Sunday, October 4, 2015

U.S. embassy in Havana buys solar system

The U.S. Embassy in Havana bought a solar power system for $55,120.66, records show.
The system should be installed by Oct. 15. Records available online don't show whether the system is for the embassy or for another building.
California-based Gigawatt Inc. is the contractor. The solar system is listed as an "8000 Watt (8 kW) Solar Install kit W/String inverter system."
Gigawatt's e-commerce site,, sells the system for $13,338, not including installation, labor and shipping.
Looks like a pretty sweet deal for the contractor.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Audit finds irregularities in Cuba program

Questioned costs redacted
A contractor for the Agency for International Development submitted $193,115 in questionable expenses in 2009 and 2010, according to an audit obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, or FOIA.
The contractor, International Relief & Development, or IRD, was running a program called "Hastening the Transition to Democracy in Cuba."
The audit found that IRD claimed $193,115 in costs that were either poorly documented or prohibited.
The audit said:
We also noticed an ineligible charge of [redacted] included in the travel costs to the subaward for alcoholic beverages which are specifically unallowable per 2 CFR 230: Appendix B, 3.
Cost breakdowns were redacted, so it's impossible to know how much was spent on alcohol and other items in the name of Cuban democracy.
I requested the audit under a FOIA request to the U.S. Agency for International Development on March 18, 2011.
USAID responded on Sept. 25. The agency has spent millions of dollars on audits of the Cuba programs over the past five years. (See "USAID: For our eyes only.") This is the first time I've gotten a peek at one auditor's findings.
Alcohol included in travel expenses
The DMP Group in Washington, D.C. carried out this audit, examining $1,765,495 in expenses that IRD reported from March 1, 2009, to March 31, 2010.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Alpha 66: Obama is "a Raúl Castro ally"

Andrés Nazario Sargén
Alpha 66 on Saturday plans to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the death of its former commander, Andrés Nazario Sargén.
The event will be held at 2:30 p.m. at 2260 S.W. 8th St., Suite #305, in Miami.
Sargén died on Oct. 6, 2004, at the age of 88. He had been diagnosed with colon cancer a year and a half earlier, his daughter told the Los Angeles Times. That was right around the last time I saw Sargén.
I met the leader of Alpha 66 at his home in May 2003. He told me that his group endorsed - but didn't take responsibility for - a series of bomb attacks in Havana.
"Damaging a hotel or an electrical installation undermines the economy. That's what we want," Sargén told me.
More than 10 years later, Ernesto Díaz Rodríguez leads Alpha 66.
Ernesto Díaz Rodríguez
Díaz, 75, told me he doesn't agree with the U.S. rapprochement with Cuba. He said he sees President Obama as an ally of Raúl Castro and doesn't believe that renewed diplomatic relations will weaken Cuba's socialist government.
In the 1960s, Díaz was Alpha 66's chief of operations and led armed incursions against Cuba. He said years ago his organization renounced using violence against Cuba's government. He said he wants to see peaceful democratic change in Cuba.
"The solution is inside Cuba," he said.
But if the Cuban people try to use force to bring down the socialist government, then members of Alpha 66 will be ready to travel to the island to support them.
"If the situation isn't resolved peacefully, and Cubans rise up against the government, Alpha 66 will be there with them," he said.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Uncle Sam wants you

The Office of Cuba Broadcasting announced today that it is looking for broadcast and television journalists, producers, narrators, editors, Internet data analysts, social media strategists, radio commentators, studio technicians and others to work at Radio & TV Martí in Miami.
The application deadline is 5 p.m. Oct. 9.
Those hired would work as independent contractors from Nov. 1, 2015, through Oct. 31, 2016.
A sampling of the job requirements are below.
Broadcast journalist:
• Performs a combination of services that will include researching, interviewing, writing and voicing original news stories and reports.
• Ability to adapt broadcast material for Radio, Television and Internet about events in Cuba, the U.S. and other countries.
• Produces and edits creative audio reports (CRs) on Adobe Audition digital technology.
• Demonstrates ability to record and process interviews by phone, live face to face, or on the field.
• Should have extensive knowledge of Cuba, its people, culture, institutions and political situation.
• Ability to adapt English material to Spanish.
• Must command different information means to validate the comprehensiveness, accuracy and balance of news products.