To Watch This Week: March 21-25

Photo courtesy of the White House

(President Obama visiting the Ciudad de Deus (City of God) favela, on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Sunday, March 20, 2011. Photo courtesy of the White House) 

Alan Gross

In an interview yesterday with Spanish-language television station Telemundo, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said this about the situation of Alan Gross, the American contractor recently sentenced to 15 years in jail by the Cuban authorities for his work with USAID’s democracy assistance program in Cuba,

"We are working closely with Alan Gross's attorneys... We don't want to take any actions or say anything that will undermine the chances for this man to come home to his family," Clinton said.

Clinton also insisted that in the State Department’s view, Gross was not committing unlawful acts. Unfortunately, whether the U.S. State Department agrees with another nation’s laws or not, Americans are subject to them, a truth whose brutality often strikes the most innocent of victims.

Posada Trial

What is in many ways a groundbreaking trial involving former CIA asset, Luis Posada Carriles continues today in El Paso. Texas. Carriles, an infamous anti-Castro militant, is being tried on 11 counts of violating U.S. law. While most of the charges pertain to his illegal entry in to the United States in 2005, several are related to his alleged involvement in a series of bombings carried out in Cuba in 1997 in which an Italian citizen was killed.

Journalist Anne Louise Bardach has been forced to testify at the proceedings due to  interviews she conducted with Posada for a 1998 New York Times series about exile militants she co-wrote.  She will be cross-examined today. 

More on this later in the week.  

Libya

Cuba and a handful of other Latin American governments are condemning U.S.-led allied airstrikes against Libyan President Muammar el-Qaddafi’s forces. In a statement from the Cuban Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Cuba characterizes the strikes as a “foreign military intervention in an internal conflict.” It goes on to say,

“Cuba supports the inalienable right of the Libyan people to exercise their self-determination without any kind of foreign interference, repudiates the death of civilians in Libya and in any place, and supports the territorial integrity and sovereignty over the resources of that nation.”

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez called referred to the action as “indiscriminate bombings”.

Interesting note- both Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez are recipients of the Al-Gaddafi International Prize for Human Rights, 1998 and 2004, respectively.

President Obama in Latin America

After what has been characterized as a somewhat bumpy visit to Brazil, President Obama continues his Latin America tour today in Chile.

After President Obama and Chilean President Sebastián Piñera meet privately, the two are scheduled take part in a joint press conference early this afternoon. President Obama will then deliver his main policy address of the trip which is expected to focus on the importance of Latin America to the U.S. as well as extol Chile’s transition from military dictatorship to stable democracy.

President Obama travels to El Salvador tomorrow, the last stop on his five-day Latin America trip.