Ex-official: Alan Gross gave hardliners a pretext for hostility

U.S. officials let an American development worker languish in a Cuban prison rather than quickly negotiate his release because they were under pressure from hardline Florida lawmakers eager to highlight Cuba as an “evil empire,” a former U.S. official said in an interview. Cuban authorities arrested Gross in 2009 for setting up illegal Wi-Fi hotspots. … Read more

New U.S.-Brazil alliance will likely target Cuba

National security adviser John Bolton on Thursday plans to meet with Jair Bolsonaro, the controversial president-elect of Brazil. “We share many bilateral interests and will work closely on expanding freedom and prosperity throughout the Western Hemisphere,” Bolton said on Twitter. Bolton expects Bolsonaro to help the Trump administration step up the pressure on Cuba, Venezuela … Read more

Declassified documents: U.S. debriefed Cuban migrants

U.S. authorities questioned Cuban exiles in Miami in the late 1970s to collect intelligence information about the Cuban armed forces, declassified documents show. The U.S. Army project was known as Latin Emigre Exploitation Program, or LEEP, according to a 1979 document posted on governmentattic.org in September. The U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command’s Annual Historical … Read more

How much democracy aid reaches Cuba?

The U.S. government spends millions of dollars trying to promote democracy in Cuba, but most of the money never reaches Cuban activists on the ground. Take the case of the Directorio Democrático Cubano. The Miami group reported spending $842,851 in 2016, according to tax records filed in May 2017. That included $686,811 in government grants. … Read more

Lobbyist lands in the White House

One of the most successful advocates for a hardline U.S. position against Cuba is now in the White House. Lobbyist Mauricio Claver-Carone is director of Western Hemisphere Affairs for the National Security Council. He works for NSC chief John Bolton, who famously – and some would say erroneously – said in 2002 that Cuba was … Read more