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Thu Apr 3, 2014, 09:49 PM

USAID’s Cuban Twitter: “Democracy Promotion” Does More Harm than Good

Washington Office on Latin America

http://www.wola.org/commentary/usaid_s_cuban_twitter_democracy_promotion_does_more_harm_than_good

Hours after Vice President Joe Biden welcomed famed Cuban blogger and social media political activist Yoani Sánchez for a high profile photo op and meeting, the Associated Press broke a story about a clandestine U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) program that reportedly stole thousands of phone numbers of Cuban cellphone users in an elaborate attempt to inspire social unrest in Cuba.

According to the AP, in 2010 the USAID Office of Transition Initiatives and contractor Creative Associates secretly created a Twitter-like cell phone platform that allowed U.S. information technology contractors to gather private data on its 40,000 Cuban users and blast out text messages to the subscribers. The platform, called ZunZuneo, also allowed Cubans to communicate via text message with people who subscribed to their feed.

While the platform was popular among its Cuban users, Creative Associates was unable to find a way to make it financially sustainable, and ZunZuneo abruptly disappeared when its government funding dried up in September 2012. In the end, similar to other USAID initiatives that are described as “promoting democracy” but seem aimed at making trouble for the Cuban government, ZunZuneo was a costly failure that wasted millions of dollars, and it will likely undermine genuine internal reform efforts in Cuba and further damage the U.S. government’s reputation in the region. The program is another ugly reminder of how an insular group of well-positioned politicians from Florida and New Jersey have long protected wasteful USAID programs that damage broader U.S. national interests.

While the AP story has rightly captured a great deal of attention for exposing such a controversial approach to reaching Cubans, it did not even mention another lightning rod issue associated with USAID’s misguided Cuba programs: the existence of cozy contractor relationships with high-level government officials.

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Reply USAID’s Cuban Twitter: “Democracy Promotion” Does More Harm than Good (Original post)
flamingdem Apr 2014 OP
msongs Apr 2014 #1
flamingdem Apr 2014 #2
Mika Apr 2014 #3
flamingdem Apr 2014 #4
Mika Apr 2014 #5
flamingdem Apr 2014 #6
Judi Lynn Apr 2014 #7
MinM Apr 2014 #8

Response to flamingdem (Original post)

Thu Apr 3, 2014, 09:52 PM

1. we need to normalize relations with cuba asap nt

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Response to msongs (Reply #1)

Thu Apr 3, 2014, 10:03 PM

2. The impediment is the machine comprised of many players - Cuban Americans

and their colleagues in congress and in Miami, etc. who are lining their pockets with the current scenario and plenty of other politicians who know it's not in their interest to make risk on the issue of Cuba. Add to that the easy pickings for Florida politicians who can fundraise on this issue and this issue never moves forward much. It's a sticky situation and people like Sen. Menendez, now in charge of the Foreign Relations committee in the Senate, are hardliners who will block all attempts to improve relations.

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Response to flamingdem (Reply #2)

Thu Apr 3, 2014, 10:08 PM

3. That and various corporate interests.

 

Why you continue to focus solely on Cuban Americans is beyond me.

No Castro = no anti Castro funding.
No embargo = no anti embargo campaign contributions.

Our politicians who espouse normalization rely on the contributions to defeat it. Defeating it = no more money.

The USA needs democracy. Maybe Cuba can help.




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Response to Mika (Reply #3)

Thu Apr 3, 2014, 10:18 PM

4. There are lots of hands in the usaid cookie jar


and I think I allude to them - but I think it's the Cuban Americans who set the direction so that the cookie jar can stay full. Thus, I blame them first. Once they're out of the way a more sensible policy can happen.

It's not so much money that Debbie Wasserman Schulz is going to make it a central issue without her buddies pushing it - and John Kerry was attempting to reduce USAID money and probably would want to loosen things up if he didn't have to deal with Menendez, etc.

>>plenty of other politicians who know it's not in their interest to make risk on the issue of Cuba. Add to that the easy pickings for Florida politicians who can fundraise on this issue and this issue never moves forward much.

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Response to flamingdem (Reply #4)

Thu Apr 3, 2014, 10:56 PM

5. They provide cover for other involved parties. Mission accomplished on you, and most of America.

 

Of course no Floriduh pol is going to take this on, but, considering the most egregious aspects of the US sanctions on Cuba and Americans are not from Floriduh pols nor are they Cuban American pols.

There are MAJOR business interests that do not want normalization. The Cuban exiles in Miami provide good, and loud, cover.
It works. It has worked on you.

I do respect that you and I have normalization as the goal.






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Response to Mika (Reply #5)

Fri Apr 4, 2014, 12:45 AM

6. Yes we have the same goal but who is getting cover

by the Floriduh pols / Cuban Americans pols?

There must be some documentation in the form of donations to groups like the Cuba Democracy Pac.

http://www.opensecrets.org/pacs/lookup2.php?strID=C00387720&cycle=2012

It looks to me, at least from what is researchable, that the interests are mostly Cuban American. Apart from that there is equal pro and con from agriculture for instance.

I'd say the proof of the pudding is what money is being donated to pro-embargo groups or pro-embargo efforts. What other entities or groups are there and how to they funnel money?



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Response to flamingdem (Original post)

Fri Apr 4, 2014, 03:59 AM

7. It was deeply interesting reading the point made by a former USAID person

regarding the fact they had to know Alan Gross would be caught, and used that event as a springboard to greater hostilities, when nothing was going on, beyond their illegitimate imprisonment of the Cuban 5.

Very interesting, by all means.

Reminds me of the time Hermanos al Rescate staged another invasion of Cuban airspace, just to rattle Cubans again, just has they had so many times before, and actually got their asses shot for their efforts, just as the Clinton administration was relaxing relations between the US and Cuba.

Very, very interesting. Also very disgusting. Also very familiar, as a pattern.

Thanks.

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Response to flamingdem (Original post)

Fri Apr 4, 2014, 12:27 PM

8. Is USAID the New CIA?

@democracynow: Is USAID the New CIA? Agency Secretly Built Cuban Twitter Program to Fuel Anti-Castro Protests http://owl.li/vqNqe

Actually it's probably more accurate to say that USAID and the CIA have had a good working relationship through the years.

JFK had similar concerns about the Peace Corps.

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