Unleash the Googles on Cuba

January 29, 2010

by Liz Harper

U.S.-Cuba dynamics continue to follow the traditional script of mixed signals. The romance is there; the trust is not.

Shortly after U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Bisa Williams returned from extended talks in Havana, the Cuban regime seized Alan Gross, a U.S. subcontractor for a U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) democracy program in Cuba.

Another kicker came on Thursday when the Cuban Foreign Minister, Bruno Rodríguez, told reporters that immigration talks in Havana were scheduled for February 19.

Part of the Cuban agenda presented to the government of the United States is a proposal for a new immigration agreement and solidifying cooperation in the fight against people trafficking,” Rodríguez is translated as saying in English by Reuters. Let’s hope that Cuba’s wishes to exchange Gross for the Cuban Five will remain a non-starter.

The imprisonment of Mr. Gross (or “Harold,” as he was first named to me in early December) serves as a good reminder of the criminals-in-office we are dealing with in Havana. And also a reminder of our ill-conceived, yet well-intended, Cuba policies and programs.

Why didn’t we complain louder about Gross’ continued detention? For one, the man and his family did not sign a privacy waiver with the State Department, and without that waiver the U.S. Department of State and U.S. embassies and consulates abroad cannot release information on an individual—even when it hurts our national interests.

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Tags: U.S.-Cuba relations, Bruno Rodríguez, Alan Gross, Senator Russ Feingold, Radio/TV Marti, Secretary Hillary Rodham, Google