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September 10, 2004
Taking Penal Privatization A Bit Too Far?

The head of the US Interests Section in Havana has decided to build a replica of a Cuban jail in his back yard as a publicity event to highlight the human-rights abuses of Fidel Castro, apparently sparing no expense for authenticity:

The chief U.S. diplomat in Havana built a model of a Cuban prison cell in his backyard to draw attention to the island's human rights record, drawing fierce criticism from the speaker of Cuba's parliament.

James Cason, head of the U.S. Interests Section here, presented the structure, a model of what he said is a typical solitary holding cell in a Cuban prison, during a small diplomatic reception at his home Wednesday night. ...

A little over six feet high and three feet wide, the holding cell of wood and metal features a drain on the floor for a toilet, a plastic bowl of food, a sheet for a bed and a fake rat.

Cubans stock their jails with fake rats? I've never seen poverty so bad that the rats refuse to stick around. Predictably, the Cubans protested vehemently:

"What he should do is mount an exposition of the holding areas of the base at Guantanamo," Alarcon said, referring to the prison in easternmost Cuba where the U.S. military is holding hundreds of prisoners accused of links to Afghanistan's fallen Taliban regime or the al-Qaida terror network.

Apparently, the Cubans object to our denying our prisoners the right to a fake rat in every cell, but you know how problematic military procurement can get. Cuba can just buy them from China for probably $20 per gross. By the time the Pentagon gets through the entire contracting process, military-approved and union-built American fake rats cost $572.47 apiece -- and then it takes fives years to actually get a deliverable. Besides, the FR-271 "Willard" program got held up in committe while Congress debated whose district got the manufacturing facility.

And to think that Ricardo Alarcon accused our diplomat of "lacking seriousness"!

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at September 10, 2004 7:05 AM

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