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Race & Identity in Cuba: many contributions from across the spectrum on AfroCubaWeb

Cuba: Race & Identity News

Discourse on Racism in Anti-Castro Publications, 9/07

Congressman Accuses Castro Of Targeting 'People Of Color'  5/9/02 CNS: savor the irony of a Republican from New Jersey talking about racial profiling in any location other than his own state.

Castro Persecutes Blacks 5/9/02 NewsMax: cites the CANF, a racist, narcoterrorist organization

Afro-Cuban Delegation Meets With Congressional Black Caucus, 8/1/01

Exiles try to convince Black Caucus that Cuba is racist, 8/1/01

CANF's AfroCuban page, 7/31

Alberto Jones: The attempt to divide Cuba on racial lines, 7/9/01

Funding for Cuban Dissidents, 2001

Sodepaz on extremist Catholics groups targeting Cuba, 1/01

Predomina la raza negra en la población penal femenina. Testimonios de Marta Beatriz Roque, 1/01

Cuban racial equality termed a myth; White minority has most power, 10/00

CANF quadruples funds to dissidents
, 9//00

The CANF: a financial portrait

by Andy Petit, 4/00

El dinero federal esta lloviendo sobre Miami, 2/00

Organizaciones del exilio que recibirán fondos, 2/00

Cuestionan destino del dinero para la democracia en Cuba, 2/00

Ulises Cabrera: Blacks and Whites, 1999

Dissidents and Race, 2001

Here we attempt to track some of the information relating to dissidents on the island and off, particularly in regards to race.   We have heard it said that dissidents have up until recently been largely "white," with a few notable exceptions. However, since the 90's there has been a steadily increasing stress on the theme that the Cuban government is racist, out of touch with its black majority, that it can no longer count on the unconditional support of the majority population, etc. The Cuban American National Foundation (CANF), an organization more representative of the old plantocracy than of Cubans of African descent, even got into the act and in August 2001 took their favorite AfroCubans up to Capitol Hill to testify against Castro. Meanwhile, the CANF maintains its commitment to drug trafficking terrorists who have acted against AfroCuban and African American interests many times in the past.

In Matanzas, to pick a provincial example, dissidents do tend to be white.   It is said that the Miami Mafia picks these rubes out in the sticks and funds them -- out in small places such as Union de Reyes, Perico, and others much beloved of Lydia Cabrera for their intense African culture.  The rube starts a political party and makes a splash. The idea seems to be that funding a person in a small town makes a bigger fish in a small pond, whereas funding someone in Habana would scarcely get noticed.  You have to make a lot of noise in Havana before someone cares.

As a February 2000 article from "El Herald" notes, USAID funds have been pouring into Miami to fund dissidents. The Miami Mafia of course is virtually all "white", or at least passes for such. One notable exception was Tony Bryant, an ex-panther jailed in Cuba for criminal activities who then joined "Commando L" in Miami and was made the head of it.  He later resigned, stating that the people he was working with were irremediably racist.

Until the 90's, the dissident and the exile groups paid very little attention to AfroCuban issues. One of the first articles we noted was by "independent journalist" Ulisses Cabrera: Blacks and Whites, in 1999, though we are told there are earlier examples. Since then, there has been a steadily increasing emphasis on these issues, along stereotypical lines of "the Cuban government is racist" and "there are no blacks in the Cuban government," etc. There has been very little substantive discussion of the issues but that is bound to come as the subject gets talked about more.

Another first was Manuel Cuesta Morúa, who called himself an "afro cuban."

For a broader view of issues of race and identity in Cuba, see our Race & Identity section with many contributions from across the spectrum. Note: as of early 2002, we have also been tracking all articles on race & identity in Cuba on Cuba: Race & Identity News

The US, the Exiled Plantocracy and Race, a summary of our materials on this topic

Afro-Cuban Delegation Meets With Congressional Black Caucus, 8/1/01top

By Jim Burns. CNSNews.com Senior Staff Writer. August 01, 2001.CNS News

(CNSNews.com) - A delegation of Afro-Cubans, four from the Miami area and two from the Washington, D.C. area, spent Tuesday on Capitol Hill meeting with members of the Congressional Black Caucus, hoping to convince them that Fidel Castro is bad for Cuba and should improve his human rights record there.

Omar Lopez Montenegro of the Cuban Civic National Union was among the delegation. He was told by the Castro government to leave Cuba several years ago and has lived in the United States ever since.

"We want to explain to the American people what the real situation is in Cuba," Montenegro said at a Capitol Hill news conference.

"Blacks in Cuba are unhappy with the system of government. A majority of blacks living in Cuba are dissidents. Many blacks cannot get government positions in the arts or politics because of the Castro government. The only field where blacks have excelled in Cuba is in sports," he said.

Other members of the delegation did not speak English and their remarks were translated by interpreters from the Cuban-American National Foundation, an anti-Castro group that was escorting the delegation around Capitol Hill as they called on members of the Congressional Black Caucus.

The delegation was scheduled to meet with Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas), chairperson of the caucus. Reps. Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-Ill.), Carrie Meek (D-Fla.), Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.), Sanford Bishop (D-Ga.), Cynthia McKinney (D-Ga.), Earl Hilliard (D-Ala.), and Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.).

Selby McCash, a spokesman for Bishop, said the delegation met with the Georgia congressman but Bishop had no comment on the meeting. Spokespeople for other CBC members wouldn't confirm or deny that their bosses had met with the delegation.

The group also lunched with Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), a Cuban exile and one of Castro's most vociferous critics in the House.

The delegation carried a letter to caucus members from Bertha Antunez, the founder of a Cuban dissident group calling itself the "Mothers for General Amnesty."

In the letter, Antunez said, "The Cuban government tries to fool the world with siren songs depicting racial equality in our country. But it is all a farce, as I and my family can attest, having suffered from the systematic racism directed at us by Castro's followers."

Her brother, Jorge, according to the letter has "suffered the scourge of racial discrimination in every prison he has been condemned to. The beatings are always accompanied by racial epithets. They set dogs on him. They deny him medical attention. They kept him from attending his mother's funeral."

In many of its broadcasts, Radio Havana, the official voice of the Castro government has denounced the United States and its racial policies. However, Antunez thinks the Castro government shouldn't be pointing the finger at the U.S., because Castro hasn't treated blacks very well in Cuba.

"Fidel Castro has often denounced racial discrimination in U.S. penitentiaries and has decried the high percentage of blacks in the U.S. prison population. Yet in Cuba, the percentage of blacks in the prison population hovers between 80 and 89 percent, conservatively estimated," he said.

Antunez also believes the Castro government practices "racial profiling."

"The racist mentality is so ingrained among Cuba's agents of repression that when mixed race groups are stopped on the street, only the blacks are asked for their identification papers," he said.

"I've been told by the political police, 'because you're black you have to be grateful to revolution for making you equal to whites.' To which I've answered, before God we are all equal, but among men the only thing that differentiates us is our conduct, not the color of our skin," Antunez added.

"The only think I have to thank the (Cuban) revolution for is for restoring the yoke of slavery that my ancestors lived under," he concluded.

All original CNSNews.com material, copyright 1998-2001 Cybercast News Service.

Exiles try to convince Black Caucus that Cuba is racist, 8/1/01top

By Rafael Lorente, Special to the Tribune. Published August 1, 2001. Chicago Tribune

WASHINGTON -- The Congressional Black Caucus and the Cuban American National Foundation have not been best of friends over the years.

After all, Black Caucus members have made frequent visits to Cuba and offered praise of President Fidel Castro, the foundation's least favorite person. Some have pushed to end the embargo against Cuba and ease travel restrictions that prevent Americans from traveling there legally.

But Tuesday, the foundation's Washington office brought a half-dozen black Cuban dissidents living in the United States to meet with several members of the Black Caucus and their staffs. The objective was to convince them that Castro's Cuba is not a paradise for blacks.

"We have to break this myth of Fidel Castro being the savior of blacks in Cuba," said Omar Lopez Montenegro, who said he moved to the United States nine years ago after being politically persecuted in Cuba.

Montenegro contends blacks and those of mixed race, who make up about 60 percent of Cuba's population, are overrepresented in the island's political prisons and underrepresented in powerful positions in the government and Communist Party.

As evidence, Montenegro and others point to jailed dissidents such as Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet and Vladimiro Roca.

They think the Black Caucus can help.

For the rest of this story, see:
www.cubanet.org/CNews/y01/ago01/01e4.htm

CANF's AfroCuban page, 7/31/01

The CANF now has a page focusing on the status of blacks in Cuba. It is, predictably enough, full of venom against the dreaded communists and alleged concern for blacks in Cuba. This from an organization dedicated to ending affirmative action in the state of Florida!

See http://www.canfnet.org/News/010731newsa.htm

Note, as of 9/07, this link is defunct and the canfnet.org site seems unused.

Predomina la raza negra en la población penal femenina.Testimonios de Marta Beatriz Roque, 1/01top

María de los Angeles González
Unión de Periodistas y Escritores Independientes, UPECI

La prisión de occidente de La Habana, conocida con el trist e nombre de “Manto Negro”, tiene alrededor de 700 mujeres presas donde el promedio de edades fluctúa entre los 22 y 23 años de edad y predominan las de la raza negra.

Un fenómeno social se viene produciendo desde los primeros años del triunfo la “revolución” hasta la fecha. Los delitos comunes, tales como el robo, complicidad, drogadicción y tráfico de estupefacientes son los más frecuentes entre las causas que en ocasiones pueden alcanzar más de 25 años de cárcel.

Marta Beatriz Roque Cabello, exconvicta y presidenta del Instituto de Economistas Independientes de Cuba, asegura que el trabajo de reeducación de estas presas  es muy deficiente, ya que las oficiales- en su mayoría estudiantes de Derecho y Psicología, encargadas de ese trabajo, suelen permanecer muy poco tiempo en la penitenciaría, debido a la falta de condiciones materiales y morales de las reclusas.

“La vida en la prisión es muy dura, ahí te puedes encontrar  con asesinas y homosexuales. En realidad su conducta hacia las presas políticas es de respeto, pero eso no deja de hacernos sentir conmovidas y asustadas, porque las agresiones entre ellas son frecuentes. La seguridad  del penal se muestra indiferente a ello y, en ocasiones, la atención medica se demora lo bastante como para originar protestas como la ocurrida en octubre de 1997, cuando se amotinaron cientos de presas” dice Roque Cabello.

Marta Beatriz Roque, coautora del Documento “ La patria es de Todos”, se encuentra bajo libertad condicional. Desde su liberación no cuenta con identificación permanente y la Seguridad del Estado intenta limitar sus movimientos y acciones. Frecuentemente la visita el coronel Luis Mariano, de la Inteligencia cubana, quien el pasado sábado la condujo a una residencia del Ministerio del Interior, asegurándole que la situación de su carné de Identidad  le sería devuelto en breve, pero su solicitud para viajar a los Estados Unidos para visitar a un sobrino enfermo, había sido denegada por el mandatario cubano.

From http://www.bpicuba.org/otros/predomina.htm

Cuban racial equality termed a myth; White minority has most power, 10/00

Tom Carter; THE WASHINGTON TIMES  October 24, 2000

Cuba's Communist revolution, far from being a model of racial tolerance and inclusion, is run by "old white men" and is racist at its core, say academics, Cuban dissidents and even some supporters of President Fidel Castro.

Forty years after Mr. Castro overthrew Fulgencio Batista - a mulatto military dictator backed by the United States - Cuba remains racially divided between the white haves and the black and mixed-race have-nots.

Years of racial intermarrying has turned the Cuban population into a spectrum of shades, and at the street level, Cuba has far less racial tension than virtually anywhere in the United States. But official Cuba might as well have a sign on the doors of power saying "Whites only."

Cuba's blacks and mulattos make up more than 60 percent of the island's population but hold less than 20 percent of the leadership positions in government. By one estimate, less than 10 percent of the top leadership in the Politburo is nonwhite.

"Most Cuban blacks will say that there have been gains in the revolution in health care and education, but there is much more to do. . . . Blacks end up playing second fiddle in Cuba," said Wayne Smith, former head of the U.S. Interests Section in Cuba who hosted a forum on Cuban racism last year.

'NEED AFFIRMATIVE ACTION'

Mr. Smith said the overwhelming number of officials working at the highest levels of the Cuban government and military are white. By his count, just three of the 36 leaders of Cuban communism are nonwhites.

"They really need an affirmative action program in the Cuban Politburo," he said.

The Cuban Interests Section, which handles Cuban diplomatic issues in Washington, said there were no racial problems in Cuba.

"We don't have any racial problems in Cuba, nothing like in the United States," said Luis Fernandez, spokesman for the Cuban government in Washington. "We have a lot of African Cubans in important positions. How many African-Americans are in important positions in the United States?"

Castro critics charge that blacks in the United States, who helped end apartheid in South Africa, are woefully uninformed about race in Cuba, preferring to believe the myth that their country is a racial paradise.

Members of the U.S. Congressional Black Caucus - sometimes called "Fidel's amen corner" - have been vocal in supporting the Cuban revolution and opposing the U.S. economic embargo on Cuba but remain almost silent on racial inequities there.

In September, Mr. Castro went to Harlem and spent nearly five hours before an ecstatic crowd of mostly black supporters, ripping the United States for a litany of wrongs, including racism. During the speech, Rep. Maxine Waters, a California Democrat and Black Caucus member, sat at his feet in rapt attention.

RANGEL SEES ISSUE

Rep. Charles B. Rangel, New York Democrat and a Black Caucus leader who has worked vigorously to end the U.S. embargo on Cuba, said racial inequality in Cuba is a legitimate issue that needs to be confronted. He agrees that while Cuba is overwhelmingly black or mulatto, only a few have broken through the revolutionary glass ceiling.

"It is a legitimate issue. It is a legitimate observation. I have raised the issue of racism in Cuba with Fidel Castro and others on many occasions," Mr. Rangel said. "Everything is not all right in Cuba."

He said his inquiries regarding Cuban racism may have embarrassed the Cuban government into posting a few black diplomats to Washington.

"I asked, 'Where are the black faces?' Maybe that's why Felix Wilson Hernandez, a black Cuban and Havana's second-ranking diplomat in Washington is here now," the congressman said.

Mr. Rangel said that ordinary Cuban blacks he speaks with are similar to American blacks during the civil rights movement in that they support their government in general, but find themselves fighting it for racial equality.

He said there are plenty of Cuban blacks in baseball and boxing - as in the United States in the 1950s and 1960s - but few in positions of power.

WHITE DISSIDENTS RELEASED

There is additional concern that blacks and mulattos may be overrepresented in Cuba's prison population, Mr. Rangel added. He said that when foreign delegations visit Cuba and succeed in getting dissidents released from prison, they are invariably white dissidents.

"Who is in Cuba's prisons? Are people of color getting a fair shake?" he asked.

For the rest of this article, see

http://www.canfnet.org/News/010731newsa.htm

CANF Quadruples funds to dissidents in Cuba, 9/14/00

In Miami, Cuban Exile Group Shifts Focus

By Scott Wilson. The Washington Post Foreign Service. Thursday, September 14, 2000; Page A03

MIAMI – The leading institution of this city's Cuban exile community plans to quadruple the amount of money it sends to dissident leaders on the island in a modest shift away from its Washington-oriented strategy to bring democratic change in Cuba.

The move, described by Joe Garcia, executive director of the Cuban American National Foundation, is a tacit acknowledgment that the Cuba lobby has recently lost some footing in the halls of Congress, and it could increase tension between Cuban dissidents and the island's communist government.

Garcia said in an interview that a portion of the group's $10 million annual budget – he declined to say how much – will begin flowing to the island through sympathetic dissidents by the end of the year. At the same time, Garcia said the foundation is broadening its Washington strategy, which has long focused on Congress. The foundation plans to raise its profile by opening a "Free Cuba Embassy" in a town house on Jefferson Place NW.

In recent years, Garcia said, the foundation has worked almost solely on blocking attempts to weaken the 40-year-old U.S. trade embargo on Cuba, particularly since the Elian Gonzalez case brought that policy to the attention of more Americans than ever. Now, he said, the foundation will step up lobbying for initiatives that include expanding U.S. aid to fight hunger in Cuba, increasing funds to buy books for its independent libraries and improving telephone links.

All the money would be distributed outside Cuban government channels. With that shift will likely come increased tension and confrontation on the island, as the Cuban government opposes outside help to its critics.

The Cuban government recently jailed a Chicago man for 20 days after he passed out small sums of money to Cuban dissidents during his visit. Douglas Schimmel, 70, had met with Frank Calzon of the Washington-based Center for a Free Cuba before leaving the United States and said he was asked to pass out $1,000 to dissidents. An opponent of the U.S. trade embargo, Schimmel refused, saying he would use his own money. The Cuban government charged him with "rebellion."

"What was most important that we get done has already been done," said Garcia, who took day-to-day control of the group a few months ago and was a protege of the foundation's late founder, Jorge Mas Canosa. "We needed to take the foreign policy novices on. Suddenly, people discovered that Cuba was a small island in the Caribbean we don't do business with. We needed to make sure Congress didn't overreact."

With less than a month before Congress adjourns, Garcia said he is confident that no legislation weakening the embargo will emerge this year. A conference committee is considering a bill that would allow food and medicine sales to Cuba, but without a push from Republican leaders it will likely languish.

"I'm happy either way," Garcia said. "Neither [the bill or its failure] is what the [Cuban] regime wants."

Garcia and others say the business and farming interests that have joined to fight the embargo pose perhaps the biggest challenge to the foundation's program in the months ahead. Garcia said its focus on hunger and human rights is designed to blunt that mercantile push for new markets.

"We're going to try to reengage America's conscience," he said.

The assessment offered by Garcia and other exile leaders here comes almost three months after the community's most public and humiliating defeat: the return of 6-year-old Elian to his father in Cuba. The eight-month ordeal left this city more divided than ever and a majority of Americans favoring a change in U.S. policy toward the island of 11 million residents.

Garcia, whose parents left Cuba before he was born, acknowledges that "no doubt about it, they [the Cuban government] scored a short-term public relations victory" with Elian's return. But since then, he said, the foundation has hired an outside public relations firm for help. He said membership has risen 15 percent to almost 60,000 and the community has come back together.

As proof, Garcia and others hold up last week's reelection of Miami-Dade Mayor Alex Penelas, who famously declared during the Elian case that the local police would not assist federal agents if asked to take the child from his Miami relatives. Penelas emerged with 52 percent of the vote from a largely inexperienced 10-member field after spending $1.4 million.

"After Elian we were like the scum of the earth," said Ninoska Perez, a foundation director. "I can tell you that, without thinking twice, people would do the same thing again."

The exile community is still somewhat divided over the best course to take to achieve its long-stated goal of ending President Fidel Castro's four decades in power and bringing democracy to Cuba. The foundation is formulating an international lobbying effort to enlist conservative European and Latin American leaders such Mexico's President-elect Vicente Fox to help their cause. But another exile faction is advocating an approach that would send even more money to the Cubans themselves.

In a recent article for the Miami Herald, Calzon of Center for a Free Cuba wrote that "freedom in Cuba will be determined by events inside, not outside, the island. Exile leaders must not usurp the internal opposition's role."

"There is a growing consensus that we should be looking toward Cuba and the dissidents, as opposed to Washington," said Carlos de la Cruz, a wealthy Cuban exile here who helps fund opposition efforts. "Clearly the exiles aren't going to overthrow anything. It has to come from inside Cuba."

© 2000 The Washington Post Company

The CANF: a financial portrait
by Andy Petit, 4/15/00top

The Cuban American National Foundation (CANF), was founded by Jorge Mas Canosa, a veteran of the 1960 Bay of Pigs with long term ties to the CIA until his death in 1997.

Mas Canosa founded Mas Tec Inc., a construction company with revenues in excess of $1 billion in 1998. His son, Jorge Mas Santos, inherited not only the business, but also the post at the head of the foundation.

The CANF has a board of directors with about 60 members, each of whom gives over $10,000 a year. A separate board of trustees numbers 60. Each of them gives over $5,000 a year. The total number of contributors is 50,000. In addition, the Jorge Mas Canosa Freedom Foundation, which is funded by Mas Canosa's estate, matches each dollar contributed to the CANF with two dollars of its own. The administrative budget is around $1.5 million a year with separate funds raised for each activity.

In 1997 and 1998, the foundation's Free Cuba PAC gave Democrats $53,000 and Republicans $49,500. The foundation has another PAC, the Cuban American Foundation PAC. CANF members and their allies also donate money to candidates as individuals. During the ’92 primaries, the CANF organized fund-raisers for Bill Clinton who received $275,000 at two fund-raisers in Miami. Just before his inauguration, he was rumored to be considering Mario Baeza, an AfroCuban attorney, for assistant secretary of State for Inter-American affairs. Mas Canosa opposed the Baeza appointment and made it known through three other recipients of hislargess: Bill Bradley of New Jersey, Bob Graham of Florida, and Robert Torricelli of New Jersey, thus ending the appointment.

The CANF and its allies have been linked in the past with acts of intimidation and efforts to stomp out dissent, even death threats, as documented by Americas Watch and other human rights group.

El dinero federal esta lloviendo sobre Miami, 2/21/00top

Publicado el lunes, 21 de febrero de 2000 en El Nuevo Herald
PABLO ALFONSO

El Nuevo Herald

El dinero federal para democratizar a Cuba, de acuerdo con los términos de la Ley Helms-Burton, está lloviendo sobre Miami.

La Agencia Internacional de Estados Unidos para el Desarrollo (USAID) ha donado millones de dólares en ayuda federal en los últimos tres años a organizaciones políticas de exiliados e instituciones norteamericanas, para implementar un polémico plan que aspira a promover una transición pacífica hacia la democracia en Cuba.

``Hasta ahora hemos aprobado $6.5 millones y nuestro nivel de aprobación para este año es de $3.5 millones más'', explicó Kim Walz, de la Oficina de Prensa de USAID en Washington.

Los fondos aprobados benefician a una amplia gama de organizaciones que van desde el Instituto para la Democracia en Cuba, que recibió $1 millón, hasta CubaNet, que recibió $98,000.

Hay diferencias en el proceso administrativo de esos fondos ya que, mientras algunos de sus dirigentes reciben salarios de hasta $30,000 anuales, otros no reciben ningún dinero por su trabajo y la mayoría declinó revelar a El Nuevo Herald cuánto ganaba.

Según la USAID, el dinero entregado por esa agencia no puede ser enviado en efectivo a Cuba, en cumplimiento de las sanciones comerciales de Estados Unidos a la isla. Su utilización está destinada fundamentalmente a:

 Mantener comunicaciones con activistas de derechos humanos dentro de Cuba y difundir en el exterior sus denuncias.

  •  Reproducir en el exterior los trabajos de los periodistas independientes.
  •  Ayudar al desarrollo de organizaciones no gubernamentales en la isla.
  •  Enviar alimentos y medicinas a presos políticos y sus familiares, así como a otras víctimas de la represión en Cuba.

Por lo demas, vease el Herald: http://www.elherald.com/content/tue/noticias/eudocs/060365.htm

Organizaciones del exilio que recibirán fondos, 2/00top

Publicado el lunes, 21 de febrero de 2000 en El Nuevo Herald

Organizaciones del exilio que recibirán fondos

Los fondos se derivan del cumplimiento de las leyes Torricelli y Helms-Burton

PABLO ALFONSO
El Nuevo Herald

Estas son algunas de las organizaciones del exilio que han recibido la aprobación de fondos más importantes, a través del Programa para Cuba de la Agencia Internacional para el Desarrollo de los Estados Unidos en cumplimiento de la Ley para la Democracia Cubana de 1992 (Torricelli) y de la Ley para la Libertad y Solidaridad Cubana de 1996 (Helms-Burton).

 Instituto para la Democracia en Cuba: $ 1,000,000

Registrado en el Estado de la Florida como una Corporación No Lucrativa. Los datos corporativos muestran que sus directivos son: Rafael Sánchez Aballí, Leonardo V. Sesin y Francisco Hernández-Trujillo.

Según la USAID, los fondos aprobados serán utilizados para asistir a los activistas democráticos en Cuba, informar al pueblo cubano y reunir y diseminar información de derechos humanos desde dentro de Cuba. Servirán también para proveer asistencia humanitaria (medicinas y alimentos) a prisioneros políticos, sus familiares y otras víctimas de la opresión en Cuba.

  •  Centro para una Cuba Libre: $ 900,000
  •  US-Cuba Business Council: $ 567,000
  •  Directorio Revolucionario Democrático Cubano $554,835
  •  Cuba online: $ 300,000
  •  Cuba Free Press: $280,000
  •  Grupo de Trabajo de la Disidencia Interna: $250,000

Vease al http://www.elherald.com/content/sun/docs/018860.htm   por el resto del articulo

Cuestionan destino del dinero para la democracia en Cuba, 2/00top

Publicado el martes, 22 de febrero de 2000 en El Nuevo Herald

Cuestionan destino del dinero para la democracia en Cuba

PABLO ALFONSO
El Nuevo Herald

El dinero entregado por la Agencia Internacional para el Desarrollo de los Estados Unidos (USAID), para el programa Cuba, en cumplimiento de la Ley Helms-Burton, está siendo cuestionado seriamente por dirigentes de la oposición dentro y fuera de la isla.

``En realidad muchos de esos planes son una burla a los legítimos intereses de los opositores cubanos y de los propios Estados Unidos'' , afirmó José Basulto, presidente de Hermanos al Rescate. ``En lo que a nosotros respecta, no queremos esa ayuda, no la hemos recibido y no la estamos solicitando''.

Según Basulto los fondos de USAID pudieran estar creando ``un desbalance en el abanico político interno, porque su entrega selectiva por grupos de interés genera desequilibrios entre las fuerzas opositoras''.

Raúl Rivero, director de la agencia de CubaPress en La Habana, señaló que los esfuerzos externos de ayudar politica y financieramente a la disidencia interna, encuentran en Cuba el obstáculo de leyes que penalizan con varios años de cárcel a quienes la reciban.

``Después de cursar tres años de periodismo por correspondencia de FIU tienes que estar dispuesto a cumplir cinco años de cárcel por violar la ley'', subrayó Rivero. ``Hasta donde yo sé, el intento ese de crear cursos por correspondencia para periodistas independientes en Cuba no ha funcionado hasta ahora'', añadió.

El Centro Internacional de Prensa, de la Universidad Internacional de la Florida (FIU) en Miami, recibió el pasado año $292,000 de la USAID para ``entrenar a periodistas independientes en Cuba y mejorar sus habilidades profesionales''.

Charles Green, director del Centro, dijo que esos fondos han servido para elaborar cursos por correspondencia para periodistas independientes, traducir sus artículos y reportajes, y para invitarlos a talleres y cursos de formación en el Centro Latinoamericano de Prensa en Panamá.

``Todavía no hemos invitado a nadie pero esperamos hacerlo para fines de este mes o principios del próximo'', indicó.

Uno de los proyectos más controvertidos es un estudio realizado por la Fundación Internacional para Sistemas Electorales (IFES), con sede en Washington, que recibió $136,000 dólares para elaborar un plan electoral poscastrista. El IFES concluyó el estudio hace dos meses pero sus resultados apenas han sido divulgados.

``Algunos cientos de copias del estudio están disponibles para quien los pida o los quiera recoger en las oficinas de nuestra Sección de Intereses en La Habana'', dijo un funcionario del Departamento de Estado. ``Es la forma que tenemos de que esto se conozca entre la población cubana'', agregó.

La idea de preparar un proyecto electoral para Cuba, desde el exterior y por una institución extranjera, fue criticada fuertemente por Roberto Rodríguez, presidente de la Junta Patriótica Cubana (JPC).

``¿Cómo se va a hacer un estudio, un proceso de esa naturaleza desde Washington?'', se cuestionó Rodríguez, quien rechazó además la idea de aceptar fondos federales. ``El que paga manda y la nueva Cuba debe surgir libre, sin ataduras a gobiernos extranjeros''.

Rodríguez dijo que desde su fundación la JPC se ha sostenido con el aporte de sus miembros y del pueblo exiliado.

``Ni hemos recibido ayuda federal, ni la queremos, ni la hemos pedido nunca'', subrayó.

Otro de los proyectos cuestionados es el de la Fundación Panamericana para el Desarrollo, con sede en Washington, que recibió $237,000 para vincular a organizaciones ambientalistas no gubernamentales de Cuba con sus contrapartes en el hemisferio.

``En realidad hasta ahora no hemos hecho nada, no hemos usado esos fondos porque estamos tratando de identificar a organizaciones no gubernamentales en Cuba'', dijo Norberto Ambross, Director de Programas de esa fundación. ``Creemos que hay organizaciones ambientalistas en Cuba no gubernamentales, menos oficialistas que otras, y estamos en ese proceso de búsqueda''.

Según Elizardo Sánchez, presidente de la Comisión Cubana de Derechos Humanos y Reconciliación Nacional'', en Cuba casi todas las organizaciones registradas legalmente como ``no gubernamentales'' tienen un carácter oficialista.

Por lo demas, vese al http://www.elherald.com/content/tue/noticias/cubadocs/045457.htm

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