US Programs in Cuba Remain Controversial - Tracey Eaton

    U.S. assistance aimed at boosting democracy in Cuba remains a controversial issue both in Havana and Washington D.C., a former staffer of the Miami Herald says.

    While supporters of U.S. programs in Cuba are urging the U.S. government to strengthen them, several critics are questioning the legality of the U.S.’s engagement in the Caribbean country, Tracey Eaton writes in a special report in the Miami Herald.

    Meantime, the Cuban government is firm on its stance that Cuba will not seek the U.S.’s opinion. Fidel Castro has said that U.S. measures will not defeat the revolution in the country, Eaton notes.

    The U.S. Agency for International Development has maintained that the funds it provides helps groups and individuals in Cuba carry out their democracy-related initiatives.

    “There are many groups and individuals inside and outside Cuba who believe the funds are useful in supporting their ability to carry out their activities and promote fundamental freedoms,” the agency told Eaton.

    Eaton is revisiting the topic of the U.S. engagement in Cuba as Alan Gross, a detained U.S. Agency for International Development subcontractor, marks his first year in a Cuban prison.

    At least one critic said the U.S. can only work out Gross’s release if it ends its programs in Cuba.

    “Sadly, I believe Alan Gross may stay in jail a long time, as long as these programs continue,” Tony Martinez, editor of the “United States Cuba Policy & Business” blog, told Eaton. “I see the key to unlocking his freedom lies in our ending these covert and subversive programs.”

    Meanwhile, supporters of the programs argue that the U.S. should intensify, not weaken, its support for dissidents and pro-democracy group. Frank Calzon, a pro-democracy advocate, noted that the U.S. seems to have adopted an “aggressive niceness” toward Cuba’s socialist government.

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      Ivy Mungcal

      As former senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributed to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.