Alan Simpson

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Alan Simpson

Staffer's Cuba trip

In January 1997 a four-day trip to Cuba was sponsored by the Washington-based Center for International Policy, which used more than $12,000 in MacArthur Foundation funds to take staffers of key Senate and House members on a mission aimed at educating Congress on the need for more dialogue with Cuba, said executive-director Bill Goodfellow.

"People on the Hill, you know, are afraid to say anything because they fear the political power of the Miami Cubans, particularly the Cuban American National Foundation, Goodfellow said.

"We are hardly enamored of the Castro government, he said. ``But we believe that we need political space, a soft landing and to have an easy transition you need to begin a dialogue and to educate people.

During the trip-which included Dick Day, a senior immigration committee adviser to Wisconsin Sen. Alan Simpson, a Republican-congressional staff members met with Castro. Goodfellow called Castro ``a charmer, but I think all of them came away realizing what a joke the Cubans claim of having their own brand of democracy. [1]