|Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright|
Remarks at opening of new headquarters of Office of Cuba Broadcasting (Radio and TV Marti)
February 5, 1999, Miami, Florida
As released by the Office of the Spokesman
U.S. Department of State
CHAIRMAN NATHANSON, BROADCASTING BOARD OF GOVERNORS: It is a pleasure to be in Miami, the home of my son, Adam. Itís a pleasure for me always to come here on behalf of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, and especially today on behalf of Radio and TV Marti.
The Broadcasting Board of Governors, as Herminio said, is a bipartisan board, presidentially-appointed, made up of nine people with the ultimate responsibility and authority for all US broadcasting, including Radio and TV Marti.
On October 1 of this year, the Broadcasting Board will become an independent agency of the US Government, when the USIA is merged into the State Department. I am pleased, on that date, to welcome the Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, to our Board of Governors.
Before presenting you to our newest board member, Iíd like to recognize -- and have them stand -- my fellow board members of the Board of Governors that are here today: Cheryl Halperin; Ted Kaufman; Penn Kemble, the head of the USIA; Tom Korlogos; Alberto Mora; Carl Spielvogel. (Applause).
Besides Herminio San Roman and Evelyn Lieberman, who just spoke to you, Iíd like to introduce the heads of our other radio services, in addition to Voice of America and Radio and TV Marti. They are Tom Dine, President of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, which is headquartered in Prague; Dick Richter, President of Radio Free Asia, based in Washington; and the Chief of Staff of the Board of Governors, Brian Conniff. (Applause).
I would be remiss on this special occasion if I did not say here today that many of you, many of us, have something in common. We all are in some way refugees from communism. When my maternal grandfather, Isador Hoberman, fled the Russian Revolution in 1914, or those of you who fled communism in Cuba, we all share this bond; including in this list are Madeleine Albright and her father, Josef Korbel, who fled Czechoslovakia in 1948.
The only way that the Korbels could leave their native country was due to the fact that Professor Korbel was, at that time, a UN official -- head of the United Nations Commission on Kashmir. What many of you do not know is that Josef Korbel, Madeleineís father, was also a distinguished international broadcaster prior to returning to Czechoslovakia after World War II. For when Czechoslovakia was invaded by the Nazis, the Korbels fled to London, where Josef started and directed the Czech service on the BBC.
Now, you may be wondering how a 53-year-old cable operator in Los Angeles knows so much about Madeleine Albrightís father. Well, my friends out there, because he told me. For Josef Korbel was my professor in college at the University of Denver. And, Madame Secretary, I could never forget him.
His dark glasses -- he was a dashing man with dark glasses, wavy gray hair, a white handkerchief always in his suit pocket and, of course, his pipe. He was a great teacher, a great tutor of world history and international relations, and a mentor of mine about the flaws of totalitarianism.
I canít help but remember another day, another dedication and another Secretary of State. I was there. The year was 1966; the Secretary of State was Dean Rusk. He came to Denver to dedicate the graduate school of international studies in Cherrington Hall. The dean of the new graduate school was my professor, your father, Josef Korbel. I recall seeing how proud he was on that sunny day in Denver, similar to this, over 33 years ago.
All I can say is that Josef Korbel, a refugee of communism, would be so pleased to be here with us today at the dedication of this new facility to hasten the changing face of freedom in Cuba, and he would be so proud of his daughter, the Honorable Madeleine Korbel Albright, the 64th Secretary of State.
I am proud, on behalf of my fellow Board of Governors, to introduce Josef Korbelís daughter.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Thank you very much. Marc, I canít tell you, I have been introduced now more than ever in my life. But I have never had an introduction like that, and I cannot tell you how completely grateful I am to you because my father was a great man. Having you talk about him from your personal experience is so important to me and to my children. Thank you very, very much. (Applause.)
My good friend, Evelyn Lieberman, Penn Kemble, Broadcasting Board of Governors, officials of the Cuba Broadcasting, members of Congress, General Wilhelm, General Kensinger, Admiral Saunders, Mr. Mayor, leaders of the community, guests and friends -- I guess itís still morning -- itís very good to be with you.
I am delighted to be in Miami, a place I love to come to whenever things get tough; because this is a fantastic community, where we all have a lot of friends. So I thank you very much. I am especially pleased to be here to dedicate this wonderful new facility.
It is a structure built of steel and stone upon a solid foundation of principles and ideals. For under the leadership of Director Herminio San Roman, Radio and TV Marti are conveyors of information that is objective and accurate.
As lovers of liberty, we celebrate the truth and strive in all that we do to uphold it. But we know that to dictators, truth is usually an inconvenience and often a mortal threat. That is why dictators try to grab the truth and leash it and ration it, mold it or hide it. They want to keep a stranglehold on the flow of information so that their myths are believed, their blunders concealed and their people kept in darkness.
Radio and TV Marti exist to give the people of Cuba what they have always deserved but long been denied: broadcasting that is fair and independent; broadcasting that conveys not lies but facts.
Radio and TV Marti have been effective both because of what you do is right and because you do it the right way. Through news and entertainment, features and enlightened commentary, you have found an audience among young and old, urban and rural, women and men. Your programs are listened to and their influence magnified by the human broadcasting system. For your message is transmitted by word of mouth from Santiago to Havana and to all points in between. There are some critics who suggest that what you do doesnít count, that it has no effect, that Radio and TV Marti are not important contributors to the future of freedom in Cuba.
To that, I can only reply with a term of diplomatic art: balderdash.
Or, to add to my Spanish vocabulary -- tonterias. (Applause.)
I used to say I only knew one word. (Laughter.)
These arguments are rebutted by the Cuban Governmentís own actions. From the first day, it has done all it could to keep your programming from reaching its intended audience. That is the mark of insecurity, the sign of illegitimacy, the evidence of fear. I am here to tell you that the Clinton Administration supports your efforts. We will fight for your budget; we will defend your mission; we will continue working to overcome the jamming of your programs. We will not waver in our commitment to democracy, which is the right of all people.
As you know, last year and this, we have taken measures designed to address the needs of the Cuban people without strengthening the repressive and backward looking regime in Havana. We have sought to make it easier for Cubans to be in touch with family and friends here in the United States and easier for the Cuban-American community to help those who stayed behind. We have sought to encourage independent civil society, recognizing the limitations of what is now possible but recognizing, as well, the need to prepare for a peaceful and democratic transition in Cuba.
We have strived to build pressure throughout the hemisphere and around the globe for democracy in Cuba, and to keep the spotlight on heroes such as Vladimiro Roca, Rene Gomez, Felix Bonne and Beatriz Roque.
These brave Cubans are in jail because they dared to suggest that the Universal Declaration on Human Rights applies to their country, as it does to the world. I keep their names on my desk, right by my schedule, and I look at it every day because I think that the world needs to know the names of Cuban dissidents, as they did others.
You know, Marc, itís unfair to make the Secretary of State cry.
Jose Marti said once that even if people are free, they have no license to be evil or indifferent to human suffering. "Man is not free," he said, "to watch impassively the enslavement and dishonor of men nor their struggles for liberty and honor."
Today, Cuba is, as Marti once described it, as beautiful as any country but stretched out in chains, a prison moated by water. We are not free to accept that; for there is nothing natural or permanent about the plight of Cuba today. The rulers in Havana may hold power over a country, but they cannot embargo the mind. They may imprison bodies, but they cannot break the spirit. They may prohibit the exercise of liberty, but they cannot extinguish the desire to be free.
By bringing the truth to Cuba, Radio and TV Marti are illuminating the land with the most powerful force for constructive change under the sun -- and that is knowledge. You are operating in a proud tradition of independent broadcasting that penetrated the concrete of the Berlin Wall and helped millions to move from the dark of dictatorship to the daylight of democracy.
On this special morning of dedication and commitment, let us vow that in this happy respect, at least, history will repeat itself. Maybe not today or tomorrow but soon, so that the new century will echo not with fated dogmas of the past but with the sparkling promise of tomorrow, and the empty slogans of communism will be eclipsed forever by the sound of "Viva Cuba Libre!"
Thank you. Thank you very much, and now weíll cut the ribbon.
[End of Document]