From The White House

Friday, December 2, 2011
From today's White House Press Briefing:

Q. Jay, I have two questions, the first is repeating my partner Lesley’s question yesterday. Alan Gross in Cuba -- is the President going to make any request to Cuba to release him by tomorrow on the two-year anniversary of his captivity?

MR. CARNEY: As you know, Steve, tomorrow will mark the two-year anniversary of the unjustified detention of Alan Gross by Cuban authorities. Our deepest sympathies are with Mr. Gross and his family and friends, who have suffered tremendously during this ordeal. It is past time for Mr. Gross to return home to his family where he belongs.

Cuban authorities have failed in their effort to use Mr. Gross as a pawn for their own ends. They must heed the call of Mr. Gross’s family and friends, the international community and the United States to immediately release Mr. Gross.

Mr. Gross is a dedicated international development worker who has devoted his life to helping people in more than 50 countries. His work in Cuba was to support the free flow of information to, from and among the Cuban people, in support of Cuban civil society. And we remain steadfast in our support for Cuban society and the desire of the Cuban people to determine their own future.

Q. Will the President make a personal appeal, or is that it?

MR. CARNEY: I don’t want to announce -- make any announcements about what he may or may not be saying, or statements he might issue.

From the State Department

From the U.S. Department of State:

Two-Year Mark of the Continued Incarceration of Alan Gross

Tomorrow Alan Gross will begin his third year of unjustified imprisonment in Cuba. He was arrested on December 3, 2009 and later given a 15 year prison sentence by Cuban authorities for simply facilitating connectivity between Havana’s Jewish community and the rest of the world. Mr. Gross is a 62-year-old husband, father, and dedicated professional with a long history of providing assistance and support to underserved communities in more than 50 countries. We continue to call on the Cuban government to release Alan Gross and return him to his family, where he belongs.

Bipartisan Letter to State on Alan Gross

Berkley Calls on Cuba to Immediately Release American Citizen Alan Gross

Washington, D.C. - Congresswoman Shelley Berkley today sent a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton calling attention to the ongoing case of American citizen Alan Gross, who has been imprisoned in Cuba for the past two years. Gross was arrested in December 2009 and was later charged with providing communications equipment to Cuban citizens. He has suffered numerous medical conditions during his incarceration.

The text of the letter, signed by Berkley and seven bipartisan colleagues, appears below:

Dear Madam Secretary:

We wish to convey our continuing and serious concern regarding the arrest and imprisonment of an American citizen, Alan P. Gross, in Cuba.

Two years have now passed since Mr. Gross was arrested in Havana on December 3, 2009. We understand that Mr. Gross has endured a great deal during his incarceration, having lost 100 pounds and suffering numerous medical conditions. We also understand that Mr. Gross’s daughter and mother are both fighting cancer. Mr. Gross must be released immediately, and be allowed to reunite with his loved ones.

We thank you for all your past efforts to secure Mr. Gross’s release, and we once again urge the State Department to demand Mr. Gross’s immediate release from custody and to ensure his safe return to his family in the United States. We appreciate your assistance in this matter.

Berkley was joined by Representatives Diaz-Balart, Sires, Burton, Rivera, Rigell, Rothman and Wasserman Schultz in signing the letter. The Congresswoman and her colleagues sent similar letters to the State Department earlier this year and in 2010.

Amnesty Slams Clinton's Burma Visit

From Amnesty International:

Clinton's Visit to Burma: Is Obama Administration Slipping on Human Rights?

Tomorrow Secretary Clinton will become the first U.S. secretary of state to visit Burma (Myanmar) in 50 years. She was dispatched by President Obama to engage the regime that still holds over 1,500 political prisoners and commits serious human rights abuses against ethnic minorities, including rape. She arrives on December 1st to shake hands with an ex-military leader turned "democrat" President Thein Sein. However, when this "democrat" came to power, the U.S. called the elections a "sham." Over the years, Congress has enacted a number of strong sanctions against Burma for its gross human rights abuses.

When a senior U.S. leader, such as Secretary Clinton, visits a foreign country that has been previously vilified, the visit acts as an informal endorsement of that government. Is that the message we want to send the brutal regime in Burma?

Why this change of heart for the Obama administration? Is it because a few political prisoners, including Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, were released? Remember, she was released earlier in past years only to be re-arrested, again and again. Human rights abuses abound -- only recently, several political prisoners went on hunger strike and were held in cells designed to hold dogs. Attacks on ethnic minorities have not stopped and in some instances has increased under the current regime.

This is not the first time the Obama administration has tried to engage Burma. A year ago, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia Kurt Campbell was sent to discuss improvements to the political and human rights situation there. But, after a series of talks the Burmese junta turned its back on the U.S. and held an election to elect itself "democratically" by conducting sham elections. Military generals simply changed their uniforms to suits to capture power.

There are arguments that the U.S. should seize the moment with the so-called "Burma Spring" in the making. The difference between Arab Spring and "Burma Spring" is that the Arab Spring was led by the people and the "Burma Spring" movement for change is being led by the very regime known for its brutality. Secretary Clinton's trip will also give ideas to other dictators and generals around the world about "how to engage and win Washington."

The reality on the ground is disturbing. Serious human rights abuses are continuing, despite small signs of progress such as the release of a few prisoners, minor changes in electoral law and media freedom. These changes can be too easily reversed. And more importantly, these changes are not significant enough for a secretary of state to rush a visit to a country that became a poster child for oppression and brutality. Why this rush without waiting for concrete change? Has Secretary Clinton ever suggested to the Burmese regime that for her to visit the regime should, at a minimum, set bench marks for human rights improvements, release political prisoners and stop abuses against ethnic minorities? It appears that the Burmese regime has been given a blank check by Obama administration.

For the last three decades the U.S. relationship with Burma was guided by its genuine human rights concerns and lack of democracy in that country. The U.S. led the world in isolating Burma and punishing it in the international arena. Even though successive U.S. administrations were well aware of the strategic importance of Burma, they all put human rights and democracy above other considerations. Is Obama administration slipping on this stand? Otherwise, why is President Obama willing to dispatch his secretary of state to a country still on the black list for human rights abuses and democratic freedoms?

Quote of the Day

"Alan has made it clear to me and to others, and has since communicated it to the rabbi (David Shneyer) by letter, that he has never compared himself to the 'Five' and that in no way does he advocate for such an exchange."

-- Judy Gross, wife of the Castro regime's American hostage Alan Gross, Cafe Fuerte, 12/2/11

19 Senators Urge Release of Alan Gross

Thursday, December 1, 2011
Senators Call for Immediate and Unconditional Release of American Alan Gross from Cuban Prison

Two-year incarceration is a major setback in bilateral relations and human rights violation

Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) and a bipartisan group of 18 senators, including Barbara A. Mikulski (D-MD), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Carl Levin (D-MI), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Dean Heller (R-NV), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Joe Lieberman (I-CT), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Bob Casey (D-PA), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Chris Coons (D-DE), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Herb Kohl (D-WI), Jack Reed (D-RI), and Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ), have written to the Cuban Government urging them in the strongest possible manner to immediately and unconditionally release Marylander Alan Gross who has been held in prison since December 3, 2009.

“After two years in a Cuban prison, Mr. Gross and his family have paid an enormous personal price. Mr. Gross has lost 100 pounds and suffers from numerous medical conditions. In addition, Mr. Gross’s daughter and mother are both fighting cancer, and his wife is struggling to make ends meet. We strongly urge the Cuban Government to immediately release Mr. Gross on humanitarian grounds and allow him to be reunited with his family,” the Senators wrote to Jorge Bolaños, Chief of the Cuban Interests Section in Washington.

Calling Alan Gross’ continued incarceration a “major setback in bilateral relations,” the senators concluded: “We urge your government in the strongest possible terms to immediately and unconditionally release Mr. Gross, so that we can resume a more positive path to the benefit of American and Cuban people alike.”

Gross was in Cuba to help the country’s small Jewish community establish an Intranet and improve its access to the internet, access which would allow the community to go online without fear of censorship or monitoring. After being held for 14 months without charge and then a cursory two-day trial, he was convicted and sentenced to 15 years in prison. His appeal to the Cuban Supreme Court was denied in August of this year.

73 House Members Urge Release of Alan Gross

December 1, 2011

Mr. Jorge Bolaños
Chief of Mission
Cuban Interests Section
Embassy of Switzerland
2639 16th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20009

Dear Mr. Bolaños,

It is with deep concern that we write to you regarding the ongoing imprisonment by your government of Alan P. Gross. On the eve of the second anniversary of his arrest and detention in Cuba, and with the legal process having formally concluded, his fate and that of his family now lie in the hands of your president, Raúl Castro. The Cuban Government has indicated that it would be open to resolving Mr. Gross’s case through diplomatic channels. We hope that you will honor that commitment and release Mr. Gross on humanitarian grounds immediately.

After two years in a Cuban prison, Mr. Gross and his family have paid an enormous personal price for his actions in Cuba. Mr. Gross has lost 100 pounds and suffers from numerous medical conditions. In addition, the Gross family situation is one that warrants compassion. As you know, Mr. Gross’s daughter and mother are both fighting cancer, and his wife is struggling to make ends meet. We respectfully urge the Cuban Government to immediately release Mr. Gross on humanitarian grounds and allow him to be reunited with his loved ones.

As Mr. Gross explained to both the trial Court and Cuba’s Supreme Court, his intention was never to harm the Cuban Government in any way. In fact, Mr. Gross spoke in court of his affection for the Cuban people and respect for the island’s sovereignty. As we mark two years since Mr. Gross has been in Cuban custody, we hope that your government will release Alan so he may return to his family.

In light of the above, Mr. Gross’s continued incarceration is viewed by all Members of Congress, regardless of their political views on Cuba, as a major setback in bilateral relations. It is unlikely that any further positive steps can or will be taken by the Obama Administration or this Congress as long as Mr. Gross remains in a Cuban jail. We urge your government in the strongest possible terms to immediately and unconditionally release Mr. Gross so that we can move forward.


View signatures here.

Must-See Video of Yesterday's Protest

Don't miss this video of yesterday's protest by Cuban pro-democracy leaders Yvonne Malleza and Blanca Hernandez Moya in Havana's Fraternity Park.

At the 2:30 mark, note how the gathering crowd turns on the state security officials and begins screaming "Libertad" ("Freedom"):

Crowds Gather in Support of Dissidents

Yesterday, Cuban pro-democracy leaders Ivonne Malleza and Blanca Hernández Moya led a protest in Havana's Fraternity Park.

They carried bedsheets that read, "No More Lies and Deceptions for the Cuban People" and "No More Hunger, Misery and Poverty in Cuba."

Soon thereafter, two police officers assaulted them and grabbed the bedsheets. However, they were confronted by the gathering crowd and eventually forced to retreat.

About 20 minutes later, numerous patrol cars and state security personnel arrived, began to violently beat the activists, tear gassed the crowd and arrested the activists.

Among those arrested were Malleza, Hernandez Moya, Ignacio Martinez Montero and a teenager who was not associated with the protests but was in the proximity with a cell phone.

Below is a must-see picture of the gathering crowds, which quickly grew in support of the dissidents and began shouting insults at the police.

Malleza led a similar protest last August in Havana's Four Corners Plaza, to which nearly 300 passers-by gathered in support.

Yoani Among Top Global Thinkers

From Foreign Policy's list of Top 100 Global Thinkers:

#81 Yoani Sanchez

When Yoani Sánchez launched her blog, Generation Y, in 2007, the Havana-born computer programmer turned journalist was a virtual unknown. Four years later, she's a dissident voice of such prominence that the Cuban government has ordered her detained and beaten. A blurb from Barack Obama even graces her recently published book, Havana Real.

Sánchez's rise owes at least as much to her literary gifts as to the power of Web 2.0. Approaching her country's ills with both hopefulness and a gimlet eye, where most Cuba commentators are didactic and ideologically entrenched, her posts -- on everything from Raúl Castro's latest pronouncements to the taste of mangoes -- have over the years painted an unusually vivid portrait of a society in limbo. The very fact of their existence stands as a rebuke to a government that still sharply limits its citizens' access to the Internet. (For years, Sánchez had to sneak into hotels pretending to be a German tourist in order to publish them.) "We have taken back what belongs to us," Sánchez wrote in February. "These virtual places are ours, and they will have to learn to live with what they can no longer deny."

Q&A with Yoani:

The freedom brought by the new technologies.

Stimulus or austerity?
Stimulate investment and apply austerity to public spending.

America or China?

Arab Spring or Arab Winter?

Reading list
Mundo Twitter, by José Luis Orihuela; El hombre que amaba a los perros, by Leonardo Padura; El sueño del celta, by Mario Vargas Llosa.

Best idea
The Internet is a universal human right.

Worst idea
The people love their dictators.

Commercial of the Year

Wednesday, November 30, 2011
"The Last Dictator Standing" by South African supermarket chain, Nando:

Caught on Camera

Three pictures of the violent arrest of female pro-democracy leaders Donaida Perez Paseiro and Yris Perez Aguilera on November 23rd in Placetas, Cuba:

Castro to Produce Russian Munitions

Since the Obama Administration eased sanctions in April 2009, the Castro regime's hard currency deposits in foreign banks have doubled.

So what's Castro doing with these funds (courtesy of U.S. travel and remittances)?

Strengthening its repressive apparatus.

From today's RIA Novosti:

Russia and Cuba are planning to sign a contract on building an assembly line for production of ammunition for Kalashnikov assault rifles, Kommersant business daily reported on Wednesday.

According to a source in the Russian Ministry of Industry and Trade, cited by Kommersant, an assembly line for 7.62-mm rounds used in Kalashnikov assault rifles and other Russian-made rifles will be built at Cuba’s Comandante Ernesto Che Guevara military plant.

The source said that Russia’s arms exporter Rosoboronexport had already prepared a contract, which includes the license and technology transfer.

The official did not specify the value of the contract but said Russia was hoping to receive a contract in the future on a complete overhaul of rifle ammunition production facilities in Cuba, which were built in 1970s-1980s with the help of Soviet specialists.

A Rosoboronexport source has confirmed the planned contract with Cuba but refused to provide more details on the subject, Kommersant said.

P.S. The Kalashnikov remains the weapon of choice for the world's terrorist groups.

Free Alan Gross

Tuesday, November 29, 2011
From The Wall Street Journal's Political Diary:

U.S. Agency for International Development contractor Alan Gross, a Maryland resident, has been languishing in a Cuban prison for almost two years. Now former State Department official and U.S. Navy veteran Richard Douglas, who is hoping to get the Republican nomination to run against Maryland's Democratic Sen. Ben Cardin next year, wants to make Mr. Gross a campaign issue.

Last week Mr. Douglas unleashed a torrent of criticism against President Obama for not doing more to get Mr. Gross released. "For over fifty years, the same Castro dictatorship which pointed nuclear missiles at our cities -- and begged Khruschev to launch them -- has blazed a trail of destruction through the Western Hemisphere and Africa," a statement from Mr. Douglas said. "Today that same dictatorship holds a Marylander hostage. But Castro also holds something else: a White House free pass."

For the most the part Mr. Douglas is the garden-variety, big-government Republican found in a blue state. Most of what is on his website does little to differentiate him from Mr. Cardin, or Mr. Obama for that matter. But then there is his statement on Mr. Gross's imprisonment, released last week: "The same White House feebleness which allows the Iranian dictatorship to kill American soldiers with impunity and threaten Israel, keeps Marylander Alan Gross in a Cuban jail. The failure of Maryland's U.S. Senators to aggressively object and force the White House to act is an outrage."

Marylanders are likely to agree, if only on humanitarian grounds. Mr. Gross is 62 years old, in frail health and reportedly has lost a lot of weight. Back in Maryland, both his mother and his daughter are said to have cancer. The dictatorship alleges that he was in Cuba trying to undermine the regime, but Mr. Gross says he was merely trying to help Cuba's small Jewish community communicate with the diaspora through the Web. The Cuban dictatorship has made it clear that it expects to trade Mr. Gross for something, or someone.

Mr. Douglas wants to relieve Cuba of any notion that a negotiation is possible. Instead, he suggests that the Obama administration hit the regime where it hurts. He recommends "the suspension of civilian flights between the U.S. and Havana" and the "suspension of all financial transactions to Cuba from the U.S." He also wants the U.S. to cancel visas held by any Cuban official, "including Cuba's U.N. mission in New York," and he calls for the "federal indictment of the Cuban officials responsible for Mr. Gross's illegal imprisonment." He would use Interpol to track them down if they try to travel internationally.

What to do if Mr. Obama does not cooperate? "A resolute senator long ago would have blocked Senate processing of White House nominations for ambassadorships or treaties until the indicated steps were taken by the Administration." Mr. Douglas, we are given to understand, would be just such a senator.

-- Mary Anastasia O'Grady

Rubio to Oppose State Nominees

Senator Rubio to Oppose Administration's Western Hemisphere Nominations

Washington, D.C. – In advance of this afternoon's business meeting of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio issued the following statement announcing his intention to oppose the nominations of Roberta S. Jacobson to be Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, Mari Carmen Aponte to be Ambassador to the Republic of El Salvador and Adam E. Namm to be Ambassador to the Republic of Ecuador:

"Rather than stand up to tyrants and promote democracy, this Administration's policy towards Latin America has been defined by appeasement, weakness and the alienation of our allies. Earlier this year, I encouraged the Administration to seize these nominations as an opportunity to outline a plan to steer U.S. policy in the Western Hemisphere towards renewing America's commitment to promoting democracy and free markets.

But it has become clear that the Administration plans to continue business as usual in the region. This is unacceptable. Therefore, I will oppose these nominees in the Foreign Relations Committee, and reserve my right to block or vote against any other future Western Hemisphere nominees until the Administration takes meaningful action to change its policies. In particular, I encourage the administration to move quickly on three fronts.

First, the U.S. should immediately adopt significant bilateral and regional measures to encourage a return to constitutional order in Nicaragua. Second, the U.S. should take immediate action to impose additional sanctions against the Cuban regime in response to the taking of American hostage Alan Gross. And third, the U.S. should commit to dedicating U.S. democracy funding in Cuba solely to activities that strictly adhere to Sec. 109 of the Libertad Act."

The Repression Rundown

Monday, November 28, 2011
From the Coalition of Cuban-American Women:

During the week of November 21-27, human rights defenders continued being systematically subjected to acts of intimidation, threats, brutal beatings and mob attacks; to being kidnapped and left abandoned in remote areas; to arbitrary arrests, short term detentions, and cross examinations.

The political police particularly targeted activists on November 24th, proclaimed by the peaceful resistance movement on the island as "Resistance Day." Protests were reported Thursday in the cities of Havana, Palma Soriano, Pinar del Río, Santa Clara, Sagua la Grande, Ciego de Ávila, Camagüey, Velasco and Cienfuegos. On the 24th day of every month, human rights groups across the island plan to stage protests to promote human rights and freedom in Cuba

Monday, November 21 - Police agents detained activists, Joel Lazaro Carbonell and Emilio Jerez for defending a female street vendor in Havana who was being openly blackmailed by a policeman. Jerez was released but the whereabouts of Lazaro Carbonell are unknown.

Ex-political prisoner and independent journalist Enyor Diaz Allen was released 48 hours after being arrested for photographing a mob attack against the home of human rights defender, Osvallemi Grant Guerra. Another independent journalist, Julio Beltran Iglesias, a member of the independent group, Cuban Republican Party, was also released and abandoned in Wajay, 30 kms. away from his home. Beltran Iglesias was kidnapped near his home on November 19 by Cuban State Security in Havana and subjected to cross examination, accused of being a troublemaker and mercenary of the "imperialists" (USA), among several other charges.

The following five activists of the 30th of November Frank Pais Movement were arrested as they were on their way to promote "Resistance Day" at the home of the Secretary General of the National Front of Civil Resistance and Disobedience, Jorge Luis Garcia Perez Antunez in Santa Clara (Central Cuba): Yoan David Gonzalez Milanes (handicapped, missing a leg), Mauri Emilio Dupuy Arredondo, Guillermo Rodriguez Rodriguez, Verlay Vejerano Estrada and Juan Luis Perez Garcia. They were all abandoned in remote farm areas.

In Santa Clara (Central Cuba), a total of 17 human rights activists were violently detained when they tried to prevent the Cuban regime's forced eviction of Yulema Benitez Sigler and her three children from their humble home. Initially detained were: Damaris Moya Portieles, Enrique Martinez Marin, Idania Yanez,Yasmin Riveron, Yusmany Rafael Alvarez, and Jose Luis Lopez. Other human rights defenders who went to the police station to demand the release of their fellow activists and were also arrested: Guillermo del Sol Pérez, Alcides Rivera Rodríguez, Víctor Castillo Ortega, Ana Rosa Alfonso, Jose Luis Lopez, María del Carmen López, Ramón Abreu, Mayra García, Rolando Ferrer Espinosa and Omar Núñez Espinosa.

Wednesday, November 23 Jose Batista Falcon and Raudel Avila Lozada of the umbrella human rights group, Cuban Patriotic Union were intimidated and threatened with being arrested by the police as they were disseminating copies of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to the residents in the Eastern city of Palma Soriano.

Donaida Perez Paseiro and Yris Perez Aguilera of the Rosa Parks Feminist Movement for Civil Rights were arrested by the political police as they were leaving the house of Yris in Placetas (central Cuba) so that Yris could seek the treatment of a specialist for the head injuries caused by State Security agents during a beating in May 2011. Both women were subjected to inhumane treatment and conditions during their arrest and released 24 hours later. Yris is the wife of Antunez and their house is permanently surrounded by State Security Agents who threaten, beat and follow them everywhere they go.

Thursday, November 24 – Ex-prisoner of conscience, Librado Linares, of the Cuban Reflection Movement denounced the police operation and mob attack against the home of human rights defender and member of the Cuban Reflection Movement, Niursi Acosta Pacheco in the town of Vueltas, Villa Clara (Central Cuba). Activists had gathered to march on to the town's Central Park, but the aggressors intimidated and threatened the activists by surrounding the home, carrying knives, machetes and metal tubes. Victims of this act of repudiation were: Orlando Triana Gonzalez, Antonio Suarez Fonticiella, Miguel Sotolongo Sotolongo, Raul Gonzalez Manso, Leonardo Rodriguez Alonso, Niursi Acosta Pacheco, Jose Marino Andrades Crespo, Damaris Hidalgo Garcia, Ramon Mesa Rodriguez, Alexander Mesa Rodriguez, Juan Manuel Sarduy Segrel, Diego Sabala Abreu, Manuel U. Acosta and Librado Linares.

In Havana, the following activists marched down an important avenue in El Vedado with a white sign honoring the recently deceased leader of the Ladies in White, Laura Pollan and on behalf of freedom and human rights in Cuba: Sara Marta Fonseca, Odalys Caridad Sanabria, René Ramón González, Ismael Alfaro and Ramsés Camejo. They were all detained and released a few hours later after being threatened and intimidated by Cuban State Security.

In Pinar del Rio, a march was also successfully carried out in spite of the numerous arrests. Conrado Rodríguez Suárez, member of the Democratic Alliance of Pinar del Rio (ADP) continues under arrest.

In Sagua La Grande, paramilitary groups surrounded and attacked the home of human rights activist Jesus Reinaldo, located at Carolina Cabrera Street #60, in order to prevent the meeting of members of the peaceful resistance.

Pedro Campa Almenares was released after being held in the Prison of Aguadores since August 2011.

In Havana, the police arrested more than a dozen dissidents who were on their way to participate in a forum on racial discrimination to be held November 24-26 at the home of Antonio Madrazo located at Calle 23 #710 entre C y D apto 2 piso 1, Vedado. Among those detained were dissidents Manuel Cuesta Morua, Darsi Ferrer and Yusnaimi Jorge Soca, Guillermo Lizama, Leonardo Calvo, as well as Danilo Maldonado.

Friday, November 25 - José Peña Batista, president of the Calixto García Movement, was arrested and remains in custody. The previous day a march had originated at his home and culminated in a park in the town of Velazco, in the province of Hoguin (Eastern Cuba).

Sunday, November 27 – In spite of the intimidations and threats of beatings and arrests, 38 Ladies in White were able to attend Mass and march in the city of El Cobre in Eastern Cuba, while in Havana 46 members of the Ladies in White "Laura Pollan" walked down 5th Avenue after attending mass at the Church of Santa Rita.