Posts Tagged ‘U.S.A.I.D.’

Throughout her tenure as Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton advocated for an end to the embargo on Cuba which she regarded as providing the Castro regime with a foil for its domestic failures.

When Alan Gross, a U.S.A.I.D. contractor, was detained in Cuba in December 2009, Hillary commenced a long-term effort to procure his release via direct engagement with Cuban officials as well as third party efforts. In her memoir, Hard Choices, Hillary states, “One of my regrets as Secretary was our failure to bring Alan home.”  Alan Gross left Cuba today, released on humanitarian grounds due to health issues,  accompanied by his wife, Judy,  with whom Secretary Clinton remained in close touch during her tenure.

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In Hard Choices, Hillary noted that a condition Cuban officials levied on Gross’s release was our release of five convicted Cuban spies.  Three of those individuals have been freed in exchange for Gross’s freedom.  Two others were released earlier upon completing their sentences.

The exchange signals a thaw in U.S. – Cuba relations that will include re-establishment of diplomatic ties.   As Secretary of State, Hillary visited 112 countries.  Cuba was not among them.  Perhaps she will soon have the opportunity to visit as a private citizen.    One of Hillary’s last acts as Secretary was to pen a letter to President Obama containing the recommendation that the Cuban embargo be re-examined.  Today it appears likely that the embargo will be terminated sooner rather than later.

U.S., Cuba Seek To Normalize Relations

Posted: 12/17/2014
WASHINGTON (AP) — The United States and Cuba will start talks on normalizing full diplomatic relations, marking the most significant shift in U.S. policy toward the communist island in decades, American officials said Wednesday. The announcement comes amid a series of new confidence-building measures between the longtime foes, including the release of American Alan Gross and the freeing of three Cubans jailed in the U.S.

Welcome home, Alan!


Given the chapter on Latin America in her memoir (pages 266 – 289), a statement supporting the action she suggested, encouraged, and actively pursued really was not necessary.  Hillary released one nevertheless.  Anyone who has read her book knows that she campaigned for lifting the embargo right from the start and was a major force  in the effort to revise the Cuba policy.

Hillary Clinton backs Obama move on Cuba

WASHINGTON Wed Dec 17, 2014

(Reuters) – Former U.S. Secretary of State and potential presidential contender Hillary Clinton said on Wednesday she supported President Barack Obama’s move to establish diplomatic ties with Cuba after more than 50 years of hostile relations.

“Despite good intentions, our decades-long policy of isolation has only strengthened the Castro regime’s grip on power,” Clinton said in a statement. “As I have said, the best way to bring change to Cuba is to expose its people to the values, information and material comforts of the outside world.”

She added: “I support President Obama’s decision to change course on Cuba policy, while keeping the focus on our principal objective – supporting the aspirations of the Cuban people for freedom.”

Read more >>>>


Secretary Kerry’s statement on Cuba policy changes.

Announcement of Cuba Policy Changes

Press Statement

John Kerry
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
December 17, 2014

I was a seventeen year old kid watching on a black and white television set when I first heard an American President talk of Cuba as an “imprisoned island.”

For five and a half decades since, our policy toward Cuba has remained virtually frozen, and done little to promote a prosperous, democratic and stable Cuba. Not only has this policy failed to advance America’s goals, it has actually isolated the United States instead of isolating Cuba.

Since 2009, President Obama has taken steps forward to change our relationship and improve the lives of the Cuban people by easing restrictions on remittances and family travel. With this new opening, the President has committed the United States to begin to chart an even more ambitious course forward.

Beginning more than twenty years ago, I have seen firsthand as three presidents — one Republican and two Democrats — have undertaken a similar effort to change the United States’ relationship with Vietnam. It wasn’t easy. It isn’t complete still today. But it had to start somewhere, and it has worked.

As we did with Vietnam, changing our relationship with Cuba will require an investment of time, energy and resources. Today’s step also reflects our firm belief that the risk and the cost of trying to turn the tide is far lower than the risk and cost of remaining stuck in an ideological cement of our own making.

This new course will not be without challenges, but it is based not on a leap of faith but on a conviction that it’s the best way to help bring freedom and opportunity to the Cuban people, and to promote America’s national security interests in the Americas, including greater regional stability and economic opportunities for American businesses.

In January, as part of the President’s directive to discuss moving toward re-establishment of diplomatic relations, my Assistant Secretary for the Western Hemisphere Roberta Jacobson will travel to Cuba to lead the U.S. Delegation to the next round of U.S.-Cuba Migration Talks. I look forward to being the first Secretary of State in 60 years to visit Cuba. At President Obama’s request, I have also asked my team to initiate a review of Cuba’s designation as a State Sponsor of Terrorism.

Going forward, a critical focus of our increased engagement will continue to be on improving the Cuban Government’s respect for human rights and advocating for democratic reforms within Cuba. Promoting freedom of speech and entrepreneurship and an active civil society will only strengthen Cuban society and help to reintegrate Cuba into the international community.


Other news emanating from the State Department today includes the forthcoming departure of U.S.A.I.D. Administrator, Dr. Rajiv Shah.  Some will remember the “infinite frustration” Hillary expressed early in her term in filling that post.  Dr. Shah has done a magnificent job.  We should all be grateful for his dedicated service.

See Dr. Shah’s statement here >>>>

For Immediate Release

Wednesday, December 17, 2014
USAID Press Office


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Daily Appointments Schedule for February 22, 2010

Washington, DC
February 22, 2010


10:00 a.m. Secretary Clinton delivers Opening Remarks at the Department of State’s Black History Month Celebration, at the Department of State.

11:00 a.m. Secretary Clinton meets with Senior Department of State and USAID Officials to Discuss Development Issues, at the Department of State.

6:00 p.m. Secretary Clinton delivers Remarks on the Future of NATO to the Washington Strategic Concept Seminar, at the Ritz Carlton, Washington, D.C.

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Happy Anniversary Madame Secretary!

You inspire us every day!

One year: 198,934 miles and 49 countries traveled.
Follow her travels and activities here.

Daily Appointments Schedule for February 2, 2010

Washington, DC
February 2, 2010


8:15 a.m. Secretary Clinton meets with Members of Congress from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the House Foreign Affairs Committee, at the Department of State.

9:50 a.m. Secretary Clinton meets with Greek Alternate Foreign Minister Dimitrios Droutsas, at the Department of State.

3:30 p.m. Secretary Clinton holds a Bilateral Meeting with Iraqi Vice President Dr. Tariq Hashimi, at the Department of State.


1:30 p.m.
USAID Administrator Raj Shah and State Department Counselor Cheryl Mills brief the Press on the Way Forward in Haiti, On Camera and On the Record, in the Press Briefing Room, at the Department of State.


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In the wake of his poorly received visit to the Champs de Mars yesterday, René Préval’s government  faces an ever-increasing vote of no confidence among dispossessed Haitians semi-permanently relocated to Port-au-Prince’s largest park in front of the crumbled National Palace.  The question appears to be whether it is the Palace alone that lies in ruins or was the government of Préval so fragile as to have been broken by the natural disaster that visited the capital city and southern cities and towns.

Meanwhile, the U.S. military and U.S.A.I.D. continue to put forth the Préval government as the leader in the relief effort. This article in today’s Washington Post highlights the disjunct in leadership.

As food distribution improves, Haitians want U.S to ‘take over’

By Peter Slevin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, February 1, 2010; A01

PORT-AU-PRINCE, HAITI — International relief organizations backed by American soldiers delivered hundreds of tons of rice to homeless residents of the Haitian capital Sunday, laboring to ease a food shortage that has left countless thousands struggling to find enough to eat.

But even as food-aid workers enjoyed their most successful day since the Jan. 12 earthquake, the increasingly prominent role of U.S. troops and civilians in the capital is creating high expectations that the Obama administration is struggling to contain.

The needs are extraordinary, and the common refrain is that the Americans will provide.

“I want the Americans to take over the country. The Haitian government can’t do anything for us,” said Jean-Louis Geffrard, a laborer who lives under a tarp in the crowded square. “When we tell the government we’re hungry, the government says, ‘We’re hungry, too.’ “

Yes, and yesterday Préval said, once again, that he lost his house too. These are not words that inspire confidence in leaders. They serve the opposite agenda, that of abdication of responsibility. So what can we and the Haitian people take away, two weeks later, from this meeting?

The WaPo article goes on to say the following,

“The military forces . . . are not here to do any reconstruction. That is not our mission,” said Col. Rick Kaiser, a U.S. Army engineer overseeing emergency repairs to the Port-au-Prince docks, the electrical and water systems, and other battered infrastructure in the hemisphere’s poorest country.

Administration officials, including Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, describe virtually every activity here as “Haiti-led,” although the government is barely functioning and its record was checkered even before the earthquake killed more than 110,000 people and leveled an array of government ministries.

Louis Lucke, the senior U.S. Agency for International Development official in Haiti, stood in an American-run medical complex Saturday with President René Préval and told reporters that “the Haitians are leading the process in all the areas that are necessary” — including food distribution, despite strong evidence to the contrary.


Well, there are some lessons in history, but it is hard to be certain of what they teach. I am sure that these lessons are guiding our Haitian policy and Hillary’s and everyone else’s insistence that it is the Haitian government leading this effort. The United States Marines occupied Haiti from 1915 to 1934. If the Haitians have a different opinion and cultural memory of that occupation today as opposed to when I lived there in the 1970s and 80s, it may well have to do with certain more recent events,  from the installation of the democratically elected Aristede to his removal and to our propping of Préval even in the post-cataclysmic meltdown of his leadership and authority. The resentment of the past may have given way to nostalgia, especially now that the road to the north (among three built by the Marines along with the road to the south – now damaged, and the International Road leading to the Dominican Republic) is a prime refugee route to less damaged and untouched areas such as the Artibonite Valley. That is the road you would have taken to visit the Sans Souci Palace of King Henri Christophe in Milot. It is in ruins like the National Palace – an empty shell like the current government.

Last April, when Hillary spoke to the Haiti Donors Conference, I jokingly wrote that the Haitians might well want Hillary as their president but they could not have her because she is ours. One of my problems all my life has been that people take my serious comments as jokes but take my jokes seriously.

Well here is a serious (I feel I must tag and warn) question: What does it say about the First Black Republic that after 206 years of independence the people are asking for a return to colonialism?

There is danger in this.  Haitians must be careful what they wish for.  Certainly our leadership is putting forth a call to Haitian leadership to take charge.  But just as certainly, other less scrupulous powers in the region might well desire of take advantage of a power-grabbing opportunity in the face of a vacuum of authority.  None other than Hillary Rodham Clinton herself provided the example to the Haitian leaders of the kind of face to show to the people.  This was the aggrieved expression we saw the day she returned to the White House following the earthquake.  It was clear to me that she took this disaster very much to heart.  She looked like she had been crying.


Her pain for Haiti was written all over her face, and we all know that Hillary’s face always reflects what is in her heart.  She is unable to control that, and we love that about her.  So it is a lesson for all, and especially for the Haitian leadership, that when she stepped onto the tarmac at Toussaint L’Ouverture Airport on January 16, this is the face that greeted her embassy personnel, U.S.A.I.D. staff, and the Haitian leadership and people.


No she did not say, “I hurt, too.”  She came to help.  The message was “What can I do for you?”  This is a question the Haitian leadership should adopt and repeat often to the people on the Champs de Mars.   “Sa’m kapab fé pou nou?”  That is what is called public service.  The Haitian people deserve no less from the public servants they elected.

I know the name of the President of Haiti is René Préval.  I wonder who he is.


Well it looks like we are going to give Haiti a President after all.  A few hints: His name is Bill,  he is enviably close to the Secretary of State, and he loves Haiti as much as she does.

Reuters reports

Bill Clinton to coordinate Haiti relief efforts:

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – Former U.S. President Bill Clinton, currently the U.N. special envoy to Haiti, will be named international coordinator for relief efforts in the earthquake-devastated country, U.N. officials said on Monday.


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