Cuba Politics

USAID Cuba grant funds allegedly misused

Posted March 29, 2008 by publisher in Cuba Politics.

By PABLO BACHELET | Miami Herald

Felipe Sixto, from Miami, is under investigation over allegations he misused U.S. grant money to promote Cuban democracy.

An aide to President Bush has resigned in the midst of an investigation by the Justice Department over allegations he misused U.S. grant money intended to promote democracy in Cuba, the White House said Friday.

Felipe Sixto, a Cuban American from Miami, was the special assistant to the president on inter-governmental affairs, dealing with Cuba and other issues.

Sixto was until last summer the chief of staff of Frank Calzón, the head of the Washington-based Center for a Free Cuba. Sixto did not respond to e-mails and calls to his home Friday.

Calzón said he welcomed the investigation by the Justice Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development, which had provided the grants.

Neither Calzón nor the White House revealed how much money was misused but people familiar with the investigation say several hundreds of thousands of dollars could be involved—an embarrassing development coming just weeks ahead of the Bush administration’s roll-out of its 2008 Cuba grant program. White House spokesman Blair Jones said the White House learned of the allegations from Sixto himself as he resigned from his post on March 20.

In 2006, the Government Accountability Office reported that most bids for Cuba grants were awarded without competitive bids and found some abuse.

But the report also found that the grant money had led to large amounts of equipment and literature being distributed to Cuban democracy activists.

Calzón’s Center works with foreign governments and activists in Cuba to raise awareness on human rights abuses. He said it was the Center that initiated an investigation in mid-January when ‘‘an allegation’’ of the misuse of funds emerged.

Member Comments

On March 29, 2008, publisher wrote:

I can’t tell from reading this story if funds were allegedly abused by Mr. Sixto while he was working for the Bush Administration or while he was working with Frank Calzon at the Center for a Free Cuba.

For the record from what I have read and seen of Mr. Calzon, I am not impressed and generally do not find myself supportive of his organization.

I will also say that I have never sought USAID funds and, from what I know of USAID, I am not surprised that their funds may have been abused.

A search of the Havana Journal easily reveals the shameful distribution of USAID funds to Creighton University.

And all this goes to my belief that the US Embargo benefits Cuban Americans more than it benefit Cuban citizens. Some of you may not like to read that but I would like to know how these funds were abused. Were they used to purchase goods and services in Miami that never quite made it to Cuba???

Get my point?

On March 30, 2008, arteest wrote:

Woo-hoo! You are indeed a gutsy man.

On April 03, 2008, publisher wrote:

Mr. Calzon wrote this article regarding his organization so I thought I would post a link to it to give him his say in the matter.