ADOLFO Franco, the official who administrates the Latin American funds for USAID on behalf of the godfathers of the Cuban-American mafia, has managed to almost completely conceal the whereabouts of $65.4 million donated by this federal fund throughout the last decade.
This is revealed, in exceptionally bureaucratic terms, in the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) report. However, this document avoids asking clearly the essential question: Where did all those millions that “disappeared” go?
On reading the 50-page report in detail, we discover a number of pieces of information, often hidden away beneath a heavy cloak of rhetoric, that reveals the existence of a veritable network of fraud which, far beyond the small-time con artists who have the face to justify their chocolate purchases, has to extend itself much higher, where lie those who conceived this ingenious system for the distribution of dollar bills.
First revelation from this study into the accounts: more than 95%, that is to say, almost the entire total of the $65.4 million – we’re not talking cents here – were attributed to “a response to unsolicited proposals.” In short, they were given away without tender.
Worse, much worse still. USAID modified more than two-thirds of its 40 contracts, raising the estimated costs of these programs eightfold – from $6 million to $50 million – and extending completion dates by an average of three years, explains the text.
That is to say that their buddies – who else would present “unsolicited proposals”? — did not just have to not face public competition but had their monetary subsidies increased and contracts prolonged without asking for it.
USAID does indeed demand that those contracted demonstrate their real capacity to undertake their tasks and has anticipated a way to detect con artists. But, in the case of Cuba, things are apparently very different. According to the GAO, in four out of eight beneficiaries revised, the information reclaimed was handed over after the subsidy had been handed over.
The necessary audits, of course, are carried out using the same technique: the report shows a case in which they only found certain “paid invoices and bank statements”.
So professional are Franco’s officials that they had to confess to the GAO that all the contracts are the work of a “document generating software program” that churns out the usual blah-blah-blah.
At the end of the day, we’re only talking about millions of dollars.
The GAO can do nothing else but observe that USAID, the imposing federal agency that throws millions of dollars around the planet, has NO formal procedure for monitoring its grantees who, of course, do not complain about this omission. USAID only asks for “a one-page financial report” every three months.
As for the visits by USAID officials to those whom it’s fattening up, the report reveals that they are only minutes long and take place on the gentle whims of Adolfo who, evidently, hates to disturb his clients. After all, they are personal friends in many cases.
The list of vicissitudes of the United States Agency for International Development, as described in the GAO report, are extended in this way and diplomatically concluded: “In the context of recent recommendations to increase funding for democracy assistance in Cuba, we conclude that the U.S. government’s efforts to support democratic political change face several significant challenges.” Names will never hurt me, as the saying goes.
THEY DID NOT MELT AWAY ON CHOCOLATE ALONE
What is filtering through from various channels in Miami is that amongst the overweight members of the mafioso nomenclature responsible for the disappearance of millions of dollars, we find:
• THE ICCAS at the University of Miami and former CIA analyst Jaime Suchlicki, the privileged son of the Bacardi family who joyfully took away $7 million.
• The Democracy Support Group run by Frank Hernández Trujillo, a former member of the Special Cuban Units of the U.S. Army, who is responsible for laundering more than $6 million.
• The Center for a Free Cuba run by veteran CIA agent Frank Calzón, former mercenary with Alpha 66 and Abdala, who picked up more than $5 million.
• The Cuban Democratic Directorate of Orlando Gutierrez Boronat, former member of the Cuban Liberation Organization with $3 million.
The list then continues with friends that Franco, generously, lubricates with the money that he has to burn.
• The Creighton University Law School, from which he graduated several decades ago, received $750,000 for a fantasy study into the devolution of properties in Cuba.
• The Mississippi Consortium for International Development (MCID) where Franco’s buddy, playboy Ramón Colas, appeared – after having had his little problem with CANF – also received, rather opportunely, a similar donation to organize “courses” in Cuba. Professional dissident Oswaldo Paya ended up with a salary of $1,000 for his collaboration, alms that were given away at the end of a series of eight courses.
• At the end of the list appear certain “activists” as notorious as Juan Carlos Acosta, self-titled “President of Cuban Democratic Action” who served as a scapegoat over his purchase — which he confessed to The Miami Herald — of a box of English Godiva chocolates at $35 per pound and several other odd items.
But the $65.4 million of Cuban-American magician Adolfo Franco was not wasted on trash.
Between 1996 and 2005, according to a graph in the report, 12 alleged NGO’s “with a regional or worldwide focus” received some $20 million which went towards their respective propaganda markets.
It is not just for fun that Robert Ménard, the megalomaniac owner of Reporters Sans Frontières, has an office in New York, an accountancy firm in Virginia, just minutes away from the CIA bunker, and a bank account to which only he has access. The NGO People in Need, also famous for its anti-Cuba campaigns, has a similar stratagem at its disposal.
To round off this Abramoff-style con, USAID fires bills into the account of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and the International Republican Institute (IRI) which does indeed have paper shredders when it comes to facing the law concerning access to information.
Regarding the supreme refinement of Franco’s method, the GAO report is surprising when we observe that USAID has no formal ties, as was expected, with the U.S. Interests Section (USIS), the supposed diplomatic representation of the USA in Havana. In this way, Bush’s 50 agents in Cuba remain perfectly misinformed about the flow of money that travels from Washington to Miami, often back and forth.
ONE PHOTO IS WORTH A THOUSANDS WORDS
A photo published on the USAID website in March 2005 shows Franco presenting $1.045 million to his buddy Jaime Suchlicki from the University of Miami for a project on a “transition” in Cuba that nobody had heard of until then. At his side, with his Colgate smile, which conforms to his commercial image, Suchlicki and Luis Glaser, an official from the institution.
After reading the GAO report, Ana Menéndez, a columnist at The Miami Herald commented: “Anybody with a brain has long suspected these anti-Castro schemes are little more than slush funds to reward the loyal and pacify the rabid.”
That may well be. But “anyone with a brain” would also suspect that Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and her twin congress members, brothers Lincoln and Mario Diaz-Balart, new Senator Mel Martinez, Otto Reich and Roger Noriega, the former tenors of anti-Castroism in the State Department, as well as the personnel at the Cuban Liberty Council, who in a growing frenzy, are demanding funds from their allies in the White House, all of them wanting their little piece of the manna from Heaven that they themselves have generated.