Monday, August 2, 2010

Very confusing

The State Department continues to appeal for the release of Alan Gross, who was arrested last December while working in Cuba on a USAID sub-contract valued at $595,000, according to the June issue of CubaNews (subscription required). Part of the State Department’s appeal is that Mr. Gross “was not violating any laws,” as Assistant Secretary of State Arturo Valenzuela put it in this account by Reuters.

Let’s hope he’s right, and let’s hope Mr. Gross is released.

Meanwhile, the State Department’s page of Cuba travel advice – assembled by the consular affairs bureau, which is responsible for helping Americans who get in trouble overseas – points out the following, right after warning about Cuba’s tough criminal penalties for drug and alien smuggling offenses:

Cuba’s Law of Protection of National Independence and the Cuban Economy contains a series of measures intended to discourage some types of contact between foreign nationals and Cuban citizens to prevent and discourage opposition to the Cuban Government. The law provides for jail terms of up to 30 years in aggravated cases. U.S. citizens, including press and media representatives, traveling in Cuba are subject to this law.

That would be a reference to Cuba’s Law 88, which contains penalties for anyone who “distributes or participates in the distribution of financial, material, or other resources that come from the United States government, its agencies, subordinates, representatives, functionaries, or private entities” pursuant to the U.S. Helms-Burton law.

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