Alan Gross: Castro's prisoner
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    Negotiations do free Cuban prisoners

    Posted on Monday, 04.19.10
    Negotiations do free Cuban prisoners

    Frank Calzon’s April 14 column, No more `Open Hand’ — Obama must get tough with Castros, postulates that negotiations will not result in the release of . Calzon then recommends a series of measures that, according to him, will achieve the release.

    Apparently, Calzon conveniently forgot that negotiations resulted in the release by the Cuban government of almost 1,200 Bay of Pigs Invasion prisoners in 1962 and more than 3,000 political prisoners in 1979. Moreover, efforts by Bill Richardson, Jesse Jackson and others have also resulted in the release of prisoners.

    The two most important measures that Calzon recommends to obtain the release of are the full resumption of the USAID’s pro-democracy program and increasing the power of Radio and TV Martí.

    What Calzon fails to say is that the USAID program has been in place for more than 10 years, has cost taxpayers more than $100 million and has resulted in incidents of fraud and misappropriation of funds, according to a GAO report, congressional hearings and even a negative paper written by a well-known Cuban American organization. Moreover, he fails to disclose that he was a prime receiver of USAID funds.

    Radio and TV Martí have cost taxpayers more than $500 million. Radio Martí has been operating for 30 years and has consistently proven to be ineffective, prone to corruption and the subject of negative reports. TV Martí’s record is even worse than that of Radio Martí.

    History clearly demonstrates that negotiations have resulted in the release of thousands of Cuban prisoners. None of the measures recommended by Calzon have worked for many years.