Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Calumnia

That’s Spanish for smear, and thanks to archy and NTodd for pointing out something else the GOP is trial-ballooning since the Kerry-intern scandal didn’t go anywhere.

Meanwhile in Miami, three Republican members [of Congress] — Reps. Lincoln Diaz-Balart, his brother Mario and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen — will charge that Teresa Kerry’s foundation has “connections” to and has helped finance “Fidel Castro’s Internet network.”

A Diaz-Balart spokeswoman would not elaborate, but she did say it involved the Heinz Endowments’ financial ties to a group called the Tides Center and the Tides Foundation.

There is a financial connection between the Heinz Endowments and the Tides organization, and between the Tides organization and an Internet project based in Cuba. But the connection between the Heinz Endowments and the Cuban project is very tenuous.

The Heinz Endowments have issued approximately $8.1 million in grants in the last 10 years to the Tides organization, a San Francisco-based group that funds a variety of socially progressive environmental, economic and social justice projects.

About $230,000 was issued to the Tides Foundation between 1994 and 1998 and the remainder issued to the Tides Center. All grants were issued for environmental and economic development projects in western Pennsylvania, where THK has spent much of her adult life. The Heinz Endowments money was specifically earmarked for these projects.

One organization that also hired the Tides Center to manage its financial and administrative affairs is the Institute for Global Communications (IGC), which promotes “peace and social and economic justice” around the world by helping countries develop Internet and computer networks. IGC says it has had projects in the former Soviet Union, Nicaragua, Canada, Australia, South Africa, Brazil, and Argentina, among others.

It also once had a project in Cuba which involved helping the island nation establish an Internet connection. IGC has another connection to the Tides organization: It received $13,000 in grants from the Tides Foundation between 1993 and 2002 for general support, but not specifically for the Cuba project.

“I seriously doubt that any money from Teresa Heinz Kerry or the Heinz Endowment would have gone to this [Cuba] project,” said IGC Director Mark Graham told CNN. “I wish that were the case. We could have used the money.”

“In recent weeks, the Heinz Endowments has been accused of using its funding of the Tides Center of Western Pennsylvania to advance a laundry list of partisan causes and fringe political groups. This accusation is simply wrong,” Maxwell King, president of the Heinz Endowments, said in a written statement.[CNN]

The Diaz-Balart brothers (aka Frick and Frack) and Ileana Roz-Lehtinen are the South Florida congressional delegation. They are knee-jerk reactionary Republicans and violently anti-anything to do with the present regime in Cuba. They were the ones who led the howls over Elian Gonzales in 1999 and pushed the Bush administration to tighten even further the restrictions on travel to Cuba in June. (I’m embarrassed to say the Ms. Roz-Lehtinen is my congressional representative. I plan to vote against her in the November election even if she’s unopposed: I’ll write in Teddy the Wonder Lizard before I’ll vote for her.) Archy is right – these guys represent the last gasp of the old guard expatriots who left Cuba in 1959 and still dream of returning in glory someday to reclaim their land. What they’re afraid of is that the younger generation is growing up American. They’re not gung-ho to leave their condos in Boca to go back to the homeland where the plumbing is a bucket and a walk-to biffy. They’re even beginning to vote like a lot other Hispanics in America – for Democrats. But as long as los viejos along Calle Ocho can scream about Fidel, there will always be Republicans in Tallahassee and Washington who will grovel before them.

What’s ironic is that if the internet does really catch on in Cuba, it could make life rough for the Castro regime. Venceremos, bloggers!