Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Cuban dissidents ask US to remove restrictions that stop flow of aid

Cuban dissidents ask US to remove restrictions that stop flow of aid

The Associated Press

Four leading Cuban dissidents asked the United States on Monday to lift
financial restrictions against the island to allow for more efficient
distribution of U.S. aid to the opposition.

The dissidents' request follows a recent report that cited weaknesses in
the U.S. government's program promoting democracy in Cuba and said most
money doesn't get to the island.

"We think it is very important to achieve greater efficiency with said
funds," the dissidents wrote in a statement distributed to international
media on the island.

"We think it is possible to achieve that by eliminating existing
restrictions on the sending of aid and travel to Cuba," said the
communique signed by veteran rights activist Elizardo Sanchez, former
political prisoners Martha Beatriz Roque and Vladimiro Roca, and Gisela
Delgado, who runs an independent library out of her home.

"We hope that the errors committed are corrected and a larger quantity
of aid gets to the activists," the statement concluded.

A recent report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office found that
the U.S. Agency for International Development did not always properly
oversee Cuban aid grants and that coordination with the State Department
was sometimes ineffective.

Cashmere sweaters and chocolate were among the items bought with agency
money, the study found.

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