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Posted February 05, 2010 by publisher in US Embargo

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Juan Tamayo | Miami Herald

Eight congressional Republicans on Friday alleged the Obama administration is trying to ``appease’’ the Cuban government after the arrest in Havana of a Washington subcontractor, and called for the cancellation of bilateral migration talks now set for Feb. 19.

``We are greatly concerned about the manner in which the administration is handling the arrest of Alan Gross’’ and its impact on the U.S. government’s pro-democracy programs in Cuba, they wrote in a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Gross, a Maryland subcontractor for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), has been jailed in Havana since his Dec. 4 arrest after delivering sophisticated communications equipment to Jewish groups on the island.

The letter to Clinton noted that after Gross’ arrest, USAID strongly discouraged recipients of U.S. pro-democracy funds from traveling to Cuba, and that nongovernmental organizations ``have been informed that the administration is considering taking democracy assistance funding in a `new direction.’‘’

``The Cuban government is greatly threatened by the evident progress of the pro-democracy movement and is utilizing the arrest of Mr. Gross to force the United States to cease providing aid to Cuba’s independent society,’’ the Congress members wrote.

``It appears that the administration has opted to handle Mr. Gross’s arrest by trying to appease the Cuban dictatorship,’’ they added.

The letter was signed by Florida’s Lincoln and Mario Diaz-Balart, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Connie Mack and four other Republicans; Dan Burton and Mike Pence of Indiana, Thaddeus McCotter of Michigan and Todd Tiahrt of Kansas.

They added that USAID has yet to request funding proposals for the Cuba programs for fiscal years 2009 and 1010, ``despite the requirement of the law.’’ Several recipients of such funds have complained they are quickly running out of their current allocations from a $40 million fund approved by Congress in 2008.

The letter also noted the State Department confirmed this week that its envoys will hold another round of migration talks with Cuban officials, now scheduled for Feb. 19 in Havana.

``We urge you to suspend all talks with the Cuban dictatorship until Mr. Gross is freed, and that you demand that he be immediately released,’’ the lawmakers wrote. ``We also respectfully request that you call on USAID to proceed swiftly with the [funding proposals] solicitation process.’‘

A State Department spokesman said U.S. consular officials in Havana were allowed to visit Gross this week—the second such visit since his arrest two months ago. But no further details could be released because of privacy laws, the spokesman added.

U.S. government concern over Gross’ detention ``is a matter that we’ve raised with [the Cuban government] on multiple occasion and that we will continue to raise with them,’’ the spokesman said, asking for anonymity because of department policies.

The 60-year-old Gross, of Potomac, Md., is a veteran development specialist who has been involved with several programs to provide Internet access to civil society groups around the world.

  1. Follow up post #1 added on February 05, 2010 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    This is not my Republican party I’ll tell you that.

    Just another shameful act by the Diaz Balarts of the world.

    Read this:

    “Several recipients of such funds have complained they are quickly running out of their current allocations from a $40 million fund approved by Congress in 2008.”

    as this

    “We need more government money to keep our “democracy in Cuba” programs alive. Hundreds of people in Miami live off this money and we hope Fidel never dies so we can continue to suck off the government teet without the pressure of having any meaningful impact”.

    If you see a Diaz Balart name on something you can be assured it is self serving, useless and shameful.

    Cuba consulting services

  2. Follow up post #2 added on February 05, 2010 by pipefitter

    Good Comment Pub. Paul Balart’s daddy is at it again. Too bad Obama doesn’t just pull the rug out from under these people and cut their wasted funding to help reduce the deficit.

  3. Follow up post #3 added on February 06, 2010 by paul

    Yeah you’d like that wouldn’t you pipefitter? so that dissidents have zero support from the outside world? don’t kid yourself, you have fascist written all over you. If dissidents had a real voice in Cuban politics, this support wouldn’t be needed. Can’t let those “pesky” dissidents *gasp* speak to foreign diplomats and circumvent state media.

  4. Follow up post #4 added on February 07, 2010 by pipefitter

    I guess you don’t like that idea Paul Balart, as it would cut off your only scource of income.

  5. Follow up post #5 added on February 10, 2010 by MiamiCuban

    To Paul, #3:

    As a citizen of the United States, how would you feel if you knew your neighbors were receiving funds from another country in order to overthrow the U.S. government?  All hell would break loose…..things are no different in Cuba or anywhere else in the world.  Funding dissidents is not the way to bring about change….it only pits neighbor against neighbor and divides families, communities, and eventually a nation. 
    It’s one thing to simply state you’re not in agreement with your government….but it’s a whole other ball game to receive funds to get a movement going.  I think it’s still very unclear what these so-called “dissidents” are actually doing.

  6. Follow up post #6 added on February 12, 2010 by paul

    If the Cuban monarchy actually listened to those that choose not to be communists, there wouldn’t be a need for dissidents to receive aid from the outside.

    All of you defending Cuba on this issue are exactly the same type of people that would have defended the GDR, and would have been happy to see dissenters jailed for challenging the status quo.

    Nothing about you is progressive. Dogmatic and fascist, apologizing for a police state.

    You don’t bring about change by having a one party socialist state with no choice.

    Argue with me, it’s cool. I’m smiling right now knowing that the blockade isn’t going anywhere, and you guys are irrelevant.

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