For most places in the Caribbean, the term Cold War fails to describe the contentious, noisy, violent politics of the 1950s and ‘60s. In the rapidly changing political contexts of 1957-62, Haiti’s Francois Duvalier and Cuban Fidel Castro rose to power, while in the Dominican Republic Rafael Trujillo’s regime weakened and ended with his assassination in 1961. Actors across the ideological spectrum engaged in transnational ‘Radio Wars’ in their efforts to both undermine and prop up particular regimes. This article will explore those radio wars, understanding them not just as an enactment of the complex politics of the day, but also as the expression of a particular kind of utopian imagining of radio’s potential for political mobilisation. It considers the politics of clandestine broadcasting across ideological, racial and national boundaries in the 1950s and ‘60s Caribbean. Expanding on and engaging a burgeoning literature on radio in Latin America and the Caribbean, attention to ‘Radio Wars’ adds fresh perspectives to histories of the Cold War, decolonisation, and the soundscapes of dictatorship and empire. More precisely, it moves beyond a Soviet-US binary and considers the role of broadcasting and propaganda in the making of an inter-Caribbean war of frequencies.

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Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision
Tijdschrift voor Mediageschiedenis

Bronfman, Alejandra. (2019). Radio Wars and Revolution in the Caribbean, 1959. Tijdschrift voor Mediageschiedenis, 22(2), 87–96. doi:10.18146/tmg.591