Kerry Releases Funds For Cuban Dissidents

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WASHINGTON, July 29 (UPI) — A key U.S. senator has stopped blocking $20 million in aid to Cuban dissidents, a spokesman said.

Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, officially lifted his hold on the funds Thursday after the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development agreed to a “thorough review of the programs,” spokesman Frederick Jones told The Miami Herald.

Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., still has his own hold on some of the money, but Senate staff said his concerns were likely to be resolved soon as well.

Kerry was said to view the democracy program, which the Castro regime calls subversion, as ineffective and wasteful, and fears it could delay the release of Alan Gross, a U.S. government subcontractor jailed in Cuba.

Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., a Cuban-American, was considering blocking Senate action on all ambassadorial nominations until Kerry called off his block, staffers said.

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