable to understand his political significance, I grasped only that he was “a bad man.” So while other children heard stories about a nameless bogeyman who stalked them, I grew up understanding simply that my family had lost its home because of a bogeyman named “Castro.” And while other children engaged in heroic fantasies about confronting their bogeyman, my fantasies included a row boat and a secret mission to Cuba to try to talk some sense into this seemingly more real bogeyman and, thereby, free Cuba from his clutches. (What a strangely political fantasy for a child of about eight to have.) Those early fantasies soon gave way to a more practical and theoretical understanding of the political-economic tensions which resulted in the Cuban revolution. Having cut my academic teeth on critical studies which adopted a Marxist (and/or a feminist) perspective, I developed sympathies for what I regarded (and still regard) as the structurally oppressed–sympathies which can be variously described as “dangerously radical” and “naive” or, alternatively, as “concerned” and “politically aware.” At the same time, living in South Florida–in the midst of one of the most anti-Castro, exiled Cuban communities in the United States, and in the midst of family members and older friends who shared these anti-Castro sentiments–I felt constrained in voicing ideas about the structural oppression of the working class or anything else that smacked, even remotely, of a communist perspective. It was only after leaving this context, and the subtle pressures it created to “think like an exile,” that I was finally able to reflect on the assumptions which had patterned so much of my early thinking on Cuba. In this respect, the study which follows is dependent on a distancing from that “exiled” context. As I make clear in Chapter III, however, this distancing is still very much situated within the multiple communities which have contributed to my (albeit, fractured and contradictory) sense of self. My sense of belonging to an exile Cuban community–though mediated, over time, by other senses of belonging–still exercises its own subtle pressures on my thinking. To give an example, I solicited support for this project from various quarters and found myself confronted, on the one hand, by family members who enthusiastically inundated me with newspaper clippings on Radio Martí and personal recollections and opinions about Cuba and Cuban politics; and, on the other hand, by academic colleagues and friends who had their own critical views to share on Cuban politics and on the history of U.S. interventions in Cuba. As a consequence of these contradictory pulls, the position I stake out for myself vis-à-vis the Cuban revolution is one of ambivalence. With respect to U.S. interventions in Cuba, however–including projects like Radio Martí–my position is less ambivalent. Until recently, U.S. policy towards Cuba had been conditioned, at least in part, by “national security” assumptions about the bi-polar nature of the international system. Given the recent demise of the Soviet bloc and the much touted “end of the Cold War,” the United States could certainly now afford to assume a more conciliatory posture towards Cuba. It could, at a minimum, relax its economic embargo against Cuba (an embargo which has been in effect since 1961). Instead, the United States has continued its policy of isolating Cuba, both politically and economically. Furthermore, it has stepped up its broadcast-to-Cuba campaign, continuing its Radio Martí program and launching the TV Martí project in 1990. Insofar as the program content on Radio Martí covers recent changes in the Soviet Union and the Eastern bloc countries, the aim of these transmissions seems to be to modify the political identity of Cubans on the island and to spur the end of Communism in Cuba, patterning these changes after those in Europe. In the meantime, the common wisdom in the United States has it that Cuban Communism is not long for this world. One recent episode of MacNeil/Lehrer included a segment on Cuba entitled “Focus–Numbered Days?” (1992). And a recent episode of Frontline was devoted to an analysis of “Castro: The Last Communist” (1992). In the context of the United States’ self-described role as “defender of the Free World” and its ideological antagonism towards “Communist regimes,” American commercial and government programs of this type take the subtle form of a threat. From their standpoint, of course, they are simply providing objective coverage of international and Cuban “realities,” foregrounding the economic hardships faced by the Cuban people and indicating that these hardships have resulted from Castro’s intransigence. Not surprisingly, however, no mention is made of how the U.S. embargo may contribute to the economic hardships on the island. My analysis aims at an understanding of how Radio Martí tries to effect changes in Cuban “realities”–that is, how it operates discursively. In this respect, the following study may be read as a treatise on what is required to make broadcast campaigns of this type better: a reading which would imply that I am in sympathy with Radio Martí’s project. As I hope will become clear, however, I disassociate myself from those who would view the project as “objective”–that is, as concerned primarily with the “free flow of information”–and therefore as normatively defensible on universal grounds (for example, that every human being has the right to “information”). Radio Martí is a fundamentally political project. As such, even its normative underpinnings are open to debate. Once the political nature of the project is understood, one can begin to raise questions about whether the United States government should be engaged in projects of this type, or whether, alternatively, it should seek some other (perhaps, more diplomatic) policy towards Cuba. I have written this work in the spirit of seeking such alternatives. I conducted this study as a concurrent graduate student in the Department of Communication of Florida Atlantic University and in the Department of Political Science of the University of Minnesota. Consequently, I have been assisted by two academic support networks. This study benefitted from the financial support I received from the University of Minnesota’s Harold Leonard Memorial Film Study Fellowship, which I held during completion of this project (1991-92). I would also like to acknowledge the constructive criticisms and friendship of the following people with whom I have been associated at both of these universities: Clay Steinman, Fred Fejes, Mike Budd, Jennifer Milliken, Mark Laffey, Jutta Weldes, Eric Selbin, Rhona Leibel, Paula Tuchman, and members of the International Relations Colloquium of the Department of Political Science at the University of Minnesota. In addition, I would like to thank my mother and sister, Bertha and Nikki Saco, for their unconditional love and their constant prompting to “get the thing done”; and also those members of my family who provided the “exile” opinions (and the anxieties) which inform this project. Finally, I dedicate this study to the memory of my father, Ernesto Antonio Saco, who–more than anyone else–imbued me with a sense of loss for a homeland I never knew.

I. Introduction This study is about voices: the insertion of my voice into a chorus of distant voices, voices from the past and from abroad, which attempt to articulate what it is to be Cuban. More often strident than harmonious, this chorus has included voices as diverse as those of anti-Castro exiles and pro-socialist revolutionaries, each claiming to speak for the Cuban people, in part, by invoking the name of Cuban national hero José Martí. Martí (1853-1895) was a nineteenth-century writer and revolutionary who died in an early military expedition of Cuba’s Second War for Independence (1895-1898). Exiled from Cuba when he was eighteen for writing a seditious letter (Foner 1975), he studied and worked as a journalist in Spain and in several countries in Latin America, finally settling in the United States in 1881. Owing perhaps to the appeal of his romantic vision of Cuba and to his own martyrdom in Cuba’s struggle for independence from Spain, Martí has become a symbolic figure of lo cubano (Cubanness) for both islanders and exiles, revolutionaries and counter-revolutionaries. In effect, what Martí helped to summon into existence was a sense of national belonging to Cuba as patria. Patria is a concept which defies translation. Given its etymology, it is often translated as fatherland. However, in her analysis of a burgeoning sense of Cuban national identity in the nineteenth-century literature of exiled writers like Martí, Méndez Rodenas points out that the metaphorical imagery of nature and origin which these early writers used to signify “Cuba” as patria is decidedly feminine (1986, 74). In Spanish grammar, moreover, the term is feminine gendered: viz., la patria. For these reasons, motherland seems a closer approximation to what is meant by patria. But even motherland does not adequately capture the sentimental attachment that patria invokes. While I will, nevertheless, use the term motherland throughout this study to convey patria, the term should be understood not simply as a place of origin, but as a place of belonging: and in the case of exiles like Martí, as a place where one longs to be. Notwithstanding the symbolic significance which Martí’s work has invoked for virtually all Cubans, substantively, his writings have lent themselves to multiple interpretations and hence to divergent ideological appropriations. As one Cuban literary historian has noted:

[T]he ambiguous, literary, and therefore open character of Martí’s prose is what explains, at least in part, why his works, like the Bible, often become all things to all Cubans. Martí’s ideology continues to be used both to praise and to condemn the United States, both to justify and to deny the present Cuban government, and to inspire both exiles and islanders alike. (Santí 1986, 140-41).

This study concerns one such appropriation. On May 20, 1985, the United States government inaugurated a Cuba-broadcasting program entitled Radio Martí: a self-described “service program for Cuba, from the Voice of the United States of America” [12].(1) The radio program was conceived by the Reagan administration and members of the exiled Cuban community as a medium through which to disseminate objective news to the people of Cuba: ostensibly to counter propaganda by Fidel Castro and his government.(2)

Opponents of the project, however, did not seem satisfied that it had only benign intentions. To those members of Congress who attempted to block passage of the Broadcast to Cuba Act via filibustering tactics, the project signalled a return to the impassioned Cold-War politics of the ’50s: one legislator proposed renaming the project the “John Foster Dulles Cold War Mentality Memorial Radio Broadcasting to Cuba Act” (cited in Frederick 1986, 29). On this view, Radio Martí’s mission is no less propagandistic than the “information monopoly” (US/Report 1989, 28) of the Cuban government which it seeks to break. The fact that Radio Martí is a government-controlled broadcast puts it squarely in the realm of propaganda. That is, we can assume, pretty much without qualification, that the broadcast has a specific political intent. But what does this assertion mean for the way Radio Martí has been and should be approached as an object of analysis? Most of the academic work on broadcast campaigns by the United States government has been confined to the field of international communications (see, for example, Fejes 1986; Frederick 1986). Within this framework, writers have tended to draw from mass communication theories to argue that Radio Martí’s overtly propagandistic objectives are destined to fail. This assumption of failure follows from the ways in which some media scholars have characterized the various “phases” marked by research developments in the history of media study.

Early Media Research According to one media scholar (McQuail 1984, 176), the “first phase” of media study, dating from about the 1900s to the 1930s, was marked by a common suspicion that the media exercise extraordinary power over mass society. In a similar vein, Lowery and DeFleur (1983, 10) maintain that the concept of mass society–understood as a “distinctive pattern of social organization” emerging from the processes of industrialization, urbanization, and modernization–facilitated this view of media power. To understand why this is so, we should bear in mind that early social theorists tended to view mass society as a modern ill which had displaced the traditional communities of the pre-modern era and the integrative functions which these communities had served. Hence, in contrast to pockets of socially integrated communities adhering to traditional norms and values, mass society was viewed as an agglomeration of individuals of different class, ethnic, and racial statuses migrating to urban-industrial centers and clashing with each other (Lowery and DeFleur 1983, 10-11). Given this view of society, it is not surprising that early social theorists were skeptical about the possibilities of “open and easy” (face-to-face) communication:

Open and easy communication as a basis of social solidarity between people becomes more difficult [in mass society] because of social differentiation, impersonality and distrust due to psychological alienation, the breakdown of meaningful social ties, and increasing anomie among the members. (Lowery and DeFleur 1983, 11; their emphasis).

What this essentially atomistic view of modern society meant for early notions about the power of the media was that given the dearth of traditional social ties, the media confronted and overwhelmed separate and lonely individuals who lacked a sense of place in the world. This theory of media power has been dubbed the magic bullet theory or, alternatively, the hypodermic theory of the media–labels which well convey the penetrative power attributed to the media by early adherents of this theory. Lowery and DeFleur summarize this theory as follows:
  1. The media present messages to the members of the mass society who perceive them more or less uniformly.
  2. Such messages are stimuli that influence the individual’s emotions and sentiments strongly.
  3. The stimuli lead individuals to respond in a somewhat uniform manner, creating changes in thought and action that are like those changes in other persons.
  4. Because individuals are not held back by strong social controls from others, such as shared customs and traditions, the effects of mass communications are powerful, uniform and direct. (1983, 23).
Of this early view of mass society, let me note two features to which I will return later. First, early social theorists maintained a distinction between community and society. At a minimum, community was understood as a face-to-face mode of interaction; consequently, a community was regarded as a local and interpersonal phenomenon. Second, and relatedly, modernity was regarded as an irreversible development which signalled the breakdown of traditional, face-to-face communities and the emergence of mass society.
As I view it, what McQuail terms the “second phase” of media research (1984, 176) accepted many of these assumptions about mass society. I will explain shortly why I think this is so. For the moment, let me note that media researchers of this second phase were not initially concerned with disavowing the claims of earlier scholars; they were concerned, rather, with offering more systematic evidence about the effects of the media. As McQuail notes, the early suspicion about media power was based more on the observed popularity of the media than on scientific investigation of their effects (1984, 176). Efforts to approach media research in a more systematic fashion were inaugurated in the early ’30s with the Payne Fund Studies, a series of research projects concerned with analyzing the influence of motion pictures on children in the United States (McQuail 1984, 176; Lowery and DeFleur 1983, 31-57).

McQuail argues that this second phase of media research (roughly, from the 1930s to the 1960s) was marked by “a new statement of conventional wisdom which assigned a more modest role to media in causing any of their chosen or unintended effects” (1984, 177). As a statement about, at the very least, the Payne Fund Studies, this gloss seems incorrect, for in point of fact most of these studies concluded that motions pictures do exercise a good deal of influence over the attitudes and behaviors of children (Lowery and DeFleur 1983, 54). Consequently, it may be more accurate to say that what marked the Payne Fund projects as a new phase of media research was that they introduced the use of statistics as a tool for quantifying and measuring media effects and that they made a more explicit attempt to incorporate the insights that had been gleaned from studies in behavioral psychology, employing variations of the stimulus-response (S-R) model in their analyses of media effects. One of the most famous expressions of this effort to make media research more systematic via adoption of the S-R model was provided by Harold D. Lasswell in 1948. Lasswell offered the following concise formula for understanding the media communication process:

A convenient way to describe an act of communication is to answer the following questions:
  • Who
  • Says What
  • In Which Channel
  • To Whom
  • With What Effect (cited in McQuail and Windahl 1981, 10).
From this standpoint, media communication was viewed as an essentially linear process whereby a communicator (who) sends a message (what) through a medium (channel) to a receiver (whom) with an effect. The link between this model and the S-R model is evident if we think of the message as the stimulus and the effect as the response. It should also be noted that the model assumed that the media always have an effect of some sort. In this respect, then, Lasswell’s model accepted first-phase assumptions about the power of the media.

For better or for worse, the Lasswellian model established the terms in which much of the subsequent media research of this second phase was set. My point is not that research during the rest of this phase was stilted; I mean only that where advances in media research were sought, they were generally modifications (sometimes, quite elaborate modifications) of this basic model. One of the ironic consequences of second-phase attempts to make media research more systematic was that several studies conducted in this period and employing scientific techniques actually resulted in negative or inconclusive evidence about the power of the media. No doubt, this is why McQuail, after all, characterizes this phase of media research as the “no-effect” phase (1984, 177). The overwhelming conclusion of media studies conducted during this period, as McQuail notes (1984, 177), was drawn by Joseph Klapper in his famous summary of the then-current state of knowledge about The Effects of Mass Communication (1960). More than a literature survey of the field-to-date, Klapper argued in favor of the new “phenomenistic” approach to media research, which called for situating the media amid other social and cultural influences which might mitigate against or otherwise soften media effects:

[The phenomenistic approach] is in essence a shift away from the tendency to regard mass communication as a necessary and sufficient cause of audience effects, toward a view of the media as influences, working amid other influences, in a total situation. . . . In short, attempts to assess a stimulus which was presumed to work alone have given way to an assessment of the role of that stimulus in a total observed phenomenon. (Klapper 1960, 5; his emphasis).

Note that, according to Klapper’s description, the new approach only attempted to “situate” the earlier S-R framework; it did not attempt the more radical move of displacing the S-R model. Consequently, the phenomenistic approach still adopted some of the assumptions of the earlier framework. To understand what was apparently new about this approach, consider one of the exemplars which Klapper (1960, 5) mentions: viz., the “Decatur studies” (Katz and Lazarsfeld, 1955).

The Decatur Studies drew from an earlier analysis by Lazarsfeld, Berelson and Gaudet (1944) in which the authors had hypothesized that the effects of the media are filtered through a number of other influences and are therefore, at best, indirect. More specifically, the authors of this first study had suggested that communication flows from the media to opinion leaders and from the latter to informal groups of followers. In Decatur, Illinois, Katz and Lazarsfeld (1955) proceeded to investigate this two-step flow theory of communication, locating informal groups, identifying the opinion leaders within these groups, and interviewing group members about their views on specific issues covered in the media. This study, according to Lowery and DeFleur, “represented the first clear and intensive focus on social relationships and their role in the mass communication process” (1983, 201). In sharp contrast to traditional communication theories based on atomistic notions about mass society, the two-step flow studies re-emphasized the mediating role played by informal groups. In short, these studies marked the “rediscovery of the primary group” as a site of socialization, which patterned, among other things, people’s interpretations of media messages (Lowery and DeFleur 1983, 180-81). The studies and commentaries summarized above all attempt to set into high relief the characteristics of “second-phase” media research as a new, systematic, and contextually-situated approach to communication: descriptive terms intended to mark this phase as one distinct from earlier studies of mass communication. Despite this characterization, it is clear from my summary that not all the studies and models which emerged during this second phase contradicted the conventional wisdom of the first phase. As I noted earlier, the Payne Fund Studies argued that motion pictures do influence children. And as McQuail and Windahl comment, the Lasswell formula “assumed that messages always have effects” (1981, 11). Does it, therefore, make more sense to talk about two significant sub-phases within this second-phase development of media research: one (characterized by the Payne Fund Studies and the Lasswell formula) which is more scientific than earlier studies while still accepting the direct-effects assumption, and the second (characterized, in particular, by the Decatur Studies) which is both more scientific and more critical of the first phase of media research? While this way of putting things would be handy for noting some differences within second-phase approaches to media research, I think it would tend to exaggerate the distinctions. Furthermore, even the distinction between so-called “first-phase” and “second-phase” media research may be overdrawn. To be sure, I am not asserting that there were no differences between first-phase mass-society theorists and second-phase media researchers like Katz and Lazarsfeld. Clearly, the latter rejected (a) the view that modern society is atomistic, (b) that the flow of information from the media to their audiences is unmediated, and hence (c) that the media have direct effects on their audiences. Note, however, what was not rejected in this view. The Decatur Study school of thought did not deny that societies have become more differentiated and impersonal–in a word, more modernized. It did not reject the view that modernity has signalled the breakdown of traditional, face-to-face communities. Both schools of thought agreed that where interpersonal networks existed, these pre-existing affiliations would mediate the impact of the media on persons who identified with (or, more concretely, saw themselves as belonging to) these groups. The key difference between the two was that mass-society theorists argued that interpersonal networks (defined narrowly as traditional, face-to-face communities) no longer existed. Katz and Lazarsfeld, however, defined interpersonal networks more broadly to encompass modern forms of primary group affiliations. They posited, moreover, that these primary groups pre-existed the communication process and were no less capable of influencing in-group perceptions of the media message than traditional communities might have been. Although Katz and Lazarsfeld never speak specifically in terms of pre-existing primary groups, I use this term only to convey their sense that these primary groups have their sources in the broader social and cultural context. That is, they pre-exist the media communication process insofar as they are not constructed by the media. The crucial issue this raises is whether or not the media can be viewed in their own right as sources of identity formation–here understood as a process by which a person develops a sense of belonging to a particular group or community. This issue was not considered by Katz and Lazarsfeld. They assumed instead that groups and group identity were the product of face-to-face social encounters. They argued, moreover, that these groups, in turn, helped to pattern their members’ perceptions of things: hence the nexus between the small group and the development of meaning which Katz and Lazarsfeld emphasized in their study.(3) Stated somewhat differently, these second-phase researchers maintained that primary groups provided their members with particular interpretive frames for understanding the world and their place in it. What I have been suggesting is that this view is not very different from mass-society assumptions about traditional communities and the meaning-constitutive function which they were taken to serve. Both schools of thought essentially viewed the media as sources of information (the message), while they tended to regard face-to-face social networks as the definitive sites for the formation of identity and the constitution of meaning. In this respect, both accepted the view that the interpersonal (the face-to-face relationship) is more powerful than the impersonal (exposure to the media) for the patterning of human perception. In short, both regarded pre-existing groups or communities as interpretive communities which could, in principle, modify the effects of the media. As a summary of the assumptions made by first-phase theorists, these points are somewhat more difficult to grasp precisely because they accepted the mass-society argument that traditional communities no longer existed; but these assumptions are implicit in their pessimistic diagnosis that it was the very absence of traditional communities as mediating factors which made modern individuals more vulnerable to the media’s power. In summary, early social theorists maintained a distinction between community and society, and they argued that modernity signalled the demise of the former. If communities are understood as traditional, face-to-face networks of relationships, and societies as impersonal networks of relationships structured by broader social practices, than second-phase media researchers like Katz and Lazarsfeld accepted this distinction. In contrast to first-phase media researchers, however, they posited the existence of primary groups as sites of socialization which fit, analytically, somewhere between the concepts of the cohesive traditional community and the conflictual mass society. My arguments about the assumptions shared by first-phase and second-phase media researchers have not been intended to minimize the contributions of the latter. We may still accept the view, offered by commentators like McQuail, Lowery, DeFleur, and of course Klapper, that the rediscovery of the primary group as a mediating factor provided an important corrective to the earlier conventional wisdom about the power of the media. Summarizing the impact of second-phase studies, McQuail notes:

It was not that media had been shown to be, under all conditions, without effects but that they operated within a pre-existing structure of social relationships and in a given social and cultural context. These social and cultural factors have a primary role in shaping choice, attention and response by audiences. This new sobriety of assessment was slow to modify opinion outside the social-scientific community. It was particularly hard to accept for those who made a living out of advertising and propaganda and for those in the media who valued the myth of their own great potency. (1984, 177).

Of course, this narrative about developments in media research which I, with McQuail’s help, have just recited only brings us up to about the 1960s. As McQuail notes, however,

hardly had the “no effect” conclusion been disseminated by social scientists than it was subject to a re-examination by those who doubted that the whole story had been written and who were reluctant to dismiss the possibility that media might indeed have important social effects. (1984, 177).

This point ushers in the “third phase” of media research, which, according to McQuail, “is still with us” (1984, 177). The definitive feature of this current phase of media research is the continued search for the possible effects which the media might have, but a search buttressed by a more complex sense of the interrelationships between our experience of the media and our seemingly more immediate experience of social reality. Rather than review current insights now, I have reserved this discussion for the next chapter, in which I outline a theoretical framework for understanding these complex relationships. Drawing from recent work in the area of cultural studies and, more particularly, from work on the emergence of the nation as an object of cultural significance, I will suggest how these works offer a truly new approach to media research: that is, an approach which constitutes a more radical break from first- and second-phase assumptions about the necessary pre-existence of interpretive communities. In the meantime, I want to return the discussion to Radio Martí to show how one recent scholar approaches his topic still very much within the terms of first- and second-phase media research.

Radio Martí as Propaganda In his commentary on Radio Martí, John Spicer Nichols argues that proponents need to adopt a “communication perspective” to gain a more realistic assessment of Radio Martí’s likelihood of success (1984, 35). Given his tenor, Nichols is clearly in agreement with McQuail’s observation about propagandists outside the social-scientific community: namely that they have more-often-than-not resisted the “new sobriety of assessment” about media power characteristic of second-phase media research (McQuail 1984, 177). Having adopted a more sober communication perspective, Nichols proceeds to argue that Radio Martí is destined to fail. However, since his commentary was written a year before the radio station began operation, Nichols’ argument is not based on analysis of Radio Martí transmissions. Instead, he draws his conclusion from a summary of earlier media research on propaganda campaigns (“How International Propaganda Works,” 36-7). In the following quotation, note Nichols’ assumption that Radio Martí is based on the first-phase theory about the power of the media, and note also how he relies on second-phase research findings to dispel “this simplistic theory”:

The Radio Martí plan is predicated on the outmoded “bullet” theory of communication which treats members of the audience like ducks sitting on a pond. All the communicator needs is a rifle, the proper ammunition, and good aim in order to achieve a communication effect. Virtually all of the propaganda activity during the two world wars was based on this simplistic theory. We now know that the processes by which bullets and words achieve their effects are very different, and that most of this wartime propaganda was either ineffective or had an effect other than intended.With the development of more sophisticated research since World War II, communication researchers began to realize what probably should have been obvious all along–that in order for communication to take place a message must not only be created and transmitted, it also must be received, accepted, and internalized. The major conclusion of multitudes of studies is that members of the audience are not passive recipients of messages designed by a master propagandist to persuade or inform. Rather the audience actively selects or rejects available messages based on complex psychological processes and social relationships. (1984, 36).

The argument Nichols offers his readers can be restated roughly in the following syllogistic manner:

Major Premise: Radio Martí is predicated on the bullet theory of communication.Minor Premise: The bullet theory is outmoded–that is, researchers since World War II have shown that communication simply does not work this way. Conclusion: Therefore, Radio Martí will be ineffective.

If Radio Martí is, indeed, predicated on the bullet theory of communication, then I actually find this argument persuasive. But why accept the major premise?

The bullet theory was an hypothesis about how the media work their magic. It was ultimately relinquished by subsequent media researchers who argued that their predecessors had not taken adequate stock of the audience. According to second-phase critics, first-phase researchers had ignored the interpretive strategies which audiences might employ. They had assumed that traditional communities (which, on their view, had been the definitive sites for learning interpretive frameworks) no longer existed. Consequently, they had postulated the character of the audience, conceiving the latter as an amalgam of socially disparate individuals with essentially the same psychological make up: no more than passive recipients vulnerable to the media’s messages. Why assume that Radio Martí, like the early bullet-theory proponents, has not taken stock of its listeners? Why assume that it has not considered what might best pull their strings? In offering this assumption as fact, Nichols makes the opposite error of not taking adequate stock of the communicator. Consequently, rather than analyzing Radio Martí’s transmissions in terms of how they address the issues of reception, acceptance and internalization, Nichols writes as though Radio Martí proponents have simply ignored these issues. Nichols is correct, of course, to mention that something as fundamental as whether or not listeners in Cuba can receive and will listen to Radio Martí is a necessary precondition of its effectiveness as a propaganda campaign. My claim, here, is simply that Radio Martí programmers are not unaware of this. Radio Martí transmits on short-wave and on non-commercial medium-wave (AM) frequencies. Furthermore, at regular intervals throughout the broadcast day, it changes the short-wave frequencies on which it transmits to avoid atmospheric interference. This channel diversity suggests an attempt on the part of operators to reach the widest possible audience. Of course, the radio program has always been vulnerable to jamming by the Cuban government. In fact, in 1990, when the Voice of America (VOA) stepped up its Cuba-broadcasting campaign by inaugurating TV Martí, the Cuban government responded by jamming both the TV broadcasts and also Radio Martí’s AM broadcasts. Consequently, Radio Martí’s reception in Cuba is even more limited now than it was initially. The relative success of the Cuban government’s jamming operations has itself become a hotly debated topic. Cuban newspapers argue that the jamming of the broadcasts is highly successful, while the Spanish-language newspapers published in South Florida for the exiled Cuban community argue that some of the broadcasts still manage to get through. To show that transmissions are getting through, Radio Martí cites correspondence apparently written by listeners in Cuba who attest to both its receptivity and its popularity among islanders.(4) Given these responses, it should be clear that Radio Martí proponents have not ignored the issue of receptivity. Even assuming that the transmissions can be heard, however, Nichols doubts whether they will be heard in the way they are intended: he cites a number of studies on selective perception which indicate that listeners tend to hear only those messages which confirm their already held views, while disavowing or reinterpreting those messages which conflict with their views. Following this, Nichols implies that the effectiveness of Radio Martí depends on whether Cuban audiences are willing to listen to “the voice of a hostile nation” (1984, 37). Unfortunately, since he does not analyze Radio Martí’s content, Nichols ignores the myriad ways in which the transmissions are coded as friendly and even familial. As a consequence, he rules out the very possibility that they might be interpreted in any way other than hostile. How Radio Martí codes its transmissions–how it identifies the voices which speak through it–lies at the heart of its efforts to gain, in Nichols’ terms, audience “acceptance” and “internalization” of its message. At issue, then, are the discursive strategies which Radio Martí employs in projecting an image–or, more appropriately, in voicing an identity. Insofar as Radio Martí presents itself as a friendly voice, insofar as it addresses and seeks to undermine local constructions of, for example, the United States as a hostile voice, Radio Martí operators are aware of the interpretive framework which their listeners might be employing. And this awareness, moreover, informs the discursive strategies which the radio program uses. These strategies are missed by scholars like Nichols who insist on dismissing the project as naive propaganda. Granted, Radio Martí is a propaganda campaign if by this we mean a government-operated project with some (perhaps, nefarious) political intent. We are mistaken, however, when we assume that such campaigns must of necessity rely on a defrocked mass media theory for designing their strategies. Analyzing Radio Martí as propaganda poses problems for researchers interested in understanding the more complex mechanisms by which it operates. This is so because propaganda has a history which seems relentlessly tied up with simplistic notions about the malleability of people. That is, given popular and scholarly understandings of the term propaganda, this word unfortunately connotes the sense that what we are dealing with is not only intentionally misleading and biased, but also wrong-headed in its assumption that people can be so easily duped. As contemporary scholars who have accepted some of the “sobriety” of second-phase media research, therefore, we are more likely to treat what we take to be overtly propagandist as naive. Easily, then, any attempt by a campaign of this type to present itself as a viable project seems to us a chimera.

Radio Martí as Discourse Sobriety in making conclusions about the power of the media is, generally speaking, a good thing, but not when it forecloses avenues of investigation. From my standpoint, Radio Martí cannot be dismissed as mere propaganda when this is understood as false, ideological rhetoric. Nor, on the other hand, should it be accepted on its own terms as counter-propaganda, for this, too, preempts analysis by suggesting that what is being transmitted is simply true, objective information. Both moves unreflectively assume that what gets to count as propaganda or as truth is self-evident: ignored are the interpretive practices by which even these apparently self-evident objects are brought into being. At a minimum, the existence of propaganda and of truth presupposes a concrete, historical community: a we who constructs its truths (its world) and its communal sense of self (its identity) vis-à-vis those truths. Consequently, media research on the effectiveness of so-called propaganda necessarily entails some understanding of the particular interpretive communities which comprise its audience. On the face of it, this view seems to support arguments about selective perception. Selective perception theory, however, is severely limited in one important respect: it cannot account for change. It tends to assume that shared beliefs are pre-given and affect the impact of media messages, rather than being affected by them. To reiterate a point I made earlier, the problem with this view lies in the assumed pre-existence of community: that is, in the view that the making of a community is a process which occurs prior to or independent of the media communication process. Of course, scholars who have adhered to this understanding of community do not deny that communication is perhaps the most important mode of human interaction by which communities are created and sustained. For them, however, the relevant form of communication here is always interpersonal. They believe, in effect, that we know who we are–what communities we belong to–because of the personal experiences we have in our day-to-day interactions with other people. But what sorts of face-to-face encounters make it possible for us to see ourselves as, for example, Americans–or, in my case, as a Cuban-American? Clearly, there are a number of people whom we regard as belonging to our national communities who nonetheless remain personally anonymous to us. In fact, we will never meet and personally interact with the majority of these other members. Not all senses of belonging–not all communities–are dependent on interpersonal forms of communication. In fact, as one contemporary scholar (Anderson 1983) has argued, the community which is the nation can only be “imagined” into existence since it cannot be the product of one’s personal encounter with millions of others. It follows from this that impersonal forms of communication, such as print and telecommunication media, are central to the way in which some communities are created and sustained. Radio Martí presents itself as a service program for the Cuban people. Therefore, to be “effective”–in the sense of, as Nichols puts it, gaining “acceptance” and “internalization” of its political message from this particular audience–Radio Martí must, at a minimum, address its audience as Cubans. In this respect, then, Radio Martí is involved in projecting an imagined community. In what follows, I argue that the discourse by which this community is imagined has both sentimental and critical elements which are brought together through the construct of the Cuban exile. I indicate how the voice of the Cuban exile on Radio Martí enacts a sentimental attachment to Cuba and to the Cuban people as a separated community. This sentimental vision from afar is linked to a critical sense of what has caused the separation of the Cuban people: namely, Castro and his government. The enactment of this exile identity on Radio Martí invites Cubans on the island to identify themselves in a similar fashion. From a strategic standpoint, the political intent underpinning this invitation is that as islanders come to accept this sense of belonging to a separated community, they will come to share the critical vision of Castro as other which imagining the Cuban community in this way fosters. Two theoretical understandings are central to my analysis of Radio Martí as discourse. The first is an understanding of what is meant by the claim that the media help to imagine national communities into existence. The second involves the issue of discursive articulation–that is, the sense of how a discourse works to (re)configure the popular and/or official ideological elements which are already available in other discourses. This theoretical framework is developed in Chapter II. Another important aspect of the theoretical position I have discussed here and will take up again in the next chapter is that communal identities (interpersonal or “imagined”) help to provide us with interpretive frames for understanding the things around us. Consequently, I think it appropriate to comment on the senses of belonging that inform or situate the interpretations I, myself, offer in this study. This is the subject of Chapter III. The next chapter (Chapter IV) focuses specifically on the previous discourses about Cuban national identity from which Radio Martí draws some of its understandings. In the first part of this chapter, I review recent scholarly work on the emergent discourse of Cuban national identity constructed in nineteenth-century Cuban literature. In the second part of Chapter IV, I consider how the figure of José Martí has been incorporated into the socialist-revolutionary discourse of the Cuban government. Having summarized these early-popular and contemporary-official discourses on Cuban identity, I finally turn my attention, in Chapter V, to Radio Martí and its articulation of what I call a pen(insular)

view of Cubanness.

II. Theorizing the Mediated Community Much of the bulk of my argument against first- and second-phase media research, in Chapter I, concerned the assumed necessary pre-existence of communities. I accepted the view that communities can, in principle, soften the effects of the media precisely because they provide their members with an interpretive frame for understanding the world and their place in it. In this sense, then, I agreed with and attempted to further the view that communities are interpretive. In my discussion, I also insisted on retaining the concept of the community as opposed to the primary group. I did this precisely because I wanted to continue approaching the issue of where meaning comes from (of how people might be encouraged to adopt interpretive frames) by drawing on the connotative sense of community as collective identity–that is, as something which provides people with a sense of belonging which situates them in an otherwise chaotic world. Where I departed from earlier assumptions was in the view that communities must always be the product of face-to-face human interaction. In particular, I argued that some senses of belonging (specifically, of belonging to the national community) are imagined into existence via impersonal forms of communication such as print and telecommunication media. It is this last argument which I propose to develop further in this chapter. I begin my discussion with a summary of Benedict Anderson’s (1983) reflections on the nation as an imagined community. Drawing from this and other recent work in cultural studies, I explore the specific role of the media in projecting representations of belonging. In this respect, I narrow the focus to provide a theoretical framework for analyzing the construction of mediated communities and their audience address. I then turn my attention to the concept of discursive articulation as a way of understanding how the media both draw from and modify a people’s already held senses of belonging. In the final section, I relate this framework to Radio Martí.

Imagining the Nation The concept of the imagined community has been suggested by Benedict Anderson in his study of the emergence and continued growth of nationalism (1983). In outlining his approach, Anderson comments on how his analysis departs from previous studies of the nation. He begins with the following paradoxical observation: namely that, in contrast to orthodox Marxist assumptions about the inevitable demise of the nation, “since World War II every successful revolution has defined itself in national terms . . . and, in so doing, has grounded itself firmly in a territorial and social space inherited from the prerevolutionary past” (1983, 12). Earlier studies of the nation had sought its origins in the development of specific social and economic forces, particularly, in capitalism and the industrial revolution: as a consequence, theorists prophesied that the later developmental stages of capitalism and the inevitable emergence of transnational proletarian struggles would make the nation obsolete. In contrast to this approach, Anderson seeks the roots of the nation in (Western) culture: specifically, in the post-Enlightenment secularization of world views and collective identities. From the standpoint of nationalism studies, the signal importance of this shift is that it allows Anderson to suggest why the nation as a cultural artefact has weathered the tides–instead of withering away–despite changes in social and economic forces. It allows him to suggest why, in fact, the nation continues to arouse deep emotional attachments (1983, 13-14). My interest in Anderson’s work lies in his explanation of the sense in which the nation is an “imagined political community”:

It is imagined because the members of even the smallest nation will never know most of their fellow-members, meet them, or even hear of them, yet in the minds of each lives the image of their communion. (1983, 15).

He notes, moreover, that an imagined community cannot be set against some more authentic, more real notion of community which lies behind it.

In fact, all communities larger than primordial villages of face-to-face contact (and perhaps even these) are imagined. Communities are to be distinguished, not by their falsity/genuineness, but by the style in which they are imagined. (1983, 15).

It should be clear from this description that the imagined community is distinct from the concepts of the traditional community and the primary group only with respect to this issue of face-to-face contact. Notwithstanding this difference, the imagined community still functions to create in its members a sense of belonging, but it does so via impersonal or public forms of communication. This point is explicitly made by Anderson in his attempt to relate the emergence of the nation as an imagined community to the concurrent development of print-capitalism: specifically, the novel and the newspaper as literary forms with comparatively new ways of apprehending time (1983, 30-31). Anderson argues that the ability to imagine a nation as an object of history depended, at least in part, on having a style of storytelling that would allow for a sense of historical development (of a before and after). Similarly, to imagine a community of anonymous others existing at the same time and presumably engaging in the same kinds of activities as oneself required a sense of simultaneity (of a meanwhile). In short, what was needed was a narrative style by which the story of the national community could be told. Both the novel and the newspaper provided this style of storytelling. Relatedly, the novel and the newspaper, as written forms, could simultaneously reach a number of people in a public forum. The single most important requirement for reaching these people was that they all share the same language: that is, that they comprise, at the very least, a linguistic community. In their establishment of mass vernacular languages (as opposed to discreet local dialects), the print media helped to displace both the earlier oral style of storytelling and the face-to-face encounters by which the local community had developed a sense of its past and of the continued co-existence of its members. In a similar vein, they also displaced the sacred languages by which religious texts, mediated through the hermeneutic practices of an ecclesiastical literati, imagined the broader religious communities like Christendom. According to Anderson, the novel’s projection of the two senses of time noted above are evident in its typical structuring of events. Time frames are logically linked together in terms of a before-and-after progression through which the plot unfolds; but within these time frames, a number of distinct events occur involving some characters doing one thing while, in the meantime, other characters are doing something else. Consider the following example of a narrative segment–one slightly more fleshed out than the example Anderson offers (1983, 30-31):

Our story begins in the early afternoon. A husband is quarreling with his wife. In the meantime, and unbeknownst to the husband and wife, the husband’s mistress is at her flat, making love with the wife’s lover. Later that afternoon, the husband telephones the mistress. In the meantime, the wife is out shopping, and the wife’s lover is out somewhere else playing pool. That evening, the lover is getting drunk in a bar while the husband and wife dine at home. Resting in her flat after her afternoon tryst with the wife’s lover, the mistress has an ominous dream.

From the standpoint of the reader, these four characters are associated with one another. This is so despite the fact that some of the characters are unaware of the existence of some of the others, and none of the characters are ever aware of the actions of those others who are not immediately present to them (that is, those characters who are elsewhere). Note that in this narrative segment, three progressive time frames are indicated: early afternoon, later that afternoon, and that evening. Within each of these time frames, different characters simultaneously perform a number of different actions. As this brief example suggests, the novel projects time in both its diachronic (historical) and synchronic (simultaneous) dimensions. Readers draw on these temporal cues to imaginatively associate the four characters with one another. Now, to understand why it is that Anderson relates the structure of the novel to the emergence of the nation as an imagined community, consider the following structural parody of the example just offered.

Our story begins in 1895. Creole elites, mostly sugar planters who have been suffering from both Spanish-colonial rule and separatist insurgencies by the underclasses in Cuba, are actively encouraging the United States to intervene in these struggles. In the meantime, and unbeknownst to the parties just mentioned, José Martí and a group of other Cuban revolutionaries are getting ready to embark on a military expedition against Spain for the sake of Cuban independence. The situation progressively worsens over the next three years. During that time, other Cuban revolutionaries continue the battle for independence begun by Martí’s expedition, while the United States searches for some means of ending Spanish dominion over the island without giving it over to Cuban national rule. Then in 1898, the explosion of the American warship Maine, in Havana harbor, is blamed on Spain and provides the United States with the pretext it needs for intervening. Somewhere else in Cuba, African slaves continue harvesting the island’s sugar crops.

My presentation of Cuban history as narrative is undoubtedly exaggerated, for in the telling of national histories, one is seldom given narrative markers like “our story begins.” Notwithstanding this superficial difference, the imagining of national communities such as Cuba has clearly depended on the literary form of the novel, one cast in vernacular languages and capable of relating both diachronic and synchronic dimensions of time.(5) Anderson admits that the sense in which the newspaper also serves the imaginative functions of community is, perhaps, more difficult to grasp. However, by pointing out the way in which the newspaper juxtaposes discreet events whose only similarity is their having occurred on the same day, Anderson argues that the newspaper effectively works to create a sense of bounded spaces like “the United States” and “the world” in which a number of anonymous actors are doing things at the same time. (Note, especially, the sense of a place bordered by both space and time implied by the very titles of journals like USA Today and The New York Times.) This arbitrary inclusion and juxtaposition of otherwise disparate events, on Anderson’s view, foregrounds the sense in which the connection between them is, at best, imagined. In addition to this, Anderson argues that the process of reading the newspaper lends itself to our imagining countless others (in our linguistic community) who are simultaneously engaged in the same activity. In these ways, the newspaper, too, is involved in a “profound fictiveness” (1983, 37). Taken together, these two aspects of the novel and the newspaper (that is, their narrativity and their written vernacular form) are what have allowed the storytelling of the nation in terms of origin and destiny and in terms of anonymous others whom we can, nonetheless, imagine are like us: existing in the present, as simultaneous members of the national community. Via the imaginative processes of the print media, Anderson notes, “fiction seeps quietly and continuously into reality, creating the remarkable confidence of community in anonymity which is the hallmark of modern nations” (1983, 40).

Representations of Belonging and Textual Address Anderson’s sense of community in anonymity (in effect, of the necessary imagining of all communities too large to be the product of face-to-face contact) has been taken up by John Tomlinson (1991) in his analysis of cultural imperialism. Tomlinson points out that Anderson’s concept “immediately locates national identity at a certain level of abstraction” (1991, 80):

[A]ll cultural identities–be they national, regional, local–are, in one way, of the same order. They are all representations (in the sense that imagination is a representative faculty) of belonging. . . . Where people think beyond the immediate presence of others, which is today almost everywhere, they “imagine a community” to which they belong. (1991, 81).

Viewing modern cultural identities as imaginative representations of belonging is suggestive for understanding the media’s role in imagining communities. Since representations are available to us from a number of different quarters, this understanding suggests, at a minimum, that people may draw from a number of different sources for gaining a sense of what it means to belong to particular communities. More concretely, however, this view of cultural identities as representations of belonging–together with Anderson’s discussion of the relationship between print media and the emergence of the nation as an imagined community–makes clear that the media should be properly regarded as the primary source for representations of certain senses of belonging: specifically, those senses of belonging which cannot be the product of our lived experiences with others. Elsewhere in his study, Tomlinson makes this point more explicitly. He offers a view of the media as what constitute our experience of culture as representation in contrast to our experience of culture as lived experience. Tomlinson’s point is not, however, that culture as “lived experience” is in any sense immediate:

[T]he “lived experience” of culture may also include the discursive interaction of families and friends and the material-existential experience of routine life: eating, working, being well or unwell, sexuality, the sense of the passage of time, and so on. (1991, 61).

Hence, even some aspects of what we take to be “lived experience” are discursively mediated.(6) Consider the concept of the family. On one level, that notion seems to refer to something concrete, something most people grasp in terms of their own experiences with the people with whom they live: usually, parents and siblings, or marriage partners and children. At the same time, however, to be able to talk about the family–as if only one concrete understanding of this were possible–obscures the very different ways in which people may experience “family”: could not a child, his mother, her lesbian lover, her lover’s step-mother, and the lover’s adopted daughter constitute a family? As a concept, the family points to a particular network of meaning which may, and often does, operate as a standard against which our own experiences of “family” are measured and reconsidered. Such dominant discourses on the family, moreover, may effectively change the ways in which we experience our own “families”: e.g., as “unconventional,” perhaps “aberrant,” sometimes even “dysfunctional.” Or if our image of the family is drawn largely from televised situation-comedies, like The Cosby Show, we may come to experience our own “families” simply as “unhappy.” The point to bear in mind is that one comes to experience “family” in a particular way as a result of, in part, one’s understanding of various discursive constructions of “the family.” (Tomlinson makes a similar point with the example of “romantic love” as it is “lived” and as it gets (re)presented in the media [1991, 62-63].) The upshot of all this is that a personally held sense of self (whether as the member of a family or of a national community) involves a complex network of intermediations between media representations and our no less discursively-mediated “lived experiences”:

The undeniably high profile of the mass media in contemporary cultural practices, set against the evidence that people bring other cultural resources to their dealings with it, suggests that we can view the relationship between media [read: culture as representation] and culture [read: culture as “lived experience”] as a subtle interplay of mediations. . . . The relationship implied in this is the constant mediation of one aspect of cultural experience by another: what we make of a television programme or a novel or a newspaper article is constantly influenced and shaped by whatever else is going on in our lives. But, equally, our lives are lived as representations to ourselves in terms of the representations present in our culture . . . (Tomlinson 1991, 61).

Taking stock of these claims, I have argued–following Anderson and Tomlinson–that virtually all modern cultural identities are collective identities which are abstracted from our lived experience. This is so because they depend on our imagining a communion with countless other people with whom we will never have any face-to-face contact. Insofar as imagination is a representational faculty–precisely because it involves our visualizing what is not present before us–imagined communities are, properly speaking, representations of belonging. I noted, as well, that because the media may be regarded as the “dominant representational aspect of modern culture” (Tomlinson 1991, 61), they serve, arguably, as the primary source for our understandings of modern cultural identities. Finally, we experience culture, broadly speaking, through a complex interplay of mediations between the two aspects of culture which Tomlinson outlines: namely, the represented and the “lived.” It follows from this that the imagined communities to which we see ourselves belonging are better understood as mediated communities. In a dual sense, mediated, here, nicely conveys that the media play a role in this process, and it also attempts to foreground the sense that our apprehension of “lived experience” is also mediated. A further advantage of employing the phrase mediated community instead of imagined community is that the latter unfortunately connotes the sense of something which is fictive (Anderson’s definition notwithstanding), whereas mediated alludes to something which exists, but whose existence as such is possible only through a process of filtering or, better, of relating other things. As yet, however, even the concept of the mediated community does not really tell us enough about the mechanisms by which representations of belonging might be incorporated by people as personally held senses of belonging. For an understanding of this, I want to begin by turning to Tomlinson’s discussion of how texts represent culture. Tomlinson’s concern is with discourses of cultural imperialism: specifically, with investigating the assumptions and claims of various scholars and of members of international organizations who have argued that the exportation of artifacts from one (often, national) culture to another culture may pose a threat for the latter. In the process of commenting on who gets to define what constitutes a given nation’s culture and what constitutes a threat to it, Tomlinson points to two ways in which texts represent culture:

They represent in the sense of describing or depicting a state of affairs (“French culture under threat”/”French culture struggling against the isolationism of its political leaders”) and they represent in the sense of (often implicitly) speaking for a culture. (1991, 18).

Hence, representing a culture involves the dual sense of speaking about a culture and speaking for a culture. As it stands, neither of these two senses of representation suggest how it is that a people may come to accept what the media say about and for (ostensibly) them. Representation in terms of speaking about (as depiction) and speaking for (as proxy) is devoid of any sense of how the media can speak to a people. Colloquially, the phrase it speaks to me implies that I accept what is being said because it adequately conveys my sense about some given phenomenon. It speaks to me means, in effect, it rings true. Here, the connotation is one of a match between already held understandings of something and the media’s depiction of it. Of course, the claim that we already hold particular understandings does not preclude the possibility that these understandings may have derived from our earlier experiences of media representations (as well as our earlier experiences of culture as “lived experience”). In this respect, then, what I mean by already held understandings is different from first- and second-phase assumptions about the pre-existence of communities. The sources for our already held understandings are the discourses which structure both media representations and culture as “lived experience.” The point to bear in mind is that our interpretations are situated in the interplay between these broader networks of meaning (the discourses) by which we have understood and continue to make sense of whatever is going on around us. This is what Tomlinson means by the claim that “our biographies are, partly, `intertextual'” (1991, 61). There is, however, a second sense in which media representations speak to audiences. Media representations may explicitly address audiences as particular kinds of subjects: “my fellow Americans,” “you boys there,” “we in the developed world,” and so forth. Furthermore, these forms of explicit address may operate as attempts to resituate the audience, to reposition them within the particular network of meaning which structures a given media text. This is what Louis Althusser (1971) has meant by the notion that structures work via address to interpellate people into particular subject positions. Althusser’s example is the situation in which a police officer hails a person: “Hey, you there!” He argues that this address may effectively reposition the person hailed as a particular kind of subject (a “suspect,” perhaps), interpellating that person within a particular structure of authority. In a similar vein, when I use the term we in the writing of this study, I am inviting you the reader to see yourself as a member of a particular community of which I am suggesting you and I are both members. In this respect, I am resituating or interpellating you within a communal discourse. I may use we broadly to suggest the human community. Or I may use the term more narrowly–as I did in the first chapter, when I commented on “we as contemporary scholars”–to convey a much smaller community. Of course, when I invoke the term we to refer to these particular communities, you may accept the invitation (to identify yourself as belonging to these communities) because you already, in part, see yourself this way. Wherever this is the case, the we rings true, and it does so because the address seems less an attempt to resituate you than a benign recognition of an already commonly shared situation. In Althusser’s example, however, the effective interpellation of the person hailed is not dependent on that person’s already regarding him- or herself as “a suspect.” But there is still a sense in which that interpellation (that effective re-positioning) depends on a set of commonly shared understandings. In this instance, it depends on shared assumptions about police officers as accepted authority figures. That is, the person hailed accepts or steps into the subject position of “suspect” (at least, momentarily) because someone recognized as a figure of authority has so positioned that person. Consequently, Althusser’s example suggests that in the case of authoritative discourses, the person hailed may be more likely to yield to the way in which he or she is being authoritatively positioned. (For a sense of this pre-disposition to yield to authoritative positionings, consider the guilt which, perhaps, some of us have felt when stopped and addressed by “the long arm of the law,” even in situations when we know we have not done anything illicit.) Relative to Althusser’s example of the authoritative discourse of policing, communal discourses do not, in general, evoke the same kind of deference. Part of the reason for this is that community membership is usually imagined as a non-hierarchical relationship. This is Anderson’s point when he notes that the nation,

is imagined as a community, because, regardless of the actual inequality and exploitation that may prevail in each, the nation is always conceived as a deep, horizontal comradeship. (1983, 16; his emphasis).

What I am suggesting is that communal discourses–insofar as they are non-hierarchical–limit speakers to addressing their audiences as equal members of the community. This is different in kind from authoritative discourses which define subjects as either authority figures or subordinates. As a consequence of the non-authoritative character of communal discourses, therefore, the invitation to audiences which the term we invokes–that is, to see themselves as members of particular communities–may be rejected. This may happen, for example, when I invoke the term to refer to a still smaller community from which you the reader may see yourself excluded (such as, we Cuban-Americans) or when I invoke the term in a way that implies an understanding of “our” community which you do not share (such as, we peace-loving Americans). In the first instance, you may reasonably conclude that this use of we is not an invitation for you to step into a particular subject position. That is, we Cuban-Americans may be read by you less as an invitation (a speaking to) than as a representation (a speaking for and about): specifically, as me speaking for other Cuban-Americans and telling you something about us. In the case of we peace-loving Americans, the we invoked may be read as a failed attempt on my part to invite you to see yourself and other Americans in a particular way. Here, the invocation of we does not ring true, and may, in fact, reveal itself as a rhetorical ploy by me to reposition you by playing on your emotional attachment to the very concept of belonging which we conveys. Your response would, no doubt, hinge on the adjective peace-loving. You may reject this depiction of Americans because it does not adequately convey your sense of what Americans are or have been. Note, of course, that you may still see yourself as an American, but your sense of belonging will depend on a very different understanding of what that term means. These considerations are relevant for understanding how mediated communities are not just represented, but made real: that is, incorporated by people as lived collective identities. By focusing on the notion of address (of speaking to), I am trying to point to one of the paramount discursive strategies by which the media attempt to translate a representation of belonging into personally held senses of belonging. As is clear from my discussion, this strategy depends, at least in part, on already held understandings. But if this were all it depended upon, then the media would serve only to reinforce these already held understandings and we would have no way of making sense of the claim that previous media representations had helped to construct these understandings in the first place. At issue here is how the media work to create networks of meaning. What is needed, in effect, is a theoretical framework for understanding how the media are both parasitic (drawing on the already held understandings made available by previous discourses) and innovative (reconfiguring the elements drawn from these previous discourses by situating them in a “new” network of meaning). This framework has been suggested by Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe (1985).

Discursive Articulations Like Anderson (1983), Laclau and Mouffe’s work results from a paradoxical observation: in this case, with Antonio Gramsci’s earlier observation that, contrary to orthodox Marxist assumptions, proletarian revolutions had not emerged in countries with advanced-capitalist economies. Implicit in Marxist theory was the assumption that workers’ collective identity (their class belonging) was determined by their position in the capitalist economy: that is, by the fact that they are wage-earners rather than owners of the means of production. According to Marx, this objective class membership would develop into a subjective class consciousness in advanced-capitalist economies in which, due to the growing scarcity of resources, workers would come increasingly into conflict with the owners of the means of production. Note that, on this view, both the increase in class conflicts and the coming to consciousness of workers as workers is determined by economic forces. In contrast to this, Gramscian theory argues that the hegemonic ideologies at work in advanced-capitalist societies can preempt and, in fact, have preempted the emergence of class consciousness among wage-earners in these societies. By hegemony, Gramsci has meant an ideological framework which is dominant without being coercive. In fact, on Gramsci’s view, hegemonic ideologies are dominant precisely because they depend on the tacit consensus of subordinate classes. This consensus is secured through the constant restructuring of hegemonic ideologies in a way which attempts to incorporate the interests and concerns of the subordinate classes. Of course, these interests and concerns are not understood in class terms: viz., as those of the subordinate classes in contrast to those of the dominant classes. On the contrary, hegemony works by re-presenting diverse interests and concerns as those of a people: a collective identity which occludes class (and other) distinctions. Inasmuch as hegemonic ideologies successfully incorporate popular interests and concerns with hegemonic ones, they present themselves as the common sense of a people.(7) In outlining their framework, Laclau and Mouffe begin with the Gramscian conviction that the identities and interests conveyed by various terms (for example, wage-earners, working class, financiers, capitalists, socialism, nationalism, liberalism, and so forth) have no necessary class belonging. To be clear on this point, what this means is that persons who are workers (from a quasi-objective standpoint: wage-earners) may nonetheless reject or simply never consider identifying themselves in terms of the collective identity working class. The latter depends on the way in which identities and interests are articulated within a discourse. As Stuart Hall has usefully explained (1986b, 53), the term articulate has two senses in the British vernacular: it can mean to speak and it can mean to link together, as in the phrase an articulated lorry (or truck) in which the cab may be linked to a trailer but need not be. Laclau and Mouffe employ the dual connotation of the term to establish the notion that the identity or meaning of a thing is never given except in its relation to other things within a network of meaning, and even then, only provisionally. Stated somewhat aphoristically–we can never be articulate about things in themselves; we can only be articulate through the relations between them. This understanding is suggested by Laclau and Mouffe in their definition of terms:

In the context of this discussion, we will call articulation any practice establishing a relation among elements such that their identity is modified as a result of the articulatory practice. The structured totality resulting from the articulatory practice, we will call discourse. The differential positions, insofar as they appear articulated within a discourse, we will call moments. By contrast, we will call element any difference that is not discursively articulated. (1985, 105).

At a minimum, it should be noted that these terms are analytic distinctions; they are not meant as descriptions of physical-world entities. This point is important for understanding, in particular, what Laclau and Mouffe mean by an element. Insofar as the term is used to refer to what remains outside of discourse, element does not describe anything identifiable, since identity is the product of the relations established between elements as moments within the structure of a discourse. An element is at most a signifier: that is, something which can potentially mean. But what it means is established only at the point at which it is transformed into a moment within a network of meaning. As I understand it, Laclau and Mouffe’s reason for maintaining this distinction is to avoid suggesting that we are “confronted only with moments of a closed and fully constituted totality” (1985, 106). On their view, elements (or signifiers) can mean different things precisely because “no discursive formation is a sutured totality and the transformation of the elements into moments is never complete” (1985, 106-107). Using this terminology, let me now point out how, for Laclau and Mouffe, class consciousness might be better understood as the product of a discursive articulation. Consider the two terms wage-earner and working class. As Laclau and Mouffe’s lexicon suggests, these terms should be viewed as elements: meaningless in themselves, but providing grist for the discursive mill. Rather than assuming that the two terms are necessarily linked because of wage-earners’ shared objective, material interests under a given social formation (such as capitalist modes of production), Laclau and Mouffe suggest that the significance of a working class identity for wage-earners (that is, the meaningful relationship between these two elements) depends, at least in part, on how and whether they are articulated as moments of a concrete, historical discourse (such as the socialist revolutionary discourse of the Cuban government). This meaningful articulation situates wage-earners in a network of meaning about class identity, interests, expectations, and so forth, which may be welfare-oriented, subsidy-oriented, and, in some cases, explicitly anti-capitalist in tenor. In contrast to this, other discourses may work to meaningfully link wage-earner to the ideological element taxpayer, for example. Clearly, this meaningful articulation situates wage-earners in terms of a very different set of interests and expectations, ones often oriented around a concern with having to pay high taxes. Although, here too, taxpayer is not necessarily connected to this concern. It could, alternatively, be meaningfully articulated with the notion of “having paid one’s dues to the state” and, hence, “reasonably expecting some return”–such as a viable welfare program paid for with tax dollars. In the concrete, historical discourses of Thatcherism and Reaganomics, however, taxpayer concerns have been defined in terms of “high taxes,” and the latter notion has been linked, in turn, to the need for fiscal cuts in welfare programs and in subsidies to various industries, signalling a return to a more “free-market” orientation.(8) From the standpoint of leftist political concerns, what is intriguing (and perhaps frustrating) about this return to a “free market” orientation is that it has been popularly supported by wage-earners, despite growing numbers of unemployed workers coupled with cuts in welfare programs. Laclau and Mouffe seek not only to explain this paradox, but also to devise socialist strategies for winning over the support of wage-earners. On their view, socialists concerned with developing strategies for combatting the hegemonic discourses of advanced-capitalist societies must, at a minimum, engage in discursive practices aimed at disarticulating elements from those hegemonic discourses (e.g., the wage-earner/taxpayer nexus) and rearticulating them within a new network of meaning (e.g., one in which wage-earner can be meaningfully related to working class). But putting the matter this way, as Stuart Hall (1986b) has suggested, seems to make the emergence of particular identities and interests simply a matter of discourse. Of course, Hall’s work, too, is informed by Gramsci’s: so his quibble is not with Laclau and Mouffe’s (Gramscian inspired) rejection of economic reductionism. On one level, then, Hall accepts the view that one cannot speak about identities and interests as the products of economic forces within a fully closed (or “sutured”) social reality. But Hall suggests that Laclau and Mouffe may have gone too far in the opposite direction: “The critique of [economic] reductionism has apparently resulted in the notion of society as a totally open discursive field” (1986b, 56; my emphasis). The danger in this lies in failing to give due consideration to how material practices limit the conditions of possibility for the emergence of some discourses. As Hall himself has put it elsewhere, citing Gramsci:

It may be ruled out, [Gramsci] suggests, “that immediate economic crises of themselves produce fundamental historical events” [Hall’s italics]. Does this mean that the economic plays no part in the development of historical crises? Not at all. But its role is rather to “create a terrain more favourable to the dissemination of certain modes of thought, and certain ways of posing and resolving questions involving the entire subsequent development of national life.” (Hall 1986a, 11).

On this view, the economic constitutes the practical context within which only some ideological-discursive contestations are possible. What Hall seems to be suggesting is that before something like a working class identity can emerge, some people must, at a minimum, engage in the income-earning practice of wage-labor in contradistinction to others whose income derives primarily from owning the means of production (which in Marx’s time generally meant owning fixed assets like an industry, but which today is coming more and more to mean owning liquid assets like investment capital). But what makes it possible for us to conceive of even these apparently more basic income-earning practices as wage-labor, on the one hand, and capital ownership, on the other? The distinction Hall seems to want to hold onto here is between discursive and non-discursive (or, more concretely, material) practices. Laclau and Mouffe explicitly reject this distinction (1985, 107), and I must admit that I find their argument persuasive. At the same time, Laclau and Mouffe do analytically distinguish between discursive moments and non-discursive elements. These considerations raise two important issues: first, what kinds of things are non-discursive, and, second, are these what Hall has in mind when he insists on maintaining the discursive/non-discursive distinction? The quick and dirty response to the first question is that only those things which are not thought about are non-discursive. This is so because a discourse is an interpretive framework: that is, something which helps people to make sense of or understand certain phenomena as distinct objects of knowledge. In effect, then, to reflect on something is to attempt to provide a gloss for it. Thinking about always involves speaking about precisely because we employ meaningful words and images (the “moments” of a particular network of meaning) when we engage in these processes. The capacity to think of a wage-earner as working class requires a discourse which makes it possible to articulate this understanding. But it is equally true that to think about a wage-earner as a wage-earner also requires a discourse. This is why we must pause to consider what exactly it is that Hall wants to retain by insisting on the discursive/non-discursive distinction. On my view, the class of phenomena which are non-discursive (read: generally unthought) includes instinctive practices (such as eating, sleeping, walking, crying, and the like) and routine practices (such as working, driving, bathing, and so forth). Of course, just because some practices are either instinctive or routine, it does not follow from this that they cannot be reflected upon and, hence, discursively reconstituted. Sleeping can become “visiting the angels.” Walking may be discursively reconstituted as “doing something which is good for your health,” or alternatively (and momentously) as “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” And the routine experience of working has its multitude of discursive significations: in some contexts, it may even be discursively constructed as not working (e.g., “No, I don’t work; I’m a housewife.”). The point to bear in mind, here, is that some discursive constructions (e.g., working class) depend on the prior existence of certain routine practices (e.g., the practice of working for wages). But once even a routine practice is reflected upon, it is discursively reconstituted (even when this remaking is couched in terms of the seemingly more immediate experience of working for wages). Alfred Schutz (1967), an early-twentieth-century phenomenologist, has made a similar point. He argues that the process of thinking about an experience always involves distancing oneself from the doing (or having done) of some action. Actions, on his view, do not become meaningful acts until they have been mediated through (in effect, thought through) meaning-constitutive frames. At the moment when an instinctive or routine action becomes a meaningful act for the actor, his or her experience has been discursively constituted.(9) If we think of the non-discursive as commonly unreflected practices, then Hall is right to insist on maintaining a distinction and to argue that political change involves more than the discursive strategy of offering up a new network of meaning. This is not a trivial point: it is important to bear in mind that not all practices–in a particular context–are the object of reflection, and hence “open” to discursive rearticulations. Laclau and Mouffe are, of course, correct to point out that “new” networks of meaning have to be partially articulated to the common sense of a people: meaning that they have to draw from understandings which are already available in existing hegemonic and/or popular discourses. This notion is suggested by the concepts of disarticulation and rearticulation. At the same time, however, all of these discourses are embedded in a wider array of non-discursive practices; although, I have been implying that these should be regarded, more accurately, as tacit understandings, since their generally non-discursive existence does not preclude their being discursively (re)constituted in some contexts. These tacit understandings include the day-to-day practices which have become the routine of life. Such routine practices, moreover, have been conditioned by the socio-economic systems we are in, and are, in turn, affected by changes in those systems. This, I think, is a better way of understanding what is meant by the Gramscian view of the economic “as a terrain” (cited in Hall 1986a, 11). Two (perhaps, contradictory) circumstances follow from this understanding of discursive and non-discursive practices and the relationship between them. First, while Laclau and Mouffe’s theoretical view of the social as a discursively open field is useful for combatting certain kinds of reductionism, we must bear in mind, following Hall, that practically-speaking, the social is not as “open” as this theoretical understanding might suggest. In particular, it is the generally non-discursive, routine practices we engage in which set certain limits on what can be discursively articulated. People must have a tacit understanding of a certain set of practices as distinct wage-earning practices before this understanding can be made explicit and linked, discursively, to a working class identity. But their is a second implication which follows from all this: namely, that discursive interventions are most possible at precisely those moments when routine practices are disturbed. Unemployment, for example, foregrounds what up to that moment has remained tacit, routine, taken-for-granted: namely, working for wages. Practically-speaking, then, the social is open to change when conditions have upset the normal, habitual, routine flow of life. On my view, this condition is presently met in Cuba.

The Contemporary Cuban Context and Radio Martí Recent changes in Cuba’s international economic relations with the erstwhile Soviet Union and the Eastern bloc countries may have provided an opening for discursively rearticulating the political/ideological direction in which Cuba should go. Let me explain why I think this is so. In the thirty-odd years since Fidel Castro came to power in Cuba, the United States has retaliated against his government by imposing an economic blockade on the country.(10) Early on, then, the Cuban government was forced to secure trading agreements with partners outside the so-called “Western world.” Over time, Cuba developed an economic dependence on its Eastern bloc partners, particularly as a source for oil and for a number of manufactured goods (cars, industrial machinery, and so forth) necessary to the smooth running of its infrastructural system. These economic ties were effectively weakened in the late ’80s, resulting in a scarcity of resources which has, doubtless, affected the routine way of life of Cubans on the island.(11) One practical effect of this has been that the Cuban government is undergoing a crisis of legitimation, a crisis evident in the Cuban government’s need to modify shared understandings of “the socialist revolution in Cuba.” That is, the taken-for-granted understandings of “the socialist revolution” have become explicit in a way which has demanded changes in how Cubans have understood this phenomenon and their own place in it. As Gramsci reminds us, hegemony is a process that has to be constantly (re)produced, sometimes with modifications, in order to be maintained. Cuba’s hegemonic discourse–what I will be calling its “official socialist revolutionary discourse”–is also undergoing modifications in this time of crisis. This is why I argue that Cuba’s deteriorating trade relations with the former Eastern bloc countries has opened up a space for discursively rearticulating “the Cuban revolution.” To offer one example: initially, and until recently, Cuban revolutionary discourse represented “the Cuban revolutionary” as part of an imagined global community of revolutionaries struggling against imperial oppression everywhere. One of the best examples of this is still Ernesto “Ché” Guevara’s 1965 letter-to-the-editor on the subject of “Socialism and Man in Cuba.”(12) Guevara’s actions in and his eloquent defenses of the Cuban revolution put him squarely at the vanguard of those who could speak for the Cuban revolution. At the same time, however, it should be pointed out that Guevara was Argentinean and, hence, marked as different from those fellow revolutionaries who were Cubans fighting for Cuba. His nickname “Ché” points to this difference. As one brief biographical sketch on Guevara notes, the nickname “derived from [Guevara’s] habit of punctuating his speech with the interjection ché” (Bullock and Woodings 1983, 293). This “habit,” however, was not unique to Guevara, but is, in fact, an interjection common among Argentineans (in much the same way that British-Canadians are popularly depicted as interjecting their speech with the term aye). This difference is relevant to my point here, for it effectively helps to construct Guevara as an “international revolutionary figure” of the Cuban revolution, and, by extension, it gives credence to his own claims about the character of “the revolutionary” both inside and outside Cuba. As he put it,

The revolutionary, ideological motor of the Revolution within his party, is consumed by this uninterrupted activity that has no other end but death, unless construction be achieved on a worldwide scale. If his revolutionary eagerness becomes dulled when the most urgent tasks are realized on a local scale, and if he forgets about proletarian internationalism, the revolution that he leads ceases to be a driving force and it becomes a comfortable drowsiness which is taken advantage of by our irreconcilable enemy, by imperialism, which gains ground. Proletarian internationalism is a duty, but it is also a revolutionary need. This is how we educate our people. (Guevara, in Banachea and Valdés 1969, 168; my emphasis).

As this construction suggests, the hegemonic discourse of the socialist revolution in Cuba, which Guevara helped to articulate, has attempted to construct “our people” in a way which obscures national distinctions while foregrounding class differences (“proletarian internationalism”)–a construct which precisely reverses the functioning of hegemonic discourses in advanced-capitalist societies. By way of concluding my comments on Guevara’s place in Cuban revolutionary discourse, let me note that, in 1967, Guevara was captured and shot while leading a guerrilla campaign against the army in Bolivia. From a Cuban revolutionary perspective, then, he died a martyr of revolutionary movements against imperialism. Together with Martí, Guevara has become an emblem of the international revolutionary spirit as this is constructed, at the very least, within Cuban revolutionary discourse. This internationalist understanding of the revolutionary, however, has recently undergone modifications within the official discourse of the Cuban government. As a result of changes in the international scene, Castro himself has had to modify this representation in a way which, on my view, draws on Cubans’ insular identity to link their concerns with the island of Cuba to a concern with safeguarding Cuba as an island of revolution: “surrounded by capitalism, an island of revolution between the Atlantic and the Pacific, an island of revolution in this hemisphere, an island of revolution in the West.”(13) This island metaphor arguably reconfigures “the revolutionary” in isolationist terms, in contrast to earlier internationalist constructions. The task is now to insulate the revolution from the outside, rather than constructing it “on a worldwide scale,” as Ché envisioned it. My point in mentioning this is to suggest that the crisis of legitimation the Cuban government is presently undergoing opens up a space for Radio Martí to effectively rearticulate Cuban concerns to a different discursive understanding. Beyond this point, I do not explore the concrete conditions which might make Radio Martí’s discursive intervention more effective.(14) Instead, I focus on how Radio Martí’s discourse on Cubanness articulates certain ideological elements and, in the process, attempts to (re)constitute its audience as “Cubans” of a particular type. To that end, I find Laclau and Mouffe’s articulation theory, as well as Benedict Anderson’s notion of the “imagined community,” analytically fruitful. Taken together, they offer a theoretical framework which emphasizes the following issues and concepts: (1) the very contructedness (or imaginativeness) of cultural identities and of people’s sense of themselves as belonging to a particular community, (2) the suggestion that mediated communities may be brought into existence via the specific strategy of address, attempting to link the mediated community’s representation of belonging to a people’s already held sense of belonging, (3) the sense that ideological elements become significant for particular identities insofar as those elements and identities are articulated in concrete discourses, and (4) the importance of prior popular and hegemonic discourses in helping to form the common sense of a people. These considerations are relevant to my analysis of Radio Martí as a discursive intervention. By invoking the name of Martí, the program’s transmissions address (explicitly speak to) their listeners as “Cubans,” but in a way designed to disarticulate (or uncouple) “Cubanness” from its revolutionary construction and to rearticulate (or link) “Cubanness” to a new network of meaning. What this new network of meaning may signify is the subject of this study. This qualified statement (“may signify”) is necessary, for as I have suggested, texts are open to multiple interpretations precisely because no network of meaning is fully sutured. The words and images which are meaningfully linked together in a discourse may have other meanings in other discourses. Furthermore, and this is a crucial point, the discursive strategies at play in the structure of a given text are not the only relevant strategies. Readers and listeners may employ a number of different interpretive strategies which make a given text meaningful to them in a particular way. But note that we learn how to read (how, in effect, to interpret) via our prior experiences with cultural artifacts (representations) and our prior experiences with others with whom we are communally associated (our “lived experiences” as members of various communities, both interpersonal and “imagined”). It should be evident from this that interpretive strategies are also discursive. Once again, interpreting something–in effect, making sense of something–is necessarily related to the ways in which one can speak about something. It follows from all this that two sets of discourses are relevant to this analysis: (1) the prior popular and hegemonic discourses on Cubanness from which Radio Martí draws the ideological elements it incorporates into its discourse, and (2) the prior discourses which inform the interpretive strategies I employ in my readings of Radio Martí. The earlier discourses from which Radio Martí draws its elements are the subject of Chapter Four. In the next chapter, I discuss some of the discourses which situate my subsequent interpretations.

III. Situating Every interpretation signifies the trace of a standpoint. It is the mark of a subject position made available by a specific network of meaning through which a person understands the world and her place in it. Consequently, no interpretation can present itself as merely objective since interpreting always depends on adopting a particular frame which allows one to see some things but not others, and in only some ways, but not others. At the same time, however, the interpretive frame which one adopts at a given time is, as I have argued, the product of a decidedly social process: of one’s interactions (“lived” or “imagined”) with others in our shared communities. Consequently, no interpretation is wholly subjective, either. An interpretation is, properly speaking, intersubjective since it bears the mark of one’s interactions with others, including one’s other selves: the multiple subject positions which situate an individual in several different (and sometimes contradictory) discourses. These points help me to clarify the multiple subject positions from which “I” am speaking: that is, they situate my voice within the several discourses which situate my complex and fragmented identity. One position from which I speak is as a Cuban-American (and arguably there are multiple forms of even this more specific identity). That standpoint enables me to share with other Cubans some of the elements that comprise our senses of Cubanness, while at the same time vitiating against my incorporating some of the other elements which comprise their senses of Cubanness. Clearly, then, I speak from a position in which some elements of Cubanness ring true (or speak to me), inasmuch as they both enable and confirm my already held sense of Cubanness. At the same time, I speak from a position of “critical distance” vis-à-vis some of the other elements which comprise other Cubans’ Cubanness. Two points should be stressed here about the sense in which my interpretation is situated. First, by situating my voice, I am obviously distancing myself from social-scientific approaches which profess to offer an “objective” analysis. My analysis of Radio Martí transmissions does not, for example, pretend to offer “results” which are in any way “statistically significant.” Rather, I offer an explicitly situated interpretation and analysis of Radio Martí: situated in the sense that my identity cannot help but inform my reading. That said, however, I would want, secondly, to distance myself as well from those (primarily “standpoint feminist”) theorists who privilege subjective understandings because, on their view, personal experience is the most authoritative source of knowledge we can have about concrete practices. I am not claiming that my experiences as a Cuban-American authorize me to speak for all Cubans–or even for all Cuban-Americans. As I suggested in the previous chapter, experiences may be discursively mediated and, hence, effectively reconstituted. On this view, my “lived” experiences as a Cuban-American are mediated through my experiences of various representations of Cubanness and also through my “lived” experiences as a self-identified member of other interpretive communities. Hence, the sense in which I can speak on behalf of all Cuban-Americans must be qualified. In line with this argument, I offer one possible interpretation of Radio Martí’s discursive strategies given the way I sensed the transmissions were trying to “work on” me: namely, by attempting to rearticulate “my” already held understandings of Cubanness given my identity as a Cuban-American. Furthermore, I can offer only one possible understanding of what it means to be “Cuban-American.”

A Cuban-American View To be clear on what I mean by a Cuban-American identity, I should note that I use this term to describe second-generation Cubans, either born in the United States or brought here as children. I also regard this identity as distinct from the identity of the Cuban exile in Miami and the Cuban revolutionary in Cuba. Our identity is not in any immediate sense an exile identity, although aspects of the latter clearly inform who we are. Our Cubanness has been learned from our parents’ sense of their Cubanness. In this respect, then, we have arguably grown up as (inheriting) members of an exiled Cuban community. It does not follow from this, however, that our understandings (of Cubanness, of Castro, of socialist revolutions, and so forth) are wholly determined by this membership. The reason for this is that we are also members of other interpretive communities. This is generally true of most people. Human beings may feel multiple senses of belonging to, for example, leftist political communities, feminist communities, gay communities, academic communities, church communities, national communities, and so on. Which sense of belonging is most salient at any given time depends on the pragmatic context we are in. Relatedly, the interpretive frames we employ to understand a particular situation largely depend on the cues we get from being in that situation. I do not mean to suggest, however, that we conduct a rational calculation of a situation in order to determine which interpretive frame is most appropriate for understanding it; on the contrary, in the process of doing something–say, having a conversation with a fellow worker–we fall into, rather-out-of-habit, a particular interpretive frame available to us from our prior experiences (both representational and “lived”) of those typical situations. In addition to this, I should note that any situation is open to a number of different interpretations even by the same person. For example, in the process of reflecting sometime later on a conversation I might have had with a fellow worker, I might come to interpret some of what he had said as being sexually suggestive. In this respect, I have re-constituted my earlier experience of a conversation between workers as an experience of a come-on between a man and a woman. For whatever reason, this particular interpretation was not available to me during the conversation or even sometime later, but it becomes one possible, alternative, future interpretation which I can give that prior experience. Furthermore, this reinterpretation depends on my knowing or assuming something about the sexual identity of my fellow worker (for example, that he is heterosexual) and on my being familiar with or becoming familiar with “making a pass” as a moment within a discourse of (hetero)sexuality. With respect to Cuban-Americans, the interpretive frames we are likely to adopt in a given situation depend as much on our identifying ourselves as Americans as it does on our sense of belonging to a Cuban community. Situated as we are by both an American community and a Cuban community, our Cuban-American identity, more often than not, evinces our sense of belonging in the imaginary borders between these two communities–that is, we tend to see ourselves located at the hyphen.(15) Since we live overwhelmingly within an American context, however, our Cuban-American identity is, I think, better understood as an ethnic identity, in contrast to the national identity of the Cuban exile. In making this distinction, I am drawing in part from Catherine Hall’s (1992) brief discussion of these two types of identity. Following Benedict Anderson, Hall notes that although “imagined communities” often try to present themselves as natural, they in fact require a great deal of ideological and political work precisely because they are open to challenge: “For there is no one national identity–rather competing national identities jostle with each other in a struggle for dominance” (1992, 240). In contrast to this, Hall notes that “ethnicities have been constructed as belonging to `others,’ not to the norm . . . ” (1992, 240). My point in mentioning her work is to emphasize that national identity is something which strives for dominance within the spatially-bound construct we call “the nation.” In contrast to this, I am using ethnic identity to describe something which strives for peaceful co-existence with “others” who are not members of the ethnic community in question. In this respect, an ethnic identity is defensive in character. It is an identity which seeks to protect itself from extinction. Similar points may be made about national identity in an inter-national context; but within the bounds of a nation, a national identity is arguably more concerned with control than with co-existence. These points are meant to convey some understanding of the differences, as I see them, between a Cuban-American (ethnic) identity and a Cuban exile (national) identity. The identity of the Cuban exile–particularly as it gets constructed on Radio Martí–is broadly speaking anti-Castro in character. Consequently, the major target of this identity is the Cuban revolutionary identity constructed in the official socialist revolutionary discourse of Cuba (discussed in the next chapter). For this reason, I treat both the exile and the revolutionary identities constructed in these two competing discourses as national identities: that is, as identities which jostle with each other for dominance in Cuba. I want to make clear, however, that my primary focus is on the exile identity of Cubans in Miami as this gets constructed on Radio Martí. This represented exile identity may be somewhat different from the way this identity is “lived” by Cubans in Miami.(16) As some contemporary scholars have suggested, the “lived” identity of Cuban exiles in Miami is changing. Both L. Pérez (1990) and Stack and Warren (1990) suggest ways in which, in my terms, the national identity of the “exile” in Miami’s Cuban community may be giving way to the more conciliatory (or, at least, less “symbolically” anti-Castro) ethnic identity of second-generation Cubans in Miami. Stack and Warren, in particular, imply that second-generation Cubans have more invested in the United States as home, and are therefore less likely to measure themselves as Cubans against what I would characterize as the bi-polar standard posited by exiles: namely, anti-Castro/pro-Castro. In contrast to this, it can be argued that second-generation Cubans are attempting to establish a standard of measurement more akin to a political spectrum: while the anti-Castro and pro-Castro positions may still mark the extremes of that spectrum, a conciliatory, middle-ground position (e.g., “ambivalence” or “being not necessarily against the revolution”) is, I think, being made available to Cubans as Cubans. The changes in investments (in both the United States and in the exclusively bi-polar identificatory discourse of the exile) is marking a shift from Cubans as political exiles outside of Cuba to Cubans as an ethnic minority within the United States. In the process, however, the tension between these two modes of being is experienced by second-generation Cubans on a personal level–that is, in our interpersonal relations with family members and older friends who experience their identities as political exiles. Their sense of Cubanness cannot be easily disarticulated from their anti-Castro sentiments. Insofar as they include second-generation Cubans as members of the Cuban community, they generally expect us (tacitly or explicitly) to also adopt an anti-Castro position. But given that our stakes are different–that most of us have established our lives in the United States and do not, for the most part, consider returning to Cuba to make it our home–most of us are, at best, ambivalent about Castro and the socialist revolution. This seemingly less critical position is somewhat difficult to reconcile within the discourse of the Cuban exile. I regard this position as only seemingly less critical because, from my standpoint, “ambivalence,” too, can be a form of critical distance. This is so because ambivalence marks an unwillingness to adopt a particular position. Ambivalence is not, on this account, an uncritical acceptance of multiple positions; on the contrary, it marks a denial of either/or choices and a (perhaps inchoate) sense that some alternative position should be available. Furthermore, neither ambivalence nor critical distance are equivalent to “radical skepticism.” With respect to the theoretical framework I adopt here, radical skepticism cannot constitute a viable social identity. To be skeptical about literally everything is to construct an individualist (asocial) world-view akin to the psychotic “reality” of the schizophrenic. This is so because once we grant that reality is a discursive and hence social construct, we have to admit that to put oneself in the position of always questioning others’ senses of reality is to fall outside reality. At most, what can be said is that a critical vision requires moments of skepticism–i.e., moments in which “I” question an “other’s” sense of reality. With respect to a Cuban-American identity, ambivalence constitutes a questioning of the exiled Cuban’s take on Cuban reality.

An Academic View In the process of reflecting on the tenor of my interpretations, I have noticed a kind of skepticism which cannot be explained wholly in terms of my Cuban-American identity. Rather, it has to be explained in terms of my identity as an academic. (At least, I think I owe this skepticism to my academic identity given the extent to which my critical thinking has developed out of my scholarly experiences.) This other identity has made me somewhat skeptical of discourses which represent political realities in Manichaean fashion. For example, I shudder at liberal democratic discourses which construct Castro and Communism(17) as unqualified evils and “the free market” as, at least tacitly, a universal good. Consequently, my willingness to question such stark representations puts me at odds with some of the ways in which exiles have constructed Castro. Of course, I draw back, as well, from those socialist revolutionary discourses which, alternatively, construct the United States as “the evil empire” against which ardent revolutionaries must “fight or die.” And yet, in my readings of Marxist and quasi-Marxist critical studies, I have found powerful arguments about the structural inequalities that pervade domestic and international relations. As a consequence, I find that social justice, defined in terms of economic equality, is a compelling endeavor: as is social justice defined more broadly in terms of gender, sexual, racial, and other kinds of equality. What this means is that, given the way my academic identity has evolved, some aspects of the socialist revolutionary discourse of Cuba ring true to me. Some readers may, of course, object to my claim that this identity is, broadly speaking, “academic.” Indeed, it might be argued that this should be considered, more accurately, “leftist academic.” I avoid this term, however, because it too narrowly defines the sets of interests and concerns which have structured my academic identity. To this I would have to add, at a minimum, the interests and concerns which have been structured by my exposure to feminist and lesbian theory, not to mention my own “lived” experiences as a feminist and a lesbian. At this point, however, the marker “leftist, feminist, lesbian academic” becomes simply too unwieldy. Need I add, too, that these identifying terms do not necessarily refer to mutually reinforcing or even mutually tolerant interests and concerns? As debates between feminist and leftist academics suggest, some aspects of each contradict aspects of the other. And at times I have found that my identity as a lesbian has put me at odds with certain feminists. Which aspects of this complex identity are prioritized at any given time depend on the context I am in. Doubtless, the academic view I adopt hear does bear the trace of distinctive (and, at times, competing) standpoints within the academic community. But I prefer to convey this sense more simply by speaking in terms of an academic view: suggesting, in effect, one of many. In particular, the academic view I adopt denies the existence of extra-discursive (and, hence, universally valid) truths. Any phenomenon which is presented as truth can be presented as such only because of the truth claims (the criteria of validity) which a particular network of meaning has made available. However, outside a given discourse–that is, from the standpoint of an alternative discourse–the validity of such “truths” is open to question. In effect, then, as an academic of this stripe, I question the validity of certain “truths” about Cuba which are constructed in both academic and non-academic discourses.(18) Radio Martí’s version of “truth” is open to this kind of questioning. But not because, as some propaganda scholars assume, it reflects or represents the politically interested views of the United States or of members of the exiled Cuban community. From my theoretical standpoint, this academic truth about what Radio Martí is doing is also open to question. In contrast to this, I argue that Radio Martí helps to constitute the identities of “the United States” and “the exiled Cuban community.” I interpret and analyze these representations vis-à-vis, in part, my own “lived experience” as a (particular type of) Cuban-American and academic. The critical distance I am afforded–as an academic, especially–makes it possible for me to reflect on how it is that Radio Martí’s construction of Cubanness works on my personally held sense of Cubanness. This working on is obviously related to the issue of effectiveness, but my point is not to argue about the changes in identity which Radio Martí will effect in listeners on the island of Cuba. Rather, my point is to outline the discursive mechanisms by which, on my view, this change is attempted. Consequently, I focus on how Radio Martí enacts the identity of “the Cuban exile” and imagines its Cuban community. How Radio Martí enacts what I will call a (pen)insular view of Cubanness is ignored by propaganda scholars concerned solely with measuring the effects of these transmissions on the insular identity of their intended audience–namely, Cubans on the island.(19) In order for identities to come into existence (i.e., to be realized), they must be incorporated by people; not just in the sense of being mixed in, but literally of being in-corporated (or embodied) by human beings. (This concept is central to my understanding of identity formation.) Incorporation marks identities as belonging to particular human beings. This point can be somewhat misleading, however, for I am not suggesting that we simply look at which bodies act in particular ways in order to discern which identities are being conveyed. A male body acting a certain way is not, therefore, necessarily acting out a masculine identity. If this were so, then I would be positing a necessary connection between kinds of bodies and the kinds of identities which they must be conveying. But this is not my point. Rather, what I am stressing by the notion of incorporation is that identities are brought into existence in practice. But because these practices can only be distinguished via the networks of meaning we have at any given time, they are fundamentally discursive practices. Consequently, identities do not involve the acting out of preestablished social roles; rather, identities are enacted. They are brought about in the doing.(20) It should be clear from this that we need a way of grasping how it is that broadcast transmissions can represent phenomena as belonging to or being incorporated by particular identities. In other words, how is it that Radio Martí’s audio presentations operate as aural representations of belonging? In the case of Radio Martí transmissions, a sense of incorporation is evinced in the notion of voicing: transmissions are coded as the voice of José Martí, the United States, Cuban exiles, and even Cubans on the island (in, for example, “Testimonies,” “Letters to Radio Martí,” and commentaries presented as the “real stories” of Cubans on the island). In this process of “identifying voices,” human voices are transformed into a particular collective identity: specifically, the separated community of the Cuban nation. Furthermore, by voicing a sense of belongingness to this separated community (“us over here”), these voices invite listeners on the island (“ours over there”) to incorporate this identity as well–that is, to identify themselves as members of “our divided Cuban national community.” Identities, from this viewpoint, are far from pre-established social roles which we merely step into or act out. Rather, identities are always in the making. We are already in the process of bringing them into existence at those moments when we are jointly articulating our senses of selves. Voicing this sense of “us” implies that identities are modes of “being-in-common” (Nancy, 1991) which are realized by us in our interactions with ours and with others.(21) Tomlinson’s view of the interactive relationship between media representations and “lived” experience–captured by his phrase “a subtle interplay of mediations” (1991, 61)–is apposite. By addressing its listeners as fellow Cubans, Radio Martí invites them to jointly constitute “the Cuban community” as a separated community. The point of this analysis of identity formation is to detail the ideological elements in Radio Martí’s discourse which help to construct this “separated Cuban community.” In detailing those elements, however, we may also find that some elements are shared across communities. I am analyzing the way “the separated Cuban community” is articulated in Radio Martí’s discourse. The point I am making here is that some of the ideological elements significant in that discourse for the construction of that community may overlap with those in another discourse and the community it articulates. In this chapter, I have discussed some of the elements that comprise the discourses which speak me: specifically, as a Cuban-American and an academic. I have argued that these discourses situate my interpretation and make it possible for me to reflect on Radio Martí’s discursive mechanisms. In the next chapter, I review some of the prior discourses on Cubanness from which Radio Martí draws its construction of “the separated Cuban community.”

IV. An Island People and Their National Hero In the previous chapters, I outlined a theoretical framework for understanding the discursive and interpretive strategies by which mediated communities are constructed. In particular, I noted that for such communities to come into being as part of the way people “live” their communal identities, media discourses must attempt to articulate their representations of belonging to some aspects of people’s already held senses of belonging. To analyze this relationship, however, we have to know something about how people already think of themselves. But how exactly does one study what goes on in people’s heads? In Chapter II, I argued that thinking about always involves speaking about since both processes require the use of words and images which acquire meaning through the particular discourses of which they are moments. Therefore, one way of approaching the study of how Radio Martí works to link its representations of belonging to the senses of belonging extant among Cubans is to consider some of the prior discourses which have probably informed the Cuban people’s sense of their collective identity. This is the subject of the present chapter. I begin, in the first section, by outlining popular conceptions of Cuban national identity as these emerged in the nineteenth-century literature of Cuban writers, like José Martí. These early constructions of Cubanness (re)presented Cubans as distinct island people. As will become evident in Chapter V, this understanding of Cubanness has been taken up by Radio Martí. I then proceed, in the second section, to consider how the figure of Martí has been incorporated into the official discourse of the Cuban government. I will suggest that Martí’s significance as a Cuban national hero has been incorporated into the socialist revolutionary discourse in a way which foregrounds or accents Martí’s revolutionary and anti-imperialist significance. It is this latter significance, this revolutionary accent, which Radio Martí attempts to disarticulate from the meaning of Martí as Cuban national hero. My point in considering these popular and official discourses on Cubanness, therefore, is to survey the discursive matrix–that is, the overlapping networks of meaning–from which Radio Martí draws the several aspects of Cubanness it (re)articulates.

The Vision from Afar National identity is generally thought of as something which emerges from within the spatially-bound construct of the nation. In the case of Cuban national identity, however, the earliest writers to meditate on Cubanness were exiles, and hence, Cubans writing about Cubanness from the outside. This point is made in Cintio Vitier’s Lo cubano en la poesía(22) and reiterated in Adriana Méndez Rodenas’ (1986) study of Cuban literature by women. These literary scholars turn to nineteenth-century poetry to identify some of what they consider to be the formative aspects of Cubanness. In this respect, their work bears a certain resemblance to Benedict Anderson’s work (1983), especially to the relationship he posits between print media and the imagining of the national community. The difference here is that poetry conveys more through symbolism than through storytelling–that is, poetry seldom involves a before-and-after and a meanwhile. With respect to the particular construct of the nation, therefore, it may be argued that poetry is largely parasitic on prose: it symbolizes what has been constructed elsewhere. At the same time, however, there is a sense in which poetry conveys aspects of something which prose somehow fails to grasp. What I am aiming for here is a sense of the different cultural significances which we attach to poetry and to prose. We tend, I think, to approach prose as something which will give us a quasi-descriptive account of a happening or a situation; we tend to approach poetry, by contrast, as something which yields a symbolic representation of a sentiment. For this reason, poetry (more so than prose) invites a deep hermeneutics: an interpretive strategy which aims at exposing the emotional content which underlies the surface. Let me be clear on this point–I am not suggesting that poetry actually does convey something deeper; I am saying that, at least in my experience, most people tend to treat it as if it did. It should be clear from this that, inasmuch as they are constituted as discrete objects of knowledge (viz., as poetry and as prose), literary texts, too, are embedded in a network of meaning (a discourse about literature) which invites readers to approach these kinds of texts differently. This desire to read poetry as something which conveys a deep emotional understanding is evident in Vitier’s comments on the early Cuban poetry he analyzes. As Méndez Rodenas explains, Vitier turns to poetry as a “model for identifying the strata that compose insular foundations” (1986, 72). In the following, note the archaeological understanding of identity presupposed by the notion of “strata,” the sense that an understanding of Cuban identity entails a digging into or excavation of literature in order to uncover or bring to light the various layers that form more recent sedimentations of Cubanness:

Poetry goes about illuminating country. . . . First comes the peculiarity of the nature of the island. . . . Very quickly . . . the character appears: the flavor of the vernacular, the customs, the typical. . . . Further inside the feelings start to flow, one can begin to hear the voices of the soul. Finally, in certain exceptional moments, one arrives at glimpses of the reign of the spirit: of the spirit as sacrifice and creation. (Vitier, quoted in Méndez Rodenas, 1986, 72; my translation; italics in original).

The stratification–of nature layered over character layered over feeling layered over spirit–which Vitier finds in the poetic construction of national identity implies a particular pattern to the way in which national communities are imagined. That imagining begins with what is most apparent: a physical account of the bounded space which situates the nation (“the nature of the island”). This general survey of the area is followed by a quasi-anthropological account of the people who inhabit it (“the vernacular, the customs, the typical”). This, in turn, is followed by a quasi-psychological expression–one which poetry is, apparently, especially adept at conveying–of the national sentiments which underlie a people (“the feeling”). The final moment in the formation of national identity–the moment at which one can say it exists–is the moment at which one can identity a people who are willing to die for the sake of establishing the nation: this, I think, is what Vitier means by his reference to the moment at which “one arrives at glimpses of the reign of the spirit,” a spirit which engenders in a people a sense of “sacrifice and creation.” Following Vitier’s tracing of these strata, Méndez Rodenas points to the earliest attempts, by writers like Manuel Zequeira y Arango and José María Heredia, to construct Cuba “as nature, origin and source” by transforming “the shores of insular territory into a shared yet intimate space” (72). Given the ways in which the nation is constructed as a spatially-bound community whose borders mark the distinctions between “us” and “them,” it is perhaps not surprising that Cuban identity should be linked, from the beginning, so explicitly to the natural features of the island. What better conveys the “shared yet intimate space” which is the imagined community than a sense of itself as an island separated from all other nations by miles and miles of water? The second strata which Vitier identifies is the character of a people. In their analysis of early Cuban poetry, however, neither Vitier nor Méndez Rodenas says very much about the vernacular, customs, and typical behavior of the Cuban people which may be conveyed in these early works. At a minimum, it is clear that most of this work was written in Spanish. But this does not suffice to distinguish Cuban national identity from Spanish national identity. Anderson’s (1983) comments about the rise of the new American nation-states in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries are applicable here. He remarks that because nationalism studies have been couched almost exclusively in terms of the European context, such studies have tended to emphasize the role of vernacular languages in demarcating national identities. They have emphasized, as well, the populist tenor of most nationalist movements. Anderson notes, however, that neither of these factors are applicable to the American style of nation building:

In the first place, whether we think of Brazil, the USA, or the former colonies of Spain, language was not an element that differentiated them from their respective imperial metropoles. . . . [Secondly, at] least in South and Central America, European-style “middle classes” were still insignificant at the end of the eighteenth century. Nor was there much in the way of an intelligentsia. . . . The evidence clearly suggests that leadership was held by substantial landowners, allied with a much smaller number of merchants, and various types of professionals . . . (Anderson 1983, 50-51).

In contrast to the European-style of popular-vernacular nationalism, Anderson argues that the nationalist drive for independence in virtually all the new American states was spurred by the creole communities within them (1983, 50). The term creole (in Spanish, criollo), as Anderson notes, refers to someone “of (at least theoretically) pure European descent but born in the Americas . . . ” (1983, 50, footnote 1). These were, in effect, people with a language and heritage which they shared with those in the colonial metropole (or center), against whom they fought for independence. The fact that nationalist sentiments emerged first among the creole communities, on Anderson’s view, can be partially explained from the shared creole experience of discrimination by those in or from the metropole. In the case of Creoles in the Spanish colonies, their relevant counterparts were the peninsulares (i.e., Spaniards, born on the Iberian peninsula). What this effectively meant was that, insofar as they shared the same language and culture and moved within the same administrative circles as peninsulares, Creoles embraced many of the same expectations for administrative advancement but, through an accident of birth, had none of the same prospects as their peninsular counterparts. And this, according to Anderson, contributed to Creoles’ sense of themselves as a distinct community with a shared concern for autonomy from Spain. In her study of the work of the French-creole writer María de las Mercedes Santa Cruz y Montalvo (also known as, la Condesa de Merlín) (1789-1852), Méndez Rodenas, too, notes the “presence of a criollo identity” which is distinct from the peninsular identity of the Spaniards in Cuba (1986, 76). The following brief passage from la Condesa’s writings tells something about the character of this early creole form of Cuban identity:

Since my arrival, we have celebrated nightly with a brilliant gathering at my uncle’s house, during which time I have had the occasion to observe all that grave Spanish nature and all the indolence of the Creoles and natives. (La Condesa de Merlín, cited in Méndez Rodenas 1986, 92; my translation).

Méndez Rodenas is clearly citing a writer who harbored a good deal of contempt for her fellow Creoles. Notwithstanding this, Méndez Rodenas finds in la Condesa’s work “the emergence of a national sentiment in terms of insular cohesion” (1986, 92). Put somewhat differently, this early work conveys an emerging sense of a distinct island people. Perhaps the reason Méndez Rodenas does not labor over outlining the character of that people is that her point has less to do with the substance of that character as one writer (la Condesa) envisioned it, than with an incipient sense of its distinctiveness. In addition to its distinctiveness from the identity of the peninsulares, this early Cuban identity, according to Méndez Rodenas, depended, as well, on a racial antagonism between the creole sugar aristocrats and the black slaves who tended their plantations:

On this antagonism . . . are the bases of criollo identity set: the exclusion of the black from the insular community cohered by the racial and economic interests of the white landowner class. (Méndez Rodenas 1986, 91).

Hence, creole identity was the paradoxical product of exclusion from the peninsular community and exclusion of the African slave community. Whatever its substantive character, the creole community emerged out of its sense of difference from these other two communities: a sense which helped it to imagine itself as a distinct island people. These, then, constitute the first two surface-most strata of national identity formation which Vitier outlines: the early symbolic portrayal of the nature of Cuba as island and the rudimentary character of its people as (white) island people. The third strata Vitier identifies is the feeling of a people. Vitier finds two distinctive sentimental features in the work of the early exiled writers he studies. The first feature is the “incipient sense of national belonging” (Méndez Rodenas 1986, 73). The second is the experience of Cuba as a void or loss registered through the writer’s absence (his or her exile). Hence, belonging (pertenencia) and distance (lejanía) help to mark the originary traces of Cuban national sentiment:

The first lyrical illumination of Cuba fulfills itself in exile [or uprootedness: el destierro]. What the exhaustive enumeration of flora and fauna cannot configure (the image of the motherland [patria]), is given by a sigh and a vision which are nostalgic in character. Heredia makes the island mutate into motherland, not simply as native land, but rather as a motherland which shines in the distance, far away, perhaps unreachable. (Vitier, in Méndez Rodenas 1986, 73; my translation).

For Méndez Rodenas, this sense of motherland as distant and unreachable follows from the understanding that for national identity to be realized, Cuba must have political autonomy. But because Cuba was still a Spanish colony at the time these works were written, she argues that nineteenth-century poets like Heredia and later Martí could only

imagine the “patria”; that is, conceive it in a double dimension–as both the meeting place of nature and community (“pertenencia”) and as future aspiration, as an unreachable island that must be turned into fulfillment (“patria”) from a faraway mainland shore. (Méndez Rodenas 1986, 73-4; her italics).

Of course, in this context, Méndez Rodenas uses the term imagine in a more fictive sense than I, following Anderson, have meant this when referring to the imagined community. From my standpoint, the national community is no less imagined even after it has won its political autonomy from some outside nation. Notwithstanding this difference, Méndez Rodenas’ point in speaking about the need to imagine patria in a fictive sense is to emphasize the concrete, historical circumstances in which exiled poets found themselves. Still missing from this incipient sense of belonging and this sense of distance is the final moment–the fourth and innermost strata–of national identity: namely, the national spirit as sacrifice and creation. Méndez Rodenas implies that this final moment is heralded in the exiled writers particular “vision from afar” (1986, 75). This vision, as it manifests itself in these early works, is comprised of both a sentimental and a critical view of the Cuban isle: “Separation and return signal the sentimental dimension, whereas the critical one is directed to political analysis and involvement with the historical present” (75). Why does this mark the final moment–the coming-into-being of the national community? Evidently, the answer lies in our commonly held understanding of the nation as politically autonomous. Anderson relates this understanding in his definition of the national community as something which “is imagined as sovereign” (1983, 16; his emphasis). This is implied, as well, in my earlier description (following Catherine Hall [1992, 240]) of national identities as identities that jostle with each other for dominance within the nation and co-existence without. The drive for the political autonomy of a people signals the emergence of a willingness on their part to sacrifice themselves for the sake of the nation. So while a bounded-space (island), the distinctive character of a people (white, island people), and their sentiments (of belonging and, perhaps also, distance) are formative, the nation as such must be born in pain. Vitier’s archaeological metaphor–his image of the four strata that compose the insular foundations of Cuban national identity–seems to imply that Cubanness has a substance and fixity: that is, that relatively stable formations of Cubanness build up from previous formations of Cubanness. As Méndez Rodenas argues, however, “The definition of `lo cubano’ . . . remains ambiguous in Vitier’s study, as it refers neither to a fixed essence nor to an absolute notion of insular destiny” (1986, 72). Rather, what emerges is a trace of a trace of a trace, the layering over of different appreciable sedimentations of Cubanness:

There is not a mobile and preestablished essence, called Cubanness, which we can define independently of its successive and generally problematic manifestations. . . . Our enterprise consists in going about discovering something which we suspect but do not know in its wholeness. Something which, furthermore, does not have a fixed wholeness, but rather which . . . is inseparable from its diverse historical manifestations.That development and that history, nonetheless, leaves behind an appreciable sedimentation which allows us to indicate some of the distinctive features of our peculiar sensibility and our attitude toward the island and the world. (Vitier, in Méndez Rodenas 1986, 93, footnote 1; my translation.)

The “strata” which Vitier identifies may be viewed as necessary components of all national identities, and in my summary, I have treated them as such. Given the theoretical framework I adopt here, however, the notion of identity formation outlined by Vitier and Méndez Rodenas remains both too evolutionary and too individualistic. First, the archaeological sense of historical identities as strata belies Vitier’s conviction that Cubanness has no substance and fixity. What must be added to this notion is the understanding that while the appreciable sedimentations of past notions of Cubanness may be identified, what those sedimentations are comprised of (that is, what they mean to contemporaries) is open to interpretation. The past, therefore, is not merely uncovered; it is (re)constructed. This point is crucial for understanding how “Martí” can mean “Cubanness” differently. Furthermore, the step-by-step process which Vitier implies in his description of nature as what comes first and spirit as the final moment need not evolve in precisely this fashion. After all, most of the writers whose work Vitier and Méndez Rodenas discuss already had either been exiled by Spanish colonial authorities or else had themselves chosen to live in exile rather than under Spanish rule. In this respect, they already exhibited something of the national spirit of sacrifice and creation (a critical vision). And it was, arguably, their experience of political exile which heightened their romantic view of the nature of the island, their distinctively creole character, and their sentimental sense of belonging. Secondly, as it stands, Méndez Rodenas’ focus on the work of one nineteenth-century woman writer seems to imply that Cuban identity is largely the product of one individual’s formulation. At the same time, it is evident that Méndez Rodenas wants to treat as unique la Condesa’s political defense of Spanish colonial rule and some of her remarks about the creole character. What needs to be made more explicit, however, is that literary constructs must be shared by a community in order for identities to come into existence: it is in the joint articulations–in the communicating–of senses of selves that both community and identity come into being.(23) Notwithstanding these concerns, I find that some of the concepts outlined in this study of early Cuban identity are broadly applicable to studies of national identity. Given the emotional attachment which the national community, as Anderson (1983) has noted, engenders in its members, it is clear that its imagining involves an important sentimental dimension. In addition to this, national identities must compete for dominance within the nation and defend the nation’s existence from the threats posed by other nations. Consequently, the imagining of the national community involves, also, a critical dimension–one generally concerned with establishing who gets to count as “enemy” both inside and outside the nation’s boundaries. In addition to this, the concepts of belonging and distance which Méndez Rodenas outlines are broadly applicable to those national identities constructed in any exile discourse. In this case, the discursive battle is waged from the outside, but the aim is the same: dominance, within the nation, of one particular version of national identity. Two points should be noted about the import of distance (of a “vision from afar”) in exile discourses on Cuban national identity. First, a critical sense of “the outside” from the outside is not necessarily at odds with what gets to count as “Cuban,” which is already a partially insular view: hence from the inside. Furthermore, even voices from inside Cuba have tended to draw from (or echo) voices from the outside. (I am thinking about revolutionary appropriations of the exiled writings of José Martí.(24)) Consequently, what gets to count as “Cuban” from the inside is itself also marked by a certain “vision from afar.” The senses of “inside” and “outside” evinced in various enactments of Cubanness are not, therefore, strictly speaking geographical. That is, speaking from a position “inside” is not equivalent to being physically “on the island.” When I speak about the insular view of Cubanness, I am referring to the sentimental strains of Cubanness which coalesce around a sense of Cuba as island home. And this rudimentary sense of Cubanness is what I argue is shared by most Cubans, both inside and outside Cuba.(25) In contrast to this shared insular attachment, the critical strains of Cubanness are dissonant. The Cubanness enacted by Fidel Castro and other Cuban revolutionaries is enabled by a different “constitutive outside” (Mouffe 1991, 78) than the one which enables the Cubanness enacted by, for example, exiled Cubans. In this respect, Cubanness has a polymorphous other. Or more precisely, multiple and differing senses of “the outside” effect quite different substantive understandings and enactments of lo cubano. As I have tried to suggest, however, this distinction between the sentimental and critical elements of Cubanness should not be read as marking the difference between, say, a (sentimental) “national identity,” on the one hand, and a (critical) “political identity,” on the other. By definition, national identity implies a notion of sovereignty, and this, in turn, implies political autonomy. Furthermore, it seems to me that one of the effects of the revolution of 1959 was to explicitly politicize Cuban identity in a particular way.(26) After 1959, it became virtually impossible to be a Cuban and not take a stand on Castro and Communism. “Castro” has become the locus around which coalesce the processes of inclusion and exclusion of contemporary Cuban communities. To belong to the exiled Cuban community, for example, one must be (at least, implicitly) “against Castro” since that is the only form of being with/in that community. Cuban membership is defined vis-à-vis that standard. The discourses of Cuban national identity which surfaced after 1959, therefore, articulated some elements which were new to that identity and which have had radically different meanings in each of these discourses: at a minimum, these have included “Castro” and “Communism.” To these may be added other shared elements which were not exactly new on the scene, but which have clearly undergone changes in meaning in the respective discourses of which they have become moments: the figure of Martí is a good example. A third set of shared elements are those which have quite similar meanings across these discourses (though, of course, there is no necessary connection here between these elements and the meanings which they apparently share across these discourses). Among the latter set, as I suggested above, are those sentimental elements which construct Cuba as island home. While this vision of Cuba may have emerged out of early distinctions which elite Creoles made between themselves, on the one hand, and peninsulares and African slaves, on the other hand, this vision has engendered a popular conception of Cubanness. That is, the insular moments of this early Cuban discourse have been articulated by contemporary discourses on Cubanness. In this respect, they point to a common sense of Cubanness. These insular moments are evident in articulations which emphasize the natural characteristics of the island and the national character of its people as detached and hence distinct island people, with sentimental ties to their patria (“motherland”). But Cubanness is not, on this account, an insulated or fixed identity; rather as with all identities, it is permeable or invadable. From the standpoint of imagining the community, its vulnerability means that Cubanness (like all national identities) must be linked as well to a critical view of its constitutive outside. This critical dimension is what is most apparently different about competing versions of Cubanness, and what has contributed to the different understandings of some of the shared elements: such as the figure of Martí.

What’s in a Name? The ideological contest between the U.S. and Cuban governments over the meaning of “Martí” is tantamount to a struggle over men and women who consider themselves to be “as Cuban as Martí was.” The U.S. government’s decision to call its Cuba-broadcasting program Radio Martí was, in this respect, a fundamentally political move: a moment in the international politics of naming. Drawing from the work of Jean-François Lyotard, Van Den Abbeele (1991) has argued that names have a special (though not unique) status in language use. Like other indexical signifiers, names appear to point to something outside language–some extra-discursive presence. “Smoke,” for example, is commonly read as indicating the presence of “fire.” Similarly, the name “Martí” seems to point or refer to a concrete human presence: an object of perception. But Van Den Abbeele wants to stress that for Lyotard, names, too, are fundamentally discursive elements. They only apparently designate some stable extra-discursive element, but what they mean (or how they are described) can actually vary across different phrasings. That is, the same name may be used in various utterances, but different meanings may attach to it in each of these instances.(27) As a consequence, names may be the locus of a highly contentious debate over what they mean. Summarizing Lyotard’s position, Van Den Abbeele notes,

In contradistinction to essentialist notions, which understand “the referent of the name as if it were the referent of a definition” . . . that is, as a shorthand for a bundle of preinscribed qualities–Lyotard sees the number of possible senses ascribable to a named referent as bounded only by the contingency of the future. . . . It cannot be determined in advance how many or which meanings can be validated for a particular name. The senses of a named referent refer us not to the field of perception but to the world of history, and as such, to an agonistic locus of debate, litigation, antagonism, and differend. . . . [T]he (historically contingent) link between name and meaning ushers in the political . . . ” (Van Den Abbeele 1991, 31; his emphasis).

Van Den Abbeele’s description of the politics of naming seems tailor-made for discussions about the place of “José Martí” in both exile and revolutionary discourses on Cubanness. That the name of “José Martí” has become “an agonistic locus of debate” is evident in the visceral reaction engendered by the United State’s decision to name its Cuba-broadcasting project Radio Martí. On May 19, 1985 (significantly, the anniversary of Martí’s death and the day before Radio Martí began transmitting), the Cuban government sent a note to the United States Interests Section in Havana denouncing the radio program and arguing that “the gross insult of raising the glorious name of José Martí for these broadcasts [was] deeply wounding [to] the feelings of the Cuban people” (cited in Masud-Piloto 1988, 104). The Director of the Center for Martí Studies (in Havana) remarked that “Only a government that has demonstrated such repeated evidence of its ignorance can commit such a stupidity of taking the very name of the greatest anti-imperialist we have had.”(28) Notwithstanding these claims about the unfairness and inaccuracy of the United State’s appropriation of Martí’s name, the Presidential Commission on Broadcasting to Cuba defended this appropriation by arguing that Martí,

was passionately dedicated to the truth, to democracy and freedom, and to the independence of Cuba from foreign dominance from whatever source. . . . He is perhaps the only such symbol to all Cubans. (cited in Frederick 1986, 25; my emphasis).

Given this response, it can be argued that what is not at issue in this debate about the meaning of Martí is his symbolic significance as a devout Cuban nationalist and staunch anti-imperialist. Rather, the debate surrounding the figure of Martí has concerned the meaning of the very notions of “freedom” and “imperialism” (contestable terms!). What gets constructed as “the imperialist threat” to Cuba’s sovereignty has varied across time and across standpoints. Few Cubans would, I think, deny that for Martí and given the time and standpoint from which he was writing, the United States represented the greatest potential imperialist threat to Cuba.(29) During the fourteen years he lived in the United States, Martí wrote a number of articles about American society. In the beginning, he lauded what he saw as “a country where everyone seems to be his own master . . . [and] where the unprotected always find a friend.”(30) Later, however, Martí became increasingly more critical of what he had come to perceive as the United State’s corrupt, plutocratic political system and its “monstrous” imperialist ambitions. In an often-quoted letter written on the eve of his death (May 18, 1895) from his encampment at Dos Rios, Martí wrote:

I am now each day in danger of losing my life for my motherland and for my duty–as I understand it and can fulfill it–[which is] to prevent, by the independence of Cuba, that in the fullness of time the United States extend itself over the Antilles and descend, with that added force, on our America. All I have done up to now, and will do, is for [the sake of preventing that]. . . . I have lived in the monster, and have known its entrails: and my slingshot is David’s. (Martí 1953, 231; my translation).

The long history of U.S. interventions in Cuba suggests that Martí’s fears were not only warranted, but prophetic.(31) In this context, it is not surprising that Cuban revolutionaries should construct the revolution as the fulfillment of Martí’s vision after so many years of neo-colonialist dependence on the United States. At the same time it should be noted that revolutionary interpretations of Martí and of Cuban history also constitute a (re)construction of those phenomena. While they may seem more authentic readings, they are not, on this account, disinterested. The revolutionary Cuban community (like its exiled counterpart in the United States) also brings “its past” into being through a particular(istic) way of reading. In order to appropriate the figure of Martí, revolutionary Cubans have attempted to (re)construct him along revolutionary lines: i.e., as a Marxist or at least a proto-Marxist. At the same time, revolutionary writers have noted the difficulty of effecting this (re)construction:

Notwithstanding the fact that a man like Martí could contemplate with such a sagacious vision the problems that his times posed for Cuba, it does not follow that he would possess the best doctrine and method for their treatment and solution. In Martí, one finds an intermittent and vital tension between his points of view on the greatness of liberal democracy and his amazing understanding of matters which, as his posterity has proven, could not be settled via the measures he proposed.(32)

As this statement suggests, the revolutionary appropriation of Martí has required a reading of his work which stresses his “sagacious vision” of the problems posed for Cuba (e.g., his fear of U.S. imperialism) while downplaying what he regarded as the solutions (e.g., his support of liberal democracy). Both the stress on Martí’s anti-U.S. sentiment and the dismissal of his liberal-democratic vision have been accomplished in one and the same argument: namely, in the argument that Martí’s vision (including his desire for a liberal democratic republic in Cuba) could not be realized because his aims were “frustrated” by the United States.(33) Within this network of meaning, liberal democracy is linked both to bourgeois privilege and to the United States as the imperial power which had, prior to the revolution, buffeted the corrupt administrations of self-serving, bourgeois, Cuban politicians in order to safeguard North American economic interests on the island. Martí’s diagnosis of the problem (viz., the United States) remains correct. According to this understanding, however, Martí could not have foretold that the solution he outlined (liberal democracy) would be made untenable because of the United States imposing presence on the island. This logic has served to articulate Martí’s vision of a liberated Cuba largely in terms of “freedom from U.S. imperialism.” At the same time, it has served to reinforce the sense that revolutionary measures have been necessary for realizing that vision. In this way, Martí’s vision has been linked to revolutionary actions: “Martí is the ideal. Fidel is the action. But the principles are the same.”(34) Through this link, Martí has been (re)constructed as “the direct mentor” of the Cuban revolution. This (re)construction occurs in a 1960 speech by Ernesto Ché Guevara given on the anniversary of Martí’s birth:

Martí was the direct mentor of our Revolution, the man whose word had to be resorted to always in order to give a correct interpretation for the historical phenomena which we were living. . . . not all, nor many–nor perhaps any–can be Martí, but all of us can embrace Martí’s example and try to pursue his course in our endeavors. We can try to understand him and to relive him by our actions and our conduct today, because that War of Independence, that long war of liberation, has been replicated today and has many modest heroes, hidden heroes, outside the pages of history and who, nonetheless, have achieved with absolute perfection the precepts and mandates of the Apostle. (Guevara 1977, 4-5; my translation).(35)

Guevara’s (re)construction of Martí goes a step further. Rather than leaving him “in the pages of history” as a mere precursor of the Cuban revolution, Guevara transforms Martí into a “living hero of the revolution.” In other words, he articulates Martí’s (past) ideals to the (present) revolutionary action by arguing that those ideals are present(ed) in the revolutionary practices “of today”:

I would like for all of you today to contemplate Martí. That you think on him as you would a living being, and not as you would a god nor something dead; as something that is present in every manifestation of Cuban life, present in every manifestation of Cuban life as is the voice, the air, the expressions of our great and never well bewailed Camilo Cienfuegos. [Applause.] Because as regards heroes, Comrades, as regards heroes, one cannot separate them from the nation, one cannot convert them into statues, into something outside of the life of this nation for which they gave their own life. The popular hero should be a living thing and present in every moment of the history of the nation. Just as you remember Camilo, so should you recall Martí, the Martí who talks and thinks today, with today’s idiom, because that is the greatness which makes thinkers and revolutionaries great: their idiom does not age. Martí’s words of today are not of the museum, they are incorporated into our struggle and are our emblem, they are our banner of combat. (Guevara 1977, 10-11; my translation).

The revolutionary (re)construction of Martí as “living hero of the Socialist Revolution in Cuba” marks the revolution as the fulfillment of Martí’s vision. For this reason, Santí (1986) has characterized the revolutionary (re)vision of Cuban history as teleological: one which constitutes Martí as a “prefiguration” (147) of the Cuban revolution, as the mark of a promise for the future revolution which realized that promise. This teleological reading of Martí has resulted in a different substantive interpretation of his work. Emphasizing Martí’s concerns with U.S. imperialism, revolutionary Cubans have rearticulated those concerns to a socialist revolutionary discourse by redefining his “anti-imperialism” as an inchoate form of Marxism:

Martí cannot be made, perforce, into a militant Communist, applying a Marxist-Leninist framework to his life and doctrines, [a framework] which would deform and betray them. Martí was not a Marxist. He wrote a beautiful article on Marx concerning the death of the father of Scientific Socialism, in which he clearly expresses his sympathies and differences with him, but not a single letter authorizes us to believe that he read either Marx or Engels, and even less that he subscribed to their fundamental ideas. Martí, rather, was an idealistic thinker and a political organizer so attached to the stubborn reality of facts–to use a Leninist expression–that all of his revolutionary theory surpasses the bourgeois democratic concept of the creators of Hispanic-American nations who preceded him, from Bolívar to Juárez to Sarmiento, and it situates him as an initiator of the great anti-imperialist struggle which leads, inevitably, to the restoration [instauración] of socialism. He is a true pre-Marxist . . . father and teacher, together with Lenin who endows it with its definitive ideological instrument, of the Socialist Revolution in Cuba. (Portuondo 1982, 278-9; my translation; emphasis in original).

Given the import of Martí’s anti-imperialism in revolutionary strategies of articulation, these appropriations of Martí have relied more on a (re)construction of the critical elements in his work rather than the sentimental elements. In fact, Martí’s romantic vision of Cuba–his poetic reflections on the simple beauty of the island, its beaches and palms, its people, and their collective sense of belonging there–is ignored in much of the revolutionary literature on Martí. For this reason, it is difficult to comment on the ideological significance of the sentimental/insular view of Cubanness as a unifying principle for “revolutionary Cubans”: or, more precisely, as a unifying principle within the hegemonic discourse of the socialist revolution in Cuba. It would be wrong, however, to argue that identity in this discourse is defined strictly in terms of a (transnationalist) revolutionary sentiment. In the official discourse of the Cuban government, the revolutionary in Cuba is still represented as a Cuban revolutionary with a sense of attachment to Cuba as island home. Furthermore, this discourse can accommodate non-revolutionary senses of Cuban belonging: that is, a more inclusive Cuban identity in primarily insular terms (with the critical moment seemingly attenuated). One can glimpse a discursive opening for articulating this primarily insular Cuban identity in the “dialogue” which ensued, briefly, between the Cuban government and Cuban-Americans in the late ’70s. In one of the speeches he delivered concerning the dialogue, Castro articulates a notion of “community” which provides a new Cuban subject position for non-revolutionaries:

[These] children of Cuban emigrés . . . have helped us to understand to a certain degree the problems of what we call the community. Some have been struck by the fact that we use this new expression: the community. And yes, we’re going to use a new expression. Because we have always used expressions . . . that were unjustly generic references to people who had emigrated, unjust generalizations. We generalized and used terms such as traitors and gusanos [worms] and the like. . . . I think these expressions resulted from the heat and the passion of the struggle. And I have been the first to use the term “community,” and I plan to continue doing so . . . They also helped us become aware of the problems of the community. Because there is something which we have started to realize, the fact that, as I see it, the Cuban community, like all other communities in another environment, in another country, tries to maintain its national identity. . . . this arouses our solidarity and appreciation, even if they don’t support our revolution. (Castro 1981, 216-17).

Two significant features should be noted about this intriguing articulation of a non-revolutionary sense of Cuban belonging. First, note that this opening is reserved for “the children of Cuban emigrés” and others who, in my terms, “are not necessarily against the revolution,” though they are clearly not, in Castro’s terms, supporters of the revolution, either. I want to argue that the subject position which Castro is making available in this moment of “dialogue” is for ethnically identified Cuban-Americans, rather than for the nationally identified Cuban exiles who have challenged the revolutionary hegemony within Cuba. The sense that the latter are still excluded from Castro’s more amelioratory term “community” is suggested by the fact that he rejects the older terms of “traitors” and “gusanos” because they were “unjustly generic,” and not because these terms do not still apply to some Cuban exiles. Castro has to explain why he is adopting the term “community” because the shift he identifies from gusano to community means accepting the sympathy-invoking term with which exiles have commonly referred to themselves. The Spanish-language circulars and broadcasts in Miami have always used the term la comunidad (“the community”) to talk about Cuban exiles in South Florida. In the spirit of dialogue, Castro is adopting this more amelioratory name for (some of) those Cubans, but my point is that he is effectively changing its meaning (and thereby employing a different logic of inclusion and exclusion). What he says about “the Cuban community . . . in another country” suggests that Castro is imagining this community as an ethnic community. Secondly, I want to argue that three senses of “community” are conveyed in this passage. The first is the explicit reference to the primarily ethnically-defined “Cuban community . . . in another country.” The second community conveyed in this passage is implied in Castro’s use of the terms they and our in his statement, “even if they don’t support our revolution.” This second community is the (nationally-defined) revolutionary community in Cuba. In effect, then, Castro distinguishes between two Cuban communities: the “emigré” and the revolutionary. Note, however, that he implies a connection between the two when he states that the former’s efforts to maintain its “national identity” (really, its ethnic identity) “arouses our solidarity and appreciation.” In my view, what is shared between these two communities is an insular way of life: that is, a common language and culture which is distinctively Cuban in character. Consequently, the passage makes an oblique reference to a third, broader Cuban community–the Cuban community writ large and defined in terms of culture, absent the critical vision of the national/revolutionary community (or the national/exile community which is the unnamed “other” of Castro’s speech) and absent the “out-of-context” aspect of the ethnic community. On the other hand, within the revolutionary context, this (cultural) sense of community is, of course, linked to a critical vision. Moreover, within the context of another country, this (cultural) sense of community (as Castro articulates it) is devoid of any particular critical vision, but is linked, nonetheless, to a threat of extinction, given the overwhelming presence of the host culture. The former is imagined as a national community; the latter as an ethnic one. But in the process, Castro’s “dialogue” makes oblique references to a broader (and obviously separated) Cuban community defined simply in terms of cultural character. In contrast to the multiple Cuban communities articulated in Castro’s “dialogue” speech, Radio Martí articulates only one Cuban community, and it mediates that community in terms of nation. This mediation is accomplished via the figure of Martí, principally in the Radio Martí theme song [12]. This appropriation attempts to disarticulate the figure of Martí from its revolutionary image as “living hero” (of the Socialist Revolution in Cuba) and to rearticulate an image of Martí as “martyred brother.” Note the temporal shift (from “living” to “martyr”) and the relational shift (from “hero” to “brother”). Clearly, the invocation of the name of Martí as “martyred brother” is meant to appeal to a very different sense of Cubanness. In particular, it enacts a Cuban identity in terms of a sentimental attachment (pertenencia or belonging) to a broader family comprised of islanders, exiles, and their shared national hero, Martí. And this identity is enacted, as well, in terms of a loss (lejanía or distance) registered in both temporal and spatial dimensions: the passing away (martyrdom) of our brother, and hence the loss of a “family” which was once whole. The point, of course, is to make this family whole again. Radio Martí attempts to register this sense of attachment and loss among listeners by inviting them to identify with the Cuban voices which speak in terms of an “us” sentimentally linked to romantic memories of a whole community and to future aspirations of a reunited community. One of those “inviting” voices is constructed as the voice of Martí; not, of course, in the sense of a human voice which pretends to be Martí, but rather of a spiritual voice which conveys the tenor of Martí’s visions and hopes for Cuba–his romantic vision of Cuba as island home, his national sentiment of Cuba as patria, and his political hope that Cuba might become a liberal-democratic republic. The last of these points to one of the several critical elements on Radio Martí. Added to these are the representations of “Castro” and “Communism” as those actors on the political stage which have divided the Cuban people. In this respect, then, Radio Martí defines the Cuban community writ large in specifically national terms: national insofar as this imagining is linked to a critical vision of what has torn the Cuban community apart. Clearly, for Radio Martí’s discursive invitation to succeed (i.e., for listeners on the island to incorporate this nationalistic sense of the “separated Cuban community” and what has kept it apart), islanders must already share some of the understandings which Radio Martí attempts to mediate (that is, to signify in a particular way). By naming its broadcast campaign Radio Martí, the U.S. government is drawing on an ideological element which is clearly already meaningful among islanders (in part, as a figure of Cubanness). To integrate the figure of Martí, however, RMP must disarticulate it from its (re)construction as “living hero of the Socialist Revolution in Cuba” and rearticulate it within its own ideology. This rearticulation of an already popular figure draws from sentimental elements in Martí’s vision of Cuba (as patria) and attempts to integrate these with other popular/traditional elements (from early discourses on Cubanness) to transform Martí into a unifying figure for the Cuban nation. My point in investigating the insular discourse on Cubanness proffered by early Cuban writers and the official revolutionary discourse articulated by contemporaries in Cuba has been to identify some of the elements which Radio Martí links to its discourse on Cubanness. Familiarizing ourselves with these elements as moments of prior discourses helps us to understand how Radio Martí attempts to capitalize on already held senses of Cubanness. In the process, however, we will note, as well, that these elements are accented differently. They come to mean slightly different things when linked to the other elements that comprise the network of meaning through which Radio Martí vocalizes its sense of Cubanness. In this respect, then, what gets (re)articulated is a different substantive enactment of Cubanness. The invocation of the name of Martí helps to summon that identity into existence.

V. (Pen)Insularity From the beginning, I have argued that to understand how Radio Martí tries to work on its listeners, we have to view it as a discourse which articulates particular identities and related sets of interests, values, and understandings about “the world.” To get at this alternative view, I suggested that the media are sometimes (perhaps often) involved in projecting senses of a mediated community of one sort or another: e.g., when a media text projects the image of a “we.” To this I added that one’s interpretation (and possible acceptance) of the mediated communities “represented” by the media is situated in a complex of prior mediated communities (both “lived” and imagined) which make possible personally held senses of self. One conclusion drawn from these theoretical considerations was that media “representations of belonging” are not constructed in a vacuum. The common inclination to read media presentations as representations (viz., of some phenomenon) implies that what we see or hear on the media resonates with our understanding of that phenomenon. But to say this is to say only that a media presentation must bear some family resemblance, some familiarity, to what one already understands; it does not have to be a perfect reflection of already held understandings. And, in point of fact, media presentations usually are not mere representations. The media are innovative, as well as parasitic. They re-articulate. To see what “new” meanings and identities Radio Martí attempts to bring into being, it was necessary that we familiarize ourselves with some of the prior discourses on Cubanness. Having sojourned through these various theoretical considerations and prior discourses, we can now turn our attention to Radio Martí. In the following analysis, I borrow from Méndez Rodenas’ (1986) distinction between the sentimental view and the critical view in early notions of Cubanness. I employ this distinction as a paradigm for analyzing the elements which Radio Martí links together as specific kinds of moments within that discourse. Some preliminary comments may help to clarify why I adopt this approach. To begin with, let me make clear that in characterizing some elements as sentimental moments in Radio Martí’s discourse and others as critical moments, I am not simply describing or cataloguing the program content. The practice of describing implies that the moments I discuss can be read only as sentimental, on the one hand, or as critical, on the other. This implication would deny what I have been at pains to argue elsewhere in this study: namely, that even what presents itself as a neutral description of a certain set of phenomena has an important interpretive component. Consequently, the sentimental/critical distinction should be understood as an analytic distinction, rather than an empirical one. It is one of a number of possible ways of classifying the content I study. I employ the notion of sentimental moments to get at those elements in Radio Martí’s discourse which, on my view, attempt to draw from and modify (re-articulate) Cuban senses of belonging. I call these moments sentimental precisely because I read them as trying to work on my emotional attachment to the island of Cuba and to a Cuban community. In short, sentimental moments are those most concerned with constructing a sense of a “we.” The notion of critical moments, on the other hand, is intended to get at what constitutes the “other” of this community–the “they.” Processes of both inclusion and exclusion (or of sameness and difference) are integral to the building of senses of community (and hence, of self). By defining the sentimental/critical distinction in terms of the construction of we/they distinctions, I am adopting an approach aimed at classifying the moments of a discourse about identity. I begin this discussion with an analysis of two identities constructed in Radio Martí’s discourse. The first is what I call a (pen)insular Cuban identity: an “exile” sense of Cubans as belonging to a separated Cuban community which encompasses both exiles and islanders. The second constituted identity on which I focus is the identity of the United States. The point of this consideration will be to show how that voice is coded as “friendly,” rather than “hostile,” and how, therefore, it attempts to articulate a different understanding of the role of the United States in international and, specifically, Cuban affairs. In the next two sections, I consider the critical moments in Radio Martí’s discourse. These include multiple constructions of the “Cuban realities” facing islanders: bleak realities which are, in turn, linked to “Castro” and “Cuban Communism” as the causes of these realities and, hence, the “real enemies” of the Cuban people. I then note how in the process of drawing parallels between Cuban realities and the realities that spurred changes in Eastern Europe, Radio Martí attempts “to propose new destinies” for Cuba. The final section concerns the metaphor of “bridging” as employed in one of Radio Martí’s regular programs (“Family Bridge,” [39]) and in a specific segment of the regularly scheduled commentary by Roberto Valero [90].(36) I interpret “bridging” as a predominately sentimental metaphor–one which, on Radio Martí, connotes the sense of linking together what was once whole and has been torn apart. Because “bridging” is constituted as Radio Martí’s primary task in these two programs, I will note how the metaphor, on my view, works to discursively link together a number of the sentimental and critical elements on Radio Martí.

The Constitution of a “W/e” Radio Martí presents itself as a program with diversity. Diversity is claimed explicitly in the assertion that “Here [on Radio Martí] there are no enemies; there are only diverse voices” [90]. It is also implied in the identification of the apparently different voices which speak through Radio Martí: the “voice [of] Martí” [12], “the Voice of the United States of America” [9], “the voices of your loved ones, of your friends, of those who you remember fondly” [39], and the “Voices of Liberty” [77]. At the same time, however, all of these voices are coded as the “one voice” of Martí [12]. The point of this construction is to suggest that what is being transmitted on Radio Martí is consonant with Martí’s vision of a liberated Cuba. On one level, that message may be read as contradictory–an instance in which Radio Martí’s politics of naming seems at odds with its discourse on diversity. That is, the effort to articulate the popular image of Martí to other ideological elements by unifying these elements under one voice seems to contradict the very notion of “diverse voices” and of the value of diversity. Alternatively, the construction of Martí as a unifying figure may be read as an attempt to convey the notion of “Cuban diversity”–the attempt to express a we which may be comprised of different opinions, but a we which is nonetheless a “family” sharing in that sense of Cubanness enacted by “our martyred brother,” Martí [12]. And as a “family,” moreover, we can keep our differences “within the family”: i.e., reject “alien” solutions to our problems in favor of “Cuban” solutions.(37) Clearly, then, the expression of a “Cuban family” both unifies and distinguishes: it sets the limits for what gets to count as “the familial” and opens up a space for defining/constituting “the unfamilial” and even “the adversarial.” Furthermore, the expression of “Cuban diversity” in terms of “family” is, in turn, extended to Radio Martí (“your other family here” [39]). Given this chorus of diverse, familial voices, the voice of Radio Martí cannot be characterized once and for all as “the voice of a hostile nation.” At a minimum, one should consider the voice of “the Cuban exile” constructed on Radio Martí. Many of the announcers on Radio Martí present themselves as “Cubans”: a construction which is evident in their fond remembrances of their island home and in their explicit references to “our country” (“nuestro país“) ([24], [27]). At the same time, they code themselves as “exiled” through references to the distance between themselves and their island home [24]. These Cuban exile identities are enacted primarily during the popular music shows on Radio Martí. Like pop-music commercial radio stations in the United States, the music programs on Radio Martí are hosted by announcers. Radio Martí program announcers introduce songs, comment on a particular song’s history or on some related aspect of Cuban history and culture, and more generally reminisce about their own experiences of Cuba. As I argued in Chapter II, media address is often a form of invitation to listeners to identify themselves in a particular way. Significantly, many of the announcers on Radio Martí address each other and their audiences with expressions of amity, endearment, and familiarity–using terms like “friends” and “our dear listeners” [24], and on occasion employing the familiar form of “you” (con tigo and tu, [15]). Spanish grammar distinguishes between a familiar second-person pronoun (tu) and a formal second-person pronoun (usted). Tu is considered an appropriate form of address only for family members and close friends (viz., our equals) or for those who are subordinate to us. Usted is used to address those we do not know well or those who are in a position of authority. Consequently, the use of tu usually connotes friendliness, informality, and equality; whereas usted often connotes respect, formality, and authority. Recalling Anderson’s (1983) claim that the national community is imagined as a horizontal comradeship, the argument that Radio Martí imagines a particular Cuban community is supported by the fact that some Radio Martí announcers address their listeners as tu and hence, implicitly, as members of a shared, horizontal community. A second feature which Anderson (1983) relates to the process of imagining the national community is the reliance on two modes of temporal ordering: a historical (or diachronic) ordering and a simultaneous (or synchronic) ordering. These features also surface on Radio Martí. The historical component is evident in the recuerdos (remembrances) which many of the announcers share with their listeners: remembrances of Cuba as it once was, with a unique natural beauty ([17], [27]) and a rich cultural tradition ([24], [90]). The simultaneous ordering is suggested by the way in which the voices on Radio Martí project themselves into their listeners’ space: the way they talk about being “here with you” [24], and thereby construct a shared space in which they and their listeners can simultaneously reminisce about Cuba. Clearly, these shared recollections convey a sense of togetherness–of Cubans united with Cubans in Cuba. Set against the “reality” of separation–of distance–between exiles and islanders, these nostalgic visions from afar construct a view of a whole Cuban community which has been lost. What emerges from this is a Cuban identity which desires re-union, wholeness, “the reconciliation of Cubans” [94]. Those familiar with Jacque Lacan’s (1977) work in structuralist psychoanalysis may note a parallel between the Cuban identity constructed on Radio Martí and the subject of desire related in Lacanian theory. Lacan’s subject has two distinguishing features which are apposite to the way I am describing the identity of the Cuban exile. First, the subject is a marker for an absence: a fragmentary substitution for a lack that can never be fully satisfied. Second, the subject is constituted in language–or, more precisely, through discursive intermediations. This understanding of the subject follows from Lacan’s account of the stages of development by which the child comes to experience a sense of self.(38) The Lacanian account of the subject begins with an assumption about the perfect symbiosis–the perfect union–which the infant experiences in the womb. In this early context, distinct phenomena do not exist. The world is a perfectly ordered single entity. Consequently, the infant has no experience of itself as a distinct self, no recognition of boundaries between its “self” and some “other.” Furthermore, since its needs are instantaneously met in this perfect union, the infant experiences neither lack nor desire. It wants for nothing in the womb.(39) After its birth, however, the infant’s needs are no longer instantaneously met. The absence of nutrition (a lack) and the first experience of hunger (a desire) is what first makes the infant aware of its separation. At this moment, the infant’s sense of the world as a single entity is disrupted, and it comes to experience the world as alienation: “The infant becomes conscious of itself as difference in the denial of its desire. The first knowledge of the self is knowledge of alienation” (Norton 1988, 12). As I understand Lacanian theory, the story of the subject is, in part, the story of a self which attempts to recapture this early experience of perfect union. This aspect of the self as sameness (to an other) is registered in what Lacan calls the imaginary order, and is opposed to the experience of the self as difference (from an other) registered in the symbolic order (Lacan 1977; Silverman 1983, 149-193). The imaginary order is ushered in by the mirror stage (Lacan 1977, 1-7). The child’s image of its self in the mirror invites an imaginary identification with the image. At this stage, according to Silverman,

the subject arrives at an apprehension of both its self and the other–indeed, of its self as other. This discovery is assisted by the child seeing, for the first time, its own reflection in a mirror. That reflection enjoys a coherence which the subject itself lacks–it is an ideal image. (Silverman 1983, 157; her emphasis).

This (albeit, fictive) coherence is again disrupted by the child’s entrance into the symbolic order. On one level, Lacan’s notion of the symbolic order is analogous to the Freudian notion of the Oedipus complex. The symbolic is the realm in which the child becomes aware of sexual difference. But by characterizing this as the symbolic order, Lacan underscores that such differences rely on language. The incest taboo generated by the Oedipal drama (and, indeed, all the other prohibitions by which a culture defines itself), “can only be articulated through the differentiation of certain cultural members from others by means of linguistic categories like `father’ and `mother’ . . . ” (Silverman 1983, 180). In this respect, the symbolic establishes the conditions of exclusion by which a “self” is demarcated from an “other.” Because the symbolic names the child’s introduction to language, it may be concluded that the imaginary order (insofar as it precedes the symbolic) is pre-linguistic. But it would be wrong, I think, to suggest that the conditions of inclusion by which a self imagines itself related to an other does not also involve linguistic categories. In this respect, I may be moving away from Lacan. But even in Lacan’s work–and despite the unfortunate evolutionary connotation of stages of development–the subject of desire is conceived as the product of an interplay between the symbolic and the imaginary. Although the symbolic order disrupts the imaginary order which precedes it, it does not displace the imaginary once and for all. On the contrary, the imaginary order, as Silverman explains,

continues to coexist with [the symbolic] afterward. The two registers complement each other, the symbolic establishing the differences which are such an essential part of cultural existence, and the imaginary making it possible to discover correspondences and homologies. (1983, 157).

In this respect, then, the process of imagining the national community can be viewed as an interplay between the imaginary (which registers, and indeed seeks, correspondence) and the symbolic (which registers, and indeed demands, difference). The important point to note here is the extent to which that imagining is, first, a discursive operation, and, second, an attempt to recover a presumed lack: and one which can never be fully satisfied. With respect to Radio Martí, these aspects of the subject of desire are especially evident in those nostalgic moments in which the exile voices evince a desire to recapture (that is, re-constitute) a bygone wholeness, inviting their listeners to identify themselves as members of a separated Cuban community. The program Dos a las Dos (“Two at Two”) is exemplary in this respect. It airs twice every weekday “at two” (as the name implies) in the morning and afternoon (with the exception of Monday mornings, when RMP is off the air).(40) Dos a las Dos is hosted (again, as the name implies) by “two” people, “Soñia and Miqui,” who present themselves as chummy, both with each other and with their listeners. In one of the program segments I analyzed [24], Soñia begins by greeting listeners and commenting on the distance between them:

Hello, hello, friends, a very good afternoon. Oh, how nice, I’m so happy to be here with you: here, far, far, far, far. As always I say far, far, far, and Miqui [the other announcer] tells me over there, there, there, there, very far. [24]

Two features are remarkable about comments like this one on RMP. First, note that in articulating a place “here with you,” this comment conveys a sense of simultaneity in the way I noted above. Despite the physical distance between announcers and their listeners, the voices transmitted via airwaves confound the distinction between “here” and “there” and articulate a shared space (a “here) in which they and their listeners can “interact” with each other: “We will spend two hours with you, so that you and we can pass two hours a little better” [24]. However, while broadcast voices can effectively obscure the distance between announcers and listeners, the voices on Radio Martí sometimes foreground their distance: “here, far, far, far, far . . . very far” [24]. This distancing is what helps to code the voices as “exile” voices which evoke a sense of longing to be “there.” In effect, expositions like the one just considered work to construct a “separated We”–a W/e, if you will, whose “e” represents the place of the exile. The voices on Radio Martí enact this W/e in their references to Cuba as a “nation which has been deceived and divided” [90] and in their use of a combination of possessive pronouns and place markers: “yours over here for ours over there” [39]. The possessive pronouns (“yours” and “ours”) evince a sense of belonging, while the place markers (“here,” “there”) imply distance.(41) What emerges from this is a “Cuba” characterized as a divided community: a division between “us” and “ours.” At the same time, the exiled voice identifies its distant place as the United States (especially South Florida and more specifically Miami). The relative significance of Miami as the place of the Cuban exile is not surprising given the proportion of Cubans who reside there. Castellanos (1990) notes that about half of the U.S.’s Cuban population lives in the Miami metropolitan area (Dade County): relative to Cuba, “One of every ten Cubans now lives in the United States, and Miami is second only to Havana in number of Cuban residents” (1990, 50). In several respects, then, “Miami” has been reconfigured as “the place of the Cuban exile.” A largely Cuban-populated and Spanish-speaking section of Miami which includes Calle Ocho (Eighth Street) is commonly know as “Little Havana.” RMP transmissions draw from this sense of Miami as the “here” of the Cuban exile: notably, in those segments in which announcers claim to be speaking from “the Capital of the Sun” ([17], [24]), but also, implicitly, in those segments in which “Miami” is favorably contrasted with “Castro’s Cuba.”(42) Taken together, the constructs of the “separated W/e, there and here” and of the “here” as Miami, Florida, mark the voice of the Cuban exile as (pen)insular. Its insular origins are indicated in the sentimental expressions of belonging to the Cuban isle, conveying a sense of an insular union. However, the three-letter prefix pen- is both necessary and significant. Denotatively, it marks the voice as one which clearly emanates from outside the island: in particular, it evinces the “Cuban” identity of those “exiles” living principally on the Florida peninsula. Connotatively–and in contrast to the sense of “detachment from an outside” suggested by insularitypeninsularity implies a sense of “attachment to an outside.” Hence, the prefix pen- identifies this version of Cubanness as an appendage. Let me take this point a bit further. In Chapter II, I suggested that identity should be viewed as the feigned product of discursive articulations: feigned insofar as identity is never fixed or fully present, but rather “exists” only as the moment of a particular network of meaning. In this respect, the meaning of a particular identity emerges out of a set of relations or linkages. I use the term (pen)insular to convey a sense of the specific kinds of linkages (the processes of inclusion and exclusion) which constitute this version of Cubanness. There is, as well, an almost unavoidable phallic connotation to the notion of (pen)insularity as appendage. And, in this respect, it may be worth mentioning Lacan’s claims about the place of the phallus in the symbolic order. According to Lacan’s framework, the phallus operates as the privileged signifier of the symbolic order. Silverman explains that “the phallus is a signifier for those things which have been partitioned off from the subject during the various stages of its constitution, and which will never be restored to it . . . ” (1983, 183). It is a phallic signifier because it stands in for the “symbolic father” whose interdictions (e.g., the incest taboo) are Law within the symbolic order. Of particular note, here, is the way the phallic signifier establishes–through discourse–the exclusionary markers (the differences) which mark the subject off from the symbiotically whole self of the womb and the fictively whole self of the imaginary. It may seem odd that the (pen)insular identity I am describing is at once concerned with recapturing the erstwhile wholeness of an imaginary Cuban community (the insular component), but that it also lacks that wholeness because of its pen-insularity (that is, because it is constituted by a particular phallic order which marks it as different from “insularity”). But that fragmentation and contradiction is precisely the point of Lacan’s notion of the subject of desire. It desires to satisfy a lack which can never be satisfied: in this case, because the Cuban community which “the exile” desires to re-unite has never existed as perfect union. What emerges, then, is an “exile” notion of Cubanness which is ideologically and materially “attached to” the United States (the symbolic father?). Radio Martí foregrounds this attachment to the United States each time the Radio Martí theme song is aired. As the announcement portion of the theme song relates, Radio Martí is “a service program for Cuban, from the voice of the United States of America, transmitting from Washington, capital of the United States” [12]. In this and other ways, then, the Cuban identity constructed on Radio Martí is constituted in relation to a particular U.S. identity. It follows from this that any attempt to understand the former must take the latter into account as well.

“The Voice of the United States of America” Given that I have already characterized Radio Martí as a U.S. government broadcast campaign, most readers will shrug at the relevance of noting that Radio Martí constructs the United States in a non-adversarial fashion. But showing how the United States is constructed on Radio Martí is relevant for two reasons. The first reason relates to distinctions made in propaganda studies between different types of broadcasts campaigns. Some propaganda campaigns are clandestine operations which transmit illegally and often supply misleading information about, among other things, the very source of the broadcast. These have been termed black propaganda campaigns, in contrast to white propaganda


As first used, black propaganda described covert propaganda that “has an ostensible source other than the real source and normally involves utterances or acts which are unlawful under the domestic law of the attacked area.” Overt or white propaganda “is issued from an acknowledged source, usually a government or an agency of the government, including military commands at various levels.”(43)

It should be clear from this distinction that a government involved in a black propaganda campaign may construct itself as “the enemy” in order to delude its listeners into thinking that the source of the broadcast is that government’s opposition. Consequently, noting that Radio Martí acknowledges its source is necessary for understanding the type of propaganda campaign involved here: namely, white propaganda. But this distinction is only preliminary. Propaganda scholars may admit that the identity of the communicator is decisive for how listeners will interpret broadcasts, but they also assume that Cuban listeners already identify the United States in a particular way–that is, “as a hostile nation” (Nichols 1984, 37). Consequently, under the propaganda approach, the fact that Radio Martí acknowledges its source as the United States suffices to make claims about how listeners will respond to this broadcast. All other considerations beyond this simple identification are incidental to that analysis. As I have argued, however, the (pen)insular Cuban identity which some of the voices on Radio Martí enact–and which Radio Martí attempts to transform into personally held senses of Cubanness among islanders–is linked to the U.S.’s identity. So the second reason for studying the construction of the United States on Radio Martí is to glean some understanding of how the exile Cuban identity on Radio Martí speaks itself in relation to the way in which the United States both speaks itself and is spoken by the multiple voices on Radio Martí. Within the forum for airing “diverse voices” which Radio Martí establishes, the United States is permitted to speak (for) itself in certain segments: principally, in VOA Editorials, described as “the Editorial of the Voice of the United States of America, which reflects the points of view of the North American government” [9].(44) “The Voice of the United States of America” articulates what may be regarded as the official discourse of the United States. Outside the Radio Martí context, this official U.S. discourse has surfaced, time and again, in the public statements made by U.S. officials and can be seen working itself out (that is, re-constituting itself) in the de-classified memoranda of policy makers and in the de-classified transcripts concerning specific policy issues. Insofar as it is one of the prior discourses from which Radio Martí articulates certain elements, I should have perhaps included an analysis of it in the last chapter. But since that analysis represents a large project unto itself(45) (and since I assume most readers are familiar with that discourse, anyway), I provide an abbreviated analysis of some of the moments of that discourse as these get articulated within Radio Martí’s discourse. I begin by analyzing how the United States speaks itself in the VOA Editorials on Radio Martí and how “exiled” voices, elsewhere on Radio Martí speak the United States. I then proceed to outline how Radio Martí draws from “expert” understandings of the role of the United States in promoting democracy around the world. A fair portion of this discussion concerns what is meant by “democracy” both within the U.S. official discourse and within Radio Martí’s articulation of this phenomenon. I conclude this section by considering how “exiles” construct themselves in relation to the United States conceived as “the first and most powerful democracy in the world” [13]. The three VOA Editorials I recorded for this analysis concerned, respectively, the “liberation” of Kuwait by North American troops [9]; U.S. Congressional debates over maintaining Most-Favored-Nation (MFN) status for China following the June, 1989, repression of pro-democracy movements in Tianenmen Square and elsewhere in China; and, lastly, coverage of a recent gathering of officials from the seven most advanced-industrial, democratic countries (including, of course, the United States) [116]. Significant aspects of the U.S. self-image are constructed in these editorials. The United States emerges as a country which supports “peace,” “human rights,” “democracy,” and “open economies,” and which opposes “tyranny,” “terrorism,” and the “anti-democratic” practices of other countries. On the international scene, then, the United States presents itself as a “liberator” (most explicitly, in segment [9]). A sort of quid-pro-quo logic seems to underpin the inclusion of “the Voice of the United States” among the diverse voices allowed to speak on Radio Martí. Since Radio Martí is concerned with safeguarding “Cuban diversity” against what it regards as Castroism’s “monolithic culture” [90], it shows itself willing to listen to (in effect, to air) non-Cuban voices which respect diversity. Respect for diversity, then, is part of what qualifies regarding the United States as a friendly voice. As the following excerpt from Roberto Valero’s commentary indicates, respect for diversity is an important aspect of how U.S. identity is constructed by some of the “exile” voices on Radio Martí:

In the United States, as in any other democracy which is respected, there are differences of public opinions which are quite stark, but a tradition exists of respecting contrary ideas, of listening to diverse points of view. [90]

Both the VOA Editorials and Valero’s commentary emphasize another significant feature of U.S. identity: namely, the characterization of the United States as a “democracy.” In fact, the term democracy surfaces a number of times on Radio Martí–in connection with the role of the United States in international affairs, with the political concerns which led to changes in Eastern Europe, with the specific changes sought for Cuba by recently exiled dissident intellectuals and, of course, in connection with what “the Cuban exile” wants for Cuba. It would seem, therefore, that democracy constitutes the normative/political aim underscoring the whole of Radio Martí’s project. But this raises more issues than it settles. Numerous political theorists have observed that democracy, in the twentieth century, is a term which has almost universal moral appeal. However, because democracy can be linked to so many distinct and often contradictory political practices, its substantive meaning is considerably harder to pin down.(46) In a manner of speaking, then, democracy is to Western political discourse what Martí, more specifically, is to Cuban political discourse. Because these terms invoke such heart-felt responses among so many, it becomes that much more crucial to discern the substantive linkages made in concrete invocations of these terms. With respect to the concept of democracy, Cambridge political theorist John Dunn has warned:

Democratic theory is the moral Esperanto of the present nation-state system, the language in which all Nations are truly United, the public cant of the modern world, a dubious currency indeed–and one which only a complete imbecile would be likely to take quite at its face value, quite literally. (1979, 2).

How, then, to tease out the concrete form of democracy behind the cant on Radio Martí? One of the segments of the regularly scheduled program Enfoque (Focus) was especially useful in this respect. Enfoque presents itself as “a segment dedicated to setting forth and analyzing Cuban and international reality by way of the most pressing events” [13]. The segment I recorded dealt with two issues. The first was a commentary on dissident intellectuals from Cuba. The interesting thing to note about this first section is the way in which the “exiled” voices characterize both themselves and Cuban intellectuals as subjects desiring democracy for Cuba:

Now that the declaration of Cuban intellectuals has enlivened the panorama, that we know for certain how they think and how some of them express themselves, we feel that we are in the presence of people who, like us in exile, feel a real concern for the Cuban problem. It was surely not easy to express, as they have done, that concern which has led them to take a stance in favor of the democratization of the country . . . [13].

The section following this one on Enfoque launched into a discussion of the future role of democracy in the world. An interesting aspect of this discussion of democracy is that the voices aired are coded as “expert” North American voices. One is the voice of Joshua Muravchik, a “member of the Center of Investigations of the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C., and author of a book entitled Exporting Democracy” [13] (see Muravchik 1991). Another of the expert voices in this segment is Samuel Huntington’s, a professor of political science and director of the International Studies Institute of Harvard University.(47) Ceding to these expert voices arguably allows Radio Martí to offer an authoritative understanding of what gets to count as “democracy” and what role the United States should play in promoting this form of democracy around the world. Within that expert framework, a “multi-party system” and “popular elections” emerge as the most obvious institutional features of democracy. Less obvious but perhaps more significant are the pertinent normative features which, also, are articulated to democracy. Via Muravchik’s expert voice, Radio Martí links democracy to nature:

A people’s desire for liberty, for freedom from the arbitrary domination by a dictator or a tyrant, is universal. Democracy is the way of life which, at a minimum, best satisfies the natural impulse of a people. [13].

In addition to this, Muravchik/Radio Martí associates democracy with diversity. A telling aspect of this second relation is the way in which it is constructed in contrast to Communism:

[C]ommunism tries to conform the entire citizenry in a mode preordained in the name of socialism. Democracy doesn’t try to mode a people in a preordained fashion. On the contrary, democracy declares: Don’t change; maintain your individual personalities. Democracy is simply a way of trying to reconcile all the different objectives and desires which human beings possess in all their diversity. [13].

The conclusion to be drawn from these procedural and normative features is that democracy (defined in terms of multi-partisanship and popular elections) is universally preferred to Communism insofar as it remains true to the diversity of a people and to their natural impulse to be free. In addition to Muravchik’s comments, this segment of Enfoque draws from Huntington’s expert voice to articulate a relationship between democracy and economic development. The specific point of Huntington’s comments is to argue–specifically against Weber’s The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (1958)–that “economic progress” is possible in Catholic countries.(48) Two features are remarkable about this discussion. First, the conditions that best satisfy economic development (and in turn democracy) are never explicitly defined in this segment. There is, nonetheless, a tacit understanding that economic progress is best satisfied via capitalism. That understanding is implied by the fact that Huntington’s comments are set against Weber’s classic study. But what is remarkable about this is that the term capitalism is never used in this segment (or, to my recollection, anywhere else in the transmissions I recorded). Instead, the announcers on Enfogue refer to Weber’s assumptions about the relationship between the Protestant ethic and “economic progress.” For this reason, I argue that the spirit of capitalism is the unspoken logic underpinning Radio Martí’s promotion of “economic progress” in this segment (and of “open economies” in one of the VOA Editorials [92] I discussed above). The second feature worth noting about the association between democracy and economic progress which Radio Martí articulates is that this association seems to draw from assumptions made by modernization theorists. Modernization theory developed in the post-war era. It held that all societies go through the same basic stages of economic growth, developing from traditional societies with agricultural and craft-oriented economies to modern societies with advanced-industrial economies. As Klarén (1986) notes in his introductory essay on Latin American “underdevelopment,” the political implications of modernization theory were that “Westernization, industrialization, and economic growth would generate the preconditions for the evolution of greater social equality and hence, it was assumed, the rise of stable, democratic institutions” (11). In effect, then, modernization theorists proffered a unilinear progression from traditional economies to modern economies, and, then, to democratic institutions. On my reading, Radio Martí is offering a modernization theory perspective and appropriating Huntington to show how the proffered link between democracy and economic progress is possible in a Catholic country, like Cuba, as well.(49) One final comment worth noting about this segment of Enfoque is the way in which the expert voices characterize the role of the United States in promoting (a specific form of) “democracy” throughout the world. According to the Radio Martí commentator,

a debate has arisen concerning the role which would befall the first and most powerful democracy in the world, the United States, in the stimulation and dissemination of liberty around the world. [13].

But no “debate” is presented here. The commentator proceeds to note Muravchik’s argument that

the United States, having been the model for different forms of popular government, should have as a principle objective of its foreign policy, the bolstering of new democracies. . . . [13].

And later in the segment the commentator quotes Huntington as saying:

The United States should do all it can . . . to bolster democracy wherever the economic prospects for it look hopeful . . . I would urge that we concentrate our efforts on those countries which still have authoritarian regimes, but where, at least, some of the social and economic conditions favorable to democratization have already developed. . . . [13].

Given the role of the United States (as “the first and most powerful democracy in the world” [13]) in promoting democracy, I want to suggest the following conclusions. First, it is evident that the “democracy” supported with such fanfare on Radio Martí is liberal (representative) democracy–in contrast to other forms, like participatory democracy and socialist democracy: alternatives which are simply never considered on Radio Martí. Second, this form of democracy is tacitly linked with a specific kind of economic system: the capitalist system. Third, by presenting “democracy” and “economic progress” as natural human desires and contrasting them with Communism–significantly, with no alternatives in between–Radio Martí’s discourse arrays its “family” and “friends,” on the one hand, and its “real enemies,” on the other, according to a bi-polar logic, akin to the Cold-War logic underpinning the official discourse of the United States. The U.S. official discourse has, of course, undergone some modifications recently. In particular, U.S. warnings about the “Communist threat” have given way to swan songs about “the end of Communism.” But on my view, these modifications should not be read as a displacement of the earlier Cold-War rhetoric. On the contrary, one of the interesting features of discourses is that, as I have already noted, they draw from prior discourses: they re-articulate. And hegemonic discourses, in particular, involve a continuous process of re-constitution. Because no alternatives have been articulated between “Communism,” on the one hand, and “democracy,” on the other hand, what U.S. policy makers have labeled “the New World Order” is still, in my view, very much trapped within the dichotomous logic which informed the earlier Cold-War “rhetoric.” The following table outlines the dichotomy underpinning this “New” U.S. discourse.

Table 1. “The New World Order”
[The Spirit of Capitalism] Communism
Democracy Dictatorship
Freedom Tyranny
Diversity Homogeneity
Nature Experimentation
Open Economy Centralized Economy
Free Information Information Monopoly
Progress Stagnation/Death

In outlining this table, I have employed terms used on Radio Martí; the only exception, of course, is capitalism, which, as I suggested above, is the implicit, unspoken, natural other of Communism, constructed as “experimentation.” (The construction of Communism on Radio Martí is the subject of the next section.) The disproportionately large size of the first column is intended to highlight that an important aspect of the U.S. official discourse is the commonsensical view that “democracy” is squeezing out “Communism”: metaphorically speaking, the Liberty Bell has tolled the death of Communism. The point of this table is to note the dichotomously arrayed moments of the U.S. official discourse which Radio Martí articulates within its discourse. Once again, however, I want to stress that these two discourses are not the same. The official discourse of the United States (in both its “Cold War” form and its “New World Order” form) is a discourse principally concerned with ordering countries. That is, the phenomena which that discourse arrays into two “camps” are sovereign states, with specific forms of government, located in an international system. In contrast to this, Radio Martí’s discourse is, on my view, principally concerned with ordering a national community. Granted that this ordering also depends on demarcating one “Cuban” form of government from another, which explains why this discourse draws so heavily from the “New World Order” discourse of the United States. But Radio Martí’s discourse is aimed at Cubans, not countries. Put another way, Radio Martí’s discourse is primarily a nationalist discourse; not an internationalist one. One important consequence of this is that the association posited between “the Cuban exile” and the “United States,” as these identities are constructed on Radio Martí, does not really have the critical gloss normally read into notions of political alliances. Rather, that relation is couched in a moral language–a language in which shared views on “democracy,” “respect for diversity,” “the natural and universal human desire for liberty,” and so forth, suffices to make “the Cuban exile” and “the United States” friends. Consequently, this relation, on my view, has a quasi-sentimental gloss. That is, alongside the narrower we of the “separated Cuban community,” a broader we is articulated on Radio Martí: namely, a more inclusive normative community in which “the United States” and “the Cuban exile” (and “the Cuban people” writ large) are identified, above all else, as moral allies with the same normative vision. Within this framework, the United States emerges as a non-Cuban but nonetheless friendly voice which shares (and, indeed, helps to define) the exile’s concern with “democratizing” Cuba (albeit, according to a particular, liberal-representative model). Given this understanding of the United States, Radio Martí does not hide its peninsular link to the United States. That link is expressed several times a day in the RMP theme song’s construction of the “one voice” of Martí as one which emanates “from the Voice of the United States of America.” In this respect, then, “the Cuban exile” enacted on Radio Martí is doubly bound to an outside/inside: it is a (pen)insular construct doubly articulated (ironically, by its separation) to the United States and to Cuba.

“Cuban Realities” and Their Sources Because the United States is constituted more as a moral, than a political, ally to “the Cuban people”–given any people’s “natural impulse” for liberty–the United States is not the primary voice which articulates Cuba’s problems. I do not mean to suggest that critical moments are completely absent from the VOA Editorials and wherever else “North America” voices speak. I mean only that Radio Martí relies on other discursive devices for articulating “the Cuban problem” [13]. Bearing in mind that the critical moments, as I have defined these, are those which attempt to (re)construct the them which poses a threat for us (the them, in this instance, which has separated the Cuban community), the point of this section is to analyze how Radio Martí voices the “other” of the Cuban community. In order to present its critical view as valid, RMP couches its criticisms in vocalizations of “Cuban reality” ([13], [95], [98]). As with the sentimental moments, the voicing of these critical moments involves a temporal ordering. In the case of the former, that ordering was nostalgic in its vision, engendering an image of a past Cuba which had been lost. In the voicing of “Cuban realities,” however, Radio Martí constructs a present Cuba whose conditions of existence (its “realities”) become the explicit object of criticism–a “reality” in need of reform. What is remarkable about the voicing of “Cuban realities,” however, is that the validity of the critical vision presented here depends on a reversal of perspective: instead of a sentimental “vision from afar,” the vocalizations construct the critical view as one which emanates “from the inside.” This apparently insular critique is implied in the use of “testimonies” [95] and of the “real stories” of “dissatisfied Cubans” [71]. To give a concrete example, the first part of the Enfoque segment which I discussed in the previous section involves a commentary on the problems faced by Cuban intellectuals in Cuba. Here, the detractors of Cuban Communism are voices which have lived under that system: i.e., dissidents rather than counterrevolutionary exiles. In the process, a sense of simultaneity is conveyed. By explicitly establishing a relation of equivalence between dissidents (inside Cuba) and exiles (outside Cuba), this segment employs a temporal sense of in-the-meantime to imagine the Cuban community in terms of a shared suffering: the implication is that while exiles were experiencing the problems of separation and loss created by the socialist revolution in Cuba, some islanders were experiencing the more concrete, “difficult conditions” of living under a Communist system. In this way, then, the commentators construct “exiles” and “dissidents” as simultaneous members of the Cuban community who have suffered (albeit, in different ways) from “the imposition” of Communism in Cuba and who share a longing for “the democratization of the country” [13]. The equivalence established between “exiles” and “dissidents” or “dissatisfied Cubans,” here and elsewhere in RMP transmissions, allows Radio Martí to mark its critical vision as the vision of those who live (or, at least, have lived until recently) under the Cuban system. The criticisms are thereby guaranteed a certain validity: the validity of first-hand experience. And in the bargain, the insular gloss given this critical vision helps to efface its (pen)insular origins, obscuring the ways in which the other voices on Radio Martí (exiled, expert, and North American) also inform this critical vision. Concretely, RMP constructs an image of a present-day Cuba which it argues is at odds, explicitly, with the revolutionary promise and, implicitly, with Martí’s vision of liberty. “Testimonies” of this type serve to set “Cuban reality” apart from the Communist rhetoric–the “contradictions and lies” [7]–evident in Castro’s speeches. Recall that “Martí,” especially within the official discourse of Cuba, signifies a revolutionary figure who warned against “imperialism.” Cuban revolutionary discourse has overwhelmingly defined this as anti-United States. This ideological linkage between Martí and an anti-U.S. sentiment is what Radio Martí, for its part, attempts to disarticulate: in part, through its characterization of Castro as having “betrayed the revolution” by delivering it into the hands of the Soviet Empire.(50) This betrayal is implied in one of RMP’s “testimonial” segments: the revolution obtained for the Soviet Union “its first beachhead in American territory” and “brought forth a profound ideological and economic dependence” presumably on “the Russian empire” [94]. As Martí’s “namesake,” then, Radio Martí implicitly accepts the significance of Martí as a staunch anti-imperialist (from whatever source). The point here, however, is to underscore that Martí’s concern with Cuban sovereignty is contradicted by “Cuban reality”–the “reality” of an imposed Communist order mired, until recently, in dependent relationships with the Soviet Union. As I suggested in the previous section, the dissolution of the Soviet Union has been matched by a modification in the official discourse of the United States. Aspects of this discourse of “the New World Order” have been integrated into Radio Martí’s discourse. As a consequence, RMP’s critical moments rely less on themes of an “outside enemy” than on themes which construct Castro and Communism as the “real enemies” of the Cuban people. To articulate that understanding, Radio Martí attempts to outline the nature of the conditions under which the Cuban people have had to live. Insofar as the socialist revolutionary discourse of Cuba constitutes the revolution as a “popular” one–that is, as something which the Cuban people want–a number of the commentaries on Radio Martí attempt to disarticulate this understanding by pointing out not only that the revolution has had its detractors in Cuba (as I noted above), but also that the space for dissenting in Cuba has been very limited. To that end, one commentary mentioned the experience of a political prisoner who had been jailed for over thirty years [10], while another commentary noted that Cubans who had revolted against the revolution had been imprisoned and some even executed [71]. The living conditions in Cuba are also suggested in the episodic program Qué Pasa en Casa? (“What’s Happening at Home?”). The program follows the life of one fictive Cuban family and depicts, in each episode, the extremes to which that family has to go to deal with some new problem. One episode concerned a shortage of school uniforms (uniforms mandated by the government) and the attempts by the mother and grandmother to “invent” one out of well-made American bed-sheets which an exiled family member had sent from Miami [107]. The tacit point of episodes like this one is to suggest that the Cuban people experience periodic shortages, that the supply of goods is rationed, and that what goods they do manage to get are poor quality. The contrast with Miami implies that it (and the United States by extension) is a place of plenty. This episode is one of the few places in which the issue of market freedom surfaces, at all, on Radio Martí. If the spirit of capitalism is what animates Radio Martí’s ideological linkages, that spirit, as I suggested earlier, is obscured by a more vocal one demanding political freedom. At the same time, Radio Martí constructs revolutionary Cuba as a place which poses real constraints on the extent to which islanders themselves can be vocal. For example, in addition to points about the scarcity of resources in Cuba, one scene of this episode of Qué Pasa en Casa? depicts the grandmother and a store clerk subduing their voices for a moment to criticize the government. In this way, the program characterizes “home” as a place in which Cubans have to be careful about voicing dissenting opinions. Similarly, segments like the Enfoque program on Cuban intellectuals [13] and program announcements like the RMP greeting [15], which constructs Radio Martí as a service program designed to meet the human right to free information, implicitly refer to the existence of censorship in Cuba. Censorship is also alluded to in those segments which argue that Cuba was rich in culture before the revolution ([24], [90]). In fact, this is the entire premise underpinning Roberto Valero’s commentary about the “cultural function” which Radio Martí attempts to serve. In that commentary, Valero mentions a number of Cuban writers who have been excluded from the “monolithic culture” which Communism has attempted to establish in Cuba. Many of the writers mentioned by Valero are among those Cuban intellectuals which Carlos Ripoll(51) (1987) argues were targeted by Cuban officials in the early ’70s under the government’s new policy concerning freedom of expression in Cuba. Guillermo Cabrera Infante is one of these writers. Ripoll cites an article by Cabrera Infante in which the latter describes how censorship works in Cuba:

One week after returning [to Cuba] I knew that not only could I not write in Cuba, I could not live there either. I only told this to a friend, a type of revolutionary non-person. This is the cycle of the non-person: request for exit from the country; automatic loss of job and eventual search of house and goods; without work there is no work card, without work card there is no ration card . . . (Cabrera Infante, cited in Ripoll 1987, 464).

The experiences of writers like Cabrera Infante are no doubt the subject of Valero’s commentary.(52) This point is important, for it would be wrong to suggest that Radio Martí’s constructions of “Cuban reality” are entirely fictive. I am not denying the “lived” experiences of the Cuban people articulated on Radio Martí; but as I explained in Chapter II, following Tomlinson (1991), these are but one moment in the interplay between the “lived” and the “represented” by which “culture,” more broadly, is experienced. Consequently, it would be equally wrong to suggest that the sources of Cuban problems are obvious (viz., unmediated). But this is what Radio Martí attempts to do. It presents as self-evident sources of Cuban problems what are in fact constructs drawn from the U.S. discourse of “the New World Order” (see Table 1, above). Drawing from this discourse, Radio Martí characterizes Communism as an “experiment.” This point is suggested in one commentary concerned with the possibility of development under a centralized economy [113]. In the process, the commentator notes that other “experimenters” (a reference to Eastern European countries) have moved away from centralized economies in favor of more open economies. In contrast to this link between Communism and experimentation, Radio Martí arrays “democracy,” “economic progress,” and “diversity” on the side of “nature.” The tacit suggestion is that left to themselves, a people will naturally desire the latter set of conditions; but “in reality,” the Cuban people have not been left to themselves. Via the contrast between the natural and the experimental, Radio Martí implies that Castro, as the leader of the Cuban revolution, has imposed a Communist regime on the Cuban people. And what is more, Castro remains “immovable” despite changes elsewhere in the world [113]. This double sense of Cuban Communism as unnaturally imposed and as impervious to change is conveyed succinctly in one of Valero’s statements:

Castroism, while it may seem to us long, is a passing accident. As things are today, it is dead. Although the cadaver is not yet mindful of its own lifelessness: People, it is a cadaver. [90].

In this way, “Castro” and “Communism” are cast as the self-evident sources of Cuba’s problems: “everyone in the country knows who the villain is” [107]. At the same time, RMP attempts to bridge the gap between islanders and exiles by arguing that Cuban exiles and the United States are only “invented enemies” ([90], [96]). Insofar as Cuban revolutionaries like Castro have characterized exiles as gusanos (“worms”), the exiled voices on Radio Martí mark “Castro” as what has divided the community (apropos my earlier comment that one’s position on Castro is what has constituted membership in the exiled and revolutionary “Cuban communities” which emerged after 1959). In short, “Castro” is constructed as the villain who has both created the difficult conditions confronting islanders and who has also driven a wedge between islanders and exiles, thereby making Cuba “a nation which has been deceived and divided” [90]. In this way, too, Radio Martí attempts to articulate the insular critiques of Cuban conditions to the (pen)insular diagnosis of the problem.

“Proposing New Destinies” Taken together, the critical themes summarized above comprise the strategies by which Radio Martí attempts to disarticulate Cubanness from Communism. Alongside these negative themes about the “present” are those which attempt to rearticulate Cubanness to a series of more positive, forward-looking ideological elements significant in the (pen)insular discourse. In effect, then, the retrospective sentimental moments which articulate a past Cuba and the introspective critical moments which characterize a present Cuba are linked, as well, to prospective moments (both sentimental and critical) which articulate a future Cuba. “Proposing new destinies” for all Cubans on the island is, therefore, an important aspect of what Radio Martí aims to do. This sense is vocalized in the musical portion of the following announcement for the regularly scheduled program Por Montes y Caminos (“Through Hills and Roads”):

For listeners in the hills and also those outside the hills, from the path of the cane field to the main road [literally: the “royal road”], from the plantation to the nearby town, from the sugar mill to the big city, our appointment is at five in the morning, on Saturdays and Sundays, through Radio Martí. [Song] To propose new destinies through your hills and roads. Cuba wants liberty, Oh God. [103]

The desire for a Cuba Libre (a free Cuba) expressed in this song, like the desire for “democracy,” is an aspiration which has a fine moral tenor but no necessary substantive meaning. After all, a Cuba Libre was something which Cuban revolutionaries, themselves, also aspired to have. Within the meaning-constitutive framework which Radio Martí articulates, however, that aspiration is linked specifically to individual rights, including the “possibility for a better future” than has been possible under Communism [77]. Liberty on Radio Martí is defined often in terms of free information, free thought and expression, free elections, and, less often, in terms of free market choices. Furthermore, within this framework, Radio Martí explicitly constructs itself as a medium by which these rights are made available, by invitation, to Cubans on the island (the you of the address in the following RMP greeting):

Good afternoon, Cuba. You are listening to Radio Martí. Always with you: twenty-four hours in your company. Radio Martí: by the right of every man to be free, to receive information and disseminate it, to seek his own truth and unfurl it among other men who respect it of him.(53)

In a series of complex discursive maneuvers, RMP articulates this sense of liberty through relations of equivalence to democratic institutions (the multi-partisanship and popular elections of the Enfoque segment [13] discussed above) and to capitalist economies (obliquely implied in positive comments about “economic progress” [13] and “open economies” [92]). The meaning of liberty is constituted, as well, through relations of difference. That is, what liberty is is also dependent on expressions about what it is not. Significantly, liberty and its equivalences are contrasted to tyranny and dictatorship (and the set of equivalences which are, in turn, related to these “others” of liberty). As I indicated in the previous sections, these “others” of liberty include “experimental centralized economies,” “information monopolies” or “censorship,” and, more broadly, “Communism” as that type of regime which imposes itself on a people, against their “natural impulse,” and which “drowns out” Cuban voices “by a monolithic bloc lacking in historical sensitivity” [90]. By now, these points should seem familiar. What I have not, as yet, discussed in any detail is the specific discursive strategy by which Radio Martí attempts to link islanders to change–or, more precisely, how it attempts to re-constitute them as political actors who can bring about the “liberation” of Cuba. That linkage is articulated through a relation of equivalence between Cuba and Eastern Europe. By drawing a parallel between islanders and Eastern European “Voices of Liberty,” Radio Martí invites Cubans to identify themselves as an active people who, notwithstanding conditions of censorship and imprisonment, can in unison voice demands for political freedom. Against the backdrop of “Communism is dead” and “Castro is immovable”–a backdrop implying a static reality imposed by Cuban revolutionaries who ignore historical changes–Eastern Europeans are constructed as people who faced similar conditions, but who took steps to change those conditions. This understanding is conveyed in the program Voces de la Libertad (“Voices of Liberty”) [77]. In the segment I analyzed, a marching theme (conveying, on my view, the sense of time marching on) played in the background while an announcer explicitly drew the parallel I am claiming between Cuba and Eastern Europe:

[I]t was the daily routine. The Cuban government keeps depriving its people of their rights and of the possibility of a better future. But in Eastern Europe, what appeared impossible has become a reality. Today can be heard the Voices of Liberty. [77].

Radio Martí admonishes its listeners that the struggle for freedom (that is, for the liberal democratic and market freedoms implied on Radio Martí) is a struggle which “demands the efforts of each citizen” [77]. Positive changes are not given by the effortless effort of history; they are made by concrete political actors. Elsewhere on Radio Martí, listeners are reminded that “Losers let things happen; victors make things happen” [100].(54) Hence, in the process of articulating a particular Cuban identity for islanders to incorporate and enact, Radio Martí attempts, as well, to transform its listeners into agents of change: “When we are stuck in a situation that doesn’t permit us to grow like human beings . . . we have no choice but to take the road to change” ([52], my emphasis). This construct may seem ironic. “Agents of change” are generally conceived of as political subjects articulated by leftist discourses. However, having considered the ways in which “Communism” has been constructed as a static condition within the meanings constituted by the discourse of “the New World Order” and rearticulated here on Radio Martí, we should not be surprised to find that “progressiveness” is a concept which has been disarticulated from revolutionary discourses and rearticulated to erstwhile counter-revolutionary discourses. What I am suggesting is that commonsensical views which link “revolution” to “progress” are views that emerge out of particular historical contexts: in this case, out of the political-historical context of the early twentieth-century. Beginning with the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia, the revolutions which emerged in the early twentieth century were set against the then static conditions engendered by classically rightist forms of government: from absolutist regimes like Tsarism to the military regimes of Fascism. Consequently, “progress” was linked to “revolutions” which were left-oriented. My point, however, is that outside this context, no necessary connection exists between “progress” and “leftist revolutions.” A different way to put it is that Radio Martí is here attempting yet another strategy of disarticulation and rearticulation. By characterizing “Communist regimes” as static and even “dead,” it strives to uncouple a “leftist revolution” from the sense of “progress” with which this is usually associated. In the meantime, Radio Martí marks the “Voices of Liberty” as change-oriented, and it constitutes liberty in terms of liberal-democratic and, implicitly, capitalist freedoms, thereby attempting to rearticulate change to a liberal orientation. Through a complex of articulations of both sentimental and critical moments, then, Radio Martí attempts to bring into being a particular kind of Cuban political actor. Table 2 summarizes these articulations.

Table 2. The Voice(s) of Radio Martí
Articulations Sentimental Moments Critical Moments
  • Sense of Belonging to and Distance from a Past Cuba
  • Natural Respect for Diversity, Democracy, and Liberty
  • Desire for Change
  • Sense of Betrayal and Hard Realities in a Present Cuba
  • Experimental Imposition of Homogeneity, Communism, and Censorship
  • Refusal to Change
Spoken Identities
  • Exiles and ISLANDERS
  • The United States (North American Officials, Experts)
  • Eastern Europeans
  • Castro
  • The Cuban Communist Regime
Mediated Communities
  • A Separated Cuban Community
  • A Broader Normative Community
[No Community of “Others”]

The table is meant to provide an at-a-glance understanding of the various elements which Radio Martí links together in order to meaningfully constitute this “new” Cuban political actor. The point is to grasp how ISLANDERS (the subject position located at the center of these complex linkages) are invited to identify themselves in relation to the set of themes (or broad arguments), the multiple spoken identities (that is, the constituted identities), and the two mediated communities articulated on Radio Martí. The elements located within the columns marked Sentimental Moments and Critical Moments are made meaningful, on the one hand, via relations of equivalence among the elements within each column and, on the other hand, via relations of difference between elements across the two columns. Equivalence and difference, therefore, underscore that the emergent mediated communities articulated on Radio Martí are constituted via processes of, respectively, inclusion and exclusion. Within this framework, the spoken identities of Exiles and Islanders are constituted as belonging to and distant from a past Cuba and, hence, as members of a Separated Cuban Community. Furthermore, these identities, along with the United States and Eastern Europeans, are spoken as identities which respect diversity, democracy, and liberty, and, hence, as identities sharing a moral vision which marks all of them as members of a Broader Normative Community (the “Free World”). These identities and their respective communities emerge, as well, in contrast to the “others” (“Castro” and “the Cuban Communist Regime”) spoken in relation to the critical themes voiced on Radio Martí. One additional point is worth noting. Since “Communism” is constituted as an imposition, this concept is understood in hierarchical terms: specifically, as a regime imposed on a people by a dictator (“Castro”) who, in turn, is (or, at least, has been) constituted as a minor player dependent on an imperial power (formerly, “the Soviet Empire”). Recalling that community conveys the sense of a deep, horizontal comradeship (a relation of equality), it is not surprisingly to find that Radio Martí does not articulate its “others” as a community. Even while the Soviet bloc had existed, the members of that political alliance were understood in hierarchical terms as dependents or subordinates of the Soviet Empire. In contrast to this, the sovereign states comprising “the Free World,” have been understood as equal members (obscuring whatever de facto, asymmetric, military and political-economic power relations may have existed among members of the so-called “Free World” and may still exist among members of “the New World Order”). It is clear, therefore, that the use of the term community has certain normative implications, conveying the sense that its members freely choose to identify themselves as belonging to this community: hence, the contrast between “the Free World” and “the Soviet Bloc.” Within this framework, community has never been a term extended to the latter, and it is less apposite now that “the Soviet bloc” (which was, at a minimum, conceived as a collectivity) no longer exists. Since this collectivity was understood in hierarchical terms (as one imposed), there has been no space within this network of meaning for understanding “Communism” as a freely chosen, popular form of government. Furthermore, the absence of this hierarchy helps to explain why “Castro” is constructed as “the last communist”–a phrase connoting an isolated identity, rather than a communal one.(55) Given this implicit us-and-them framework within which islanders are situated, it is evident, I think, that Radio Martí attempts to re-constitute Cubans on the island as political actors who can bring a future Cuba Libre into being. I fully grant, however, that Radio Martí’s efforts may be unsuccessful. One aspect of these articulations which may mitigate against RMP’s being able to effect this agency is that the sentimental elements (which yield the sense of “us”) can be disarticulated from the critical elements (the sense of “them”) by listeners themselves. That is, a listener may agree with Radio Martí’s construction of “us” while disagreeing with its construction of “them.”(56) The point to bear in mind is that none of the elements are necessarily linked; rather, each of these links are discursive constructs made in Radio Martí’s vocalizations. What may help to foster islanders’ acceptance of these articulations (and their concomitant self-identification as a particular kind of Cuban political actor) is the very normative appeal of concepts like community, especially when that concept is given the sentimental gloss of a family. Above all else, Radio Martí works on Cuban identity by playing with islanders’ sense of attachment both to the concrete families and to the broader, imagined Cuban national family which Radio Martí argues were separated by the revolution. The desire to reunite both of these families is conveyed via the all-important metaphor of bridging.


Family Bridge. [Music] Family Bridge, a program from all those who are here to all those who are there. The voices of your loved ones, of your friends, of those who you remember fondly and who want to erect, with the Radio Martí family, a bridge of love and hope. [39]I am interested in meditating for a bit on the work of Radio Martí: or if you like, on one of the functions of Radio Martí. For me, the most important assignment for this radio program is its cultural function. I am not talking about culture in a strict, professional sense . . . I am talking about all the disciplines of knowledge. The most important task is bridging. Radio Martí has served and continues serving to unite Cuba and the Cubans. [90]

“To erect a bridge of love and hope,” “to unite Cuba and the Cubans”: these are the self-described efforts of Radio Martí. Taken together, the segments just cited convey the sense of concrete Cuban families which have been divided by the revolution and of an imagined Cuban national family, also divided by the revolution. The first segment is from an announcement for the regularly scheduled program Family Bridge [39]: a program which airs messages from “loved ones” in North America to “loved ones” in Cuba (“yours over here for ours over there” [39]), thereby allowing voices marked as members of separated families to communicate with one another via Radio Martí. The second segment is from Valero’s commentary [90]. While the sense of a national family being bridged by Radio Martí is not explicitly expressed by Valero, the metaphor of bridging does, at a minimum, convey a sense of distance and loss. And insofar as a familial connotation to bridging is articulated in the Family Bridge program, there is, in my view, a carry-over, if you will, of this familial connotation of the metaphor of bridging in its articulation elsewhere on Radio Martí. Furthermore, references to the figure of Martí as “our brother” in the RMP theme song [12] articulates the Cuban national community in explicitly familial terms. Bridging is an apt metaphor for what is attempted by Radio Martí. In its various vocalizations of a separated we, bridging symbolically expresses Radio Martí’s effort to articulate the insular to the peninsular, to erect a discursive bridge across an ideological gap which can be measured in miles (the 90 miles across the Straits of Florida which separate the isle from the peninsula) and in moments (the persistent and problematic present which separates Martí’s past vision of a liberated Cuba from the Cuban exile’s future vision of a liberated Cuba). Radio Martí attempts to bridge the spatial gap through the conflation between the “here” and the “there” which broadcasting makes possible. The voices travel across the 90 miles separating islanders from exiles and present themselves “here with you,” inviting islanders to share with them a few precious moments of communal interaction. The temporal gap is bridged especially through the construction of the “there” to which the Cuban exile longs to return. The Cuba “over there” which still belongs to the Cuban exile (“our things” [24]) is a largely imagined place: an imagined Cuba Libre which is brought into existence only as “past memory” and as “future promise.” We should recall, in this respect, the role which nostalgia plays on Radio Martí. As I mentioned in an earlier section, the backward-looking expression of a “past Cuba” rich in culture and natural beauty is one of the most important discursive devices by which Radio Martí articulates the identity of the Cuban exile and invites islanders to share the sense of loss and of belonging to a separated community. Recuerdos (recollections) are Proustean moments on Radio Martí: moments in which the voices attempt to recreate the “Cuba of the past.” In his Remembrance of Things Past (1981), Proust noted that the past never dies; rather, it imposes itself through art, through culture. The voices on Radio Martí express a similar conviction; the Cuba of their memories cannot slip out of existence because the art and literature of Cuba (including the writings of Martí, himself) re-calls this past Cuba. Read this way, Radio Martí’s “cultural function” [90] can be seen as an attempt to let the past recreate itself through remembrances of the nature and culture of a temporally distant Cuba. What emerges is a nostalgic vision of Cuba as a loss–“When I left Cuba, I left buried my heart” [104]. This construct, however, depends as much on forgetting as it does on remembering: forgotten (insofar as they are ignored) are any of the political and economic features of Cuba which may have existed prior to the revolution. For this reason, Radio Martí’s remembrances must be seen to create more than they recreate. They construct a parallax view of a Cuba Libre which passes for “memory” and “aspiration.” The bridge erected by Radio Martí, then, is constructed according to a very specific blueprint: what I have referred to as a network of meaning or a discourse. In the preceding analysis, I have insisted on distinguishing this from the official discourse by which the United States formerly constituted “the Free World” and currently constitutes “the New World Order.” By now, the reason for this distinction should be clear. Radio Martí has a more specific political aim than is suggested by the notion that it functions simply as a mouthpiece for the United States. While the United States is a member of Radio Martí’s chorus of voices–and one which undoubtedly has its solos–it is but one of the several voices on Radio Martí. And for all that, it is not the principal voice on Radio Martí. In capsular form, that voice is one which addresses its listeners in the following way:

You and I are members of a national family. We may have minor differences of opinion, but we are both Cubans who want to live in our island home, enjoying the freedoms which every human being naturally desires. Unfortunately, we have been separated, and we remain apart because one man relentlessly ignores that people will inevitably cry out for liberty. Thankfully, Radio Martí has erected this bridge for us. The vistas from this bridge are incredible. Let’s spend some time together here, on this bridge, and I’ll show you a Cuba our brother Martí saw and a Cuba we may yet someday see and live in together.

This is the principal voice on Radio Martí: the voice of the Cuban exile.

VI. Conclusion: Other Bridges As scholars, we may regard ourselves, at best, as colleagues within an academic community: a self-understanding which is different from senses of self as compatriots of a national family. Whatever interactions you (as reader) and I (as author) have had here, those interactions are professional, scholarly, and theoretical in scope. Consequently, we may not understand the sentimental appeal of nationalist “rhetorics” like the Cuban exile’s. But we do, on some level, understand the appeal of community, don’t we? If you have accepted my invitation to see yourself as an academic because, at least in part, of the way I have addressed you–namely, as a fellow colleague within an academic community–than you understand the normative appeal of community. Perhaps academia and patria are, in this respect, not all that different. Within the respective communities to which we belong, we “build bridges” all the time, and at times we are admonished not to “burn bridges.” Whether our ties are professional or patriotic, the need for connections is central to the communities to which we have a sense of belonging. It is this need which Radio Martí presents itself as filling. Unfortunately, my analysis does not lend itself to pat conclusions about Radio Martí’s success at closing the gap between exiles and islanders. Given its discursive strategies, however, questions about the program’s effectiveness must, I think, remain open. These discursive strategies have included a politics of naming–an attempt to cash in on the symbolic appeal of José Martí among Cubans. What Martí actually believed will have less to do with the relative success of this appropriation than whether or not islanders, on some level, share RMP’s interpretation/construction of him. As Santí (1986) notes, Martí functions as little more than an “empty rhetorical emblem” in Cuban politics (143). But the import of that otherwise empty emblem for Cubans is, I think, implied in the following anecdote about one incident in the history of U.S.-Cuban relations:

Havana developed a reputation as a good liberty port for the U.S. Navy. . . . Most of the time Cuban authorities treated North American excesses, drinking sprees, brawls, and minor disturbances with a mixture of indulgence and indifference. In one incident, however, on the evening of March 12, 1949, three drunken North American sailors climbed atop the statue of José Martí in the Parque Central and urinated over the monument. The incident provoked rioting and angry anti-U.S. demonstrations, requiring in the end a formal U.S. apology. What made the event of lasting effect was that it was well photographed by Cubans, and for years thereafter the publication of photos of the North American sailors swinging from the extended arm of José Martí aroused indignation and anti-U.S. sentiment in Cuba. (Pérez, Jr. 1990, 222).

As this anecdote relates, the United States has “messed with” Cuba’s national hero before. Obviously, its current appropriation of Martí has not been taken lightly by the Cuban government. But this does not tell us how the Cuban people will respond to Radio Martí’s missive. In the effort to link islanders to their vision, the voices on Radio Martí enact a concrete “Cuban” identity–the identity of the “Cuban exile.” The features of that identity are evident in the complex of sentimental and critical themes, the spoken identities, and the mediated communities articulated on Radio Martí. Ultimately, the success of its mission will, I think, depend on whether or not islanders share in the exile’s sentimental view of a separated Cuban community and then translate that sentiment into the critical vision expounded on Radio Martí. Two features may facilitate the translation of Radio Martí’s representation of belonging to personally held senses of belonging among islanders. First, in the process of re-articulating the insular identity of islanders into a (pen)insular one, Radio Martí draws from commonsensical understandings of Cubanness: the moments of prior discourses of Cuban identity. Consequently, some aspects of the Cubanness voiced on Radio Martí may ring true to islanders. Second, by inviting islanders to see themselves as belonging to a separated Cuban community, the voices on Radio Martí draw from the normative appeal of community: the need for a certain connectedness which Radio Martí’s bridging is designed to meet. I grant that this bridge has been constructed according to a very specific blueprint. In fact, the point of my analysis has been to consider Radio Martí in terms of that blueprint: to show, in effect, the bridgings (articulations) that this blueprint has erected, the other bridgings (rearticulations) which remain possible, and the still other kinds of bridgings (disarticulations) which are impossible to construct according to that blueprint. Of the last of these, I considered the impossibility, within Radio Martí’s network of meaning, of imagining Communist others in terms of community. Both within this network, and within the broader discourse of “the New World Order” from which Radio Martí draws, it has been impossible to conceive Communism as a freely chosen, popular form of government. That construction of Communism is, however, available via other discourses: for example, the official discourse of the Socialist Revolution in Cuba. What this means, in effect, is that representations of belonging to a revolutionary Cuba are available to islanders, and a fair number of the latter may have accepted this understanding of themselves: viz., as revolutionary Cubans. Radio Martí (and the United States more broadly) denies the possibility that this identity may have been freely chosen by islanders because within its (liberal) democratic framework, choice is measured against the presence or absence of a multi-party system and popular elections. Unrecognized here is that other blueprints for bridging–for satisfying a sense of connectedness–exist in Cuba, and that according to those alternative blueprints, different understandings of choice may be possible. This study was written with these alternatives in mind. As a Cuban-American–living on the “borderlands,” as it were, between two cultures and experiencing each, at times, as appealing and, at other times, as imposing–I have staked out a position of ambivalence with respect to the Cuban revolution. On my view, this ambivalence has allowed me to accept the possibility that Communism is popular among a number of islanders. This is not to say that I reject the “exile” desire to close the gap between exiles and islanders. On the contrary, what this means is that my impulse is towards accommodation: in effect, towards erecting a bridge between exiles and islanders according to a different blueprint than has been available. Unfortunately, many Cuban exiles disbelieve that Communism can be popular: consequently, they have tended to reject the possibility of accommodation. Furthermore, international “realities” have, on their view, proven that Communism is unpopular. The problem with seeing Cuban “realities” as analogous, specifically, to Eastern European ones is that the socialist revolution in Cuba was a popular revolution. Of course, a number of islanders are beginning to voice anti-revolutionary views, but a number of others still support the revolution. (Islanders of both types were cited in “Focus–Numbered Days?” [1992].) Consequently, whether the Cuban revolution remains popular today is a question which, I think, must remain open. As regards the exile’s skepticism about its popularity, I would encourage, at a minimum, a suspension of disbelief so that other (perhaps stronger) bridges between exiles and islanders may become possible.

Appendix Radio Martí Recordings: Radio Martí is not allowed to broadcast (or send transcripts of its programming) within the United States. According to Frederick, “This is intended to prevent an American presidential administration from using governmental radio channels to propagandize itself within the United States” (1986, 19). Despite these restrictions, transmissions can be picked up here. For this analysis, I recorded Radio Martí Programming (RMP) transmissions via shortwave in South Florida. Working from recordings presented two specific problems. First, on occasion the transmission either weakened or faded out completely. Consequently, I was not always able to hear entire segments. Secondly, although Spanish is my first language, I have never had formal training in it; consequently, I sometimes found the task of translation a challenge. Since I had no written transcript from which to work, I often had to guess what words were being spoken, check to see if such a word was listed in the Spanish/English dictionary I used, and then decide if the word in question fit with the content of the rest of the segment as I understood it. Given this process-of-elimination method of translation, I would consider the following a reasonable paraphrase (rather than a faithful quotation and translation) of RMP transmissions. For the recordings, I used six 90-minute cassette tapes and recorded about nine-hours worth of transmissions. The recordings are neither successive nor systematic. They include selections from transmissions made from June 28, 1991 to July 17, 1991. Actual dates and (approximate) times for each transmission are noted below. I provide only a brief summary for most of the segments. For others, I include a translation, and for a select few I also include a transcript in the original Spanish (no doubt, with a number of misspellings and omitted accents). [PLEASE NOTE: U.S. policy regarding the extensive reproduction on the Internet of Radio Martí programming (or transcripts of the same) is unclear. For this reason, I have decided not to post the Appendix here. Those interested in reviewing its content for research purposes may obtain a copy of the Appendix by e-mailing me at . Thank you, and sorry for the inconvenience. –D. Saco, 4/28/97 (email updated March 8, 2007)]

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1. Bracketed numbers throughout the text refer to segments of Radio Martí transmissions which I recorded for this study and have listed in the Appendix at the end. Details about these recordings accompany the listings in the Appendix. NOTE: To return to the text, simply click the “BACK” button on your Web browser.

2. For detailed discussions of the Reagan administration’s objectives in launching Radio Martí and of the role of Cuban exiles (especially members of the Cuban American National Foundation) in lobbying for its legislation, see Masud-Piloto (1988, 104-108) and Frederick (1986, 24-31). An official statement of Radio Martí objectives is available in the U.S. government publication entitled Report by the Advisory Board for Cuba Broadcasting (1989)–hereafter, US/Report (1989).

3. See, especially, Lowery and DeFleur’s section on “Small Groups and Meaning Theory” (1983, 183-184) in their chapter on the two-step flow of communication.

4. This correspondence is quoted in US/Report (1989), and also on the Radio Martí Program (RMP) in its regular segment “Letters to Radio Martí.”

5. The link between Nation and Narration has been taken up by several recent scholars in Bhabha (1990). See especially Timothy Brennan’s essay, “The National Longing for Form” (in Bhabha 1990, 44-70).

6. In my view, one of the best elaborations of the sense in which lived experience is discursively mediated is provided by Joan Scott (1991).

7. Gramsci’s concern was with state-society relations. For this reason, I have considered it appropriate to describe his notion of hegemony in terms of its nationalistic construction of a people. The concept of hegemony, however, is broadly applicable to any study of the relationships between a structure or institution and the quasi-social practices that support and are supported by it. I am thinking here, in particular, of studies of “the world order” in international relations theory by “neo-Gramscians,” like Robert Cox (1987). In his recent assessment of the neo-Gramscian perspective in international relations, Mark Laffey (1992) argues (in my view, correctly) that neo-Gramscians have not sufficiently addressed the role of ideology (so central to Gramsci’s notion of hegemony) in winning popular consent. My summary of Gramsian theory, in this section, has benefitted from discussions I have had with Mark about his work.

8. For an analysis of Thatcherism in terms of its discursive articulations, see Hall (1988).

9. In her dissertation (currently in progress), Jennifer Milliken has drawn on Schutz’s work to outline a notion of pragmatic contexts. I owe my introduction to Schutz and his relevance for understanding the discursive mediation of experience to conversations I have had with her about her work.

10. See the chapter on “Revolution and Response,” in Pérez, Jr. (1990). For a former insider’s view of the Cuban revolution and its relationship with the Soviet Union, see Carlos Franqui’s auto-biographical account (1985).

11. Speaking before MacArthur Graduate Fellowship recipients at the University of Minnesota on January 25, 1991, Rafael Dausá, Third Secretary of the Cuban Interests Section in Washington, D.C., noted that 80% of Cuba’s foreign trade had been conducted with “socialist Europe.” In addition to this, he pointed out that whereas Cuba consumes 13 million tons of oil annually, in 1990, the Soviet Union had exported only 10 million tons of oil to Cuba.

12. The letter was published in the April 11, 1965, issue of the Havana journal Verde Olivo (“Olive Green”: an explicit reference to the revolutionary figure’s customary garb). A translation of this is cited in Bonachea and Valdés (1969).

13. This is from a filming of one of Castro’s recent speeches shown on the January 21, 1992, episode of The MacNeil/Lehrer Newshour, in a segment on Cuba entitled “Focus–Numbered Days?” I have drawn this quote from a transcript of the episode (“Focus–Numbered Days?” 1992, 9).

14. One perhaps decisive concern which I ignore is the issue of racial difference. In his study of Ideology and U.S. Foreign Policy, Michael H. Hunt (1987) has shown how a hierarchy of race has helped to structure the United State’s ideological position vis-à-vis other nations, including Cuba, serving to justify U.S. intervention in nations conceived, at least tacitly, as “racially inferior.” In addition to this, Cubans of African descent have overwhelmingly supported the Cuban revolution, in contrast to the droves of white Cubans which comprised especially the first waves of exiles emigrating from Cuba. In this respect, sentiments about the revolution may cut across racial (as well as, class) differences. But racial issues were not in evidence in the transmissions of Radio Martí which I analyzed for this study. Consequently, I cannot really comment on the role it might play in RMP’s effectiveness.

15. This sense of residing in the interstices between two cultures has been beautifully conveyed in the poem “To Live in the Borderlands . . . ” by the mestiza (half-breed) writer, Gloria Anzaldúa (1987). The work of “women of color,” like Anzaldúa, reflects the new ways in which writing has recently been employed to imagine more fragmented identities and the complex and contradictory communities to which they belong.

16. In addition to this, not all exiled Cuban communities are as explicitly anti-Castro as the Cuban community in Miami. As Eric Selbin has pointed out to me in conversation, studies of the exile Cuban community in New Orleans, for example, suggest that this community is less anti-Castro and anti-socialist in character. Since I have not engaged in a comparative analysis of these two exile Cuban communities, I can only point to this difference here.

17. I capitalize Communism to denote that sense of the term linked to actual political structures in the Soviet Union and revolutionary Cuba. I regard this as distinct from the (lower-case) communism of which Marx wrote, thereby leaving open the question whether the Communist systems established in these countries are actualizations of the communism which Marx envisioned. This distinction is the subject of Van Den Abbeele’s (1991) essay, “Communism, the Proper Name.”

18. It is virtually impossible to describe oneself in this fashion without sounding irritatingly pompous, for this claim no doubt implies that some academics and virtually all non-academics are naive in their uncritical acceptance of, respectively, particular theoretical positions and particular political/ideological understandings about the validity of certain truths. On my view, however, the academic skepticism I describe here is neither necessarily “healthy” nor necessarily appropriate in all contexts. Recently, some feminist and/or “third world” writers have offered scathing criticisms of the skeptical turn occasioned by post-structuralist thinking among some academics. Implicit in their criticisms is the conviction that political concerns, in practice, require moments in which one’s skepticism must be put aside: this, at least, is the way I have understood Gayatri Spivak’s claim that “the essentializing moment . . . is irreducible” (1987, 205).

19. For the moment, I should note that by peninsular I mean literally a Floridian and hence “exiled Cuban” view of Cubanness, and by insular I mean the “island” view of Cubanness. I have borrowed these terms from Méndez-Rodenas (1986), but in her analysis of nineteenth-century Cuban identity, peninsularity refers to the Iberian peninsula and the national identity of Spaniards on the island, while insularity refers to the nascent sense of Cubanness among members of the Creole class. In contrast to this, peninsularity and insularity are used in this study to denote twentieth-century referents, and they have a connotative significance which I explain fully in Chapter V.

20. Identities are more like subject positions than social roles. For a discussion of this distinction, see Davies and Harré (1990).

21. As I have already suggested, however, interactions need not be face-to-face interpersonal encounters; tele-communicating is a form of human interaction. This is why I have insisted on speaking about communities as “imagined” and even “mediated.”

22. Vitier’s “Cubanness in Poetry,” published in 1958, is cited in Méndez Rodenas (1986).

23. What I am proposing here is a shift from an individualist ontology to a “communitary ontology” as outlined by Jean-Luc Nancy (1991) in his essay “Of Being-in-Common.” As I understand Nancy, his point is not that we are all alike, but rather that our “being” (existence) is something we have “in common” with others. Read this way, both similarity and difference (taken together) are what yield senses of self, and to be requires a sense of our people whom we are like and of other people whom we are unlike. Being, therefore, has no concrete essence since what it is cannot be identified absent the relationships through which it emerges; but, for this very reason, being does involve a concrete mode: namely, community. I have implied this different ontological understanding throughout this study in my insistence on linking identity (senses of self) to community (senses of belonging which situate the self). See, also, other discussions of the concept of the “community of being” in Miami Theory Collective (1991).

24. I briefly analyze this appropriation in the next section. For a more elaborate discussion of how Fidel Castro and other Cuban revolutionary figures have appropriated the image of José Martí, see Santí (1986).

25. This is so even for many second-generation Cubans (Cuban-Americans), born and raised in the United States. That is, despite our investments in the United States as “home,” many of us who have never even seen Cuba still, paradoxically, register a subtle sense of loss and nostalgia for the Cuba which our parents left. Arguably, this is a Cuba which is as distant and unreachable as the Cuba “imagined” by nineteenth-century exiled writers because ours is a Cuba refracted through our parents’ vision of a Cuba which doesn’t exist anymore, and perhaps never existed. For us, it exists only as a construct which passes for “memory.” As I will argue below, this (re)construction of “the past” is one of the most important ways in which Radio Martí attempts to bring a “liberated Cuba” into existence.

26. I am not suggesting that pre-1959 notions of Cubanness were apolitical; my point is that they were politicized in a different and perhaps more implicit fashion.

27. Some readers may balk at this claim, arguing that when we utter a name, we know exactly who we are referring to by that name. But I want to suggest that the sense that a name may refer differently in various situations is not altogether alien in scholarly circles. We need only consider the conventional practice of distinguishing between “the early Marx” and “the later Marx” to note the way in which names may have multiple significations.

28. This is cited in Frederick (1986, 25). Frederick also notes that the Washington Post, in an editorial entitled “Cuban Liberty, American License,” published (significantly) on July 4, 1982, also registered its disapproval of the United State’s appropriation of Martí’s name.

29. Frederick (1986) suggests that the Cuban exiles involved in the Radio Martí project were aware of Martí’s criticisms of the United States; they apparently reconciled this contradiction by arguing that “Martí’s support of democratic principles puts him at odds with the present regime in Cuba” (cited in Frederick 1986, 25). As I will note below, RMP constructs Castro’s regime and Soviet Communism (until recently) as the immediate obstacles to Cuba’s realizing its dream of national sovereignty. Implicitly, at least, these are constructed as worse evils than Martí could have imagined, given the historical period in which he wrote, and far worse than the U.S. “monster” which he did envision and warn against.

30. Martí’s comment is cited in Foner (1975, 31). In the introduction, Foner provides a brief, biographical summary of Martí and his different perspectives on the United States. The balance of the book includes translations of some of Martí’s essays on the United States, covering topics as diverse as North American personalities, North American scenes, the political structure, minority issues, labor issues, and the threat of U.S. imperialism to Latin American countries.

31. That history has included a complex of political, economic, and cultural ties between the United States and Cuba. In his excellent summary of these complex “ties of singular intimacy,” Louis A. Pérez, Jr. (1990) notes the myriad ways in which Cuba’s independence from Spain in fact ushered in a period of dependence on the United State.

32. From Juan Marinello’s 1962 essay El pensamiento de José Martí y nuestra revolución socialista (“The Thought of José Martí and Our Socialist Revolution”), cited in Santí (1986, 142); my translation.

33. In an article entitled “All Our Own Work: The Facts of Cuba’s History Debunk Claims of an `Imported’ Revolution,” Tabarés del Real (1990) argues that the United States “frustrated the aims” of Martí and other revolutionaries by establishing a Cuban “pseudo-republic”: “Remote-controlled from Washington, it functioned in fact as a neo-colony for the benefit of its new de facto masters” (4).

34. Edmundo Desnoes, in an early 1960s newspaper article entitled Martí y Fidel (cited in Santí 1986, 147; my translation).

35. Santí (1986, 144) argues that the “cult of Martí” began during the nationalist revival of the 1930s which followed the overthrow of Gerardo Machado. It was in this post-Machado and pre-revolutionary period that references to Martí as “the Apostle” were first articulated. Guevara is clearly drawing from the pre-revolutionary appeal of Martí as a national cult figure.

36. As noted in Chapter I, bracketed numbers refer to segments of Radio Martí transmissions listed in the Appendix.

37. I am anticipating points I will make in the subsequent sections which deal with the critical moments in Radio Martí’s discourse. In those sections, I will explain what gets constructed as “alien” or “other.”

38. The following account draws, in part, from the summaries of Lacanian theory in Norton (1988) and Silverman (1983). In contrast to the positivist framework which still informs a large portion of the research in modern political science, Norton (1988) synthesizes a number of structuralist and post-structuralist theorists to offer an alternative approach to the study of political identity. In this respect, her work is driven by the same impulse which informs my study: namely, by the desire to proffer a framework for understanding identity formation as a process of discursive intermediations.

39. This account is a little different from the one Silverman provides. In particular, Silverman finds in Lacan’s work “the notion of an original androgynous whole” (1983, 152)–that is, a sense that in some unknown beginning, human beings were a union of both a masculine and a feminine part. She emphasizes that this primordial self was unified because it had no gender difference. Consequently, the lack which constitutes the subject of desire is the absence of its other gender–an understanding which underscores the heterosexism of Lacanian theory. But the bottom line in either Silverman’s summary or the one I provide here is similar: “The subject is defined as lacking because it is believed to be a fragment of something larger and more primordial” (Silverman 1983, 153).

40. My source for information about the scheduling of programs on Radio Martí is the May, 1991, “Radio Martí Schedule” sent to me by the VOA’s Radio Martí Program division at the United States Information Agency (USIA). Subsequent in-text references to the schedule are noted as US/RMS 1991.

41. It strikes me that belongingness and distance help to mark an identity as “exiled” in a way that a mere sense of origin would not. Note the difference between the voice which remarks “I am here, but I belong there” as opposed to the voice which remarks “I am here, but I come from there.” The former is, arguably, the voice of the “exile,” while the latter may be characterized as the voice of the “immigrant.” Furthermore, this national sense of “belonging there” can be transformed into a sense of “longing to be there” which registers “Cuba” as “loss” even for those who do not have Cuban origins. Something akin to this transformation is suggested in one of the segments I recorded in which the announcers characterize singer Luís Aguile as “a Cuban born in Argentina” [104]. This identification of Aguile is apparently warranted by the sentiments of the “exile” which he expresses in his popular song Cuando Salí de Cuba (“When I Left Cuba”). In at least this unique construct, Cuba as “loss” becomes more significant than Cuba as “origin” for marking this person as “Cuban.”

42. See especially abstracts for episodes of Que Pasa en Casa? (“What’s Happening at Home?”), [107] and [117]: RMP’s episodic situation-comedy about the trials of a family in revolutionary Cuba.

43. The internal quotations are from Paul M. Linebarger’s 1948 study, Psychological Warfare, cited in Soley and Nichols (1987, 11).

44. According to the RMP schedule (US/RMS 1991), VOA Editorials are transmitted twice daily on weekdays and Sundays and once on Saturdays.

45. Those interested in a more detailed analysis of this should refer to Weldes’s (forthcoming, 1992) dissertation, entitled Constructing National Interests: The Logic of U.S. National Security in the Post-War Era. Taking the Cuban Missile Crisis as her case study, Weldes analyzes Executive Committee transcripts and public statements by policy makers (including the Kennedy’s) in order to discern the common senses underpinning the U.S.’s construction of “the national interest” vis-à-vis Cuba. Consequently, her study is particularly relevant to my analysis of the U.S.’s Cuba-broadcasting project. Arguably, it is this early framing of the U.S. relation to Cuba which set the stage, as it were, for the subsequent Radio Martí project.

46. This multiplicity of meanings is suggested by the surfeit of political theory texts outlining distinct models of democracy. See, for example, Dahl (1956, 1985), Barber (1984), and Cunningham (1987); and, arguably, Laclau and Mouffe (1985) could be included here, as well. For a summary of several different models of democracy, see Held (1987).

47. Huntington’s works are a part of the canon in the political science discipline. Chief among these are his classic study Political Order in Changing Societies (1968).

48. On one level, this argument is relevant to Cuba given that, as a former Spanish colony, its people have been raised predominantly as Roman Catholics. On another level, this argument simply ignores the influence of African religions on the Cuban people (both white and black) and the popularity of Santería (“saint worship”): a hybrid of Catholicism and Voodoo which is popular among islanders.

49. In point of fact, Huntington’s classic work Political Order in Changing Societies (1968) criticizes the simple linear progression proffered by modernization theory. Briefly, Huntington argues that modernizing economies often experience an increase in political demands from various social groups; but in societies which lack the political institutions through which to channel these growing political demands, rapid modernization can in fact lead to authoritarianism. The subtleties of Huntington’s work–such as they are–seem to be glossed over by Radio Martí in this segment. That said, Huntington is nonetheless commonly understood (within the political science discipline, at least) as proffering a liberal image which locates democracy at the end stage of political development and links this with the strengthening of political institutions, on the one hand, and economic development, on the other.

50. The quotation is actually from the State Department “white paper” of April, 1961 (cited in Pérez, Jr. 1990, 248), and not from Radio Martí. According to Pérez, the “revolution betrayed” argument became “the linchpin of the North American propaganda campaign against Cuba” (249). Not surprisingly, the argument resurfaces, at least implicitly, in some of the constructions of the Cuban government depicted in Radio Martí transmissions. However, due to the changes that had taken place in the erstwhile Soviet Union and in Eastern Europe (up to July, 1991, when I made these recordings), this “revolution betrayed” argument had begun to give way to a “Communism is dead” argument. I suspect the latter argument has taken on gargantuan proportions on RMP transmissions now that the Soviet Union has been dissolved.

51. Ripoll is a Cuban exile and professor of Romance Languages at Queens College, New York. He has written a number of articles on Cuba.

52. For a more detailed account of the censorship policy in Cuba and its effects on Cuban intellectuals, see Ripoll (1987).

53. This greeting [15] is repeated several times throughout the broadcast day (like the RMP theme song [12]): furthermore, in each of my recordings, this standard RMP greeting was transmitted immediately prior to one of the several news broadcasts given throughout the day. In this way, RMP’s self-construction as a medium for the dissemination of “information” is linked to its “objective news” coverage.

54. Segments [77] and [100] are program announcements for, respectively, “The Voices of Liberty” and “The Art of Living.” As such, they are repeated often throughout a given week’s broadcast.

55. While this characterization is implied in Radio Martí’s constructions of “Castro,” the quote is actually from a recent episode of the PBS series Frontline, entitled “Castro: The Last Communist” (1992). Furthermore, one of the ways in which Castro and Cuban Communism is linked to authoritarianism is through associations made between Castro and fascism. The term for this is Red Fascism. (I am grateful to Jutta Weldes for introducing me to this phrase.) The Frontline episode articulated this understanding in one segment which argued that Castro learned his speech-making techniques by studying Mussolini: and, to drive the point home, this segment intercut images of Castro and Mussolini employing similar mannerisms while making speeches. On Radio Martí, the “Red Fascism” of “Castroism” is suggested in Valero’s statement that, “Castroism–like all movements which are retrograde, rightist and conservative–desires to eliminate the differences . . . ” ([90]; my emphasis). Given this association, egalitarian understandings of “Communism” (viz., in terms of community) are impossible within this framework.

56. For the most part, I found that this was my response. At the same time, however, I must admit to moments in which I was agitated out of my habitual “Cuban-American” ambivalence and found myself feeling decidedly “anti-Castro.” These moments, moreover, were largely a response to RMP’s sentimental appeal, and not to its “incisive critical analysis of Cuban realities.” Of course, I am not suggesting that other listeners (especially islanders) have or will have the same responses. Let me reiterate that my position is “Cuban-American”: furthermore, even other Cuban-Americans will likely register different responses.

URL: © 1997-2011 by Diana Saco. Created April 28, 1997. Last updated March 8, 2007.

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