© 2022 WLRN
MIAMI | SOUTH FLORIDA
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations

Oh, AMLO. The Summit of the Americas is a warning to the buyers of Radio Mambí

LopezObrador2018.jpeg
Eduardo Verdugo
/
AP
SERVICING RIGHT-WING RADIO Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador

COMMENTARY The Mexican president's petulance is a reminder that Mambí's new owners can't afford to make a Spanish-language Fox a Spanish-language MSNBC.

It’s tempting in Miami to blame the dominance of right-wing Spanish-language media – and its disinformation – on some intrinsic reactionary mania in the Cuban, Venezuelan and other Latino communities. But liberals and moderates who go that route can sound as narrow-minded as some of the talk-show hosts they decry at outlets like Radio Mambí.

WLRN is committed to providing South Florida with trusted news and information. As the pandemic continues, our mission is as vital as ever. Your support makes it possible. Please donate today. Thank you.

True, Mambí (WAQI AM) is one of South Florida’s highest-rated radio stations because it perfected the art of McCarthyist mendacity long before Fox News ever hit cable. But Mambí’s had something else going for it: the fact that the Latin American left, especially in Cuba, so often can be as extremist as Mambí’s on-air personalities rant that it is. Unfortunately, that reality also helps them convince their listeners that anyone Mambí decides is a “socialista” — a Democratic presidential candidate, a critical journalist, a Black Lives Matter activist — is Fidel Castro in sheep’s clothing.

We’re reminded again this week, at the Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles, of how eagerly the Latin left services right-wing radio like Mambí — thanks to leftist-populist-narcissist Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, known as AMLO.

READ MORE: If Biden keeps the Díaz-Canels out of the summit, he should keep the Díaz-Balarts out, too

López Obrador is staying away from the summit President Biden is hosting. The reason: he’s protesting Biden’s eminently understandable decision not to invite the repressive left-wing dictatorships of Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua to a gathering of hemispheric democracies. But while López Obrador wants you to think he’s a principled liberal, he looks instead like the sort of petulant lefty whose affronts help sell abogado de accidente ads on Miami radio.

For starters, López Obrador is declaring to the world that his jaded Che Guevara ideology matters more than the outrage of Cubans today being sentenced to one, two or even three decades in prison for merely protesting their communist government. Or that a fifth of Venezuela’s population has fled the country thanks to a socialist regime the U.N. has accused of crimes against humanity. Or that Daniel Ortega, Nicaragua’s own blood-stained leftist caudillo, “won” re-election last fall by tossing every one of his election opponents in jail for “treason.”

AMLO and the Latin American left are taking advantage of this week's Summit of the Americas to once again show us how eagerly they service right-wing radio like Miami's Mambí.

But here’s what else should make López Obrador the Halfwit of the Hemisphere award winner at the L.A. summit’s closing ceremonies: by promoting those three tyrannies, he’s also helping stoke the desperate migration that’s flowing out of or through them in unprecedented waves today, exacerbating an immigration crisis not only at the U.S. southern border but across the Americas.

That crisis, in fact, is arguably and rightly the most urgent item Biden’s etched into the summit agenda this week. And because Mexico, like the U.S., feels the brunt of it, López Obrador was supposed to be one of the heads of state leading plans to confront it.

THE BIG LIE

Instead, he’s sitting with his arms folded in Mexico City — and so are some other leftist leaders, including Honduran President Xiomara Castro, whose benighted country discharges its own mother lode of migrants. Meanwhile, they’re keeping call screeners at Mambí, La Poderosa, Actualidad and Miami’s other Spanish-language broadcasters working overtime.

RadioMambi2012.jpeg
C.M. Guerrero
/
El Nuevo Herald
On-air personalities at Miami's Radio Mambi

All of which is why the mostly Democratic investors of the new Latino Media Network (LMN) — which surprisingly announced last Friday that it’s buying Radio Mambí — need to be scrutinizing López Obrador’s theatrics themselves.

It will, of course, be a welcome development if the new Mambí that results from the sale shelves the extreme right-wing and sometimes racist programming that critics say so often devolves into disinformation and lies. Those include former President Trump’s Big Lie — a reminder that some in Miami's Spanish-language radio have done their own radicalizing part to undermine American democracy.

But if LMN wants to keep Mambí a profitable concern — if it wants to be the long-term caretaker of a more mainstream, balanced and responsible Miami medium — the dumbest thing it could do is turn a Spanish-speaking Fox into a Spanish-speaking MSNBC. Into a voice that finally challenges the MAGA excesses of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis — who’s already got a new re-election ad out warning the Mambí sale is part of a “Marxist scheme” — but goes softball on the knee-jerk antics of the López Obradors in Latin America or left-wingers in the U.S.

Into a station that’ll be up for sale again soon — because Miami will have changed the dial.

Tim Padgett is the Americas editor for Miami NPR affiliate WLRN, covering Latin America, the Caribbean and their key relationship with South Florida.