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Former UPI reporter imprisoned by Castro regime, Martin Houseman, dies at 86

By
Danielle Haynes
Martin Porter Houseman died Wednesday at his San Diego home surrounded by friends and family. File Photo courtesy of Martin Porter Houseman/Facebook
Martin Porter Houseman died Wednesday at his San Diego home surrounded by friends and family. File Photo courtesy of Martin Porter Houseman/Facebook

May 14 (UPI) -- Former UPI reporter Martin Porter Houseman, who reported on the Bay of Pigs invasion and was imprisoned by the Fidel Castro regime, died at his home in San Diego, his family announced. He was 86.

Houseman -- known as "Porter," "Bud" or "Marty" to friends -- was surrounded by family at the time of his death, an obituary posted to his Facebook account said.

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The Arizona native began his career with UPI in 1957 at the end of his stint in the U.S. Army, in which he served as a counterintelligence agent with Far East Command. He was a reporter, bureau chief and division manager in a number of Latin American and Caribbean countries for UPI, including Argentina, Chile, Cuba, Puerto Rico and Venezuela.

In Havana, he was the night editor on duty on April 17, 1961, during the Bay of Pigs invasion. The Cuban government arrested him because of his time as an intelligence officer in the U.S. Army.

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"Castro's Czech-trained security apparatus quickly rounded up 200,000 suspected enemies of the state, including this correspondent and two UPI colleagues," he wrote in an article about his observations 20 years later.

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A Swiss ambassador acquaintance was able to secure Houseman's freedom and repatriation to the United States.

Later, in Chile, Houseman was forced to transfer to Argentina after he quoted a Colombian newspaper article that linked the administration of President Salvador Allende to communist guerrillas in Colombia, his obituary said.

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Chile also is where he met his wife of 50 years, Rosita Cisterna.

Based then in Caracas, Houseman was a member of the UPI team that covered the Peoples Temple mass murder/suicides in Guyana in 1978. A colleague on that assignment, former UPI Radio correspondent and manager Tom Foty recalled Houseman as "a real expert on Latin and South America with decades of regional experience and the ideal news agency 'fireman' that kind of major international story required: tireless, knowledgeable and able to put aside the enormity of the story, tragic as it was, to function in the multimedia needs of UPI's subscribers."

Houseman ended his career with UPI in San Diego and later became the evening editor for the San Diego Union-Tribune until his retirement.

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Houseman is survived by his wife; their two children, John Houseman and Genevieve Houseman Brown; and three grandchildren.

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