Thursday, March 5, 2015

Lawyer: Fugitive is "an American dissident"

Charlie Hill
Police and state officials are "conspiring with bounty hunters to kidnap American political activists in Cuba," a New Mexico lawyer says.
Defense lawyer Jason Flores-Williams represents Charlie Hill, a former militant accused, along with two others, in the shooting of a New Mexico patrolman.
Hill and two other members of a militant group called New Afrika were traveling across New Mexico in a Ford Galaxie when Patrolman Robert Rosenbloom stopped them on Nov. 8, 1971.
Police say one of the three New Afrika members shot and killed Rosenbloom. The suspects hijacked a plane and fled to Cuba. (See "The Politics of American fugitives in Cuba."
Jason Flores-Williams
Flores-Williams describes Hill as "an American dissident" and says Hill's case "is about forcing America to confront its own history."
Flores-Williams writes:
For a black man in the 1960’s, America was a nightmare of harassment, subjugation and systemic oppression. The mere act of insisting on your dignity, working for the humanity of your people, meant that you would be labeled a militant, an extremist, a radical placed under constant surveillance, civil rights repeatedly violated by a country that was sending you to go die in Vietnam. For a black man who endured the 40’s and 50’s in America, there was no constitution, no due process, no equal protection of the law. You were three-fifths of a human being, and to have the audacity to insist on that last two-fifths meant being targeted by State Police, the Federal Bureau of Investigations and the infinite war chest of the United States Government.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Ritzy flight for Cuban deportees

Falcon 50 jet
Some 34,500 Cubans living in the United States face deportation orders. Sending them back to the island would likely cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars if the case of Abraham Gonzalez set the precedent.
In 2010, U.S. authorities deported Gonzalez to Cuba because of a drug-trafficking conviction in 1982, according to a Miami Herald article about his case in 2011.
The Herald said Gonzalez "was put on a plane to Cuba on June 17, 2010."

Contract record
Date of travel: June 17, 2010
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement hired Executive Fliteways, of Ronkonkoma, N.Y., to make an unscheduled charter flight to Havana, Cuba on June 17, 2010. I'll bet that's the plane that took Gonzalez back to Cuba.
The Herald said Gonzalez traveled with "several Mariel-era deportees."
Records show that ICE paid Executive Fliteways $44,538. Let's suppose there were three or four deportees, three or four federal agents, a pilot and a crew member. They could have climbed aboard Executive Fliteways' Hawker 800, which seats eight and costs $3,300 per hour.
Or maybe they flew aboard the Falcon 50, which seats nine and costs $4,300 per hour.
Whatever the case, Gonzalez traveled back to Cuba in style.
If the U.S. government were to send all 34,500 Cubans back to the island in similar fashion, the bill would be a cool $384 million.

Uncle Sam blows $2 billion in Cuba

The Department of Defense has spent about $2 billion at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base since 2000, contract records show.
The State Department, the U.S. Agency for International Development and the Broadcasting Board of Governors reported spending more than $46 million. But that money wasn't spent at GITMO. It went toward democracy programs and broadcasting.
The numbers are based on what each federal agency reports. Audits have shown that many agencies underreport or misreport spending.

AgencyAmount
DEPT OF DEFENSE$1,923,448,477
BROADCASTING BOARD OF GOVERNORS$1,450,763
AGENCY FOR INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT$11,082,940
U.S. CUSTOMS AND BORDER PROTECTION$6,392
U.S. IMMIGRATION AND CUSTOMS ENFORCEMENT$18,118,957
U.S. COAST GUARD$290,549
FEDERAL ACQUISITION SERVICE$8,471,666
VETERANS AFFAIRS$152,234
STATE DEPARTMENT$33,777,205
OFFICE OF POLICY, MANAGEMENT, AND BUDGET$7,289,887

Below are U.S. government contracts awarded to companies doing business in Cuba. Government agencies reported $2,004,327,264 in contracts from 2000 to 2015.
Most of the contracts are for work done at GITMO.

VendorAmount
BREMCOR JOINT VENTURE$131,432,707
A BRDC JOINT VENTURE$130,057,491
KELLOGG BROWN & ROOT SERVICES, INC$119,176,927
BURNS AND ROE SERVICES CORPORATION$112,423,273
KVAERNER PROCESS SERVICES, INC$109,247,858
BURNS AND ROE SERVICES CORPORA$107,730,756
ISLANDS MECHANICAL CONTRACTOR, INC.$96,963,568
BRDC, A JOINT VENTURE$72,805,516
EXXON MOBIL CORPORATION$66,533,785
PENTAD CORPORATION$55,046,062
KNIK CONSTRUCTION CO (INC)$49,166,438
KELLOGG BROWN & ROOT SERVICES,$46,334,252
URS GROUP, INC.$42,003,787
ISLANDS MECHANICAL CONTRACTOR,$39,317,211
RATCLIFF CONSTRUCTION, INC.$37,678,559
PRIME PROJECTS INTERNATIONAL L$33,214,268

Saturday, February 14, 2015

NED funds for travel, training, workshops

The National Endowment for Democracy is a major recipient of U.S. government funds for democracy programs in Cuba. The NED, based in Washington, D.C., does a better job than most organizations in disclosing to the public how it spends its money.
Below is the NED's summary of its activities in Cuba followed by a list of the groups that it funds.

Programs in Cuba took advantage of the new migration law that lifted the ban on international travel for Cubans. Cuban activists and human rights defenders presented cases of violations of human and civil rights before the United Nations and Inter-American Commission of Human Rights and participated in trainings to improve their ability to document cases. Cuban activists attended international workshops to share information and experiences with counterparts who face similar challenges. Programs raised international awareness about repression on the island, provided ordinary citizens with access to uncensored information and legal support, trained young Cubans to use new social media, and defended the rights of Afro-Cubans and underrepresented communities.

Afro-Cuban Alliance, Inc.
Freedom of Information
$132,701
ISLAS: Quarterly Afro-Cuban Journal
To encourage greater discussion and analysis about racial issues in Cuba. Afro-Cuba Alliance will publish a quarterly journal to inform readers on the island and in the international community about racial issues in Cuba, the experience of civil rights movements, and the efforts of civil rights activists towards greater racial equality.