U.S. government fails to deny Cuban charges of payments
May 19, 2008
Reprinted from U.S. State Dept.
Daily Press Briefing
Sean McCormack, Spokesman
May 19, 2008
QUESTION: Yeah, Sean, in the last two hours or so there’s been some – a bunch of interesting developments going on down Cuba, Venezuela way. I’m wondering if you can – and I realize you talked a tiny bit about the Cuba situation this morning, but the Cuban Government has now come out and made these accusations formally against Mr. Parmly and linked him with this money from Posada Carriles.
MR. MCCORMACK: I’m – you know, I have not seen any news conference. The only assistance for which I am aware is the U.S. Government providing humanitarian assistance to the families of political prisoners that the Cuban Government has essentially abandoned. But I’m not aware of anything else beyond that.
QUESTION: It’s cash, though, from private American citizens?
MR. MCCORMACK: There are also private groups that provide such humanitarian assistance payments, which are allowed.
QUESTION: Through the Interests Section?
MR. MCCORMACK: I – you know, I’m not aware of the mechanics of it, Matt.
QUESTION: Is there any policy that prevents U.S. diplomats from being a means of delivering cash to those who may be dissidents in Cuba?
MR. MCCORMACK: You mean actually on the ground there? I’m not aware of the mechanics or the regulations that guide it. I’m sure that there’s a careful accounting of all of this that is done by the U.S. Government, as we are good stewards of the American taxpayers’ dollars. We believe that this is a prudent humanitarian gesture and certainly consistent with our policies, and it’s been ongoing for quite some time.
QUESTION: Well, are you saying that all the money – the only money that you’re aware of is for – U.S. Government money, it’s not private --
MR. MCCORMACK: Yeah, but that’s outside of U.S. Government channels, Matt.
QUESTION: No, I understand that. The accusation, though, is that – and I’m not sure exactly why this accusation is startling or surprising --
MR. MCCORMACK: Right.
QUESTION: There may be some rule against it.
MR. MCCORMACK: Right.
QUESTION: The accusation from the Cubans is that the head of the Interests Section has been delivering cash from private U.S. groups to the political opposition in Cuba. Somehow that --
MR. MCCORMACK: Well, as I said -- you know, again, Matt, I don’t know the specifics of this. I am not aware of the mechanics. I don’t steep myself in these things. I do know, however, that there are – we, the U.S. Government, has programs to provide humanitarian assistance to people that are essentially forgotten by the Cuban Government and that there – we allow, or we do not stand in the way of, private groups doing that as well.
QUESTION: But is it part of the U.S. policy, the head of the Interests Section, can he go ahead and wire money or send money to these groups?
MR. MCCORMACK: Look, I can’t – you know, I’m not here to talk about the specific mechanics of this. I’m sure that we can find some expert who can delve into the weeds of this, if you like. I’m certainly not going to do it.
QUESTION: Sean, you’re kind of here to answer questions that we have about --
MR. MCCORMACK: And I have. And I’ve given you the answer. I’ve given you the answer.
QUESTION: -- this issue and the Cuban Government has come out --
MR. MCCORMACK: Matt, I’ve given you the answer that I have to give you.
QUESTION: Okay. That you don’t know?
MR. MCCORMACK: Matt, I said I don’t have – I’m not aware of the mechanics of this. You know, if we – if you guys want to delve into the mechanics of this as to who provides money to whom, then I’d be happy to find somebody who has green eye shades on and who can do that for you. I’m not going to do it.
QUESTION: Sean, let’s say this would violate international law. Would the U.S. be ready to sanction the head of the Interests Section?
MR. MCCORMACK: We’re not violating international law.