As BP struggles to staunch the undersea gusher – dumping 200,000 gallons of light crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico each day – after the explosion of its Deepwater Horizon drilling rig, in which at least 11 workers lost their lives, there’s a renewed focus on prevention and mitigation of disasters like this one. Already, coastal Louisiana is feeling the effects, and some scientists predict that the Gulf’s loop current will transport the oil slick along the Florida Panhandle, through the Florida straits and up the Atlantic seaboard as far as North Carolina.
It’s still unclear what exactly it will take to turn off the tap opened by the Deepwater Horizon. But BP - which up until this disaster, was among the most trusted names in the industry - has had at its disposal the best equipment and personnel in the world from the moment the disaster struck. What if this spill had happened in Cuban waters, where the U.S. government forbids American companies to operate, and American personnel to travel? This scenario grows more possible given a report from Havana this week that the Spanish could be drilling in Cuban deep waters – with an Italian rig built in China – as early as this fall.
Senate Foreign Relations Chairman John Kerry has just published a Committee report on taxpayer-funded Radio and TV Martí, two broadcast stations which, in more than 27 and 20 years' time, have won few fans outside of South Florida.
Radio and TV Martí have received negligible support from among the Cuban people and have had almost no impact on Cuban Government behavior and policy. As a result, Congress has made several attempts over the years to cut funding for the programs, especially for TV Martí. In addition to the programs’ ineffectiveness, in December 2006, press reports alleged significant problems in OCB’s operations, with claims of cronyism, patronage, and bias in its coverage, issues that attracted further attention in Congress.
There's not much to be surprised about in this report - though it offers an incredible level of detail and supporting evidence from within the stations' operations and the Office of Cuba Broadcasting. Kerry's office has done the homework. It's his job to assess what we're all getting for our tax dollars. What's frankly surprising is that Kerry lifted the lid on what so many consider a wasteful program but didn't go in for the kill.
Well. Rep. Devin Nunes’ (R-CA) award-winning
Business and human rights groups urged Congress on Thursday to ease the decades-old embargo on Cuba by passing a bipartisan bill to lift a ban on travel to the communist country and remove certain obstacles to legal farm sales.
"We believe the proposed legislation represents a necessary step toward ending a U.S. policy that has failed for decades to have any impact on improving human rights in Cuba," Jose Miguel Vivanco, executive director the Americas division of Human Rights Watch, said at a congressional hearing.
After 10 years of traveling to Cuba and studying our policy toward the island, I’ve developed strong opinions on both. But to keep myself honest, I continually read what the “other half” thinks, and challenge myself not only to admit points of agreement, but to question my own accumulated conclusions.
Today marks 10 years since federal agents stormed the Miami home of the Cuban American relatives of a five year-old Cuban boy named Elián González.
It was in the middle of the Elián saga that I made my first trip to Cuba – which I never imagined would be the first of many.
Over the years, I’ve gotten to know many Cubans and Cuban Americans. If there is a lesson to be learned from the Elián saga, it is this: ideological differences can split a community, but they should never split up a family.
By Jorge Piñon and Anya Landau French
Earlier this week, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton commented that Cuba always finds a way to sabotage progress in U.S.-Cuban relations. But the apparent resumption of USAID-sponsored clandestine travel to the island is well on its way to doing exactly that. One year ago, President Obama has said he wanted a new beginning with Cuba, but that message is unfortunately muddled by his Administration's willingness to continue essentially the same regime change policies of his predecessor. Here in Havana, there is increasing frustration with Obama. As one person told me the other day, "With [former President] Bush, at least you know who you are dealing with."
Update: Marc Frank of Reuters reports on the nation-wide transfer of government operated barber shops and beauty salons to their employees.
You won't find a soul in Cuba who doesn't agree that the country's government has a lot of economic restructuring to do in the coming months and years. The question is always how to do it.
You have to hand it to Amb. Roger Noriega, former U.S. Representative to the OAS and former Assistant Secretary of State for the Western Hemisphere under President G.W. Bush. When our fifty year-old failed Cuba policy is in trouble, he steps up to defend it the best he can.