Passport

Cuba’s American prisoner

The arrest of a U.S. government subcontractor who was reportedly handing out laptops and cellphones to Cuban opposition groups may be a sign of U.S.-Cuban relations returning to their normal state of distrust and tension: Still, Mr. Vivanco and others said that the contractor’s covert conduct — which included entering Cuba on a tourist visa ...

The arrest of a U.S. government subcontractor who was reportedly handing out laptops and cellphones to Cuban opposition groups may be a sign of U.S.-Cuban relations returning to their normal state of distrust and tension:

Still, Mr. Vivanco and others said that the contractor’s covert conduct — which included entering Cuba on a tourist visa without proper documents — also raised questions about whether Mr. Obama would fulfill his promise to break with the confrontational tactics that Washington has employed toward Havana for five decades.

“President Obama’s been different in some areas,” said Phil Peters, a Cuba expert and a vice president of the Lexington Institute, a nonpartisan think tank. “But most of his policy remains the Bush policy, and this is just another example of that.”

The detainee, officials said, was employed by Development Alternatives Inc., which had at least $391,000 in government contracts last year. Based in Bethesda, Md., the company is a kind of do-it-all development company that provides services to the United States government in countries around the world.

As more details emerge about the what the man was doing, it’s sure to reignite the debate over U.S. democracy aid to Cuba, which a recent GAO report found to be riddled with waste and incompetence. Critics are already questioning the decision to send an "American looking guy" on a tourist visa — sure to be a target of Cuban intelligence — on such a dangerous mission.

 

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