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magbana Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-08-08 11:34 AM
Original message
US Cuba "Democracy" Prog. Shifts from Miami to State Dept.
US govt. money to exile groups has been nothing but a political bribe in return for loyalty to the Republican Party and, as such, has yielded little in the way of regime change in Cuba. Further, giving this money to exile groups gets riskier and riskier for the US as more and more is revealed to the public about their terrorist tactics.

Funneling this money to the State Dept. ensures that it gets dumped directly into Cuba to be spread around to dissidents via diplomatic pouch from Washington.

God, this crap never ends!


White House Cuba Democracy Program shifts away from S. Florida exile groups
By Ana Radelat
CubaNews
March 2008 Vol. 16, No. 3, p. 1, 6.
http://www.cubanews.com /

As Raul Castro consolidates his power in Havana, Washington is
quietly taking some steps of its own. For the first time, President
Bush's policy of funding dissent in Cuba will focus on well-
established groups linked to the State Department - instead of Miami-
based exile organizations that have long been at the forefront of
those controversial efforts.

Back in December, exile groups hailed Congressional approval of a
dramatic boost in funds for groups trying to help dissidents,
journalists, independent libraries and other NGOs, all in an effort
to erode the power of the Castro regime.

But much of that money will now end up going to large Washington-
based organizations with experience in helping topple hostile
governments, rather than South Florida exile groups.

"We're going to give the money to organizations that can best address
the needs on the ground," State Department spokeswoman Heide Bronke
told CubaNews.

Groups likely to get a big chunk of the $45.3 million in appropriations for Cuba programs this year include the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and the International Republican Institute (IRI), which has Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain on its board.

For decades, the State Department has bankrolled efforts to undermine
hostile governments. But it wasn't until passage of the 1996 Helms-Burton Act that a Cuba grant program was established by the Clinton administration.

To date, at least $70 million has been distributed through so-called
"Section 109" grants, named after the section in Helms-Burton that
established the program. Most of the money went to exile groups in
South Florida.

But these efforts proved ineffective. Havana countered by approving
harsh penalties against dissidents who received aid through the
program, resulting in dozens of arrests. In addition. the grants have
been characterized as payoffs for exiles who would have otherwise
criticized the Bush administration for not doing more to topple Fidel
Castro.

Joe Garcia, former executive director of the Cuban American National
Foundation and now a Democratic candidate for the House seat occupied
by Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R- FL), said restrictions on giving grant
money directly to dissidents in Cuba turned the program into a
"political patronage system in South Florida" aimed at keeping exile
leaders loyal to the adminisfration.


Llarry Birns, head of the Council for Hemispheric Affairs and a
frequent critic of U.S. policy toward Cuba, said grant money was
often distributed to Cuban-American supporters of Bush and other
Republicans.

He said the cash often helped those exiles fund talk radio stations
which support White House efforts to tighten the embargo.

"It's not just humanitarian aid, it also provides income to people so
they can be professional militants," Birns said.

GAO REPORT SULLIED PROGRAMS IMAGE

The Cuba grant program received a black eye by a Government
Accountability Office report released in late 2006 that accused grantees of keeping poor accounting records and misspending funds.

It found that money aimed at sparking dissent in Cuba was spent
instead on a gas chain-saw, computer gaming equipment - including
Nintendo Gameboys and Sony Play-Stations -- a mountain bike, leather
coats, cashmere sweaters, crab meat and Godiva chocolates.

Attempts by several organizations to renew their grants were rejected
after the critical report. But the Bush administration agreed to a
recommendation from the Commission for a Free Cuba to increase Cuba-
related grant money by $80 million.

The Democratic leadership of Congress objected to any increase in funding above the $15 million established for the program. But Democratic Cuban-American lawmakers in Congress kept the program alive by sponsoring amendments to a massive omnibus spending bill in December that allocated $45.3 million for Cuba democracy efforts.

Bronke said the State Department hasn't decided how to allocate all
this money. But she hinted that much of it will be given to the department's Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and labor, instead of to USAID.

The bureau has handed out hundreds of millions of dollars to long-established groups that back Washington's goals around the world. These include NED, which has been criticized for working too closely with the CLA, and IRI, which has Elizabeth Dugan, a former director of the bureau, in charge of its grant programs.

NED and IRI are both better known for their work in the former Soviet Union, and more recently countries like Burma and Venezuela. But they have also been modestly involved in Cuba.

Jane RileyJacobsen, NED's director of public affairs, told CubaNews in an email that her organization "has not had any in-depth discussions about whether to apply for additional funding" from the State Department.

"That said, Cuba will continue to be one of the Endowment's top-priority countries in the Latin America/Caribbean region," Jacobsen said. "NED will continue its support for programs promoting human rights, independent media and the development of civil society on the island through its annual appropriation."

GR0UPS MULL ASKING FOR NEW GRANT MONEY

The Bush administration has several reasons for wanting to shift Cuba
democracy efforts away fom USAID.

Besides the negative fallout frorn the GAO report, USAID is beset by
organizational problems. Its former administrator, Randall Tobias, was forced to
resign abruptly last year after it was disclosed that he had patronized an escort service run by Deborah Jeane Palfrey, known as the D.C. Madame.

'There was also a question of the effectiveness of the

groups," said a State Department official on condition of anonymity.
'We know the NED and IRI are effective."

Currently, only eight groups are receiving money from USAID's Cuba
progam (see box below). The two groups which have gotten the most
cash are Grupo de Apoyo a la Democracia, a Miami-based group formed
by exile activists, and the Washington-based Center for a Free Cuba
headed by exile Frank Calzon.

But most of the grants these groups have received will expire this
year unless the grantees apply for renewals.

'We're debating whether or not to continue," said Frank Hernandez
Trujillo, executive director of Grupo de Apoyo a la Democracia, which
has received nearly $11 million in USAID money since 2000.

Hernandez said his group has used the money to distribute more than
450,000lbs. of medicine and food to dissidents and their families. But he said the
exile groups ridiculed by the GAO "did not have a clue" about how to
keep records.

'There was a lack of common sense," he said, noting that it's hard to
require dissidents to sign receipts. "We're not professional grant
seekers. It's a lot of stress."

Hernandez also said State Department programs aimed at fostering
change in Cuba are likely to be endangered after Bush leaves office,
even if McCain wins the presidency.

"Even a Republican administration isn't going to keep pumping money
into this if nothing happens," he suggested.

Nick Gutierrez, co-founder of one of the first groups to receive
funding from Section 109, said the exile programs could have been more effective if they hadn't been banned from giving cash to dissidents.

"Cash in Cuba is a devastating weapon against the regime," he said.
"But instead, we sent them packets of soap."

CRITICISM UNFAIR, COMPLAINS MIAMI LAWYER

Gutierrez, a Miami attorney who played a crucial role in crafting
property sanctions in the Helms-Burton Act, founded the Institute for
Democracy in Cuba with nine other exiles.

This institute, which received $1 million from USAID, tried to help
democratic activists in Cuba but disbanded after a couple of years
because of "differences of opinion" that "are not untypical among
Cuban-American groups," said Gutierrez.

But he complains that the GAO's criticisms of how groups like the
Institute for Democracy in Cuba spent their money were unfair.

"OK, so we spent $50 on some sweaters and some chocolates," he
quipped. "Guilty as charged."

Section 109 grantees who aren't exiles also found it dilficult to
meet the program's goals.

Washington's prestigious Georgetown University was given S400,000
back in 2003 to fund two-year scholarships at junior colleges and
technical schools for the children of Cuban dissidents.

Five years later, only two students have actually received
scholarships. One has completed a two-year program and the other is
currently in school.

...

Box: 'GROUPS CURRENTLY FUNDED UNDER USAID-CUBA PROGRAM'

Grupo de APoyo a la Democracia
$10,950,000 dissidents.]

Center for a Free Cuba <3/31/05 - 3/31/08> $7,231,663 rights violations, help to dissidents.]

University of Miami <11/27/01 - 6/30/08> $3,043,525 challenges to a democratic transition in Cuba.]

Cubanet <4/29/99 - 11/30/08> $2,323,000 stories by independent journalists.]

Pan American Development Foundation <9/30/07 - 3/31/09> $2,300,000


Plantados <9/13/07> - 9/12/09] $600,000 assistance to dissidents.]

Florida International University <3/13/03 - 6/30/08> $504, 587


Georgetown University <3/13/03 - 6/30/08> $400,000 junior colleges for families of political prisoners.]
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Judi Lynn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-08-08 12:34 PM
Response to Original message
1. Wow! This is radical, magbana. Never expected to see it. They're actually taking money OUT of the
hands of some of the "exile" organizations, at least in theory! The Hate Industry in Miami is a vast money-making enterprise for these thieves.

However, putting it into hands which will deliver even MORE money to the provocateurs in Cuba seems excessive! Unfortunately for the "dissidents" already known to Cubans, through a 10 year program of following their financial affairs by the former secretary to one of the most well-known "dissident," Marta Beatriz Roque, it was learned the U.S. had channeled money through Canadian banks to these "dissidents" (imagining it would render them untraceable!) and nothing was ever known about it IN THE UNITED STATES! Unfortunately for the "dissidents," it WAS known about in Cuba, because Roque's own personal secretary kept all the check numbers, dates, banks, etc. in careful records for over ten years. THAT'S how they got her ass in jail.

Accepting money from foreign governments and not acknowledging it strictly against the Cuban law, as well as AMERICAN law, as well. Those same "dissidents," if they tried it here would find themselves right in the slammer for a good, long time. That doesn't keep our own crooked politicians, however, from thumbing their noses at the law and doing it, anyway. Hell, if a politician wants something, it CAN'T be against the law, can it? :eyes:

Even then, this Piece of ####, Marta Beatriz Roque, claimed she was ill and she got "sprung" after serving only a couple of years of her sentence. Now she's wedged right back in her home, conducting business as usual, stopping in at the U.S. Interests Section just like the good old days. She's so confident of her position that, during a national Dengue Fever irradication spraying, when the men came to her house to spray for the mosquitos which carry the disease, she refused to allow them on her property, and told them to #### off, and they left without bothering her. As you no doubt know, Dengue Fever was unknown in Cuba until a specific date, at which time it spontaneously appeared and created a national epidemic. (Cuba started working immediately on chemicals, medicine to use to combat it.)





(This one looks like a trip to Miami. I believe she has relatives there.)



Marta, with her friends from the American Interests Section. First photo is James Cason, a prime a-hole, and Bush appointment.
Cuba
The Bush Administration's Obsession

~snip~
One of Washingtons main destabilization policies is the promotion of internal subversion, organized and financed with unscrupulous elements that are attracted by the offered emoluments. The current budget earmarked for the creation of an internal opposition rises to more than $50 millions. <5>.

The new head of the US Interests Section in Havana, Michael Parmly, who replaced Mr. James Cason on September 15, 2005, immediately got down to work by meeting with the highly influenced members of the Cuban dissidence. <6>.

The appointment of Mr. Parmly is not coincidental and it says much about Washingtons objectives. Previously, this diplomat was in Afghanistan for three years and gained experience about societies devastated by war. <7>. I come from some post-conflict societies involved in long periods of difficulties , he noted implying that his experience could be useful in the case of Cuba <8>.

On December 15, 2005, Mr. Parmly summoned the dissidents to a meeting in his personal residence in Havana. He did not hesitate to congratulate his guests for their work in favor of the democratic change. President Bush said that the United States will not impose their government style. Our goal is rather helping others find their own voice, win their own freedom and build their own path , he solemnly affirmed, ignoring the ruthless economic and political aggression against the small Caribbean island. Under the watchful eyes of the Ladies in White, Mr. Oswaldo Pay, Mr. Vladimiro Roca and Mrs. Marta Beatriz Roque, he said that the Cuban government does not represent its people and has no interest in improving living conditions. Clearly, Washingtons only concern is the well-being of the Cuban people as the fierceness of its measures show it because the economic sanctions aim at re-establishing democracy and not at starving people into surrendering <9>.

In a telephone conversation secretly recorded, Mrs. Marta Beatriz Roque, president of the Assembly for the Promotion of Civil Society, revealed how the trade with the dissidence works. In reference to certain people who had refused to participate in the Congress of the Dissidence, that she had organized in May 2005 with the public support of the United States said that nobody is leaving from Pinar del Ro to Miami. The Americans said they would not give them a single visa . Thus, to recruit new collaborators, the US Interest Section, in addition to a significant financial incentive, promises a visa for the docile and the obedient. <10>.

The telephone conversation recorded by the Cuban intelligence services also showed the true face of Mrs. Beatriz Roque. IF that costs the Cuban government a Yankee invasion, I dont give a damn, she said to her interlocutor. With these words, it is easy to understand why Mrs. Beatriz Roque does not cause waves of enthusiasm among the Cuban people <11>.
http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?ItemID=9641

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

This article will supplement the item about the guy who defensively insisted that maybe they spent $50.00 on some sweaters and some chocolates, "guilty as charged." (Asshole!) For one thing, U.S. taxpayers don't need to be sending anyone some Godiva chocolates (especially illegally), and the other stuff mentioned in this report:
1.45pm Cuban democracy funds spent on Game Boys
Richard Luscombe in Miami
guardian.co.uk, Wednesday November 15 2006 This article was first published on guardian.co.uk on Wednesday November 15 2006. It was last updated at 13:51 on November 15 2006.

Cuban dissidents who were given millions of dollars by the US government to support democracy in their homeland instead blew money on computer games, cashmere sweaters, crabmeat and expensive chocolates, which were then sent to the island.

A scathing congressional audit of democracy-assistance programmes found questionable expenditure by several groups funded by Washington in opposition to President Fidel Castros rule on the communist Caribbean island.

The Miami-based Accin Democrtica Cubana spent money on a chainsaw, Nintendo Game Boys and Sony PlayStations, mountain bikes, leather coats and Godiva chocolates, which the group says were all sent to Cuba. These people are going hungry. They never get any chocolate there, Juan Carlos Acosta, the groups executive director, told the Miami Herald.

He also defended the purchase of a chainsaw he said he needed to cut a tree that had blocked access to his office in a hurricane, and said that the leather jackets and cashmere sweaters were bought in a sale. They think its not cold there, Mr Acosta said. At $30 <16> its a bargain because cashmere is expensive. They were asking for sweaters.

The audit analysed $65m of spending by the US Agency for International Development (USAID) from 1996 to 2005 and concluded that poor management was to blame for the waste. There were weaknesses in agency policies and in programme office oversight, and internal control deficiencies, the report states.

None of the 36 groups that received money were identified in the report, but others admitted to the Miami Herald in advance of its publication today that they had been investigated.

Frank Hernandez Trujillo, executive director of Grupo De Apoyo a la Democracia (Group for the Support of Democracy), said his organisation received more than $7m from USAID, a programme that has formed a central piece of President George Bushs policy on Cuba.

Ill defend that until I die, Mr Hernandez Trujillo said of his decision to spend part of his groups allocation on boxes of computer games. Thats part of our job, to show the people in Cuba what they could attain if they were not under that system.

Most of the items were distributed to dissidents in Cuba by US diplomats in Havana, who were sometimes unaware what was in the shipments.
(snip/...)
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2006/nov/15/cuba.richar...
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Mika Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-08-08 12:44 PM
Response to Original message
2. An interesting thread from 03 (with newspeak headline included at no additional cost)
Edited on Sat Mar-08-08 12:46 PM by Mika
As usual, the 'Castro lover' accusations from the peanut gallery. As always, Judi posts some good links in this thread..

-Lieberman rips Bush in attempt to woo Cubans-
http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.ph...
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Judi Lynn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Mar-08-08 02:13 PM
Response to Reply #2
3. How IN-terresting! Hadn't thought of Joe Lieberman's courtship of the reactionaries for a while.
Didn't he go there during the very beginning of the current campaign season, as if testing the waters to see if they'd be behind him if he decided to run for the (what????) Presidency?

Got a jolt, Mika, from seeing the posts by Freecancat/Ohsolomia! When she posted at the old CNN Cuba/US relations message board, I was scared to death of her, as she knew so much about Cuba, as a multiple traveler from Canada, and she is so fierce, I was afraid she'd tear me to bits for my own ignorance. She really put the fear of gawd into me back then.

That poster really kept things moving along rapidly when she was around. Too bad she hacked off the management so deeply. She went through 3 user names at D.U., before getting the final ax, and she said that they had found a way to I.D. you even if you tried to use a new name. She shared that info. at another message board.

I always wished I had the ability to scare people to death, too. She had it DOWN! It would be pretty damned useful making short work of the trolls you have to see on the internetS.

What a delight, seeing "jiacinto," knowing he's so far gone, far, far away. Did you ever see the posts he made when he was drunk? What a wonderful treat. :eyes: We just didn't deserve him. Now he'll have more time to commune with his right-wing lunatic friends.
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