Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Photos from July 26 event in Ciego de Avila

Raul Castro gestures toward the camera
I am wrapping up a trip to Cuba, where I have been interviewing a wide range of people, from government supporters to dissidents and bloggers.
I'll post interviews, photos and videos in the coming weeks and months on Along the Malecon and the Cuba Money Project.

Jose Ramon Machado Ventura

A member of Pastors for Peace

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Former Bush aide expected to finish jail term this month

Felipe Sixto, jailed in 2009 for stealing more than half million dollars from the Center for a Free Cuba, is scheduled to finish his 30-month prison sentence later this month, federal inmate records show.
Sixto had just landed a coveted $102,000-per-year job in the Bush White House when federal authorities arrested him in November 2008. He was investigated and charged after the Center for a Free Cuba in Washington, D.C., discovered financial irregularities in one of its Cuba programs.
The center had been sending shortwave radios to Cuba as part of a U.S. government-financed project to boost access to information on the island. Sixto bought bulk shipments of the Chinese radios through companies he created. Then he resold the equipment to the center for a higher price and pocketed the difference - $576,900.
His arrest fueled calls for greater accountability in U.S. Agency for International Development democracy programs in Cuba.
Sixto, a Cuban-American who dreamed of becoming a lawyer and politician, apologized and admitted he had made a terrible mistake.
He could have gotten up to 10 years in jail and a fine of more than $1 million. Several prominent Cuban exiles came forward and asked leniency. They included Carmelo Mesa-Lago, a prolific author and former director of the Center for Latin American Studies at the University of Pittsburgh, and Carlos Alberto Montaner, a fierce critic of the Castro regime.
Sixto is not "an evil person or a habitual offender" and is "deserving a second chance in life," Montaner said in a Jan. 21, 2009, letter to the court.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

World Learning is leader in development and student exchange

World Learning, the non-profit organization that is competing for the chance to run an Agency for International Development youth program in Cuba, received $616,708,541 in federal grants from 1997 through June 2010, according to federal budget figures. The chart below shows grant amounts by year.
USAID is a major contributor to World Learning’s budget. See more about World Learning on the Cuba Money Project website.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Job ads posted for USAID youth project (corrected)

Screenshot from World Learning website
World Learning, a global non-profit organization based in Brattleboro, Vermont, has begun a search for a director, in-country coordinator and trainer or trainers for a USAID-funded democracy project in Cuba.
Note - and this clarifies information I posted on July 6 - The jobs won't be filled unless World Learning is awarded the project. The organization is competing for the opportunity to operate the youth program and plans to submit its proposal during the week of July 11, a World Learning staffer said in an email.

Job candidates are asked to apply online at the World Learning website.
The project - called “Making Space: Places for Youth Expression in Cuba" - is aimed at boosting free expression among youth ages 12 to 24 years of age (See Cuba Money Project for details on the youth program).

Below is the job ad for the director, or chief of party:

World Learning, a global non-profit organization, (www.worldlearning.org) is seeking a Chief of Party for the USAID-funded “Making Space: Places for Youth Expression in Cuba” project. Permanent location of project office TBD. Expected duration – 3 years. Recruitment contingent upon successful award of the project. Please transmit CV and cover letter (in English) with Chief of Party on the subject heading as soon as possible, explaining why you are best qualified for this position to WLCuba@yahoo.com. Only short-listed candidates will be contacted.

Background: This three-year project will focus activities on Cuba’s youth (ages 12 to 24) to increase opportunities for youth-to-youth interaction in Cuba, allowing the country’s young citizens to experience freedom of association and freedom of expression in social spaces organized outside state authority. It will optimize their opportunities to gather and express themselves in order to encourage their increased participation in civic, social, and community activities on the island.

More Castro photos: Connecting dots and pixels

This is Fidel Castro's birthplace in Biran, Cuba. The house is now a museum and is filled with mementos from Castro's childhood.
Photo taken at the Castro home in Biran
Here's a photo I shot at the museum. It's the original version of a cropped photo I had posted earlier. I had asked readers if they could spot Fidel Castro is in the picture after Michael DeCossio wrote to me, saying:
Fidel Castro is not in the photo but I am. Fidel was much older in 1957. He was already fighting his revolution in the mountains.
Several more readers drew the same conclusion. Fidel Castro is not in the photo, they said. I took another look at the photo this morning and I couldn't find Castro, either.
Maybe someone at the museum messed up the caption.

In any case, if Castro is in the photo, he should resemble the likeness shown in this photo, also taken in 1936.

Fidel Castro in 1936. Photo by Robin Thom

A few more photos I shot in Biran are below.

Fidel Castro in 1941
Fidel Castro in 1940

Monday, July 4, 2011

Interview with Reinaldo Taladrid: Part 2 (in Spanish)

Reinaldo Taladrid. Photo: CubaDebate
Part 2 of interview with Cuban journalist Reinaldo Taladrid (See Part 1)

Entonces volviendo a eso, yo te diría, tú me preguntas del dinero, vuelvo a lo mismo. La primera que yo me haría es quizás la que va a ser el destino de tu blog, pero yo me preguntaría - ¿que pasa si mañana en el senado y en la cámara logran mayoría una propuesta que diga - teniendo en cuenta que el desempleo esta a niveles históricos solo comparables con la Gran Depresión, teniendo en cuenta que no se deben subir los impuestos de los norteamericanos para aliviar la crisis, teniendo en cuenta que le dimos $700,000 de salvamento de bailout a los bancos para que se salvaran, teniendo en cuenta eso decidimos que nos solidarizamos con los cubanos y su lucha por la libertad - los apoyaremos moralmente en todo lo que podamos pero no vamos a destinar más dinero porque el país lo necesita y no es justo?
¿Que pasaría con la llamada "oposición en Cuba"? ¿Que pasaría si no se destina ni un centavo?
Yo sé el papel del periodista es preguntar, no opinar. Lo que pasa es que yo soy un periodista también. ¿Que pasaría si no llega más dinero? Por ejemplo, no sé, a mí me dijeron que más de la mitad de las Damas de Blanco no tenían a nadie, que las que salían a la calle vestidas de blanco no tenían a ningún familiar preso. ¿Yo no sé si será verdad o no? Después me dijeron que eso era verdad y que por eso le pusieron Damas de Apoyo, que no tenían a nadie preso y le pusieron damas de apoyo porque no tenían a ningún familiar, por eso. No sé si será verdad o no. Me dijeron que hay incluso matrimonios que se ha hecho después que están presos, algunas gentes. No sé si será verdad o no. No sé, yo no sé, son cosas que uno oye y entonces yo me pregunto ¿que pasaría? Que pasaría?
A nadie le gusta todo de su país, en ningún país del mundo, ni en Finlandia, ni en Sudáfrica, ni en Tailandia, ni en Estados Unidos. No a todo el mundo le gusta y esta de acuerdo con todo lo que pasa en su país, ni esta de acuerdo con todas las medidas.

Interview with Reinaldo Taladrid: Part 1 (in Spanish)

Reinaldo Taladrid
Below is the first part of an in-depth interview with Cuban journalist Reinaldo Taladrid. He is a frequent host of state-run TV and radio programs in Cuba. (See Part 2)

Yo te quiero decir algunas ideas que yo pienso que cualquiera que se adentre en el tema este de la política de EE.UU. hacia Cuba debe tener en cuenta:
Primero, a cualquier en Estados Unidos le puede parecer que el gobierno en un país es bueno, muy bueno, regular o malo. ¿Pero que derecho tiene alguien a cambiar el gobierno de un país extranjero por muy malo que pueda ser? Yo pienso que esa es la primera pregunta que hay que hacerse.
A ti te puede parecer que es muy malo el gobierno de un país. ¿Pero que derecho tienes tú como ciudadano de otro país a cambiar ese gobierno? Eso es lo primero. Lo segundo, en Estados Unidos cada vez que se va a producir un fenómeno de cambio de régimen como se habla, lo que se discute es cual es la mejor forma de hacerlo, pero a mi me llama la atención que Estados Unidos que es el país de las leyes y el país de los abogados, el país en el que todo el mundo tiene que tener un abogado, ¿no? Nadie se pregunta si eso es legal.
¿Como es posible que en el país donde cualquier cosa va a cortes, cualquier problema tiene un abogado? Posiblemente tenga más pleitos judiciales en corte. Todo el mundo tiene que tener un abogado, sea para el tránsito, para los impuestos, para cualquier problema, cualquier cosa va a corte. ¿Como es posible que nadie se pregunte, es legal lanzar las tropas contra un país que no ha hecho nada contra Estados Unidos? ¿O no es legal? El gobierno de ese país puede ser muy malo, ¿pero tiene derecho Estados Unidos a cambiarlo?
Yo si fuero americano me preguntaría, bajo esa óptica, ¿por qué no lanzamos las tropas contra Arabia Saudita, Eméritos Árabes Unidos, no? ¿Por qué no? Puede ser que no nos guste el gobierno y que a las feministas americanas nos les guste como se trata o no a la mujeres - un problema de opinión. Puede ser que a las mujeres les parezcas bien de esos países, pero puede ser que a las mujeres norteamericanas no les parezca bien, pero ¿por que no lanzan las tropas contra Arabia Saudita, o contra Katar o contra los Eméritos Árabes Unidos, por que no? Bajo esa óptica de que si no me gusta un gobierno, yo tengo derecho a cambiarlo.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Interview with Jean-Guy Allard

Jean-Guy Allard
American pop culture – everything from movies and music to TV shows and fashion – has more impact in Cuba than U.S. government democracy programs that cost millions of dollars every year, Canadian journalist Jean-Guy Allard said.
“Cultural junk” from the United States has been much more effective in penetrating Cuba than “expensive government programs,” Allard said in an interview. ”But the U.S. administration won't trash its propaganda and subversion programs because the Miami guys won't let it do so. And their influence in Congress is so strong that many of the millions will likely keep landing in their pockets.
“I wish I were wrong."
Allard writes for Cuba’s state-run Granma newspaper and many other Latin American publications. “Just Google me," he says.
His coverage wins praise in Havana and Caracas and criticism in Miami and Washington, D.C.