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                                                                                                                                                                                               Jorge Royan via Wikimedia Commons
Visitors to Cuba can soon use cell phones for doing more than just taking photos.

Cuban tourists to have enhanced cell phone access

By the A.M. Cuba wire services

AT&T has reached a deal for enhanced roaming and other cellphone services for wireless customers visiting Cuba.

Monday, the Dallas-based telecommunications giant Monday announced the agreement with the state telecommunications company, Etecsa. Terms were not released.

An AT&T statement says a start date and pricing for the wireless roaming in Cuba — including talk, text and data — will be announced later.

Sprint announced a roaming agreement with Etecsa last fall to allow subscribers visiting Cuba to send and receive calls and text messages.
— Aug. 24, 2016

Sen. Ayotte says "worst of the worst" still there

Obama critic urges detainees remain in Guantanamo

By the A.M. Cuba wire services

A report giving a brief synopsis of each of the more than 100 detainees still being held at the U.S. naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, was released Wednesday by a critic of the Obama administration's plan to close the detention center.

The Pentagon gave the report to Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte, who posted it online Wednesday.

The information in the unclassified report details each of the 107 detainees being held in Guantanamo as of November 25, 2015. The detainees vary from former al-Qaida bomb makers and bodyguards to low-level militant cooks and medics.

Many of the detainees have been held without charge for more than 14 years. About 30 have been released since November and the prison currently holds 76 detainees. Of those, more than 30 have been cleared for transfer out of the prison.

Ayotte said the report highlights the detainees' past terrorist activity and their continuing extremist views, and is an indication of why they must remain in prison.

"Most of the detainees who remain at Guantanamo are the worst of the worst, as demonstrated by the fact that 93 percent of the detainees who remained there as of late last year had been assessed as a high risk for a return to terrorism," she said in a statement.

She has said closing the detention center is a security risk and has pushed the Pentagon to release more information on those being held at the naval base.

"By clearly detailing some of the disturbing terrorist activities and affiliations of detainees at Guantanamo, the report demonstrates why these terrorists should not be released -- they pose a serious risk to our national security," the New Hampshire senator said in an email statement.

Pentagon spokeswoman Lt. Col. Valerie Henderson said Wednesday the information in the report has been publicly available for some time, for "several years," in some cases.

David Remes, a human-rights lawyer who represents several detainees, said dangerous men are not being released.

"Holding the men at all was a deep injustice and a lasting stain on the U.S. These men shouldn't have been in Guantanamo in the first place," Remes told The Associated Press. "It's one thing to prosecute detainees for attacks on the U.S. ... It is quite another thing -- and contrary to the values the U.S. says it is committed to -- to hold men for many years who are accused of no crime."

On his second day in office in January 2009, President Barack Obama issued an executive order directing the U.S. prison in Cuba to be closed. However, the Republican-led Congress has stymied his efforts to do so.

In addition to transferring some inmates to other countries, Obama would also like to send some of the inmates to the United States for incarceration, but Congress also has opposed that proposal.

The prison was opened in January 2002, four months after the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington and shortly after the ensuing U.S. offensive began against the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Guantanamo once held nearly 800 men, but then President George W. Bush transferred more than 500 of the detainees to other countries for prosecution or imprisonment. So far, Obama has transferred 162 detainees to other countries.

— Aug. 13, 2016

US Coast Guard busy sending Cubans back to Cuba

By the A.M. Cuba wire services

Since Oct.1, at least 5,485 Cubans have attempted to migrate to the U.S. over waterways compared to 4,473 in fiscal 2015. Most are still trying to reach Florida through the Florida Straits.

Ashley J. Johnson via Wikimedia Commons
Coast Guard Cutter Kathleen Moore intercepting Cuban refugees earlier
in the year.

"We discourage anyone from taking to the sea and attempting to reach U.S. soil illegally - they are risking their lives with very little chance of success," said Capt. Mark Gordon, chief of enforcement for the Coast Guard 7th District.

Gordon said that navigating the Florida Straits can be extremely dangerous for the unprepared on illegal voyages and often leads to injury or death.

Once aboard a Coast Guard cutter, all migrants receive food, water, shelter and basic medical attention.

There has been speculation that the uptick in Cubans trying to reach the U.S. is tied into the possible elimination of a Cold War era law that gives Cubans residency if they reach the U.S. by foot or by sea. Many U.S. legislators, particularly those in the Republican party, have been putting pressure on Congress to eliminate the law, which they perceive as a loophole.

Central America, especially Costa Rica, has been flooded with Cuban migrants over the past year trying to reach the U.S. on foot.

— July 30, 2016


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