USAID cut out of Cuba democracy funding

Juan Tamayo in The Miami Herald:

USAID cut out of Cuba programs

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_P5CynS8XuVI/S85v0qbYoBI/AAAAAAAABmU/lYeXTETx_os/s1600/USAID_Sri_Lanka_PPP.pngThe U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has been left out of the $17.5 million appropriated for Cuba democracy programs this fiscal year, amid complaints over partisan political fighting and agency mishandling of the programs.

Instead, the funds will go to the State Department’s Bureaus of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (DRL) and Western Hemisphere Affairs (WHA) as well as the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), a non-profit in Washington.

Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, a member of the House Appropriations committee, said Congress approved cutting USAID out of Cuba funds for the fiscal year that ends Sept. 30 “because there was agreement that USAID frankly needed to get its act together on the Cuba program.”

USAID’s pipeline has $60 million to $70 million in unspent funds for Cuba programs, Diaz-Balart said. He added that it has spent Cuba-tagged money on other programs and granted $3.4 million to a group with little experience, the Foundation for Human Rights in Cuba.

The Miami Republican has long been critical of the grant to the Miami non-profit, founded and still closely linked to the leadership of the Cuban American National Foundation (CANF), which backs President Barack Obama.

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