Human Rights in Cuba

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December 2009
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Do pro-democracy groups help Cuba?
Published: Dec. 25, 2009 at 1:03 PM

WASHINGTON, Dec. 25 (UPI) — A critic says U.S. pro-democracy groups
trying to smuggle cellphones and DVDs into Cuba may do more harm than good.

Ted Henken of Baruch College in New York told The Washington Post
groups look like U.S. tools when they receive the equipment.

"It taints them. It is almost a gift to the Castro regime to do that,"
he said.

The work can also be dangerous for those who carry it out. A contractor
for a pro-democracy group is now in jail in Cuba and others have been
detained in recent years, although usually for short periods.

There are also questions about financial controls. Spending on private
pro-democracy groups increased 10-fold from 2000 to 2008 to $45 million
in the last year of George W. Bush's presidency.

A former employee of one group pleaded guilty in 2008 to embezzling
$600,000. Audits have also found the groups spending government money on
dubious items like high-end chocolates.

U.S. Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., chairman of the Foreign Affairs
Committee, wants a review of the Cuba program.

Do pro-democracy groups help Cuba? – (25 December 2009)

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