Expelled Spy Josefina Vidal Sits in on Republican’s Meeting With Cuban Leaders Reply

Senior Directorate of Intelligence (DI) officer Josefina Vidal

Senior Directorate of Intelligence (DI) officer Josefina Vidal

US Senators Meet Cuban Vice President, Foreign Minister

By Zee News

Havana: A delegation of United States’ Republican senators met with Cuban First Vice President Miguel Diaz-Canel and Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez and discussed bilateral relations and other issues.

Senators Jeff Flake, Susan Collins and Pat Roberts met with Diaz-Canel at the Palace of the Revolution on Saturday and discussed the “progress made in the modernisation of Cuba`s economic and social model”, current bilateral relations and the “need to end the embargo”, state-run National Information Agency (AIN) reported.

Cuban foreign ministry`s Director General for the US, Josefina Vidal, who heads the Cuban team in negotiations with Washington, attended both meetings.

The delegation – which arrived in Cuba on Friday – is the first ever made up entirely of the Republicans since Washington and Havana announced last December 17 the decision to renew diplomatic relations.

The new policy of US President Barack Obama toward Cuba has met with strong opposition from some sections of the Republican Party, in whose ranks, however, there are lawmakers like Jeff Flake that support bilateral understanding.

Senator Flake of Arizona is the chief promoter of the Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act, introduced in the US Congress last January as a move toward ending legal restrictions on US citizens traveling to the island nation.

Flake, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, first traveled to Cuba last November along with Democrat Tom Udall to visit imprisoned US contractor Alan Gross, who was freed following the announcement of the thaw in US-Cuban relations.

Editor’s Note:  Directorate of Intelligence (DI) officer Josefina Vidal was thrown out of the United States for espionage in 2003. She is likely to become the first Cuban Ambassador to the US under the Castro regime.

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Critics Question Sources for AP Report on Cuba Democracy Program 1

AP

 

 

 

Say sources had political agenda to undermine U.S. policy

By Daniel Wiser, Washington Free Beacon

Critics are raising questions about the Associated Press’s recent report on a U.S. program to foster civil society in Cuba and have accused the news organization of cooperating with sources who have a political agenda against U.S. policy toward the island.

The AP recently reported on the program that sent Spanish-speaking youth to Cuba to help build health and civil society associations, which the news organization described as a “clandestine operation” with the goal of “ginning up rebellion.” Human rights groups involved in the program criticized the report and said it mischaracterized the nature of the civil society projects.

Defenders of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) program say the AP has been less than forthright about the sources for its reporting. They also allege that the AP obtained information and documents from longstanding critics of U.S. policy toward Cuba’s communist government.

The anti-Castro website Capitol Hill Cubans alleged that the key source for the AP’s reporting on both the civil society program and a separate project, an attempt to develop a Twitter-like social media service for Cubans, was Fulton Armstrong. Armstrong is a former Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) staffer and senior intelligence analyst for Latin America.

Armstrong told the Washington Free Beacon in an email that although the AP contacted him, he was not the main source of information and documents. “The AP’s reports are pretty obviously based on documentary evidence provided by insiders concerned about the regime-change programs,” he said, adding that he was never fully briefed on what he called USAID’s “clandestine, covert operations.”

“Because the SFRC had investigated these scandalously run secret programs during my tenure on the Committee staff, and because my boss (Chairman [John] Kerry) was concerned enough to put a hold on the programs for a while, I was logically among the dozens of people to be called by the AP reporters,” he said.

Armstrong has long raised the ire of U.S. officials and activists advocating a tough line against the Castro regime. Foreign policy officials in the George W. Bush administration attempted to reassign Armstrong from Latin American intelligence after arguing that he was “soft” on threats from Cuba, according to a 2003 report by the New York Times.

Feature continues here:  Critics Question Credibility of AP Sources