Tags: Coba | democracy | US | programs

U.S. Democracy Programs for Cuba Paralyzed

Tuesday, 26 January 2010 10:02 AM

The U.S. government's Cuba democracy programs are all but paralyzed, facing political, safety and bureaucratic hurdles that critics and backers agree could end up halting their more aggressive features.

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), which doles out much of the money, has not requested new funding proposals since March, and groups that run the programs complain they have little money left.

Powerful Democrats in Congress are vowing to block the more ``provocative'' programs, and the Obama administration is hinting it may halt a key part of the programs that Cuba brands as ``subversive.''

``If this continues in the same way, the whole pro-democracy program is going to be dead,'' said Frank Calzon, whose Center for a Free Cuba in suburban Washington stopped receiving U.S. funds last year.

Launched during the Clinton administration, the Cuba Democracy Assistance program was expanded under President George W. Bush and Congress in 2008 approved $40 million for the two-year period that ends Sept. 30.

The money goes to non-government organizations and private firms that in turn support dissidents, independent journalists and other peaceful civil society groups and deliver items like books, shortwave radios, computers satellite TV receivers and cellphones.

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Tuesday, 26 January 2010 10:02 AM
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