The Miami Herald
May 6, 1999

Pro-dialogue exile going bilingual

Commentator launching radio show in English

Herald Staff Writer

Francisco Aruca, a South Florida radio commentator who raises the ire of
hard-line Cuban exiles, will broaden his program to an English audience next

Priding himself as the broadcaster with the ``progressive'' viewpoint, Aruca
believes his program will fill a need among the English and Spanish communities
in Greater Miami. The show will air from 8 to 9 a.m. weekdays on WAXY 790 AM
beginning June 1. WAXY directors say the air time is being leased to Aruca.

``People who only master one language are not getting the whole aspect of what
is going on in South Florida,'' Aruca said.

Aruca, 58, will translate Spanish news information for English listeners and
``explain why some exiles in this community react the way they do,'' he said,
adding that it's because ``they do not get all the information that English speakers

As example, he cites the different stories printed in The Herald and its Spanish
sister, El Nuevo Herald. One may carry a story that another does not. While
those differences may be due to readership interest and space or time
constraints, Aruca implies that there is a conspiracy involved.

``El Nuevo M,'' he says on his Spanish radio show Ayer en Miami from 9 to 10:30
a.m. at WOCN-Union Radio 1450 AM, ``is manipulated by ultra-rightist Cuban

El Nuevo's publisher dismissed the notion.

``El Nuevo Herald is separate from The Miami Herald,'' said Carlos Castañeda,
publisher and editor of El Nuevo. ``Its circulation has grown 7 percent at a time
when most newspapers are losing readers. Those figures suggest that we have
the backing of the community and advertisers.''

An economist and businessman, Aruca said he has not researched the market to
see if his new show has a listening audience. He simply believes that English
speakers are interested in current events and that the show is useful and may

``If it doesn't work, we blew the money for the first six months,'' he said.

If that sounds carefree, it may be because Aruca is a successful businessman.
He owns Marazul Tours and Charters, four travel agencies including one in New
Jersey that specialize in travel and shipping to Cuba. Combined, they reported
$7.1 million in annual sales. Radio Progreso, a home-based broadcasting firm of
which he is president, reported annual sales of $54,000.

``Perhaps it would be of interest to his new audience to explain how one gets a
concession for chartered flights to Cuba,'' said Ninoska Perez Castellon, a radio
commentator on WQBA 1140 AM and spokeswoman for the Cuban American
National Foundation.

Perez Castellon disagrees with Aruca's political views, including his stance
against the embargo and for dialogue between the American and Cuban

``It's going to take a lot of explaining to an Anglo audience to justify Castro's
crimes,'' said Perez Castellon, referring to the 1996 downing of Brothers to the
Rescue planes and the 1995 sinking of a Democracy Movement boat.

Lisandro Perez, director of the Cuban Research Institute at Florida International
University, said Aruca has been an alternative voice in Miami's Cuban radio
stations -- albeit a criticized voice.

``The idea that there is essentially different information sources for segments of
our community is a valid point,'' Perez said. ``Whether or not he's going to get a
lot of non-Cubans to hear, I don't know.''

Dario Moreno, professor of political science at FIU, says he likely won't.

``I think most English speakers aren't really that interested in the world of Cuban
exile politics,'' Moreno said. ``I don't think English speakers are that concerned
with the politics of Cuba and with the best strategy for removing Fidel or not
removing Fidel.

``I don't think those things translate culture or communities. I don't know who
would listen to that show,'' Moreno said.

``Aruca is doing this in order to see if he can generate more support for his
position,'' Moreno said.

Gonzalo Soruco, professor of communications at the University of Miami, said
radio patterns are difficult to change.

``Radio loyalty is very strong,'' Soruco said. ``I don't know what information
monolinguals or bilingual Hispanics would not have. He has set himself a very
difficult task.''

Although Aruca says he defends the First Amendment right to free speech, he
hangs up on radio callers who disagree with his views.

``I hope you let me say what I want to say without hanging up on me,'' said one
man who called his show recently.


``I am not violating your rights,'' Aruca said after cutting off the man. ``This is a
private business, and I don't need to be told off.''