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Marti Interview With Reagan

April 09, 1987

This is in response to your editorial (March 23), "Sham: Shame!"

The Radio Marti interview with President Reagan was not misrepresented in any way. It was introduced as follows:

"The Radio Marti Program presents a special interview. In view of the situation in Nicaragua, Radio Marti asked for an interview with the President of the United States, Ronald Reagan, about this topic and others of interest to our listeners in Cuba. Now, the interview given to the director of the Radio Marti Program:"

The purpose of this interview was to provide an accurate, authoritative statement of U.S. policy on a number of topics of interest to listeners in Cuba. It was not the sort of interview that should be spontaneous or "off the cuff," and there was no attempt to make it appear so.

The interview was in keeping with Voice of America's standards and that portion of the Voice of America charter, which states that "Voice of America will represent the policies of the United States clearly and effectively."

It is common practice, not an unusual arrangement, for the President's staff to write answers to questions submitted to the President for a taped interview on U.S. policy.

Because the interview covered foreign policy on areas involving several U.S. agencies, the National Security Council cleared the questions and prepared the policy answers. The President reviewed and approved the answers before reading them for broadcast.

The specific questions in the interview were chosen by Radio Marti staff because of their relevance to listeners in Cuba. The broadcasts of Radio Marti are in Spanish and are intended for a Cuban audience. An interview format was chosen rather than a speech because it is more interesting for the listener and easier to follow when a number of different topics are being addressed.

As director of Radio Marti, I was asked by the White House to conduct the interview. It was not a case of canceling plans for the Radio Marti White House correspondent or others on the staff to conduct the interview.

Radio Marti has a hard-earned reputation in Cuba for its credibility because it has always adhered to the strictest standards of truth, objectivity and balance. The interview with the President was no exception.

ERNESTO F. BETANCOURT

Washington

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