Jorge Mas Canosa

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Jorge Mas Canosa (1939–1997) was a Cuban-American immigrant who founded the Cuban-American National Foundation and MasTec, a publicly traded company. He was regarded within the US as an effective lobbyist on Cuban and anti-Castro political positions,[1] but was labeled a "counterrevolutionary" by the Cuban government.[2]

Jorge Mas Canosa
Jorge Mas Canosa.jpg
Born (1939-09-21)September 21, 1939
Santiago de Cuba, Cuba
Died November 23, 1997(1997-11-23) (aged 58)
Coral Gables, Florida
Spouse(s) Irma Santos
Children Jorge Mas
Juan Carlos Mas
Jose Mas
Parent(s) Dr. Ramón Mas Cayado
Josefa de Carmen Canosa Aguilera


Jorge Mas Canosa was born into a religious, middle-class family in Santiago de Cuba, Cuba on Sept. 21, 1939.[1] Since an early age, he was outspoken about his oppositions to dictatorships and was persecuted and imprisoned for his views by both the Fulgencio Batista and Fidel Castro regimes. After expressing his views about the latter of these, Mas Canosa was forced into exile and arrived in Miami, Florida.

Personal Life[edit]

Mas Canosa married Irma Santos, his high school sweetheart from Santiago, in Miami, Florida. They had three sons, Jorge Mas, Juan Carlos Mas, and Jose Mas.


Early Activism[edit]

At the age of fifteen, Mas Canosa spoke out against Batista’s dictatorship and was briefly imprisoned.[citation needed] Released into his father’s custody, his family sent him to the Presbyterian Junior College in Maxton, North Carolina. There, Mas Canosa learned English and studied the political philosophy of Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Paine, which would influence his outlook in the years to come.[citation needed]

Mas Canosa returned to Santiago to study law at the University of Oriente when the Batista regime was overthrown. As soon as he decided that Castro’s new government was undemocratic in nature, Mas Canosa resumed his political activism. He was forced into exile under threat of arrest and arrived in Miami, where he joined the Brigade 2506 and participated in the failed Bay of Pigs invasion in April, 1961. He later graduated as Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Army at Fort Benning, Georgia, but ultimately left the military life in pursuit of business ventures.[citation needed]

Cuban American National Foundation[edit]

In 1981, Mas Canosa, along with Raul Masvidal and Carlos Salman, established the Cuban American National Foundation (CANF), at the suggestion of Richard Allen, Ronald Reagan's National Security Advisor, and Mario Elgarresta, a member of Allen's staff.[3] The group was founded as part of a broader strategy to sideline more moderate perspectives within the Cuban-American community, and to convert anti-Castro activism from a more militant to a more political strategy.[4]

CANF was widely described during Mas Canosa's tenure as one of the most powerful ethnic lobbying organizations in the US, and used campaign contributions to advance its policy in Washington, DC.[5][6] Carter administration officials believed that if not for Mas Canosa, the United States might have ended the Cuban embargo.[2][7]

Media involvement[edit]

Radio and television Martí[edit]

In the early 1980s, Mas Canosa urged President Ronald Reagan to create a radio station aimed at broadcasting news into Cuba. After the station (named Radio Martí, after José Martí) was created, Reagan named Mas Canosa chair of the advisory board of the Office of Cuba Broadcasting, which advised the president on the operation of the station.[1] Station employees later accused Mas Canosa of interfering with station content, including accusations that he had complained that the stations did not give enough coverage to his personal activities.[3]

New Republic lawsuit[edit]

Mas Canosa sued The New Republic for libel after a 1994 article in the magazine referred to him as a "mobster". The case settled out of court for $100,000, and the magazine issued an apology.[8]

Feud with Miami Herald[edit]

Mas Canosa repeatedly feuded with the Miami Herald, which he accused of bias against the Cuban community in Miami.[1] In 1992, after the Herald editorialized against a bill he supported, and the newspaper's Spanish-language Nuevo Herald wrote an editorial critical of him, he organized a boycott of the newspaper and funded anti-Herald advertisements on city buses.[9]


As an exile, Mas Canosa was active in his new community. As soon as he arrived, he worked wherever he could to make ends meet: as a dockworker on the Miami River, washing dishes in hotels on Miami Beach, and delivering milk around town.

Church & Tower[edit]

In 1969, Mas Canosa made a deal with the owner of Church & Tower, a floundering and overextended construction firm that constructed and serviced telephone networks. Mas Canosa agreed to focus on saving the company in exchange for half ownership. Managing Miami operations, he used his growing reputation in the exile community to secure lines of credit and was ultimately able to optimize his workers’ construction methods and increase the company’s productivity. The company grew from South Miami to Ft. Lauderdale with $40 million in annual revenues in 1980.


Following the incorporation of Mas Canosa’s sons into the business became MasTec, Inc. in 1994 when Jorge Mas led a reverse acquisition by its former competitor, Burnup & Sims.[10]

Today, MasTec, Inc. (NYSE:MTZ) has a $3.6 billion revenue traded network infrastructure contractor employing over 13,000 persons in North America. MasTec is a leader in six distinct business lines. Power Generation and Industrial renewable, Natural Gas and Oil Pipeline, Electrical Transmission, Wireless, Wireline Utility Services and DirecTV install to the home. MasTec is one of the Top five largest Hispanic owned firms in the United States and was the first to reach the $1 billion revenue mark in 1998.[citation needed]


  1. ^ a b c d Rohter, Larry (November 24, 1997). "Jorge Mas Canosa, 58, Dies; Exile Who Led Movement Against Castro". New York Times. Retrieved 18 January 2014. 
  2. ^ a b "Few in Cuba Mourn Mas Canosa's Death". CNN. November 27, 1997. Retrieved 19 January 2014. 
  3. ^ a b Walsh, Daniel C. An Air War with Cuba: The United States Radio Campaign Against Castro. 2011: McFarland. p. 114. ISBN 9780786465064. 
  4. ^ Haney, P. J.; Vanderbush, W. (1999). "The Role of Ethnic Interest Groups in U.S. Foreign Policy: The Case of the Cuban American National Foundation". International Studies Quarterly 43 (2): 341. doi:10.1111/0020-8833.00123. , p. 347
  5. ^ Leogrande, William (April 11, 2013). "The Cuba Lobby". Foreign Policy. Retrieved 19 January 2014. 
  6. ^ Moffett, George (June 9, 1995). "Clinton Shuns Potent Anti-Castro Lobby". Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved 19 January 2014. 
  7. ^ "Mas Canosa's Legacy". News Hour. November 24, 1997. Retrieved 18 January 2014. 
  8. ^ Pogebrin, Robin (September 17, 1996). "New Republic And Cuban Agree to Settle Libel Lawsuit". New York Times. Retrieved 18 January 2014. 
  9. ^ Alex Stepick, ed. (2003). This Land is Our Land: Immigrants and Power in Miami. University of California Press. p. 49. ISBN 9780520233980. Retrieved 18 January 2014. 
  10. ^ "Company History". MasTec, Inc. Retrieved 5 February 2014.