The same agency responsible for "Cuban Twitter" also sent dozens of Latin American young adults to Cuba to pose as health program workers while attempting to "provoke political change," according to a new report from the Associated Press.
The U.S. Agency for International Development sent young people from Venezuela, Peru and Costa Rica to find people to convert into political radicals under an Obama administration program starting in 2009. The mission was considered dangerous, and USAID messages weren't particularly comforting. "Remember that the Cuban government prefers to avoid negative media reports abroad, so a beaten foreigner is not convenient for them,” read one memo, obtained by the AP.
Even then, USAID only offered minimal training — one worker said he only received a 30 minute workshop on how to avoid detection by Cuban intelligence — and paid some individuals $5.41 an hour. The program continued even after an American contractor was detained and the U.S. government advised companies to suspend travel to Cuba.
USAID's last attempt at stirring up political rebellion in Cuba was ZunZuneo, aka "Cuban Twitter," a $1.6 million secret social network designed to undermine the government. ZunZuneo never took off, and USAID denied any attempt to interfere with Cuban politics, even though they went out of their way to make sure it wasn't associated with the U.S. government. As for its teen spy program, USAID says it also was not an attempt to start a revolution. “USAID and the Obama administration are committed to supporting the Cuban people’s desire to freely determine their own future,” the agency said in a statement to the Associated Press.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.