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Spokesperson Nuland on Death of the Damas de Blanco Founder Laura Pollán

We are deeply saddened by the death of the founder of the Damas de Blanco, Laura Pollan. She was a courageous human rights defender who fought valiantly on behalf of political prisoners in Cuba. Cuba has lost one of its most important voices of conscience. We offer our sincere condolences to her family, which has lost a loyal wife and mother. Mrs. Pollan will be remembered with gratitude by scores of former political prisoners who are now free thanks to her and the Damas. Through them, and all who work for a democratic future in Cuba, her legacy will endure.

Through Mrs. Pollan’s and the Damas’ brave actions, the world bears witness to the plight of those who remain unjustly held in Cuba’s prisons and to Cuba’s dismal human rights record.

Since the beginning of the Obama Administration, the United States has engaged the Cuban people in support of their desire to freely determine their future and Cuba’s future.

Click here for the 2011 Department of State Human Rights Award presented to the Damas de Blanco.

 


Statement by Press Secretary Carney on the Death of Laura Pollán

The President’s thoughts and prayers are with the family, friends, and colleagues of Laura Pollán, the founder of Las Damas de Blanco, who passed away Friday in Havana. Pollán and the quiet dignity of the Ladies in White have courageously voiced the core desire of the Cuban people and of people everywhere to live in liberty. Through their brave actions, the Ladies in White draw attention to the plight of those who are unjustly held in Cuba’s prisons and pushed Cuban authorities to release those political prisoners wrongly jailed in the Spring of 2003.

Since the beginning of the Administration we have worked to reach out to the Cuban people in support of their desire to freely determine their future and Cuba’s future. We will continue that work in Pollán’s memory.

Click here for the 2011 Department of State Human Rights Award presented to the Damas de Blanco.

 
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Cuba: Alan Gross Appeal to Cuban Supreme Court

Question: Can you confirm that the Government of Cuba has scheduled an appeal on July 22 for Alan Gross? What is the US reaction?

Answer: Alan Gross was sentenced to 15 years in prison on March 5, 2011 for “crime against the independence and territorial integrity of the state.” On July 7, the official Government of Cuba website “Cubadebate” published a notice advising that the Cuban Supreme Court would hear oral arguments related to imprisoned American Alan Gross’ appeal. The Cuban Ministry of Foreign Affairs also officially informed the U.S. Interests Section on July 7, when representatives were called in and handed a diplomatic note advising of the hearing date of July 22, 2011. His attorneys have appealed his sentence and the July 22 Supreme Court hearing is the next step in the appeal process. Representatives from the U.S. Interests Section plan on attending.

The Department of State remains committed to seeking the immediate and unconditional release of Mr. Gross. We will continue to use all diplomatic channels to press for his release so that he can be reunited with his family. We refer all questions about Mr. Gross’ case to his attorneys.

 
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Request for Proposals: Civic Participation in Cuba

Public Notice

Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Request for Proposals: To expand Cuban civic participation and strengthen independent civil society groups with a view to supporting the ability of Cuban citizens to freely determine their own future.

SUMMARY

The Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (DRL) announces a Request for Proposals from organizations interested in submitting proposals for projects that respond to the needs and interests of Cubans on the island and empower citizens to engage more robustly in civic activities and decisions that improve their lives.

PLEASE NOTE: DRL strongly urges applicants to access immediately www.grants.gov in order to obtain a username and password. It may take two full weeks to register with www.grants.gov.

Please see the section entitled, “DEADLINE AND SUBMISSION INSTRUCTIONS” below for specific instructions.

REQUESTED PROPOSAL PROGRAM OBJECTIVES

DRL invites organizations to submit proposals outlining innovative implementation concepts (including but not limited to distribution of small cash grants to enable Cubans on the island to carry out activities that they design, and use of new technologies that facilitate networking, such as SMS text messaging) and capacity to manage projects, targeting one of the following issues. Proposals that include a majority of on-island activities are strongly preferred. Special thought and consideration should be given to the selection of consultants and other personal who may be required to travel to the island. To the extent possible, travel by American citizens should be limited. It is preferable for these personnel to speak Spanish fluently, possess solid understanding of the cultural context, and have prior experience on the island, in order to maximize their effectiveness in this unique operating environment.

Proposals that combine topics may be deemed technically ineligible. Applicant organizations proposing the disbursement of small cash grants should demonstrate their capacity to disburse cash grants and propose a comprehensive plan for administering multiple small cash grants and ensuring that funds are used strategically within the scope of the primary grant. In addition to quarterly reporting responsibilities, grantees will be required to provide DRL, on a quarterly basis, a record of all small cash grant disbursements, breakdown of disbursements, activity funded, and goals reached to date. To ensure transparency and oversight, DRL reserves the right to request any programmatic and/or financial information during the grant period.

Cuba:

Strengthen the inclusion of people with disabilities (subject to the availability of funding, approximately $200,000):
DRL seeks proposals to strengthen and complement Cuban-led initiatives to create the conditions that allow meaningful civic participation by persons with disabilities. DRL seeks to support

initiatives that enable Cuban civil society to encourage and support Cubans to respect, protect and fulfill the rights set out in within Cuban law and international conventions to which Cuba is a party, such as the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Envisioned projects should be designed with the end goal of enabling independent Cuban civil society groups to promote changes in attitudes and behaviors that stigmatize and marginalize persons with disabilities. Illustrative project activities may include, but are not limited to:

Strengthening the organizational and administrative capacity of grassroots disabled persons’ associations and other organizations that provide services to disabled persons, particularly those organizations centered outside of Havana; for example, providing management and organizational skills training; facilitating networking among disabled associations, student groups, and other organizations; and capacity building for public events, publications, etc. For example, this could include working with local associations to promote and execute their activities in remote areas and engage in sponsored events, such as Special Olympics.

Promoting advocacy activities, for example by providing training for grassroots disabled persons’ organizations on principles of independent living, data and information collection and analysis, outreach, communications strategies, and advocacy techniques to help ensure that disabled persons have equal access to housing, education, healthcare services, employment etc. and equal opportunity for civic participation.

Promoting awareness of the rights and obligations set forth by international conventions on the rights of persons with disabilities, including the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, as well as education and training on advocating in international fora for the enforcement of treaty obligations.

Evaluating and promoting the use of accessible technologies to conduct awareness-raising activities to affect negative societal attitudes against disabled persons and better inform members of the disabled community about their rights, especially outside of Havana; for example, working with local groups to organize events and awareness campaigns, etc.

Strengthen the inclusion of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community (subject to the availability of funding, approximately $300,000):

DRL seeks proposals to strengthen grassroots organizations to create the conditions that allow meaningful and unhindered participation by members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community in all aspects of Cuban society. Envisioned projects should have the ultimate goal of promoting change in attitudes and behaviors that stigmatize and marginalize LGBT persons. Illustrative project activities may include, but are not limited to:

Strengthening the organizational and administrative capacity of grassroots LGBT associations and other organizations that provide services to LGBT persons, particularly those organizations centered outside of Havana; for example, providing management and organizational skills training; facilitating networking among LGBT associations, student groups, and other organizations; and capacity building for public events, publications, etc.

Promoting advocacy activities, for example by providing training for grassroots LGBT groups on data and information collection and analysis, outreach, communications strategies, and advocacy techniques to promote the equal access of LGBT persons to housing, education, employment, healthcare services, police protection, etc. and equal opportunity for civic participation.

Awareness-raising activities to affect negative societal attitudes against LGBT persons and better inform members of the LGBT community about their rights, especially outside of Havana; for example, working with local groups to organize Pride parades and festivals, HIV/AIDS awareness campaigns, etc.

Strengthening the capacity of grassroots LGBT organizations to register in Cuba as recognized non-governmental organizations

Freedom of Expression

Professional support to journalists (subject to the availability of funding, approximately $600,000):
DRL seeks to expand its professional support to journalists by enabling the creation of better networked and more professional journalists that can carry out citizen-led initiatives to advance freedom of expression on the island. The end goal is to involve independent journalists’ in the media development process.

Illustrative project activities may include, but are not limited to:

Strengthening the organizational capacity of journalists and independent journalists’ unions to enable them to:

improve the quality of media coverage

raise awareness among journalists of their professional/ethical obligations

provide a platform for interaction among journalists

provide resources for journalists and other media professionals

Promote interaction between journalists and their audiences in order to increase on-island readership.

Greater freedom of expression on the island (subject to the availability of funding, approximately $600,000): DRL seeks proposals to support greater freedom of expression on the island, especially among performing artists, visual artists, musicians, poets, bloggers, and writers. Objectives are to increase opportunities for expressing opinions openly and sharing ideas, generate increased demand not only for information, per se, but to advocate for artistic freedom and for general freedom of expression.

Social Inclusion in Cuba (subject to the availability of funding, approximately $1,000,000): DRL seeks proposals to support effective approaches that empower Cuban citizens to advocate for public policy alternatives that improve standards of living to enable them to demand rights, including access to housing, food, education, and health care. In some instances, these rights may be contained within, but not implemented by the Cuban Constitution, existing Cuban legislation, and/or international conventions signed and/or ratified by Cuba. Local actors increasingly seek means of demanding governmental accountability for systemic rights violations, and have demonstrated a widespread interest in enhancing governmental accountability and transparency within Cuba. Successful applicants will employ mechanisms to promote home-grown solutions to achieving greater respect for rights.

Mechanisms should be aimed at empowering Cuban citizens by providing the appropriate resources and tools to allow them to identify rights that they consider important, and by enabling them to design peaceful, nonviolent strategies or more effectively promote existing strategies. Illustrative project activities may include, but are not limited to:

Community organizing, counseling, advocacy and self-advocacy to demand social and/or economic change

Facilitation of alliance-building to coordinate social and/or economic advocacy efforts on the island

Education and outreach regarding issues related to how housing, food, water, and education, health care are currently provided in Cuba, and discussion of alternative approaches to improving non-discriminatory access.

Education and outreach regarding the right to work, the right to the free choice of employment, the right to just and favorable conditions of work, and the right to own property

Documentation of citizens’ access to guaranteed rights such as housing, food, water, education, and health care, and of violations of those rights. Facilitation of legal advocacy initiatives that promote Cubans’ understanding of their legal rights and increase knowledge of mechanisms for demanding governmental accountability.

Promoting the peaceful resolution of conflict (subject to the availability of funding, approximately $300,000): DRL seeks proposals that promote conflict resolution techniques and foster collaboration among Cuban civil society actors. The end goal is to use conflict resolution as a tool to improve respect for human rights by helping people work together to manage their differences and promoting a consultative process to prevent conflict.

Envisioned projects should include activities that promote techniques (i.e., cooperative approaches, negotiation techniques, principle of impartiality, interest-based cooperative strategies, dialogue, and role-play/scenario exercises) for resolving a wide range of conflict situations, including seeking remedies and redress for abuses and arbitrary enforcement of the law, community disputes, workplace grievances, and vulnerable populations’ participation in society. Illustrative project activities may include, but are not limited to:

Promoting peaceful conflict resolution to prevent or mitigate conflict

Use of conflict resolution to promote greater respect for human rights,

Promoting cooperative approaches that bring opposing parties to the negotiating table and solve problems of mutual concern

Incorporating conflict resolution techniques to the work that nascent civil society groups, such as legal associations, bloggers and larger media community, and religious groups carry out in order to facilitate networks among like-minded groups that would otherwise be competing for limited civic space.

Strengthening Cuban independent legal associations (subject to the availability of funding, approximately $700,000):
DRL seeks proposals that strengthen independent lawyers and legal associations by providing resources, training, information dissemination, and capacity building, among other measures. The end goal will be to further empower independent Cuban lawyers to assist citizens in explaining and defending their rights and freedoms. In addition, given the recent economic reforms in Cuba, the envisioned program will also help independent Cuban lawyers to play a critical role on economic issues related to markets. Illustrative project activities may include, but are not limited to:

Provision of continuing legal education for independent lawyers and other trainings law students. Trainings may focus on topics not traditionally taught in Cuba, such as public international law, office administration and management, small business growth, budgeting and planning, etc.

Provision of management, administrative, human resources and other capacity-building trainings to encourage the effective growth of independent associations.

Creation of synergies with ongoing DRL-funded alternative dispute resolution activities.

Potential synergies could be found through training in mediation and conflict resolution skills for attorneys and civil society actors.

Human Rights Documentation (subject to the availability of funding approximately $427,024):
This project will provide professional support to human rights monitors and investigators throughout Cuba. Currently, most human rights monitors and investigators lack training in basic skills such as data collection, information security, reporting for appropriate audiences, and effective collaboration. Program activities may include:

Promoting the establishment of human rights monitors/investigators’ networks in order to

1) facilitate human rights documentation and analysis effort on the island;
2) identify the most effective approaches to documenting cases; and
3) increase the efficiency and effectiveness of human rights monitoring efforts.

Strengthening the capacity of Cuban human rights monitors/investigators to act upon rights violations and advocate for human rights based upon international human rights standards. Professional development training for human rights monitors/investigators. Training sessions should cover methodologies for monitoring, reporting, coalition building and advocacy. Specifically, training should cover

1) protection and security of information gathered by fact finding missions (security refers to both that of the investigator/monitor and of the persons who come in contact with him/her);
2) documentation techniques, including unique and creative ways to collect and preserve testimony from those inside the island, such as the use of SMS messaging to transmit information, and the provision of sound and precise information through thorough and well-documented reports;
3) how to conduct fact finding missions, collecting sensitive data without compromising the safety of witnesses, and collection of sound, objective, and precise information to document human rights situations.

Supporting human rights monitors/investigators in clarifying both their mission and international human rights standards.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Subject to Congressional approval, the Bureau anticipates awarding grants before September 30, 2011. The bulk of funding activities should take place during a two to three-year time frame. Programs that leverage resources from funds internal to the organization or other sources, such as public-private partnerships, will be highly considered. Programs that have a strong academic or research focus will not be highly considered. Cost sharing is strongly encouraged, and cost sharing contributions should be outlined in the proposal, budget, and budget narrative.

Approximately $4,127,024 in FY 2010 ESF Funds subject to the availability and Congressional approval of funding would be awarded for programs in the themes outlined above. To support program and administrative costs required for implementation, the Bureau anticipates making awards to the maximum available figure listed by theme for Cuba programs. DRL will not consider proposals that reflect any type of support, for any member, affiliate, or representative of a designated terrorist organization, whether or not elected members of government. The information in this solicitation is binding and may not be modified by any Bureau representative. Explanatory information provided by the Bureau that contradicts this language will not be binding. Issuance of the solicitation does not constitute an award commitment on the part of the Government. The Bureau reserves the right to reduce, revise, or increase proposal budgets in accordance with the needs of the program evaluation requirements. To ensure transparency and oversight, DRL reserves the right to request programmatic and/or financial information during the grant period. This request for proposals will appear on www.grants.gov and DRL’s website, www.state.gov/g/drl.

APPLICANT/ORGANIZATION CRITERIA

Organizations submitting proposals must meet the following criteria:

Be a U.S. non-profit organization meeting the provisions described in Internal Revenue Code section 26 USC 501(c) (3) or a comparable organization headquartered internationally, or an international organization.

Have demonstrated experience administering successful and preferably similar projects. DRL reserves the right to request additional background information on organizations that do not have previous experience administering federal grant awards. These applicants may be subject to limited funding on a pilot basis.

Be a registered user of grants.gov.

Have existing, or the capacity to develop, active partnerships with in-country entities and relevant stakeholders including industry and non-governmental organizations.

Organizations may form consortia and submit a combined proposal. However, one organization should be designated as the lead applicant.

An OMB policy directive published in the Federal Register on Friday, June 27, 2003, requires that all organizations applying for Federal grants or cooperative agreements must provide a Dun and Bradstreet (D&B) Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) number when applying for all Federal grants or cooperative agreements in or after October 1, 2003. Please reference: http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/fedreg/062703_grant_identifier.pdf for the complete OMB policy directive.

TECHNICAL REQUIREMENTS Proposals should conform to DRL’s posted Proposal Submission Instructions (PSI), available at http://www.state.gov/g/drl/p/october_2010/index.htm#. (For this solicitation, applicants must use the Revised PSI dated October 2010.) An organization may submit no more than two (2) proposals. Proposals that do not meet the requirements of the announcement and PSI may not be considered. Proposals will need to include a justification for the selection of targeted groups and geographic regions within the targeted county. Proposals that request more than the award ceiling will be deemed technically ineligible.

For all application documents, please ensure:
1) All pages are numbered, including budgets and attachments,
2) All documents are formatted to 8 ½ x 11 paper, and
3) All Microsoft Word documents are single-spaced, 12 point Times New Roman font, with a minimum of 1-inch margins.

Complete applications should include the following for proposal submission:

1) Completed and signed SF-424, SF-424a (Budget Summary) and SF424b (Assurances), most recent A-133 Audit, and Certifications Regarding Lobbying forms as directed on www.grants.gov.

2) Table of Contents (not to exceed one [1] page in Microsoft Word) that includes a page numbered contents page, including any attachments.

3) Executive Summary (not to exceed one [1] page in Microsoft Word) that includes:

a) Name and contact information for the project’s main point of contact,
b) A one-paragraph “statement of work” or synopsis of the program and its expected results,
c) A concise breakdown of the project’s objectives and activities,
d) The total amount of funding requested and program length, and
e) A brief statement on how the project is innovative, sustainable, and will have a demonstrated impact.

4) Proposal Narrative (not to exceed ten [10] pages in Microsoft Word). Please note the ten page limit does not include the Table of Contents, Executive Summary, Attachments, Detailed Budget, Budget Narrative or NICRA. Applicants may submit multiple documents in one Microsoft Word file, i.e., Table of Contents, Executive Summary, Proposal Narrative, and Budget Narrative in one file or as separate, individually submitted files. Submissions should address four specific criteria (Quality of Program, Program Planning/Ability to Achieve Objectives, Multiplier Effect/Sustainability, and Institution’s Record and Capacity). Details about these criteria are described in the Review Process section below.

5) Budget Narrative (preferably in Microsoft Word) that includes an explanation/justification for each line item in the detailed budget spreadsheet, as well as the source and description of all cost-share offered. For ease of review, it is recommended that applicants order the budget narrative as presented in the detailed budget. Primarily Headquarters- and Field-based personnel costs should include a clarification on the roles and responsibilities of key staff and percentage of time devoted to the project. In addition, cost-effectiveness is one of the key criteria for rating the competitiveness of a program proposal. Applicants that include cost share in their budget should note that cost share is considered a commitment and that the grantee will be held responsible for meeting the amount of cost share included. It is recommended that budget narratives address the overall cost-effectiveness of the proposal, including any cost-share offered (see the PSI for more information on cost-sharing and cost effectiveness).

6) Detailed Line-item Budget (in Microsoft Excel or similar spreadsheet format) that contains three [3] columns including DRL request, any cost sharing contribution, and total budget. A summary budget should also be included using the OMB approved budget categories (see SF-424 as a sample). See the PSI for more information on budget format. Costs must be in U.S. Dollars.

7) Attachments (not to exceed seven [7] pages total, preferably in Microsoft Word) that include the following in order:

a) Pages 1-2: Monitoring and Evaluation Plan (see PSI for more information on this section).
b) Page 3: Roles and responsibilities of key program personnel with short bios that highlight relevant professional experience. Given the limited space, CVs are not recommended for submission.
c) Page 4: Timeline of the overall proposal. Components should include activities, evaluation efforts, and program closeout.
d) Page 5-7: Additional optional attachments. Attachments may include additional timeline information, letters of support, memorandums of understanding/agreement, etc. For applicants with a large number of letters/MOUs, it may be useful to provide a list of the organizations/government agencies that support the program rather than the actual documentation.

8 ) If your organization has a negotiated indirect cost rate agreement (NICRA) and includes NICRA charges in the budget, your latest NICRA should be sent as a pdf file. This document will not be reviewed by the panelists, but rather used by program and grant staff if the submission is recommended for funding. Hence, this document does not count against the submission page limitations. If your organization does not have a NICRA agreement with a cognizant agency, the proposal budget should not have a line item for indirect cost charges. Rather, any costs that may be considered as indirect costs should be included in specific budget line items as direct costs. Furthermore, if your proposal involves sub-grants to organizations charging indirect costs, and those organizations also have a NICRA, please submit the applicable NICRA as a pdf file (see the PSI for more information on indirect cost rate).

Note: To ensure all applications receive a balanced evaluation, the DRL Review Committee will review the first page of the requested section up to the page limit and no further. DRL encourages organizations to use the given space effectively.

REVIEW PROCESS

The Bureau will review all proposals for eligibility. Eligible proposals will be subject to compliance of Federal and Bureau regulations and guidelines and may also be reviewed by the Office of the Legal Adviser or by other Department elements. Final signatory authority for assistance awards resides with the Department’s Grants Officer. DRL and the Grants Office reserve the right to request any additional programmatic and/or financial information regarding the proposal.

Proposals will be funded based on an evaluation of how the proposal meets the solicitation review criteria, U.S. foreign policy objectives, and the priority needs of DRL. A Department of State Review Committee will evaluate proposals submitted under this request. Each proposal will be rated along six criteria. Review criteria will include:

1) Quality of Program Idea Proposals should be responsive to the solicitation and should exhibit originality, substance, precision, and relevance to the Bureau’s mission of promoting human rights and democracy.

2) Program Planning/Ability to Achieve Objectives A strong proposal will include a clear articulation of how the proposed program activities contribute to the overall program objectives and each activity will be clearly developed and detailed. A relevant work plan should demonstrate substantive undertakings and the logistical capacity of the organization. The work plan should adhere to the program overview and guidelines described above. Objectives should be ambitious, yet measurable and achievable. For complete proposals, applicants should provide a monthly timeline of project activities. Proposals should address how the program will engage relevant stakeholders and should identify local partners as appropriate. If local partners have been identified, the Bureau strongly encourages applicants to submit letters of support from proposed in-country partners. Organizations also should identify and address gender considerations in all proposed program activities, and must provide specific means, measures, and corresponding targets to address them. Organizations should also identify and address disability considerations in all proposed program activities, and must provide specific means, measures and corresponding targets to address them. Additionally, applicants should describe the division of labor among the direct applicant and any local partners. If applicable, proposals should identify target areas for activities, target participant groups or selection criteria for participants, and purpose/criteria for sub-grantees, among other pertinent details. In particularly challenging operating environments, proposals should include contingency plans for overcoming potential difficulties in executing the original work plan.

3) Multiplier Effect/Sustainability Proposals should clearly delineate how elements of their program will have a multiplier effect and be sustainable beyond the life of the grant. A good multiplier effect may include but is not limited to, plans to build lasting networks for direct and indirect beneficiaries, follow-on training and mentoring, and continued use of project deliverables. A strong sustainability plan may include demonstrating capacity-building results or garnering other donor support after DRL funding ceases.

4) Program Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) Plan Programs should demonstrate the capacity for engaging in outcome-based evaluations and identify outputs and outcomes to measure how program activities will achieve the program’s strategic objectives. The M&E Plan should include output- and outcome-based indicators, baseline and target for each indicator, disaggregation if applicable, monitoring and evaluation tools, data source/s, and frequency of monitoring and evaluation. For a more detailed explanation of what DRL is looking for in the M&E Plan, please see the PSI and the DRL Monitoring and Evaluation Primer (www.state.gov/g/drl/p/c12302.htm). Projects that propose an independent evaluation, including a midterm and final assessment, with a clear monitoring and evaluation plan will be viewed favorably in this category.

5) Institution’s Record and Capacity The Bureau will consider the past performance of prior recipients and the demonstrated potential of new applicants. Proposals should demonstrate an institutional record of successful programs, including responsible fiscal management and full compliance with all reporting requirements for past grants, especially in similar operating environments. Proposed personnel and institutional resources should be adequate and appropriate to achieve the project’s objectives. Roles, responsibilities, and brief bios demonstrating relevant professional experience of primary staff should be provided as one of the main attachments.

6) Cost Effectiveness The administrative, including salaries and honoraria, and overhead components should be kept as low as possible. All other items should be necessary and appropriate. Given that the majority of DRL-funded programs take place overseas, U.S.-based costs should be kept to a minimum. Cost sharing is strongly encouraged and is viewed favorably by DRL reviewers. For a more detailed description of how DRL evaluates the cost effectiveness of its proposals, please see the PSI.

DEADLINE AND SUBMISSION INSTRUCTIONS Applicants must submit proposals using www.grants.gov by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Standard Time (EST) on July 18, 2011. DRL will still require applications to be submitted via www.grants.gov but will work with applicants who have trouble in the actual submission process.

Several of the steps in the www.grants.gov registration process can take several weeks. Therefore, applicants should check with appropriate staff within their organizations immediately after reviewing this solicitation to confirm or determine their registration status with Grants.gov.

Please note: In order to safeguard the security of applicants’ electronic information, www.grants.gov utilizes a credential provider to confirm, with certainty, the applicant organization’s credentials. The credential provider for www.grants.gov is Operational Research Consultants (ORC). Applicants MUST register with ORC to receive a username and password which you will need to register with www.grants.gov as an authorized organization representative (AOR). Once your organization’s E-Business point of contact has assigned these rights, you will be authorized to submit grant applications through www.grants.gov on behalf of your organization.

Each organization will need to be registered with the Central Contractor Registry (CCR), and you will need to have your organization’s DUNS number available to complete this process. For more information regarding the DUNS number, please visit www.dnb.com or call 1-866-705- 5711. After your organization registers with the CCR, you must wait approximately three to five business days before you can obtain a username and password. This may delay your ability to post your proposal. Therefore, DRL strongly urges applicants to begin this process on www.grants.gov well in advance of the submission deadline.

No exceptions will be made for organizations that have not completed the necessary steps to post applications on www.grants.gov.

Once registered, the amount of time it can take to upload an application will vary depending on a variety of factors including the size of the application and the speed of your internet connection. In addition, validation of an electronic submission via www.grants.gov can take up to two business days. Therefore, we strongly recommend that you not wait until the application deadline to begin the submission process through www.grants.gov.

The www.grants.gov website includes extensive information on all phases/aspects of the www.grants.gov process, including an extensive section on frequently asked questions, located under the “For Applicants” section of the website. DRL strongly recommends that all potential applicants review thoroughly www.grants.gov, well in advance of submitting a proposal through the www.grants.gov system.

Direct all questions regarding www.grants.gov registration and submission to: www.grants.gov
Customer Support
Contact Center Phone: 800-518-4726
Business Hours: Monday – Friday, 7AM – 9PM Eastern Standard Time
Email: support@grants.gov

Applicants have until midnight (12:00 a.m.), Washington, D.C. time of the closing date to ensure that their entire application has been uploaded to www.grants.gov. There are no exceptions to the above deadline. Applications uploaded to the site after midnight of the application deadline date will be automatically rejected by the www.grants.gov system and will be technically ineligible.

Please refer to www.grants.gov for definitions of various “application statuses” and the difference between a submission receipt and a submission validation. Applicants will receive a validation e-mail from www.grants.gov upon the successful submission of an application. Again, validation of an electronic submission via www.grants.gov can take up to two business days. DRL will not notify you upon receipt of electronic applications.

Faxed, couriered, or emailed documents will not be accepted at any time. Applicants must follow all formatting instructions in this document and the PSI.

It is the responsibility of all applicants to ensure that proposals have been received by www.grants.gov in their entirety. DRL bears no responsibility for data errors resulting from transmission or conversion processes.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION Please contact Matt Solis at 202.261.8107 or SolisM2@state.gov and/or Cory Andrews at 202-647-1238 or AndrewsC2@state.gov with any questions.

Once the RFP deadline has passed, U.S. Government officials – including those in the Bureau, the Department, and at embassies/missions overseas – must not discuss this competition with applicants until the entire proposal review process is completed.

 


Secretary Clinton’s Remarks at the 41st Washington Conference on the Americas

Well, thank you very much and welcome to the State Department for this very important meeting of the Council of the Americas. I want to thank you, John, for the introduction. And I just had a chance to say hello to President Funes and his delegation, and I’m so pleased that he is here. And I understand that President Calderon will be speaking later, so you have some real all stars for the program of leaders who are making a real difference in the region. Susan, thank you for leading the Council of the Americas at such a vital moment in the history of this region.

And I want to take a moment of personal privilege to thank one of our own: Assistant Secretary Arturo Valenzuela, who will soon conclude two years of service as Assistant Secretary for the Western Hemisphere. The United States has had no greater champion for strengthening our bonds with our neighbors. And speaking for myself and all of our colleagues, I will say prematurely but very heartfelt that we’re going to miss you when you return to Georgetown this fall. Thank you, Arturo. (Applause.)

Now, some may wonder why our excellent Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar is here, other than his deep interest in the region and his deep roots and family ties. Following this address, Ken and I will be flying to Greenland for the Arctic Council meeting, and it’s a significant attempt to make sure that we manage the Arctic at such a critical juncture in global history, so I’m delighted that Secretary Salazar could be with us.

It’s a pleasure as I look around this room to see so many familiar faces, Americans, of course, but so many others: business leaders and policy makers, academics and thinkers and leaders of all kinds. And I want to thank you because those of you here today and the many you represent throughout the hemisphere have made such significant progress on behalf of the people of our two continents. The Western Hemisphere has seen such tremendous progress, and it is due to thoughtful, effective leadership.

Changes like what we have seen in terms of economic opportunity and democratic reform do not happen by accident, they’re not a part of natural evolution. They happen when people decide that they want those opportunities and changes for themselves, and leaders are prepared to lead.

Now, I do see a few faces that were in the audience at CSIS in March when I spoke, and that was one of those occasions where I flew in the night before from a trip to Egypt and Tunisia, and then I had to fly out to Paris later that night. But it was important for us to really anchor President Obama’s historic trip in the context of what the United States is hoping to achieve in partnership with our friends. I wouldn’t have missed it.

This region is vital to our interests, and yet at the same time, despite whatever is going on elsewhere in the world, there is nothing more important than continuing our work to consolidate democracy, embrace smart economic policy, continue lifting tens of millions of people out of poverty, taking on a more active role in the world, and generally making it clear that we are in this together, that we will rise or fall together in the 21st century because we have so many interests that are at stake.

For our own economic interests, we are rebuilding our own economy and renewing our competitiveness, and we have no more important partners than those in this hemisphere.

For our security and strategic interests, we have to design an architecture of cooperation, and we are looking more and more to increasingly capable partners in the hemisphere. For our core values, as we promote democracy and human rights here and around the world, we can point time and time again to what is happening in our partners and friends in this hemisphere.

And for our society and culture, the growing connections between us make our relationship even more vital and innovative.

In short, as I said in March, there is power in our proximity—now, our geographic proximity to be sure, but also the proximity of our economic interests, our values, our culture, and the challenges we share.

So we’ve had a flurry of activity lately, highlighted by President Obama’s trip in March. In Brazil, he completed agreements for high-level dialogues on economics and energy, which we believe will promote cooperation, streamline regulations, and help us take concrete steps that provide tangible benefits to all of our people. In Chile, he laid out a framework of equal partnership, and in a speech to the entire hemisphere showed how much that partnership can deliver through our engagement with a strong democracy that is playing an increasingly active role beyond the region. And in El Salvador, he announced the Partnership for Growth, which is aimed at addressing the chronic constraints to development.

And he also announced a landmark citizen security effort to strengthen our work with partners throughout the region, to promote the rule of law, to fight the gangs and narco-traffickers that unfortunately produce the highest crime rate in the world throughout our area. As all of you know, rates of violence and crime are unacceptably high in too many places in our hemisphere. But when I look at the experience of Colombia in recent years, I see that we can overcome this threat, but we have to do it together.

So through this new partnership, we will focus $200 million on building up courts, civil society groups, and other institutions. But ultimately, as President Funes has advocated so eloquently, we want to help take on the economic and social forces that drive young people into a life of crime. And this partnership will create a chance for all of us to learn from each other about what works. Let’s quit doing what doesn’t work and let’s start doing more of what does work. And by connecting countries that are looking to step up their own efforts with partners who have valuable expertise on these issues—like Colombia and Mexico working together—and with donors like the U.S., Canada, Spain, and the EU, we can help every nation do more to protect its own people.

Now, the President took that trip about six weeks ago, but in diplomatic time it seems like eons ago because so much has happened since. But I’m pleased to report that we have kept our eye on this particular goal and we are making real progress on our priorities.

First, on trade and economic growth. One of our top goals is to complete free trade agreements with Colombia and Panama. Now, I’m not talking out of school when I say that free trade agreements always raise hard questions and they spark a lot of healthy debate in our country. But today, I am happy to report we are making great progress on both agreements. We have worked with our Panamanian and Colombian partners to address key concerns and forge broader bipartisan support in the Congress, just as we did with the South Korean Free Trade Agreement. Panama passed important new laws on labor rights and tax transparency. With Colombia, we have established an action plan to address concerns about labor rights, violence, and impunity. And Colombia has already taken important steps to implement this plan, and we are working hard to execute the next phase by June 15. Thanks to President Santos’s extraordinary leadership, I have no doubt we will meet that deadline.

So this year – early this year – we intend to send Congress the legislation that would implement all three pending FTAs. (Applause.) In addition, we will be sending our broader trade agenda, including renewal of the Andean Trade Preferences and the Trade Adjustment Assistance. And with these steps, we believe we will be well on our way to reaching our goal.

Now, I think this is good news for the people of all our countries. In the United States alone, these three agreements – Colombia, Panama, the Andean Trade Preference renewal – could add more than $10 billion to our economic output, and that would translate into some 70,000 new jobs for American workers. And by adding Colombia and Panama to our existing FTAs, we will create an unbroken chain of economic integration from the start of the Rockies in Canada all the way to the end of the Andes.

As we move forward on these free trade agreements, we’re also making other progress in other aspects of our economic relationships. With Mexico, thankfully, we have adopted a coordinated action plan with concrete steps that we believe will make the border both more secure and more efficient, and we are successfully resolving our differences over the cargo trucks that cross our border. Under the trucking plan that we’re now finalizing, we will make it safer, cheaper, and easier to move goods across our common border, and Mexico will remove the retaliatory tariffs they placed on more than $2 billion of our goods.

And in the weeks since President Obama’s visit to Brazil, the array of agreements he announced—on infrastructure for the World Cup and the Olympics, on aviation and maritime transport, on biofuels, R&D, and so much more—is spurring a serious acceleration in our economic relationship.

Second, beyond expanding trade and economic opportunity, we are building flexible multilateral partnerships to help us address the strategic challenges we face. Pathways to Prosperity and the Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas are promoting inclusive growth and sustainable energy security. Mexico’s leadership in Cancun late last year was absolutely crucial in putting the world on a path toward greater cooperation to confront climate change, and it was a Mexican proposal for the Green Fund that will serve as the vehicle for assisting developing countries in meeting their climate needs.

In addition, every nation in the hemisphere has sent food, people, or money to help Haiti recover from last year’s earthquake. Members of the OAS and the Caribbean community helped to set up electoral polls, monitor the presidential election, and supported the national electoral authority. And this Saturday, when the Haitian people inaugurate a new president, they will know they had the support of their neighbors in ensuring that their votes were counted and their voices were heard.

Third, we continue to work to advance our shared democratic values. Now, Latin America has undergone a stunning transformation over the past few decades, but we cannot afford complacency. We have to keep working on institutionalizing democracy and preserving and protecting fundamental freedoms.

Now, in Honduras we have seen how effective that kind of common approach can be. And now that the obstacles to former President Zelaya’s return to Honduras have been removed, I am confident that we will soon welcome Honduras back as a full member of the inter-American system. That is a step that is long overdue.

Finally, all of these opportunities are going to require leadership. We still face a huge inequality gap in Latin America. In fact, from the United States south we do, because if you look at developed, advanced economies, unfortunately, our country has one of the largest gaps in inequality as well. So we’ve got to continue to focus on how we help equip people with the skills and tools they need to make the most out of their God-given potential.

Now, the United States, I believe, is blessed to have one of the largest Spanish-speaking populations in the world. And Latinos are the fastest-growing group in our country. We are interdependent, and we have to deal with the real questions that interdependence poses. Take immigration, for example. I know that makes some people anxious, but it has long been a source of our vitality and our innovative spirit. And that’s why, as President Obama said yesterday in El Paso, we are committed to comprehensive immigration reform.

We’re also committed to greatly expanding the connections between people in our country and people throughout the hemisphere. That’s the idea behind our new initiative called 100,000 Strong in the Americas that will greatly increase the number of Latin American students who study in the United States and American students who study in Latin America. And I would welcome your support for this project. We launched the 100,000 Strong program in China and we have already raised more than enough money to assist in making sure we have the opportunity to meet our goal of 100,000 Americans studying in China, more Chinese students studying in America, overcoming some of the visa obstacles that, unfortunately, were quite difficult to navigate since 9/11. And I would hope we can do the same, Arturo, that we’ll have 100,000 Strong in the Americas with many of you on our steering committee, focused on how we’re going to do this, because we want to make it absolutely clear that this is our home, and we want to be sure that our young people are making those connections and those lifelong friends and networks of relationship.

Now, we’re putting a particular focus on people-to-people connections in Cuba. From the very beginning, the Obama Administration believed that the best way to advance fundamental rights in Cuba – in fact, to advance them anywhere – is to support exchanges and constructive relationships. And there’s no better ambassador for our values than a teacher or an artist or a student or a religious leader, a Cuban American who has made a new life in the United States. That’s why we have eased our restrictions on travel and remittances to Cuba. We could do more if we saw evidence that there was an opportunity to do so coming from the Cuban side because we want to foster these deeper connections and we want to work for the time when Cuba will enjoy its own transition to democracy, when it can look at its neighbors throughout the hemisphere and the people in Cuba will feel that they, too, are having a chance to choose their leaders, choose their professions, create their businesses, and generally take advantage of what has been a tremendous, great sweep of progress everywhere but Cuba.

So we’ve accomplished a great deal on all of our priorities, but there is one final point I wish to make at perhaps the risk of being less than welcome. Let’s admit we face real shortcomings in the region. Now, many people say that this is the Latin American decade, and I agree. There’s a lot to be proud of and a lot to look forward to.

But let’s be honest; there are still weak education systems, there are still weak democratic institutions, there are still inadequate fiscal policies, there are still too few people of means paying their fair share of taxes to their government in order to support services for those who will otherwise be mired in generational poverty, and there is too much violence. If we don’t face up to these challenges, we could waste this historic opportunity. But I have a lot of confidence that we will, because if one looks at what has worked in those countries that are leading the change, it’s because they’ve made these tough decisions.

I’ve been in several of the countries in the region. As John said, I had lost count – 17 and 18 months – but in many of them, I drew the comparison between what was happening inside their own countries and what was happening in the rest of the region or in a nearby country, where governments and leaders made the tough decisions to invest in their own people and not merely to take advantage of the economic opportunities that can flow to those of us already at the top. I’m confident that we’re going to face up to the problems that remain and make the most of people’s energy and talents, and we are excited about the work of this council. I look forward to hearing the results of your discussions, and I hope that we will continue to work toward what certainly can be a Latin American century of hope, potential, promise for all. Thank you. (Applause.)

 


The 2011 Human Rights Awards

Human Rights Awards Ceremony Award Winners

From left: Christian Marchant of U.S. Embassy Hanoi, Ambassador Steve Beecroft of U.S. Embassy Amman, Under Secretary William Burns, Assistant Secretary Michael H. Posner, Julia Nunez on behalf of Damas de Blanco, and Holly Lindquist Thomas of U.S. Embassy Tashkent.

Click here to view the State.gov video of Under Secretary Burns’ remarks.

Thank you for joining us today to celebrate the accomplishments of four human rights champions. This Administration, and particularly Secretary Clinton, have made advancing human rights one of our top national security priorities. The events unfolding across the Middle East and North Africa remind us of the universal aspirations of women and men across the globe to live in dignity, to find freedom and opportunity, and to shape their own destinies. They remind us that stability is not a static phenomenon, that political systems and leaderships that fail to respond to the legitimate aspirations of their people become more brittle, not more stable. And they remind us of the enduring significance of fundamental human rights for American interests around the world, and for what we stand for as a people and as a country.

The leaders we honor today have shown by example how to uphold the basic freedoms that are under threat in so many parts the world.

First, the “Damas de Blanco” or the “Ladies in White” of Cuba. Damas de Blanco distinguishes itself not only by the depth of its commitment to the release of political prisoners, but by the full measure of its bravery in defense of human rights in Cuba. The Damas helped create the conditions that led to the release of the political prisoners arrested during the “Black Spring” crackdown of 2003. With much of the battle for human rights in Cuba forced underground, the Damas de Blanco kept marching. And they keep on providing a poignant weekly reminder of the day-to-day repression that Cubans face. We stand alongside the Damas de Blanco in calling for the release of all remaining political prisoners; we are pleased to have Julia Nunez with us today to accept the Human Rights Defenders Award on behalf of Damas de Blanco.

In her remarks two weeks ago on the release of the 2010 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, Secretary Clinton noted, “Here at the State Department, human rights is a priority 365 days a year.” State Department Civil Service and Foreign Service Officers as well as Foreign Service Nationals tirelessly work to support the freedoms we all cherish.

Today, I am honored to highlight the work of colleagues who have made a real difference around the globe in promoting human rights issues. Ambassador Steve Beecroft’s advocacy for human rights in Jordan, including for women and children, persons with disabilities, and ethnic and religious minorities, is a superb example of the determination and commitment of our colleagues in diplomatic missions around the world.

As his nomination by the Bureau of Near East Affairs makes clear: “Ambassador Beecroft’s clear vision, brilliant strategy, and tireless advocacy have resulted in the country re-engaging across the board on a broad range of human rights issues, with progress on both individual cases and systemic reform. He saw opportunities for progress even when the environment seemed barren, and nurtured them patiently to fruition using personal diplomacy, public engagement, and targeted assistance programs for government and civil society. ”

It is not only our Ambassadors who promote human rights. We honor today two officers serving in two different parts of the world who have demonstrated integrity and innovation in their work to protect and defend universal freedoms of expression, assembly, association, and freedom of religion. They are Holly Lindquist Thomas of the U.S. Embassy in Uzbekistan and Christian Marchant of U.S. Embassy Hanoi.

Holly has made a critical difference in the lives of individuals and their families in Uzbekistan. She made key contributions in persistent approaches to the Government of Uzbekistan that led to the release of businessman and opposition leader Sanjar Umarov. Holly’s surveys around the country, on the issue of child labor during the cotton harvest, provided first-hand information on the underlying causes of this phenomenon and the true conditions of children.

In Vietnam, Christian has been a persuasive advocate for Vietnam’s beleaguered dissident community, serving as a conduit for imprisoned dissidents, their families and the outside world, and working to ensure that the bilateral Human Rights dialogue produces concrete results. In one case, literally on the courthouse steps, Christian’s intercession prevented a political activist from being beaten.

We congratulate all four of you. You richly deserve these awards. In recognizing your service, we also honor the human rights defenders and civil society activists who are doing hard work every day in every part of the world to turn the ideals of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights into reality. Thank you.

 


William Burns: Presents Human Rights Awards

Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs William Burns will present the Diplomacy for Human Rights Award, the Human Rights and Democracy Achievement Award, and the Human Rights Defenders Award in the Department of State’s Treaty Room, Thursday, April 21 at 11:30 a.m.

The Human Rights Defenders Award recognizes individuals or non-governmental organizations who show exceptional valor and leadership in advocating the protection of human rights and democracy in the face of government repression. The Department will honor the Cuban NGO Damas de Blanco – “Ladies in White”. Damas de Blanco’s visible, consistently observed vigils focused international attention not only on political prisoners, but the overall human rights situation in Cuba.

Ambassador Stephen Beecroft of U.S. Embassy Amman will receive the Diplomacy for Human Rights Award for his extraordinary commitment to defending human rights and advancing democratic principles in Jordan. His advocacy has created new opportunities to engage the government on a broad range of human rights issues, with progress on both individual cases and systematic reform.

The Human Rights and Democracy Achievement Award will be presented to Christian Marchant of U.S. Embassy Hanoi for outstanding work to prevent torture and defend the rights of Vietnam’s dissidents, and Holly Lindquist Thomas of U.S. Embassy Tashkent for superb reporting underscoring issues of child labor during the cotton harvest and key contributions to diplomatic engagement in support of civil society and human rights activists in Uzbekistan.

This event will be open to credentialed members of the media.

 


President Obama: Memorandum Promoting Democracy and Human Rights in Cuba

The promotion of democracy and human rights in Cuba is in the national interest of the United States and is a key component of this Nation’s foreign policy in the Americas. Measures that decrease dependency of the Cuban people on the Castro regime and that promote contacts between Cuban-Americans and their relatives in Cuba are means to encourage positive change in Cuba. The United States can pursue these goals by facilitating greater contact between separated family members in the United States and Cuba and increasing the flow of remittances and information to the Cuban people.

To pursue those ends, I direct the Secretary of the Treasury and the Secretary of Commerce, in consultation with the Secretary of State, to take such actions as necessary to:

(a) Lift restrictions on travel-related transactions for visits to a person’s family member who is a national of Cuba by authorizing such transactions by a general license that shall:

Define family members who may be visited to be persons within three degrees of family relationship (e.g., second cousins) and to allow individuals who share a common dwelling as a family with an authorized traveler to accompany them;

Remove limitations on the frequency of visits;

Remove limitations on the duration of a visit;

Authorize expenditure amounts that are the same as non-family travel; and

Remove the 44-pound limitation on accompanied baggage.

(b) Remove restrictions on remittances to a person’s family member in Cuba by:

Authorizing remittances to individuals within three degrees of family relationship (e.g., second cousins) provided that no remittances shall be authorized to currently prohibited members of the Government of Cuba or currently prohibited members of the Cuban Communist Party;

Removing limits on frequency of remittances;

Removing limits on the amount of remittances;

Authorizing travelers to carry up to $3,000 in remittances; and

Establishing general license for banks and other depository institutions to forward remittances.

(c) Authorize U.S. telecommunications network providers to enter into agreements to establish fiber-optic cable and satellite telecommunications facilities linking the United States and Cuba.

(d) License U.S. telecommunications service providers to enter into and operate under roaming service agreements with Cuba’s telecommunications service providers.

(e) License U.S. satellite radio and satellite television service providers to engage in transactions necessary to provide services to customers in Cuba.

(f) License persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction to activate and pay U.S. and third-country service providers for telecommunications, satellite radio, and satellite television services provided to individuals in Cuba, except certain senior Communist Party and Cuban government officials.

(g) Authorize, consistent with national security concerns, the export or reexport to Cuba of donated personal communications devices such as mobile phone systems, computers and software, and satellite receivers through a license exception.

(h) Expand the scope of humanitarian donations eligible for export through license exceptions by:

Restoring clothing, personal hygiene items, seeds, veterinary medicines and supplies, fishing equipment and supplies, and soap-making equipment to the list of items eligible to be included in gift parcel donations;

Restoring items normally exchanged as gifts by individuals in “usual and reasonable” quantities to the list of items eligible to be included in gift parcel donations;

Expanding the scope of eligible gift parcel donors to include any individual;

Expanding the scope of eligible gift parcel donees to include individuals other than Cuban Communist Party officials or Cuban government officials already prohibited from receiving gift parcels, or charitable, educational, or religious organizations not administered or controlled by the Cuban government; and

Increasing the value limit on non-food items to $800.

This memorandum is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.

 


President Obama: Statement on the Anniversary of the Death of Orlando Zapata Tamayo

One year ago today, the selfless and tragic death of Orlando Zapata Tamayo galvanized the world’s attention to the ongoing mistreatment of those unjustly held by Cuban authorities for bravely standing up for the rights of the Cuban people.   The attention brought to the plight of Cuba’s political prisoners by Zapata’s courageous act and by the peaceful protests of Las Damas de Blanco has helped free a number of his fellow activists through the good offices of the Catholic Church in Cuba. 

Today, I join the Cuban people in marking this anniversary by again calling for the immediate and unconditional release of all political prisoners in Cuba.   Sadly, the harassment and detention by Cuban authorities of Zapata’s mother, Reina Luisa Tamayo and others across Cuba, as they sought to commemorate her son’s death, underscores how much of his dream remains unfulfilled.   Since taking office, I have reached out to the Cuban people to support their desire to freely determine their future and enjoy liberty and justice.  Today and every day, the Cuban people must know that their suffering does not go unnoticed and that the United States remains unwavering in our commitment to defend the inalienable right of the Cuban people to enjoy the freedoms that define the Americas and that are universal to all human beings.

 


President Obama: Statement on the Human Rights Situation in Cuba

Recent events in Cuba, including the tragic death of Orlando Zapata Tamayo, the repression visited upon Las Damas de Blanco, and the intensified harassment of those who dare to give voice to the desires of their fellow Cubans, are deeply disturbing. These events underscore that instead of embracing an opportunity to enter a new era, Cuban authorities continue to respond to the aspirations of the Cuban people with a clenched fist.

Today, I join my voice with brave individuals across Cuba and a growing chorus around the world in calling for an end to the repression, for the immediate, unconditional release of all political prisoners in Cuba, and for respect for the basic rights of the Cuban people. During the course of the past year, I have taken steps to reach out to the Cuban people and to signal my desire to seek a new era in relations between the governments of the United States and Cuba.  I remain committed to supporting the simple desire of the Cuban people to freely determine their future and to enjoy the rights and freedoms that define the Americas, and that should be universal to all human beings.

 
 

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