Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Clipping File: US-Cuba Democracy PAC and the Republican Party

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Some Cuban-American circles have pressed to maintain U.S. restrictions [on family travel] because of their antipathy for Fidel Castro and his brother, Raul, who replaced him as leader after Fidel became ill. "How do you help people speak out about human rights violations if you're basically extending the dictatorship abroad?" said Mauricio Claver-Carone, director of U.S. Cuba Democracy PAC.


POSTED: Thursday, December 21, 2006

Mel Martinez anoints fellow Republican Jeb Bush the first Cuban-American governor of Florida during a meeting of the U.S.-Cuba Democracy Pac at the Biltmore Hotel.

CORAL GABLES, Fla. -- It was a who's who of Cuban-Americans on Wednesday at the Biltmore Hotel, with special recognition for outgoing Gov. Jeb Bush.

U.S. Sen. Mel Martinez, R-Fla., applauded Bush "for having been our friend, for having been on the side of freedom and for always having been someone who understood and loved the Cuban-American community, so much so that I today gave him the title of the first Cuban-American governor," he said.

Bush, in his formal remarks, gladly accepted the title.

"If Bill Clinton can be the first African-American president, I can be the first Cuban-American governor of the state of Florida," Bush said to laughter and applause.

Politicians from near and far praised Bush, who is nearing the end of his eight-year term. Even U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., showed up. He urged political leaders to act as a voice for Cubans and voiced his support for the Cuban embargo.

"Trading with Castro is not the way to bring about democratic change in Cuba," Brownback said.

The real reason for Bush, Brownback and everyone else's appearance was the cause of a free Cuba and concern for U.S. policy.

"The problem is not between the United States and Cuba," former Deputy Secretary of State Otto Reich said. "The dialogue that has to take place is between the Cuban government and the people of Cuba. Once that dialogue has taken place and the people of Cuba have had their liberties restored by that government, which is fully capable of restoring it, then the United States would be willing to begin a dialogue with the government of Cuba."

Not that long ago, the only group capable of drawing a crowd with the same type of political clout as the one at the Biltmore on Wednesday was the Cuban-American National Foundation. Now, the loudest voice for Cuban exile politics appears to be the U.S.-Cuba Democracy Pac.

"This group represents the entire community and is genuinely representative of the consensus of thought of the Cuban-American community, and that's why this group is so respected," U.S. Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart, R-Miami, said.

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


"One of the fundamental strengths of our community has always been unity, and that unity has always been at the core of the economic and political success of Cuban Americans," says Mauricio Claver-Carone, the 32-year-old spokesman of the U.S.-Cuba Democracy PAC. "So when your campaign is based on a strategy of ‘divide and conquer,' I personally (don't believe), and our committee personally doesn't believe, that that is particularly helpful, because basically what you're doing is you're showing the world a disunified community."...

...The network was revealed prominently in early March, when two Democratic members of Congress from South Florida, Kendrick Meek and Debbie Wasserman Schultz, told The Miami Herald they will not support Garcia, Martinez and Taddeo in their races against the Diaz-Balarts and Ros-Lehtinen. They couldn't support their fellow Democrats, Meek and Wasserman Schultz said, because of their friendships with the Republican incumbents.

Democratic Party activists were incensed, especially with Wasserman Schultz. She is co-chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee's Red to Blue program, which has a stated purpose of finding districts with vulnerable Republicans and replacing them with Democrats. The Democratic activists pointed to another kinship she had with the Diaz-Balarts: the U.S.-Cuba Democracy PAC. In the past two election cycles, Wasserman Schultz received $22,000 from the committee, and members of the PAC's board of directors gave her another $29,000 in individual contributions, for a total of $51,000. Meek received $10,500 from the PAC.

Wasserman Schultz is hardly alone. Florida's Democratic U.S. senator, Bill Nelson, has taken campaign contributions of about $44,000 from the PAC and individuals on its board of directors.


From March 24 letter to Pres Obama published on Capitol Hill Cubans

However, in regard to Cuban American travel, we are troubled by the explanation in the “Guidance on Implementation of Cuba Travel and Trade-Related Provisions of the Omnibus Appropriations Act of 2009” that the general license grants “unlimited” lengths of stay in Cuba. We believe that this will serve to channel U.S. taxpayer dollars directly to the regime because retirees and Supplemental Security Income recipients could remain on the island indefinitely while collecting U.S. taxpayer-provided benefits.

Lincoln Diaz-Balart, Debbie Wasserman Schultz

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Kendrick Meek

Mario Diaz-Balart, Albio Sires

Robert Andrews, Frank Pallone


Associated Press, Aug 21, 2007

MIAMI - Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama is leaping into the long-running Cuba debate by calling for the United States to ease restrictions for Cuban-Americans who want to visit the island or send money home...

...Mauricio Claver-Carone, head of the U.S.-Cuba Democracy PAC, which supports full sanctions, said Obama’s statement could hurt U.S.-Cuban relations at a crucial time.

“I’m sure he’s well intentioned,” Claver-Carone said, but he added that with the death of Castro possibly approaching and the potential for change on the island, such a statement could send the wrong message.

“It entrenches the regime at this historic time,” Claver-Carone said.


Complaint filed against Cuban lobbying group

A watchdog group in Washington has filed a complaint against a Cuban-American lobbying group, which called the allegation a 'political hit job.'

By Pablo Bachelet, Posted on Wed, Nov. 29, 2006

WASHINGTON - A watchdog group has alleged a Cuban-American lobbying organization that favors tougher sanctions against Cuba broke Federal Election Commission regulations by having illegal links to a nonprofit group.

But the U.S.-Cuba Democracy Political Action Committee denied the allegations and noted that the watchdog Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, which has filed several complaints against it, has received donations from groups opposed to U.S. sanctions on the island.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics filed a complaint in September asserting that several members of the nonprofit Cuba Democracy Advocates Inc. had illegal links to the PAC, which is supposed to operate independently of any other organization.

Leopoldo Fernández Pujals founded two nonprofit U.S. organizations in 2000 to oppose the communist government, using some of the proceeds of his $366 million sale of Spanish fast-food chain Telepizza in 1999, according to the FEC complaint.
Those two organizations eventually became Cuba Democracy Advocates, and Fernández appointed Mauricio Claver-Carone as director and Miami-Dade car dealer Gus Machado as treasurer. Machado then went on to create the PAC and Claver-Carone became its Washington director.

Claver-Carone and Machado, according to the complaint to the FEC, have ''day-to-day operational control'' of both the PAC and Cuba Democracy Advocates.


According to FEC rules, a connected PAC can only raise money from its affiliated organization, but the U.S.-Cuba Democracy PAC has raised $1.25 million from 3,000 individuals, mostly members of the Cuban-American community.

The group has donated to dozens of lawmakers on both sides of the aisle and is widely seen as successfully influencing congressional votes on Cuba sanctions.
Claver-Carone denied the two organizations had done anything wrong, noting that the PAC is run by a 26-member board and a seven-member executive committee, most of whom have no connection with Cuba Democracy Advocates.

''So long as majority of board members do not cross over, there's absolutely no problem whatsoever,'' he told The Miami Herald. "Of the 26 board members, only one crosses over, and that's me.''

Claver-Carone said the latest complaint is the fourth filed by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics against his organization, constituting what he called a "political hit job.''


''They're getting money from people that advocate against us,'' he said, citing a $75,000 donation to the watchdog group by the ARCA Foundation, a family-owned foundation, which says on its website that it pursues more social justice and equity. The ARCA group also has donated to groups like the Latin America Working Group and the Lexington Institute -- all opposed to U.S. policies on Cuba.

The FEC decided against prosecuting the group's previous allegations. Claver-Carone says refuting each allegation means paying a law firm between $15,000 and $20,000.

Melanie Sloan, the executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics, denied the group is targeting the Cuba Democracy PAC for political reasons.
''We believe they should follow FEC law,'' she said.


From Capitol Hill Cubans, the PAC's blog

Don't Make the Same Travel Mistake
at 9:30 AM Wednesday, December 2, 2009
Last year, we expressed concern that:

"[Anti-sanctions advocates'] most paradoxical political platform is that 'national reconciliation' between Cuban nationals on the island and those in exile is best pursued by eliminating regulations on Cuban Americans visiting family members in Cuba. Factually, this argument fails to consider that, while most of the exile community in the United States is white, the vast majority of the population and most of democracy's advocates in Cuba are of African or mixed descent and have no family members living in the United States. The result would be a policy that not only creates an underclass among those -- the majority -- without family abroad, but also foments division among Cuba's active and courageous democratic opposition. It would set back rather than advance national reconciliation in Cuba."

- Mauricio Claver-Carone, "Why Travel to Cuba Must be Regulated," The Miami Herald, March 1st, 2008

Yesterday, it was reported:

"Representing 25-odd different groups, black dissidents in Cuba argue that racial disparities on the island are worsened by the Obama administration's recent decision to allow Cuban-Americans to freely send remittances (worth an estimated $1.5 billion yearly) to their relatives. More than 85 percent of Cuban-Americans are white, they say, so the beneficiaries in Cuba of the new remittances policy will also be white."

- Carlos Moore, "Is Black America's Honeymoon with the Castros Over?," McLatchy Newspapers, December 1st, 2009

As regards the future, please keep in mind:

"Whites are clearly preferred in the government controlled and highly profitable tourism industry, from taxi drivers to waitresses and hotel maids. Meanwhile, blacks in Old Havana are continually stopped by police for I.D. checks on suspicion of black market activities."

- Miami Herald Staff Report, "A Barrier for Cuba's Blacks," June 20th, 2007

Therefore, don't make the same mistake by unconditionally allowing tourism travel to Castro's Cuba.

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