Thursday, 23 June 2011

USAID to spend millions infiltrating Cuban youth

Cuba: USAID planning to spend millions on infiltrating youth
Source: Granma International, 23 June 2011.
by Jean-Guy Allard

• AFTER 10 weeks of negotiations with Senator John Kerry and his staff, who froze its Cuba subversion and destabilization program, the U.S. International Aid for Development (USAID) feels sufficiently confident in a prompt solution to announce new funds for future projects in relation to interference in communications materials, particularly aimed at minors.

This has been revealed by the Cuba Money Project website operated by U.S. Tracey Eaton, a former Havana correspondent with a Texas newspaper, who is making a detailed investigation into how the U.S. government is wasting tens of millions of taxpayer’s dollars on covert and illegal activities in Cuba.

The organization’s new proposals are basically directed toward an attempted expansion of the use of social communication media in Cuba, an increase in access to information which it suits the U.S. Department of State to circulate, wider distribution of laptops and promoting its concept of freedom of expression among young people, in particular the 12-18 years age group.

The budget includes six million dollars for programs aimed at increasing freedom of expression among young people aged 12 to 18 years, six million for expanding the use of Internet to illicit usage, and increasing access to information (and disinformation). Radio & TV Martí, as well as Voice of America, their head office, will make available the informative material which the Department of State deems worthy of circulating.

A further nine million dollars are earmarked for supporting neighbors groups, cooperatives, sports clubs, religious groups and other "civil society" organizations which would consent to become partners of the U.S. Interests Section in Havana, with all the risks which that entails, according to USAID officials themselves.

The money would be distributed over the next several years as part of an ambitious and sweeping plan that emphasizes "on-island activities," Eaton notes in the presentation of the material. Applications for the grants are due July 18, which leaves potential bidders little time and opportunity.

The aim of one of the projects, with a budget of six million dollars, is for minors in Cuba to experience freedom of expression in social spaces organized outside of state authority. As simple as that.

The program activities, as the proposal states, should encourage the participation of marginalized and vulnerable populations, defined as Blacks and people of mixed race, and rural youth in city centers, young people with disabilities, orphans and young people at risk (from broken or single-parent families). The program must particularly focus on Cuban young people aged 12-18 and should develop the social and leadership skills necessary for young people to become effective leaders in their communities.

Those who have seen the Cuban Television series Cuba’s Reasons will understand the U.S. concept to be implemented, not only in Cuba but in other countries which refuse to bow down to American interests. Eaton says that USAID will welcome all proposals which clearly explain how so-called independent "physical spaces" will be used; in other words, those which are not government controlled.

On the other hands, the abovementioned website notes that The Miami Herald reported on June 10 that Freedom House, a Washington-based NGO, was returning $1.7 million in funds because USAID asked too many questions about where the money was going.

Phil Peters, a Cuba expert at the Lexington Institute, a research organization in Arlington, Virginia, said it is unusual for organizations to return money to the federal government.

"It’s pretty remarkable… that a grantee would tell the government that it’s not willing to explain exactly how it uses the money, and it makes it crystal clear that the modus operandi is to send people clandestinely into Cuba," he said.

Peters said it is "certainly understandable" that Freedom House is "extremely concerned" about protecting those people connected to its Cuba program.

"But if you step back from it," he said, the group’s decision to return the money "really reinforces" that it carries out "political operations" in Cuba..."

Freedom House has not responded to a complementary request for information from Eaton related to its decision to return the money. According to observers, the USAID $20 million is soon to be unfrozen after an agreement with Kerry to reduce the total to $15 million. "In any case, the other five will be spent in another way," commented someone informed on the issue.