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Posted November 29, 2005 by publisher in US Embargo

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title as seen at [url=http://www.CubaCentral.com]http://www.CubaCentral.com[/url] : CU grant for Cuba project gets heat

Henry J. Cordes, Omaha World-Herald

Tuesday, Nov 29, 2005

Creighton University Law School administrators knew they were getting into a hot political issue when they applied for a federal grant to devise a mechanism for resolving property disputes in a post-Castro Cuba.

  But even they have been surprised by the firestorm generated since the U.S.

Agency for International Development awarded Creighton the $750,000 grant.

  Castro supporters suggested that the university is part of a U.S. government effort to topple Castro and seize property from Cubans.

  Others suggested that the process under which USAID awarded the grant was tainted, noting that a key agency official is a Creighton graduate.

  “I’ve been a little bit surprised, partly because in Omaha we’re removed from the everyday tumult of Cuban politics, “said Patrick Borchers, dean of the Creighton law school.

  “But you understand why it’s such an emotional issue. You’ve got families split up and people who were dispossessed of property, and you have people living on the island in god-awful economic conditions,” Borchers said.

  Both Creighton and USAID officials defended the grant, which they said was earned through a competitive process.

Under the grant, a legal team from Creighton will come up with a model property claims tribunal that someday could settle claims arising out of the billions in private property that Fidel Castro`s government seized after the
1958 revolution. Much of it was owned by U.S. companies and by Cubans now living in the United States.

  The Creighton proposal calls for setting up a U.S.-Cuba tribunal that would seek to settle claims now said to be worth more than $6 billion.

  The university formally received the grant last week in a ceremony attended by Adolfo Franco, a 1983 Creighton graduate who serves as USAID`s assistant administrator for Latin America and the Caribbean.

  The grant since has been criticized as an effort by the United States to impose a property claims mechanism on the Cuban people.

  “The grant is a sham and totally counterproductive,” Wayne Smith, director of the University of Havana`s exchange program at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, told the Associated Press.

  Prensa Latina, a Latin American news agency, said: “In another action against Cuba, the Bush administration has channeled taxpayer money to a U.S. university to come up with a plan on how to revert the island to its 1958 status.”

  Several critics seized upon Franco’s ties to Creighton.

  The Havana Journal, a pro-Castro Web site, published a World-Herald article on the grant but changed the headline to: “Creighton University celebrates $750,000 tainted grant money from USAID insider.”

  Agency officials said Creighton`s was the top scorer among more than 100 grant applications. The applications were stripped of identifying information so the panel reviewing them had no idea where they originated.

  Franco said the Creighton grant already had been selected by the panel when it landed on his desk for his signature.

  “You won a competitive process, “he told Creighton officials. “You won it the old-fashioned way—on the merits.”

  A Washington Post columnist suggested that Franco had steered the grant to his alma mater. The columnist did not quote either Creighton or USAID officials.

  Creighton`s Borchers said that column item was “a cheap shot.” He said he had never met Franco before the signing ceremony.

  Borchers said he understands Cubans’ fears that they could be dispossessed of property. He said the Creighton team knows that whatever it proposes will have to pass muster with the Cuban people.

  “We are acutely aware nothing worthwhile is going to happen unless it takes into account Cuban legal culture and is something the Cuban government will buy into,” he said.

  1. Follow up post #1 added on November 29, 2005 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    1. Mr Cordes needs to check his facts. Before calling us a “pro-castro website” I would suggest that he first email or call us to ask for our thoughts on the matter. So, Mr. Cordes, for the record, we are not a pro-Castro website nor necessary an anti-Bush website. However, I don’t think I have a problem coming out and saying that we are an “anti-USAID” web site.

    How’ that? USAID has wasted US taxpayers money for years without results and that’ why we are against Creighton University taking the money. Also, as other critics of the grant money have suggested, the study has been done or is just a simple excersize in futility.

    I notified Dean Borchers as soon as I read the news and told him about the Loyola University situation and how they ended their USAID funded program.

    2. With regards to Mr. Franco insisting that everything is legit, why don’t we have a higher authority in USAID make a statement that the grant was won by a “competitve process”.

    Facts, people, facts.

    The problem with facts when it comes to the US dealing with Cuba is that the US will loose all arguments if they are based on facts.

    That is why the small minority of old Cuban exiles run US Cuba policy.

    It’ about time that we bloggers (I never claim to be a journalist) keep the heat on bad grants and bad “journalists”.

    So, Mr. Cordes, why can I not find your contact info anywhere on the net or at the Omaha paper?

    Get back to us sometime, our email address is always in the footer of every page and all visitors can post content to this site.

    We even welcome pro-Embargo people but they are a RARE breed.

    Rob Sequin

    publisher Havana Journal

    Cuba consulting services

  2. Follow up post #2 added on November 29, 2005 by I-taoist with 213 total posts

    Boy, I had to chuckle when Mr. Cordes characterized the Havana Journal as a pro-Castro web site.  He sure ain’t been reading a lot of my stuff, nor it seems, many others.  The great thing about the HJ site is that it is moderate in the positions it takes, basing most opinions on reason and experience rather than ideology. 

    In this chessgame of madmen we know as the US/Cuba conflict, a little sanity might go a long way. 

  3. Follow up post #3 added on December 01, 2005 by bernie with 199 total posts

    Hey: lets stop this madness of returning property to
    people who abandoned their property when their goverment
    changed hands.
    Else the Tories of the American revolution will come down
    from Canada and claim the whole East coast of the USA.
    Many.many people have saved their title, and their claim
    for their property could possibly be valid.

  4. Follow up post #4 added on December 01, 2005 by jesusp with 246 total posts

    Amazing what people will do for $750,000.! To quote congressman Murtha, another U.S. policy “wrapped in ilusion”

  5. Follow up post #5 added on December 05, 2005 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    Last week, shortly after this article was posted, I received a phone call from the author Henry Cordes. He apologized for calling us a “pro-Castro website” and said that a retraction would be posted and indeed it has been posted at http://www.omaha.com/index.php?u_pg=1640&u_sid=2072168&u_rnd=4147167

    (Correction: Rob Sequin, publisher of the Havana Journal web site, says the site is not pro-Castro. The World-Herald in an earlier version of this article characterized the site that covers issues concerning Cuba as pro-Castro. While the content on [url=http://www.HavanaJournal.com]http://www.HavanaJournal.com[/url] is critical of U.S. policy on Cuba, Sequin said the site in no way is pro-Castro. )

    So, thank you Mr. Cordes for taking the time to call and “talk shop”.

    Apparently Mr. Cordes did not know about the “hornet’ nest” that is US Cuba policy. So, we appreciate and accept the retraction but have to say that it is an interesting point in publishing history when a journalist/newspaper has to apologize to a blogger/blog site.

    Cuba consulting services

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