Political Risk Latin America Blog @PolRiskLatam

A Gross miscarriage of justice?

Posted in News and Articles, Political Risk by politicalrisklatam on March 15, 2011

by D.A. for The Economist – Americas View, March 15th, 2011.

Barack Obama has tried to encourage Cuba’s government to liberalise by promoting “people-to-people” contact with the United States. Since becoming president, he has relaxed most limits on travel and money transfers to the island. Cuba’s ruling Castro brothers have indeed shown increasing flexibility of late, releasing dozens of political prisoners and legalising some private economic activity. Nonetheless, they do not seem interested in reciprocating America’s gestures of rapprochement. On March 12th Cuba sentenced Alan Gross, an employee of a company contracted by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), to 15 years in jail for crimes against the state.

Mr Gross, who worked for a firm called Development Alternatives Inc., was participating in a programme to improve internet access for Cuba’s Jews, which the government deemed “subversive”. His job allegedly involved distributing internet-connectivity devices, which are strictly controlled by the state, and possibly satellite equipment as well, which is banned. Foreigners arriving in the country are specifically asked to declare to customs officials whether they are carrying any satellite devices, and any that are found are swiftly confiscated. (continue reading… )



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