Saturday, June 22, 2013

CUBA: Three Items: Talks, Trial and Trafficking

From Capital Hill Cubans:

Capitol Hill Cubans

Posted: 20 Jun 2013 07:21 AM PDT
The postal talks between the U.S. and Cuba took place this week.

As anticipated, these talks were senseless from the get-go, as the U.S. has authorized mail to Cuba since 1992.

It's the Castro regime that prohibits U.S. mail from entering Cuba.

The State Department should have simply stated that if the Castro regime was interested in mail being sent directly to Cuba, it should just allow it do so.

But instead, State was seduced by Josefina Vidal's latest siren call.

So what were the results of the "postal talks"?

The Castro regime put out a statement today that U.S mail will not be allowed to enter Cuba unless the U.S. lifts sanctions.

(Predictable) Coercion 101.

From AFP:

Cuba Wednesday described its dialogue with the United States on resuming postal service "fruitful" but warned there would likely be little progress if the US embargo on Cuba stays in place.

"The Cuban delegation welcomed the celebration of these talks and described as fruitful the exchange held between the officials of the postal administrations of Cuba and the United States," a statement released by the Cuban Interests Section in Washington said.

Cuba said however that progress toward "stable, quality and safe postal service" was unlikely "as long as the obstacles resulting from the blockade policy imposed by the United States Government against Cuba are not removed."
Posted: 20 Jun 2013 07:20 AM PDT
Sarkis Yacoubian, owner of Canada's Tri-Star Caribbean, was one of the Castro brother's closest business partners.

For years, while he greased Castro's wheels, no one spoke of corruption.

Then, when the Castro regime suffered a major hard currency crisis in 2009, it froze Yacoubian's funds in Cuban banks.

Instead of paying him back, they have now accused him of corruption and will serve a 9-year prison sentence.

It's cheaper that way.

And so much for the Canadian government's "direct interest" in this case and the Ambassador sitting-in at the sham trial.

Decades of turning a blind-eye to Castro's brutality and repression didn't earn them much.

From The Toronto Star:

For almost two years as he sat in a Havana prison awaiting trial on corruption charges, North York businessman Sarkis Yacoubian held out hope that by collaborating with the Cuban authorities and fingering a wide web of foreign and domestic corporate intrigue, he would get some leniency.

“They are going to bring down my sentence, provided that I go along with them,” he had told the Star in a series of exclusive jailhouse phone interviews.

But that didn’t happen.

Three weeks after he was put on trial in late May, Yacoubian finally got word he has been sentenced to nine years in jail.

“We were shocked,” said Krikor Yacoubian, Sarkis’ brother in Toronto. “We were anticipating less with the collaboration, but they did not budge much.”
Posted: 19 Jun 2013 08:37 PM PDT
Today, the U.S. State Department released its 2013 Trafficking in Persons Report ("Report").

Cuba received the lowest ranking (Tier 3), as a country that does not comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking.

According to the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000, which mandates this Report, countries ranked in Tier 3 may not receive funding for participation by officials or employees of such governments in educational and cultural exchange programs.

In light of the Administration's continued focus on educational and cultural exchanges with Castro's Cuba, the question remains:

Will the Obama Administration adhere to these sanctions, or will it (once again) give the Castro regime a waiver?

According to the Report:

Cuba is a source country for adults and children subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor. Child prostitution and child sex tourism reportedly occur within Cuba. Cuban citizens have been forced into prostitution outside of Cuba. There have been allegations of coerced labor, particularly with Cuban work missions abroad. Some Cubans working abroad have stated that postings are voluntary and well paid; however, others have claimed that Cuban authorities have withheld their passports and restricted their movements. The scope of trafficking involving Cuban citizens is particularly difficult to gauge because of the closed nature of the government and sparse non-governmental or independent reporting.

The Government of Cuba does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is not making significant efforts to do so. The government did not respond to requests for data on prosecutions of sex trafficking and forced labor or on trafficking-specific victim protection and prevention efforts that occurred during the reporting period. Governments that do not provide such data, consistent with the capacity of governments to obtain such data, are presumed by the Trafficking Victims Protection Act not to have made significant efforts to address human trafficking. The Government of Cuba has taken steps to share information about its general approach to protection for children and youth, and showed willingness to cooperate with another government on a child sex tourism investigation during the reporting period.

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