WASHINGTON – The United States has discretely cancelled Aero Marti, an airborne broadcasting platform that sent radio and television signals to Cuba and began operating in 2006, sparking controversy over its cost and debated effectiveness.
The program was definitively dismantled in April after having been frozen for 18 months by the budget sequester, according to what the Office of Cuba Broadcasting, which runs Radio and TV Marti, confirmed on Tuesday to Efe.
The government in Havana had found a way to block the signal of Aero Marti, which made its broadcasts from an aircraft that flew very close to the limits of Cuban airspace.
From October 2006 until the fall of 2013, the program had cost Washington $35.67 million, according to the report issued by the Broadcasting Board of Governors, a division of the State Department tasked with making publicly-funded broadcasts around the world.
The BBG had insisted on the need to end Aero Marti since the submission of the budget bill for fiscal year 2013 due to its ineffectiveness and “the rising cost of fuel.”
In 2013, the program was suspended because of the impossibility of paying for the cost of fuel as a result of the sequester, not to mention the fact that it cost some $80,000 per year to maintain the airplane.