Miami TV station suspends program of
actor who met with Castro
Associated Press. Posted
on Thu, Dec. 18, 2003
MIAMI - A Spanish-language television station
has stopped broadcasting the program of
an Argentine actor because he met with Cuban
President Fidel Castro last week, channel
officials said Thursday.
WDLP-TV took Guillermo Francella's comedy
show off the air until he describes his
stance on the Castro government, station
officials said. The program is recorded
in Francella's native Argentina, where it
is still broadcast.
The majority of South Florida's Spanish
speakers are Cuban-American, and most of
them oppose Castro's communist government.
"We are supportive of Miami's Cuban-American
community, which has had a negative reaction
to Francella's visit to Cuba", WDLP
spokeswoman Sonia Colin said.
Francella was in Cuba for a Latin American
film festival and met with Castro last Friday,
the Miami-based newspaper El Nuevo Herald
reported on its Web site Thursday. The Argentine
embassy in Havana released a statement saying
the meeting was "relaxed and affable."
She said station officials have tried unsuccessfully
to contact Francella. He could not immediately
be reached Thursday.
He has starred in several Argentine movies,
including "My Dad is an Idol"
and "A Day in Paradise."
Cuban violinist proof that dreams can
From the dusty camps at Guantánamo
to the Golden Panther Arena at FIU: A Cuban
rafter girl made famous by her violin earned
her second degree at Tuesday's graduation.
By Elaine De Valle, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted on Wed, Dec. 17, 2003.
Everywhere she goes -- from Calle Ocho
to Tallahassee to the White House -- they
ask her to play the violin.
So it was only natural that Lizbet Martínez
-- the Cuban rafter girl who won the world's
heart playing The Star-Spangled Banner while
in Guantánamo detention camps nearly
a decade ago -- would play it again on her
own graduation day.
Now 21, Martínez was 12 when she
and her parents left Cuba on a raft. The
family was rescued by the U.S. Coast Guard
and spent four months at the U.S. naval
base in Guantánamo before coming
to Miami in January 1995.
On Tuesday, she received her bachelor of
science degree in music education at Florida
''This truly is the land of opportunity,''
Martínez told The Herald moments
before she took the stage at FIU's Golden
'A RAY OF HOPE'
''This little girl fled the Castro regime
with her parents and nothing more than a
violin,'' FIU President Modesto Maidique
said in presenting Martínez. An FIU
spokeswoman said he changed the program
at the last minute to include her performance
when he learned she would be there.
She ''became a symbol of the rafter refugees
crisis . . . a ray of hope,'' he added.
Martínez understands the role her
music has played.
''It's amazing what a little violin was
able to do,'' she says. "Three minutes
of the national anthem changed my whole
life. Who would have thought?''
She's done a lot more than play the violin,
however, to get where she is today.
It is her second degree -- she got a bachelor
of arts in music performance in June --
and she says it won't be her last. She already
applied to FIU's graduate program as a violin
major and doesn't plan to stop until she
gets a Ph.D.
In the meantime, while she doesn't have
a full-time teaching job, she tutors children
and performs in a trio at weddings and other
After a celebratory lunch with her parents
and fiancé, Iván Martín,
on Tuesday, she prepared for an evening
job with a quartet at the Port of Miami-Dade.
Today, she will be at a recording studio
with a Spanish-language singer.
And soon, she hopes, she will become a
U.S. citizen. She passed the exam in October.
USING HER TALENTS
''She doesn't stop,'' says her father,
''An extremely talented young lady,'' said
Fred Kaufman, director of FIU's School of
Music, where Martínez played first
violin. "When she graduates with her
master's, she will easily be able to get
a position with a major orchestra.''
But Martínez loves teaching.
''It is her dream to help other children
sharpen their talent,'' her father said.
This past semester, Martínez was
a student teacher at Emerson Elementary
and Coral Reef High. At the grade school,
she taught basic music skills. At the high
school, a magnet for musically inclined
teenagers, she conducted the string orchestra
and loved it.
'The level of those kids' talent is amazing,''
She swayed with the bow side to side as
she played a subdued, almost sad Star-Spangled
Banner on Tuesday morning. The audience
was silent until it erupted in cheers and
Martínez has not lost hold of her
Cuban roots. The young woman misses her
grandparents, uncle, cousins and friends.
It is bittersweet.
"I see what is happening to my friends
that are staying in Cuba, and the same thing
would have happened to me: I would have
graduated and nothing would have happened.''