Sen. John Kerry announced on Friday that he would seek to delay additional funding to the USAID democracy-promotion program in Cuba, because he believes that it has been doing more harm than good.
Kerry asks for a review of the program before funding is continued. Fair enough. But then the senator goes on to blame the pro-democracy program for the arrest of U.S. contractor Alan Gross in 2009: “There is no evidence . . . that the ‘democracy promotion’ programs, which have cost the U.S. taxpayer more than $150 million so far, are helping the Cuban people,” he said in a press statement. “Nor have they achieved much more than provoking the Cuban government to arrest a U.S. government contractor who was distributing satellite communication sets to Cuban contacts.”
Why would Kerry hold a democracy-promotion program responsible for Gross’s arrest instead of Cuba’s Communist government? First of all, Cuba hardly needs an excuse for that sort of crackdown. And second, Cuba’s action spotlights the need for such a program in the first place. You’d think the arrest would be an argument for more funding, not less.