Obama Administration and Dissidents, Pt. 2

Saturday, December 4, 2010
Last week, an article in The Daily Caller revealed how Cuban dissidents feel snubbed by the Obama Administration -- in particular by the U.S. Interests Section in Havana.

This week, there have been two thoughtful suggestions in follow-up columns.

One by Guillermo Martinez in the Sun-Sentinel:

Now it is obvious that Obama has decided to ignore the 1996 act of Congress. The House Foreign Relations Committee, headed by Ros-Lehtinen, should subpoena Farrar and other State Department officials and ask them under oath why they have decided to ignore and mistreat dissidents in the island.

And another by Rick Robinson also in The Daily Caller:

When Barack Obama was running for president, he stated that his policy towards Cuba would be guided by one word — "libertad." While stumping for votes in southern Florida he said, "The road to freedom for all Cubans must begin with justice for Cuba's political prisoners, the right of free speech, a free press, freedom of assembly, and it must lead to elections that are free and fair."

It is unclear how Obama's decision to appease Castro at the expense of those most needing his support meets his goal of supporting "libertad" [...]

President Obama needs to dust off that tough guy campaign speech and give it at the Southernmost Point in Key West. He should point to the island 90 miles away and demand freedom for political prisoners. Call for free and fair elections. Let Castro know that nothing will change in relations with the United States until people under his grip are free to simply assemble and speak openly.

The Worst of the Worst

The Chilean NGO, Latinobarometro, has just concluded its annual public opinion survey of the Western Hemisphere's best and worst leaders.

According to the results, Brazil's Lula da Silva and the U.S.'s Barack Obama are the Western Hemisphere's best and most respected leaders.

At the very bottom of the list is Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, with Venezuela's Hugo Chavez closely trailing.

The survey is based on some 19,000 interviews in 18 Latin American countries.

From The State Department, Pt. 2

Friday, December 3, 2010
One Year Continued Incarceration of Alan Gross

Philip J. Crowley
Assistant Secretary of State, Bureau of Public Affairs
Washington, DC

Today marks one year since Cuban authorities detained Alan Gross. Mr. Gross is an international development worker who traveled to Cuba to help connect members of the Jewish community in Havana with other Jewish communities throughout the world. We have repeatedly called on the Government of Cuba to immediately and unconditionally release Mr. Gross, who has been held all this time without charges.

Leaders and human rights organizations from the United States and other countries have appealed to the Government of Cuba to release Mr. Gross on humanitarian grounds, but to no avail. In June, Secretary Clinton met with Mrs. Gross and family to express her sympathy and concern for Mr. Gross' arrest and detention and stated publicly that the United States would view favorably the release of Alan Gross so that he can return to his family.

It is long overdue for Cuban authorities to release Mr. Gross. He has languished in a Cuban jail for a full year and the Cuban Government has yet to explain reasons for his detention or file charges. His arrest and continued detention without charge violate international standards of due process and judicial procedure. Mr. Gross is a husband, a father, and a dedicated professional with a long history of development assistance and support to communities in more than 50 countries. We are deeply concerned about his welfare, as well as that of his family members who are eager for his return.

Officials of the Department of State often meet with members of the Gross family to discuss Mr. Gross' continued incarceration and to express our concern for the family's plight. We will continue to use every available channel to urge the Cuban Government to put an end to Mr. Gross' long and unjustifiable ordeal. We have made it very clear to the Cuban Government that the continued detention of Alan Gross is a major impediment to advancing the dialogue between our two countries.

From The State Department

From yesterday's State Department Press Briefing with Assistant Secretary of State, P.J. Crowley:

CROWLEY: Tomorrow marks the one-year anniversary of the detention in Cuba of Mr. Alan Gross, a committed international development worker who was arrested by Cuban authorities for his activities, dedicated to helping the Jewish community in Havana connect with other Jewish communities throughout the world.

We have repeatedly called on the Government of Cuba to immediately and unconditionally release Mr. Gross, who has been held all this time without charge. We will continue to use all available channels to urge the Cuban Government to show humanitarian compassion and put an end to Mr. Gross's long and unjustifiable ordeal. And this afternoon, State Department officials will be meeting with the family members of Mr. Gross to discuss his continued incarceration.

Anticipating your question, the last time we had consular access to him was on November 16.

QUESTION: P.J., I wasn't aware --

QUESTION: Of this year?

CROWLEY: Yeah.

QUESTION: I was not aware of the connection to the Jewish communities around the world. I don't – maybe I missed that. Was that something that you have talked about before? And if not, can you give us a little detail?

CROWLEY: He is a contractor and he was trying to help connect communities in Havana to the rest of the world. And obviously, we think that is important for the development of civil society in Cuba.

QUESTION: P.J., what --

QUESTION: So the communications devices that have been mentioned --

CROWLEY: Connecting to the internet.

QUESTION: The internet?

CROWLEY: These are not revolutionary kinds of technology.

QUESTION: When the Secretary hosted Jewish groups several months ago and talked about this, she asked them to make appeals to the Cubans. Are you aware if any of them have?

CROWLEY: I mean, I think we – that's correct. And I think there have been some contacts. I mean, it's a broad-based community. I know there have been some suggestions publicly that, well, some groups know about him; some groups don't know about him. That really is beside the point.

QUESTION: Right.

CROWLEY: He has been incarcerated without charge for a year and we will continue to encourage his release.

Cuba is Not Vietnam

In a CNN opinion piece, two advocates of unconditionally normalizing relations with the Castro regime argue that Cuba is undertaking certain economic reforms and that the U.S. should use this as an excuse to engage.

Ironically, these same advocates have been arguing for years that the U.S. should unconditionally engage the Castro regime -- regardless of excuses or reforms, whether real or not.

However, their spin is worth noting, for they hold that Cuba is undertaking economic reforms similar to Vietnam, so therefore: "Why not adopt the Vietnam model for U.S. Cuba policy?"

Even if the economic adjustments made by the Castro regime amounted to genuine reforms, which history indicates they clearly do not, the answer is simple from a geopolitical scale:

Because Cuba is not Vietnam
-- not to mention that the U.S.'s policy of unconditional engagement toward Vietnam has not resulted in freedom, democracy or even greater human rights for the Vietnamese people.

These advocates might think it's apt (or convenient) to measure Cuba and Vietnam on the same scale, even though dissimilarities between both nations grossly outweigh any similarities.

However, why not measure Cuba on the same scale as its neighbors -- the other 34 countries in the Western Hemisphere -- most of which have even experienced transitions from dictatorships to freedom and democracy?

Today these countries all share (some more hesitantly) a commitment to representative democracy, as embodied in the 2001 Inter-American Democratic Charter, which only Cuba refuses to sign and adhere to.

Or why not measure Cuba on the same scale as Western Europe, with whom Cuba shares cultural and historic ties, and with whom Cuba used to compete (and in many cases, outperform) in economic development indicators prior to Castro's rule? Many of these countries have also successfully transitioned from dictatorships to democracy.

Perhaps that's precisely what these advocates don't want -- or they somehow find economically stable dictatorships to be perfectly acceptable.

From State Control to State Control

Thursday, December 2, 2010
Take a look at this interesting post from The Miami Herald's Cuban Colada blog:

Many firms lose foreign-trade privileges

Their import-export rights will be centralized

Several major business companies have been barred from trading abroad, in what seems to be a tightening of government control over import-export activities, perhaps combined with a drive against corruption.

Companies like Cuba Petróleos (Cupet), the mobile telecommunications firm Movitel, the Abdala music-recording company, the Socialist Vanguard Foundry, and the Beverage & Refreshments Exporting Co. must cease their import-export activities within 90 days and turn them over to the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Foreign Investment, the newspaper Juventud Rebelde reported Thursday.

Other targets include Maritime Port Supplies (SUMARPO), Fishing Products Import Co. (PROPES), the Food Corporation (CORALSA), Cuba Aluminum (ALCUBA) and Hotel Engineering. Future negotiations by those companies will be handled by an organization still to be determined, the paper said.

The first thing that comes to mind is: Whatever happened to Raul's market "reforms"?

Well, they're a hoax -- but we already knew that.

The interesting part is how all of these Cuban "firms" and "major business companies" sound like regular, independent entities.

Except they are not.

The Castro regime's Constitution requires all foreign trade (import-export) to be conducted by the State.

All of the companies mentioned in the Herald's post are owned and operated by the Castro regime.

Therefore, the so-called foreign trade "privileges" discussed have gone from a State agency to State company and now back to a State agency.

Talk about spin -- literally.

Cuba Travel Bill is Dead

From The Hill:

Cuba travel ban won't be lifted this year

Legislation eliminating a longstanding travel ban to Cuba is dead in this Congress, several senior Democrats said this week.

Rep. Bill Delahunt (D-Mass.), a strong backer of lifting the ban, called it "absurd" that Congress would maintain restrictions "predicated on a Cold-War mentality" irrelevant to current events. But with the year drawing to a close — and lawmakers reluctant to tackle yet another thorny topic in a politically polarized environment — the bill won't come up in the lame duck, he said.

"There will be no action," Delahunt, a senior member of the Foreign Affairs panel, told The Hill.

Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.), another senior Foreign Affairs member, also indicated the bill won't resurface this year.

Inaction would be a blow to the Obama White House, which took administrative action to loosen the decades-old Cuba sanctions in the hope that a Democratic Congress would enact broader changes. Instead, the combination of a radioactive topic and election-year politics conspired to stop the legislation in its tracks.

After passing the House Agriculture Committee in June, the legislation stalled in September in the Foreign Affairs Committee. In the Senate, two similar bills introduced last year never made it that far.

With the Senate stalemate in mind, Delahunt noted, there's little reason for the House to consider the bill.

"There's a certain lack of utility in just sending messages," he said.

Sponsored by Agriculture Chairman Collin Peterson (D-Minn.), the House bill would allow all Americans unlimited travel to Cuba, expanding on the Obama administration's 2009 move to allow Cuban Americans to visit family members and send money. The bill would also loosen restrictions on U.S. farmers exporting goods to Cuba, which sits just 90 miles off the coast of Florida.

Supporters argue that opening Cuba to U.S. travelers and trade would benefit both countries.

"American farmers can greatly benefit from access to new markets in Cuba, particularly at a time when our economy needs it most," Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), a sponsor of one of the Senate bills, said in an e-mail. "This bill can help create jobs by promoting U.S. agriculture exports, and it would remove the travel ban to Cuba — allowing U.S. farmers and business owners the opportunity to develop a customer base in Cuba."

Peterson's office directed inquiries to the Foreign Affairs Committee, which did not return a series of calls and e-mails requesting comment.

If history is any indication, the bill will likely go nowhere in the next Congress once the House majority switches over to the Republicans, who controlled the chamber between 1995 and 2007 without easing Cuban sanctions. Contributing to that sentiment, the Foreign Affairs panel will be led next year by Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), who says any relaxation of Cuba sanctions would simply prop up an abusive regime at the expense of an already destitute people.

"Any bit of money that's going to get in there is not going to benefit the people, it's going to benefit the regime," Ros-Lehtinen spokesman Bradley Goehner said this week. "Now is a particularly terrible time for any additional outreach."

Still, the bill's supporters are holding out hope that the incoming class of Republicans will feel differently than GOP leaders about the sanctions. Although many conservatives have traditionally supported the ban as a way of pressuring Cuba's communist dictatorship, the incoming class of Republicans brings with it a libertarian streak that favors individual freedoms above government intrusion, many observers note.

That position could place them at odds with GOP incumbents — notably Ros-Lehtinen — who have fought for years to keep U.S. restrictions on Cuba in place.

"They might not take kindly to the government telling them where they can and can't travel, where they can and can't trade," Jake Colvin, vice president of global trade at the National Foreign Trade Council, said of the incoming Republicans. "Their perspectives will be much more of a libertarian bent… The conventional wisdom that Republicans are more hard-lined on Cuba may not play out next year."

Jo Ann Emerson, who supports the legislation lifting the travel ban, agreed. The Missouri Republican said the hands-off approach to government advocated by incoming Republicans could pressure GOP leaders to rethink their strategy on Cuba — and the bill.

"I just don't think it's dead in the least," Emerson said.

Adela in Wonderland

Within hours of a statement by Alan Gross's family and lawyer on the one-year anniversary of his arbitrary imprisonment by the Castro regime, the AP put out this gem of a story (or hack job):

Cuba Jewish groups deny work with jailed American

The leaders of Cuba's two main Jewish groups both denied having worked with a jailed American contractor whose family says he was on the island to hand out communication equipment to Jewish organizations.

Cuban authorities have accused Alan Gross of espionage, though they have not pressed charges despite keeping him in custody since he was detained last Dec. 3.

Adela Dworin, president of Havana's Temple Beth Shalom and Cuba's largest Jewish organization, the Jewish Community House, told The Associated Press on Wednesday it's possible Gross came to the center as one of "hundreds" of foreign visitors it receives each year. But she said she doesn't remember meeting him and he certainly was not doing any work with her group [...]

Dworin said many visitors bring donations - medicine for a community pharmacy, books, DVDs, computer games, food for religious festivals - but she stressed that the group would not accept any contraband equipment, or even have need for it.

"We have all the necessary media to communicate with the entire Jewish world," Dworin said. "We are able to communicate freely."

"We respect the laws of the country where we were born," she added.

Unfortunately (or purposefully), the AP fails to disclose Dworin's close (or at least, compromised) relationship with the Castro regime.

You'd think the fantastical absurdity of her comments would tip them off -- that's just sloppy (or biased) reporting.

Dworin is the one recently pictured below with Cuban dictator Fidel Castro (and of course, The Atlantic's Jeff Goldberg).

We couldn't track down the picture of her kissing Fidel that appeared in Cuban state media, but we'll keep looking.

Statement by Alan Gross's Lawyer

Wednesday, December 1, 2010
Statement by Peter J. Kahn, Lawyer to Alan P. Gross

WASHINGTON, DC – Peter J. Kahn, counsel to Alan P. Gross, today released the following statement on the approaching one year anniversary of Alan's imprisonment by the Cuban government.

"Alan's incarceration for a year without clarity of the legal process he will face or its timing is a travesty. It violates every international standard of justice and due process. We continue to urge the Cuban authorities to release Alan immediately based on humanitarian grounds, as well as the fact that he has already served one year in a Cuban prison.

Alan has suffered tremendously while incarcerated. He has lost almost 90 pounds and his health has deteriorated significantly. He has had to endure the irreparable pain of being an absent father to his 26-year old daughter, who is fighting breast cancer, and being away from his family for an entire year."

Alan P. Gross was arrested and imprisoned in Havana on December 3, 2009. He was in Cuba to do the international community development work that he has done in more than 50 countries for the past 25 years. In Cuba, he was assisting the island's small Jewish community gain access to the Internet so that they can communicate with each other and other Jewish communities around the world.

Cuba Provides Refuge to Narco-Terrorists

Colombian narco-terrorists from the FARC and ELN "enjoy periods of rest and recuperation" in Cuba, according to a 2009 State Department cable revealed by WikiLeaks.

The Castro regime "allows these groups to enjoy R&R [rest and recuperation] in Cuba and receive medical care and other services (NFI). Reporting also indicates that the GOC is able to influence the FARC. The Cuban Communist Party International Department (PCC/ID) has close relationships with the Clandestine Communist Party of Colombia (PCC) which serves as the political wing of the FARC, and to some extent the ELN as well," the cable reads.

Revisiting the State-Sponsors of Terror Report

On August 6th of this year, we posted the following:

Cuba Remains a State-Sponsor of Terrorism

Yesterday, the U.S. State Department released its yearly compilation ["report"] of state-sponsors of terrorism.

Cuba remains on the list, along with Iran, Sudan and Syria.

First and foremost, the Administration should be commended for the appropriate inclusion of Cuba and the sanctions it implies.

Yet, how can the language [in the state-sponsors report] claim that "Cuba no longer supports armed struggle in Latin America," yet recognize its support for the narco-terrorist insurgency groups, FARC and ELN, in Colombia?

And what about the 30,000-50,000 Cuban personnel in Hugo Chavez's government in Venezuela?


Today --

Cables revealed by Wikileaks show serious concern about the extensive (and intimate) involvement of Cuban spies in Hugo Chavez's government, which further challenges the watered-down language in the report.

Yet, even more concerning --

Why isn't this issue (concern) mentioned in the report at all?

Wikileaks Reveals Cuban Espionage Concerns

Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Click here to read the below-mentioned 2010 cable.

According to BBC:

Wikileaks reveal US concerns on Cuba-Venezuela ties

Cuban intelligence agents have deep involvement in Venezuela, according to a 2006 US diplomatic cable released by Wikileaks.

Then-US Ambassador William Brownfield wrote that Cuban spies had "direct access" to President Hugo Chavez.

Another cable sent in 2010 said Cuban agents controlled spying operations against the US embassy in Caracas.

The left-wing governments of Cuba and Venezuela are close allies and outspoken opponents of the US.

The secret diplomatic cables released by Wikileaks were published by the Spanish newspaper, El Pais.

Similar allegations of Cuban intelligence influence in Venezuela have been made by Venezuelan opposition groups, but US officials have not publicly expressed such concerns.

The leaked cable from Ambassador Brownfield says the ties between Cuban and Venezuelan intelligence are so close that the two countries agencies "appear to be competing with each other for the Venezuelan government's attention".

The ambassador wrote that Cuban spies were so close to President Chavez that they provided him with intelligence unvetted by Venezuelan officers.

"Cuban agents train Venezuelans on both Cuba and Venezuela, providing both political indoctrination and operational instruction".

The ambassador concludes that the Cuban involvement could impact US interests directly.

"Venezuelan intelligence services are among the most hostile towards the United States in the hemisphere, but they lack the expertise that Cuban services can provide".

The level of Cuban involvement in other agencies of the Venezuelan government was harder to confirm, he wrote.

The embassy "had received no credible reports of extensive Cuban involvement in the Venezuelan military", but there were reports that Cubans were training Mr Chavez's bodyguard.

But Cubans were likely to be involved "to a great extent" in agricultural policy, as well as in an identity card scheme.

The ambassador added that it was impossible to tell how many Cubans were working in Venezuela.

Cuba's biggest and most public involvement in Venezuela is in the provision of tens of thousands of doctors and nurses who provide basic health services in poor areas.

In return, Venezuela provides Cuba with subsidized oil.

Rock 'n' Roll Ain't Noise Pollution (or a Crime)

As legendary rock band AC/DC loudly and proudly proclaimed, "Rock N' Roll Ain't Noise Pollution" -- and much less a crime.

Except in Castro's Cuba.

Over the weekend, the Cuban punk rock band, Porno Para Ricardo, were victims of a repressive crackdown by the Castro regime.

The band members were arrested, their equipment confiscated, their request for an exit permit to travel to a cultural event in the U.S. was denied and they were threatened with long prison terms.

Their "crime"? Organizing a local concert with songs critical of the Castro regime.

Ironically, this crackdown comes as the U.S. State Department intensifies its (now farcical) "cultural exchange" policy, which seemingly only grants visas to Cuban artists that praise the Castro regime in Miami, while artists critical of the Castro regime (like Porno Para Ricardo) aren't even permitted to exit the island.

Of course, U.S.-based artists that are critical of the Castro regime need not even apply to play in Cuba.

Since this "one-way cultural" policy -- obviously -- doesn't require any reciprocity by the Castro regime, we hope that -- at the very least -- the State Department and the international community will defend the human right of these Cuban artists to freely express themselves in their homeland.

As Gorki Aguila, the lead singer of Porno Para Ricardo, reportedly told one of his interrogators:

"Why are you so concerned about a little rock group that simply plays songs that you believe have no artistic value? Why are you so concerned about us? We're not armed insurgents. It's only rock n' roll."

"Rock 'n' roll ain't noise pollution
Rock 'n' roll ain't gonna die
Rock 'n' roll ain't noise pollution
Rock 'n' roll it will survive
"

-- AC/DC, "Back in Black" album, 1980

Jeff Goldberg's Bigoted Labeling of Ileana

Monday, November 29, 2010
Last week, The Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg accused the "Cuban lobby" of disrupting a supposed rapprochement between Cuba and Israel ("Bibi Apologizes to the Cuban Lobby").

Goldberg was referring to a conversation between incoming House Foreign Affairs Chair Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in which she prudently warned him not to fall for Castro's rhetoric after 50 years of anti-Semitic hostility.

Where does Goldberg, who is a seasoned journalist, get off labeling a democratically elected Member of Congress as "the Cuban Lobby"?

Did Goldberg ever refer to current House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Howard Berman (D-CA) as "the Israel Lobby"?

Or U.S. Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) as "the Gay Lobby"?

Or U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-SC) as "the Black Lobby"?

Or U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) as "the Puerto Rican lobby"?

Labeling an elected representative due to their ethnicity, race, gender, constituent makeup or any other reason, is simply inappropriate.

Goldberg owes Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen an apology for his disrespectful (at best) or bigoted (at worst) labeling.

Time to Re-Evaluate Vietnam Policy?

Sunday, November 28, 2010
Needless to say, the U.S. policy of trade, travel and diplomatic relations with Vietnam has not brought greater freedoms, democracy or human rights to the Vietnamese people.

According to The Hill:

Cao vows push for Vietnam sanctions in his final weeks

Capitol Hill's first ethnic Vietnamese lawmaker is spending his final weeks in the House pushing for sanctions against human-rights violators in his home country.

Rep. Anh "Joseph" Cao (R-La.) introduced two bills on Nov. 18. The Vietnam Democracy Promotion Act of 2010 provides aid money to promote freedom in the communist nation as well as education and refugee resettlement programs. It also imposes conditions on aid to Hanoi and requires annual progress reports. Cao's other bill, the Vietnam Human Rights Sanctions Act, would impose financial sanctions on, and deny visas to, Vietnamese officials guilty of human-rights abuses.

The sanctions bill is co-sponsored by Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), the likely incoming chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Reps. Ed Royce (R-Calif.), Chris Smith (R-N.J.), Frank Wolf (R-Va.) and Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif.), who defeated Republican challenger Van Tran in midterm elections but drew criticism for saying "the Vietnamese and the Republicans are, with an intensity, trying to take away this seat."

A companion bill was simultaneously introduced in the Senate by Republican Sens. Sam Brownback (Kan.), John Cornyn (Texas) and Richard Burr (N.C.).

"Vietnam's oppression of its citizens, particularly over the last year, demonstrates the need for more targeted U.S. action," the co-sponsors said in a statement. "The Vietnamese government must reverse course on its human rights record in order to strengthen U.S.-Vietnam relations." [...]

Cao's sanctions bill is modeled after the McCain-Lieberman Iran sanctions legislation, he said, but this is the first time such a bill has targeted Vietnam.

"The transition of the Government of Vietnam toward greater economic activity and trade has not been matched by greater political freedom and substantial improvements in basic human rights for the citizens of Vietnam, including freedom of religion, expression, association, and assembly," the bill states, citing numerous dissidents mistreated by the government for promoting democracy.

"The Government of Vietnam continues to detain, imprison, place under house arrest, convict, and otherwise restrict individuals for the peaceful expression of dissenting political or religious views, including democracy and human rights activists, independent trade union leaders, non-state-sanctioned publishers, journalists, bloggers, members of ethnic minorities, and unsanctioned religious groups."

Cao cites the case of 59 Catholics arrested this spring for trying to bury a woman in the cemetery of a parish that the government had decided to take over. One of the parishioners, Nam Nguyen, died from beatings in custody. Cao, Wolf and Smith all wrote letters to Vietnamese leaders seeking the Catholics' release, but six were convicted late last month, without legal representation, on charges of disturbing social order.

U.S. Taxpayers Relieved by Embargo

Contrary to what the farm bureaus would have you believe, U.S. agricultural sales to Cuba haven't suffered due to U.S. law and policy.

They've suffered because the Castro regime wants U.S. taxpayers to subsidize them.

From The New York Times article, "Cuba-Texas Trade Is Languishing in Poor Economy":

Countries like Venezuela, China, Brazil and Vietnam offer more trade incentives to the Cuban government than the private sector in the United States does, said John S. Kavulich, a senior policy adviser with the U.S.-Cuba Trade and Economic Council Inc., a nonprofit based in Washington that deals directly with the Cuban government. Cuba is "focusing on countries that will give them substantial government credits that they know they won't have to pay back," Mr. Kavulich said.

According to the economic council's latest report, those countries provide more "favorable payment terms and less publicity when those payment terms are not honored," which is expected given the lack of foreign investment.

"There is absolutely no incentive for the government of Raúl Castro to seek any re-engagement with the United States," Mr. Kavulich said, "because any re-engagement with the United States has one guarantee, and that is uncertainty."