Foreign Policy Blogs

Provoking the United States?

The U.S. State Department announced that a government contractor working in Cuba distributing free cell phones and laptops has been arrested by Cuban authorities. The detainee was employed by a subcontractor of Development Alternatives Inc., which in 2008 won a government contract to “help the U.S. government implement activities in support of the rule of law and human rights, political competition and consensus building, and to strengthen civil society” in Cuba.

No doubt the Obama administration will react negatively to this unfortunate event, which comes at a time when Washington is hoping for positive signs from Havana. Cell phones and laptops are now legal on the island, of course, so it is not clear exactly what offense has gotten this (as yet unidentified) individual arrested. But the detention of an American in Cuba is rare, so this promises to be a case that draws some attention.



  1. […] the detention in Cuba this month of a U.S. government contractor distributing cell phones and laptops, Congress has called new attention to the secretive […]

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Melissa Lockhart Fortner
Melissa Lockhart Fortner

Melissa Lockhart Fortner is Senior External Affairs Officer at the Pacific Council on International Policy in Los Angeles, having served previously as Senior Programs Officer for the Council. From 2007-2009, she held a research position at the University of Southern California (USC) School of International Relations, where she closely followed economic and political developments in Mexico and in Cuba, and analyzed broader Latin American trends. Her research considered the rise and relative successes of Latin American multinationals (multilatinas); economic, social and political changes in Central America since the civil wars in the region; and Wal-Mart’s role in Latin America, among other topics. Melissa is a graduate of Pomona College, and currently resides in Pasadena, California, with her husband, Jeff Fortner.

Follow her on Twitter @LockhartFortner.

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