Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Lawmaker: Obama's Cuba policy aids Castro brothers

Screenshot of January 2009 Wikileaks memo attributed to Raymond McGrath.
The Obama administration has given Cuba's socialist government "three years of appeasement and diplomatic niceties," U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen said Wednesday after a meeting with the State Department's new chief of Cuban affairs.
Lehtinen said:
The Obama Administration’s policy towards the Castro brothers has only provided an economic lifeline to the dictatorship.
Raymond McGrath replaces Ricardo Zuniga, I believe, as the State Department's new coordinator of Cuban affairs. Zuniga moved to the National Security Council, the Miami Herald reported in May.

Lehtinen said:
It is my sincere hope that Mr. McGrath can succeed where some others before him have failed and that is to work to focus U.S. efforts on precipitating a transition to democratic rule in Cuba as articulated in U.S. law.
The lawmaker also complained that the Cuban government continues to keep American Alan Gross in jail.
The Cuban government on Wednesday renewed its willingness to settle the dispute over Gross, who was arrested after smuggling satellite communication gear into Cuba.

Josefina Vidal. Photo: Pan African News Wire
Josefina Vidal, head of the United States Department in the Cuba's Foreign Ministry, said in a statement:
Mr. Alan Gross received three visits from his wife at the end of last week, for which he was given all facilities and provided with the best conditions.
Mr. Gross’ health situation remains normal and he carries out intense physical exercises regularly.
Cuba reiterates its willingness to have a dialogue with the Government of the United States to find a solution to the case of Mr. Gross and continues to wait for a response.
The Gross debacle - and many others - now land on McGrath's desk.
I couldn't find McGrath's biography on the State Department website. A diplomat of the same name headed the U.S. Consulate office in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. I don't know if this is the same McGrath. He was cited as the author of a 2009 Wikileaks memo that discussed the extraordinary level of violence in Juarez. The memo reads:
The view is widely held that the army is comfortable letting the Sinaloa and Juarez cartels diminish each other's strength as they fight for control of the "plaza" (with a corollary theory being that the army would like to see the Sinaloa cartel win."

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