18 November 2006

$55 Million in Ammunition

Here we go.

The day after Oscar Corral’s article, “two year’s worth of crack investigative reporting”, hit the stands, a report by the Government Accountability Office confirmed what the Herald published. The government is inefficient. I couldn’t find how long it took the GAO to conduct its investigation.

Two congressmen,

Rep. William Delahunt, D-Mass and Rep. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz who have spent countless sleepless hours worrying about the government’s waste of taxpayer dollars asked for the GAO to conduct a study and spend some more taxpayer dollars to review the policy of materially aiding Cuban dissidents inside Cuba.

The funds totaled $5.5 million a year over ten years.

These two congressmen’s goal is to ultimately stop the series of economic sanctions that the US has against the Castro Regime commonly referred to as the Cuban Embargo. They have no problem using tax-payer dollars to get ammunition to use against the Bush administration and its policies, but they do have a problem with using tax payer dollars to help foster liberty and democracy to Cuba by throwing a few scraps to the Cuban dissidents. Go figure.

Congressman Delahunt is in line to take over the chairmanship of the House International Relations oversight and investigation subcommittee when the democratic-controlled congress convenes in Jan of 2007. Get ready for more expensive hearings on the embargo.

Meanwhile, back on the island, prominent Cuban dissidents deny having received any funds from Uncle Sam. Martha Beatriz Roque, Havana’s iron lady, told the French Press Agency that they do get medicines, books, radios and other material goods. She added that she didn’t see any dissidents dressed luxuriously.

Another prominent dissident, Manuel Cuesta Morúa, of the “coalición Arco Progresista” told the EFE agency that it wouldn’t be “counterproductive” for dissidents on the island to accept money from Uncle Sam because it gives the communist Cuban government ammunition to say that the dissidents are merely paid mercenaries.

According to the AP, USAID, the governmental agency that distributes the funds “provided 385,000 pounds of medicine, food and clothing, more than 23,000 shortwave radios and millions of books, newsletters and other informational material.”

Most of the alleged waste comes in delivering the assistance to the recipients in Cuba.

Delahunt is not really interested in fixing the wasteful practices but in changing the US policy towards Cuba. "This really cries for a more thorough review of policy as opposed to just simply focusing on the findings and looking at it as an auditing problem." He is quoted.

Unfortunately, people with disagreements with the US’s Cuban foreign policy focus many of the attack on the Cuban exiles whom they see as enemies because they have what they perceive to be a “hard line” or “extreme” view of Cuban policy. The embargo opponents blame the political pressure of “those people down in Miami” for maintaining the embargo. Please! And all we can squeeze out of these politicians is a measly $5.5 mil a year? Never do these individuals acknowledge that the easiest and least painful way for these problems to go away is for the Cuban government to give its people basic civil liberties. In blaming the US and the Cuban exiles for the American imposed sanctions, they side with Castro by becoming his amen chorus.

We can disagree on the sanctions and their effectiveness. But we should never use the inefficiency of our democratic government as ammunition against those who risk their lives by standing up to a repressive and brutal dictatorship. In the process of acquiring that political ammunition you give the real enemy, Castro, ammunition to use against the defenseless victims of his tyranny.

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