Committee on International Relations
U.S. House of Representatives
Henry J. Hyde, Chairman

CONTACT: Sam Stratman, (202) 226-7875, October 25, 2004

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Loyola University, USAID Ink Deal to Create
Henry Hyde Program of People-to-People Development

to Foster Democracy and Civil Society Initiatives in Cuba


(CHICAGO) – With U.S. Rep. Henry J. Hyde (R-IL) at their side, officials representing Loyola University and the U.S. Agency of International Development (USAID) signed a two-year agreement on Monday to develop a people-to-people exchange program in Cuba.

The democracy-building initiative, to be known as the Henry Hyde Program of People-to-People Development, will pave the way for Loyola’s work with Cuban faith-based nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), independent of the government of Cuba, to help increase their capacity to deliver social services to the Cuban people.

With a two-year grant totaling $425,000 from USAID, the Hyde/Loyola initiative will focus efforts on development of civil society, democracy, and human rights on the island nation.

Named after one of Loyola’s most distinguished alumni, the Hyde initiative will provide training, informational materials and other nonfinancial support to faith-based Cuban NGOs to improve collaboration with one another, and increase cooperation between the Cuban people and the people of the United States.

            “For more than a century, the people of Cuba have struggled to realize the free and just nation dreamed of by Jose Marti,” Hyde said during the signing ceremony.  “For the past 45 years, this struggle has been burdened by the weight of a dictatorship that has extinguished their freedom.”

“A new birth of freedom will happen as the Cuban people create their own civil society, and, of great importance, their own faith-based communities that set the foundations for democracy and respect for human rights,” Hyde added.

During the ceremony, Hyde shared comments which were exchanged during the 1998 visit of Pope John Paul II to Cuba. “A visitor asked the Archbishop of Santiago, Pedro Maurice, how many political prisoners there were in Cuba.  The Archbishop replied, quietly: ‘There are 11 million of us.’”

        “In Fidel Castro's penal colony, no one is free except the Supreme Commander himself… who issues all the commands in an economy that keeps everyone else in bondage at the same low level of subsistence,” Hyde said.

        At Monday’s ceremony, representing the Bush Administration was Adolfo Franco, Deputy Administrator of USAID, and representing Loyola University was its president, Michael Garanzini.

        “I am honored to be asked to lend my name and support to this program that will bring Loyola's core values of faith and community service directly to our brothers and sisters in Cuba,” Hyde stated, adding, “Beginning with St. Ignatius Loyola, the Jesuit mission has always been to serve all the peoples of the world.”

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