These American services were originally established to counter the influence of communism and its leaders. This goal was achieved; communism as we knew it is gone, yet these radio stations are still present. Some argue that these services have outlived their welcome, while others say they are still an integral part of advancing democracy.
The people of Eastern Europe are currently in a transitional phase. Democracy has not improved the quality of life for many people in these countries. Some may even long for the days of communism-- the days when everyone had a job and families did not go hungry. Can these radio services assist these nations in the process of rebuilding and restructuring?
Many reform leaders say yes. Czechoslovakia's Vaclav Havel and the Soviet Union's Mikhail
Gorbachev have praised the United States government for financing these stations:
"If my fellow citizens knew me before I became president, they did so because of these stations." --Vaclav Havel
"My son-in-law Anatoli managed to listen to a Western station on his pocket Sony. We started to collect and analyze information and assess the way the situation was developing." -- Mikhail Gorbachev following the 1991 coup.
These services have endured a spectrum of foreign policies in the span of their existence. It is ironic that U.S. broadcasts were jammed for many decades, and now these stations have transmitters in former communist countries. In the past, many risked their lives to listen to U.S. broadcasts, and now nearly every service can be accessed through the Internet. The advent of the Web has extended the reach of many international services. A global media network is evolving.
Currently, Radio Marti, Radio Free Asia, and a few VOA language services are the remaining U.S. international broadcasts facing resistance. Fidel Castro and his communist regime make every effort to prevent Radio Marti's signal from reaching the island nation. Radio Free Asia, founded in 1996, was created out of fear that communist strongholds in Asia would attempt to extend their reaches. RFA broadcasts to China, Tibet, Cambodia, Laos, Korea, and Vietnam. In the tradition of government controlled media, this station has been jammed consistently since its inception. The VOA language services experiencing jamming target the same region of the world as Radio Free Asia.
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