|U.S. Interests Section employee Kathleen Duffy|
Kathleen Duffy, an employee of the U.S. Interests Section, showed up that day to support Las Damas. A 3-minute video on the Cuba Money Project's Vimeo channel shows Las Damas members chanting, "Liberty! Liberty! Liberty!" Afterward, they gather briefly in a nearby park, where Duffy greets and chats with the protesters.
Cuba's Catholic Church had just announced that Cuban authorities planned to release 52 political prisoners, all those remaining in jail from the Black Spring crackdown in 2003.
Some people find it entirely appropriate that the U.S. government support Las Damas, particularly at such a momentous time for the group. Others object, saying U.S. officials should not get involved in Cuba's internal affairs.
The debate over the U.S. role in Cuba is timely because $20 million in democracy funds for the island remains hung up in Washington. Juan Tamayo described the political fight in Wednesday's Miami Herald.
Sen. John Kerry placed a hold on the $20 million on April 1, saying he wouldn't allow the funds to be released until the State Department answered his questions about the programs.
Read a summary of the State Department's answers here.
A congressional source told me that Kerry wants to cut the funded amount from $20 million to $15 million.
That position angers democracy advocates who say that the U.S. government does not do enough for opposition groups in Cuba.
|Kathleen Duffy greets Laura Pollan, leader of Damas de Blanco|