13 January 2007

Flake Fallout Over D.C.?

The assistant administrator for Latin America and the Caribbean for the U.S. Agency for International Development, USAID, Adolfo Franco, announced that he’s leaving the agency to become Senator John McCain’s foreign policy advisor for his probable White House run.

Franco was in charge of the program that was audited by the GAO last year at the behest of congressmen William Delahunt and Jeff Flake. The two congressmen later lead a fact-finding mission to Havana where they met with some Cuban dignitaries, but were denied the request to meet with Raul Castro. They in turn, did not meet with Cuban dissidents, including the Ladies in White, who had asked to meet with the delegation.

Since the GOA audit, Cuban dissidents who depend on external funds to survive, claim that help from the US is “paralyzed” .

During a recent event in Havana on Three King’s Day, the Ladies in White said that funds from the event came from some Non Governmental Organizations in Europe.

Some excerpts from the Miami Herald Article:

In response to e-mailed questions, Franco said he was not pressured to resign and that USAID had done ``phenomenal work to further the dissident human rights movement in Cuba.'' He said after five years on the job it was time to move on. ``I believe I am among the longest serving senior political appointees in the Bush administration serving in the same position.''Franco said he will stay until President Bush taps a successor and the Senate approves the confirmation.

John Weaver, senior strategist for McCain's exploratory campaign, called Straight Talk America, hailed Franco, a Cuban American, as ''an outstanding public servant'' who ``understands the issues related to our hemisphere as well as anyone.''

Obviously, after the GOA audit, the USAID program to help the dissident movement in Cuba has been so discredited that it is as good as over.

Delahunt and Flake’s ultimate goal is to take down what is left of the economic sanctions against Cuba’s totalitarian regime.

Delahunt's work isn't done yet. Their next target is going to be the dismantling of Radio and TV Marti:

Delahunt said Congress plans to hold hearings in March on USAID's Cuba program and the operations of Radio and TV Martí.

Radio and TV Marti have made plans to broadcast to Cuba using the private sector recently.

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