Monday, April 19, 2010

Negotiations do free Cuban prisoners

Posted on Monday, 04.19.10
Negotiations do free Cuban prisoners

Frank Calzon's April 14 column, No more `Open Hand' -- Obama must get
tough with Castros, postulates that negotiations will not result in the
release of Alan Gross. Calzon then recommends a series of measures that,
according to him, will achieve the release.

Apparently, Calzon conveniently forgot that negotiations resulted in the
release by the Cuban government of almost 1,200 Bay of Pigs Invasion
prisoners in 1962 and more than 3,000 political prisoners in 1979.
Moreover, efforts by Bill Richardson, Jesse Jackson and others have also
resulted in the release of prisoners.

The two most important measures that Calzon recommends to obtain the
release of Gross are the full resumption of the USAID's pro-democracy
program and increasing the power of Radio and TV Martí.

What Calzon fails to say is that the USAID program has been in place for
more than 10 years, has cost taxpayers more than $100 million and has
resulted in incidents of fraud and misappropriation of funds, according
to a GAO report, congressional hearings and even a negative paper
written by a well-known Cuban American organization. Moreover, he fails
to disclose that he was a prime receiver of USAID funds.

Radio and TV Martí have cost taxpayers more than $500 million. Radio
Martí has been operating for 30 years and has consistently proven to be
ineffective, prone to corruption and the subject of negative reports. TV
Martí's record is even worse than that of Radio Martí.

History clearly demonstrates that negotiations have resulted in the
release of thousands of Cuban prisoners. None of the measures
recommended by Calzon have worked for many years.

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