Florida lawmaker calls for “boots on the ground” in Cuba

When lawmakers met to discuss U.S. policy toward Cuba, Rep. Paul Cook, R-Calif., scolded Cuba for its “close relations with Russia.” He might as well have criticized the Trump administration for the same. But the hearing was about Cuba, not Russia, and the unexplained health attacks on U.S. personnel in Havana topped the agenda. Said … Read more

Closing books on “Cuban Twitter” program

On Nov. 30, the Agency for International Development closed out its contract with Xavier Utset, described by the Associated Press as the mastermind behind a secret “Cuban Twitter” program. Utset ran the program for Creative Associates International, then a USAID contractor. He later became an agency employee. Spending records classified Utset as an “undisclosed domestic … Read more

U.S. official threatens to quit Internet task force

Tomás Regalado, director of the Office of Cuba Broadcasting, threatened to resign from the Cuba Internet Task Force if members did not agree to reject any deals with the Cuban government. Radio & TV Martí quoted Regalado as saying: My position was very clear. I said that as a member of this commission I asked, … Read more

Covert operations now a multibillion-dollar enterprise

U.S. officials approved 305 covert actions against Cuba from January 1961 to February 1967, according to a State Department document on covert actions. Officers didn’t need approval from higher-ups unless the covert actions were expected to cost at least $25,000 – or $200,262.50 in today’s dollars. Today the U.S. government “black budget” for covert operations, … Read more

Back in the saddle again

As the U.S. government steps up the pressure on Cuba, the State Department is relying on a veteran diplomat with experience in hotspots throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. Michael G. Kozak is a senior official at State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, or DRL. He was born in Pasadena, California, on … Read more