Thursday, July 2, 2015

Briefing on renewal of U.S.-Cuba diplomatic ties

Special Briefing
Office of the Spokesperson
Senior State Department Official
Via Teleconference
Washington, DC
July 1, 2015

MODERATOR: Great. Thank you so much, Paul , and thanks to everyone for joining us on relatively short notice. Obviously an historic day; we’re discussing the re-establishment of diplomatic ties between the United States and Cuba. You obviously all saw the President and saw Secretary Kerry’s announcement, and this call is just a chance to let you ask some questions and discuss a little bit about what happens next.

Just to discuss attribution and ground rules, this call is on background with attribution to a High Level State Department Official or Senior State Department Official. For your information and no other use, that official is [Senior State Department Official]. So we have limited time today, about 30 minutes, so before I turn it over to [Senior State Department Official] I just will obviously try to get to as many questions as we can, but I would ask that you try to refrain from any follow-ups so we can get to as many of you as possible. And with that, I will hand it over to Senior State Department Official. Go ahead, please.

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Thanks very much, [Moderator], and thank you all for joining me today. This is a very important day for all of us. As President Obama and Secretary Kerry just announced, we notified Congress that we have reached an agreement with the Government of Cuba to re-establish diplomatic relations and reopen embassies. As you know, the governments of the United States and Cuba have held discussions on reopening diplomatic relations since December 17th when President Obama changed the direction of U.S. policy towards Cuba. President Obama and Castro agreed that the historic occasion to restore a relationship severed some 54 years ago and to work towards re-establishment of diplomatic relations.

Wanted: Multimedia programming to Cuba

The Broadcasting Board of Governors on Wednesday announced that it is seeking contractors that would produce multimedia programing for Cuba.
The BBG, which oversees Radio & TV Martí, "is most interested in firms that have produced programming for broadcast to Cuba focusing on entrepreneurship (i.e., how to start a business, examples of successful small businesses that have been created through personal initiative, etc.), and profiles of well-known artistic persons or groups living in Cuba, as well as stories that inspire, enlighten, and entertain."
See details below:
Solicitation Number:
Notice Type:
Special Notice
Added: Jul 01, 2015 5:00 pm

THIS IS A REQUEST FOR INFORMATION (RFI) ONLY. This RFI is issued solely for information and planning purposes. It does not constitute a Request for Proposal (RFP) or a promise to issue an RFP in the future.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

State Department to send 15 Cubans to grad school

The State Department wants to send at least 15 Cubans to graduate school in the United States so they can "more effectively establish, lead, manage, and grow independent organizations in Cuba."
U.S. officials are seeking a public or private university to carry out the $1.5 million project, called the Cuban Nonprofit Management Scholarship Program.
The State Department announced the project on Tuesday. Applications are due on July 23. Excerpts of announcement are below:

The United States Department of State, Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs (WHA) announces a Notification of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) to support a U.S.-based scholarship program for graduate-level education focused on nonprofit management for Cubans with up to $1,584,158 in FY 2014 Economic Support Funds for a project period of four years. The anticipated start date for this activity is September 2015 and one award is anticipated as a result of this NOFO. WHA invites U.S. public and private institutions of higher education or U.S. nonprofit /non-governmental organizations having 501(c)(3) status with the IRS or an equivalent official status to submit proposals.

The program will support the U.S. government’s foreign assistance goal to empower Cubans to freely determine their own future by increasing human capacity, promoting community-level engagement, and expanding civic society networks by administering a scholarship program for graduate-level degrees or certificates in nonprofit management in the United States for at least 15 participants. The program will build the capacity of Cuban individuals to more effectively establish, lead, manage, and grow independent organizations in Cuba.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

USAID may be back in the game

The House Appropriations Committee today approved a bill that would have the National Endowment for Democracy, the State Department and the Agency for International Development sharing $30 million in Cuba democracy funds.
The committee also ordered that "grants exceeding $1,000,000, or a period of 12 months, shall be awarded only to organizations with experience promoting democracy inside Cuba."
Under the fiscal year 2016 State and Foreign Operations Appropriations bill, the U.S. government would spend $30 million to promote democracy in Cuba, up from $20 million in fiscal 2015.
A committee document states:
The Committee recommendation includes $30,000,000 for programs to promote democracy and strengthen civil society in Cuba, of which not less than $8,000,000 shall be for NED. The remaining funds should be administered by DRL, the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs (WHA) and USAID, and the Committee encourages these bureaus and USAID to consider the unique capabilities of the core institutes of NED in implementing similar programs.