A Disservice to Miami Herald Readers

Tuesday, June 7, 2011
UPDATE: Our thanks to the Miami Herald's Frances Robles for the follow-up. However, make sure to see the original images of Sequin's site (not just his newly edited version).

In April, we strongly condemned the vulgar sex-sites of Havana Journal's Rob Sequin.

Sequin's sex-sites denigrate Cubans with tasteless images and comments such as the following:

"Seriously, Cuba is the place to get laid... man, woman, straight or gay! There may not be freedom of speech but there certainly is freedom of sex."

Now, Sequin is looking to financially prey on the same community he's shamelessly insulted.

So he's set up a new business, Cuba City Hall, which charges Cubans an exorbitant $495 to use his contacts within the Castro regime and expedite official documents (e.g. birth certificates) certified by Cuba's Ministry of Foreign Relations.

This week, the Miami Herald wrote a story -- virtually a free advertisement -- about Sequin's new business.

Yet sadly, it did not bother to disclose his controversial sex-sites.

Did the Herald think its readers wouldn't want to know about Sequin's other Cuba interests?

Obviously not, as it mentioned one of Sequin's non-sex-sites, Havana Journal.

This blatant omission is a disservice to Miami Herald readers, which deserve to be fully informed about where their hard-earned money could end up.

(To be fair -- the Herald's story did, at least, elude to the predatory rates that Sequin is charging for his regime contacts).

There are also legal questions.

Is it a coincidence that Sequin officially launched this business soon after the Obama Administration issued new rules allowing non-Cubans to send (limited) remittances to the island?

Is this how Sequin is forwarding payments to his associates in Cuba?

After all, he's providing a non-official service that requires official channels -- for a hefty fee.

Moreover -- judging by the story -- he seems to be the only non-official provider currently able to obtain official documents and get them certified by the Ministry of Foreign Relations.

Thus, his associates must work for -- or have close contacts in -- the Ministry of Foreign Relations.

Is he remitting extra-official payments to them?

Sequin boasts that his "South Florida lawyer" informed him that this business falls within the sanctions exemption for "informational materials" (thanks to the 1988 Berman Amendment).

And he's probably right.

However, it doesn't exempt him from sending payments to a prohibited official of the Government of Cuba, a prohibited member of the Cuban Communist Party, or even the provisions of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

But that's a matter for Treasury and Justice.

For now, we strongly urge all Cubans to take a close look at Sequin's sex-sites before contracting his services.

(He's edited these sites since April, but Babalu Blog has preserved the original ones for posterity).

Furthermore, we hope the Miami Herald will provide its readers with all of the information they deserve to know about Sequin's Cuba interests.

In other words, with the full story.