The U.S. government has awarded $726,644 to a non-profit group linked to a lawyer who has called on the Trump administration to indict Raúl Castro on criminal charges.
The Agency for International Development gave money to the Global Rule of Law & Liberty Legal Defense Fund on Sept. 11. The grant will be used for “advancing human rights and democratic values,” records show.
The non-profit organization lists its address as 510 King St., Suite 350, in Alexandria, Virginia. That’s the same address as the Global Liberty Alliance, or GLA, the apparent new name of the defense fund. The GLA touts itself as a public service project of the PobleteTamargo LLP law firm. Its team includes a prominent lawyer named Jason Poblete, whose wife is Trump appointee Yleem Poblete, former chief of staff for U.S. Rep. Illena Ros-Lehtinen, R-Florida.
Both husband and wife have been quoted as saying they believe Raúl Castro should be indicted for his role in the Cuban government’s 1996 shootdown of two civilian aircraft belonging to Brothers to the Rescue. The Cuban exile group patrolled the Florida Straits for rafters and, Cuban authorities say, sometimes flew into Cuban airspace and dropped political leaflets.
Federal spending records do not say how the GLA would use the USAID grant. The GLA says its projects have included supporting the Apostolic Movement of Cuba, which it says has been persecuted. The group’s website states:
The Global Liberty Alliance started working on this matter in January 2017. For many years the Apostolic Movement of Cuba has struggled to worship freely in Communist Cuba, in part, because it refuses to register with Cuba’s Office of Religious Affairs. The ORA is the equivalent of a religious police whose officials closely monitor all activities of all religious groups in Cuba.
The media and Congressional interest generated by advocacy efforts provided some relief to the Apostolic Movement; however, members continue to live in fear of Cuba’s religious police and may still be evicted from their home.
Jason Poblete and his wife are both members of the Order of Malta, a lay religious order of the Catholic Church for more than nine centuries.
Like his wife, he is a former Capitol Hill staffer. His biography states:
During his tenure on Capitol Hill he was selected several times by the editors of Roll Call newspaper as one of the “50 Most Influential Staffers” in Congress.
He has testified before Congress on bringing to justice foreign leaders accused of gross violations of fundamental rights and atrocity crimes.
He has also represented individuals and families with claims against foreign governments for the unlawful confiscation of property as well as religious liberty matters.
Born and raised in South Florida, Jason has traveled extensively throughout the Western Hemisphere and keeps current on legal developments and political matters throughout the region.
Jason has published op-eds or been quoted in several U.S. and international publications such as The Wall Street Journal, National Review, The American Spectator, Roll Call, POLITICO, The Hill, The Miami Herald, The Washington Examiner, McClatchy News, Associated Press, Corporate Compliance Insights, World ECR: Journal of Export Controls and Economic Sanctions (UK), RCN Colombia, and La Prensa (Nicaragua).
The Tampa Bay Times today quoted Poblete as saying he is confident that the Trump administration will begin enforcing a U.S. law allowing Americans to sue the Cuban government and private companies that benefit from properties nationalized after the 1959 Cuban revolution.
The Trump administration “will do what’s best for U.S. interests,” the newspaper quoted Poblete as saying.
Yleem Poblete, a former Miss Miami who began volunteering for Ros-Lehtinen when she was 8, leads the State Department’s Bureau of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance.
In a 2017 statement after her nomination, Poblete thanked President Trump, then-Secretary Rex Tillerson, Ros-Lehtinen, her family and God. She added:
None of this, however, would have been possible were it not for the Lord’s protection and for my family.
Words fail me in appropriately thanking my parents and grandparents for their many sacrifices; in thanking my siblings and my husband, Jason, for their unconditional love and support.
I grew up in a family who experienced first-hand the evils of Communism– persecution, intimidation, arbitrary arrest and detention, friends and relatives killed before them.
When my mother arrived in the United States as a teenager via the Peter Pan flights from Cuba, she knelt and literally kissed the ground—the soil of liberty.
A profile about her states:
Poblete bears a close enough resemblance to former Alaska Governor and Vice-Presidential nominee Sarah Palin that Poblete was mistaken for Palin at the 2008 GOP Convention. She was the target of autograph seekers even after telling them she was not the one running for office.
In August, Yleem Poblete told an audience in Geneva that she suspected Russia may have a space weapon. She said:
… in October of last year the Russian Ministry of Defense deployed a space object they claimed was a “space apparatus inspector.” But its behavior on-orbit was inconsistent with anything seen before from on-orbit inspection or space situational awareness capabilities, including other Russian inspection satellite activities. We are concerned with what appears to be very abnormal behavior by a declared “space apparatus inspector.” We don’t know for certain what it is and there is no way to verify it. But Russian intentions with respect to this satellite are unclear and are obviously a very troubling development …