Democracy Programs in Cuba: the NED Report

US Gov. Funding for Travel, Journalism, Training & Workshops

by Tracey Eaton  (

NED_logoHAVANA TIMES — The National Endowment for Democracy is a major recipient of US government funds for channeling to democracy programs in Cuba. The NED, based in Washington, D.C., does a better job than most organizations in disclosing to the public how it spends its money.

NED states in the summary of its activities in Cuba:

“Programs in Cuba took advantage of the new migration law that lifted the ban on international travel for Cubans. Cuban activists and human rights defenders presented cases of violations of human and civil rights before the United Nations and Inter-American Commission of Human Rights and participated in trainings to improve their ability to document cases. Cuban activists attended international workshops to share information and experiences with counterparts who face similar challenges.

“Programs raised international awareness about repression on the island, provided ordinary citizens with access to uncensored information and legal support, trained young Cubans to use new social media, and defended the rights of Afro-Cubans and underrepresented communities.”

The following is the list of US Gov. funded grants through NED, published in its 2013 annual report

Afro-Cuban Alliance, Inc.
Freedom of Information
ISLAS: Quarterly Afro-Cuban Journal
To encourage greater discussion and analysis about racial issues in Cuba. Afro-Cuba Alliance will publish a quarterly journal to inform readers on the island and in the international community about racial issues in Cuba, the experience of civil rights movements, and the efforts of civil rights activists towards greater racial equality.

Afro-Cuban Alliance, Inc.
Freedom of Information
$6,500 (Supplement)
Promoting Racial Equality in Cuba
To promote discussion about racial issues in Cuba and raise international awareness about the situation of Afro-Cubans.

Asociación de Iberoamericanos por la Libertad
Democratic Ideas and Values
Promoting Political Unity for a Democratic Cuba
To promote greater consensus about the need to support democratic actors in Cuba. Asociación de Iberoamericanos por la Libertad (AIL) will convene a series of meetings between international actors that work in Cuba in order to identify opportunities to jointly promote greater respect for civil and political rights in Cuba. AIL will also raise international awareness about the state of democracy and human rights in the country today.

Asociacion Diario de Cuba
Freedom of Information
$262,480 (Supplement: $2,480)
Diario de Cuba
To strengthen the ability of Cuban civil society to articulate its concerns and to promote freedom of expression. Diario de Cuba, a Madrid-based organization, will engage independent journalists, artists, intellectuals and academics in Cuba to promote greater analysis on social, political, economic and cultural developments in Cuba. Diario de Cuba will showcase this information on its digital media platform at

Center for a Free Cuba
Human Rights
Promoting Democracy in Cuba through Support to Civil Society
To provide humanitarian assistance to political prisoners, their families, human rights activists, youth activists, lawyers, teachers, artists and victims of repression in Cuba. In addition to humanitarian assistance, the Center will provide independent, democratic activists with important material support that will permit them to carry out their work in a more effective manner.

Centro de Investigación y Capacitación de Emprendedores Sociales Asociación Civil
Democratic Ideas and Values
Latin American Youth Network for Democracy in Cuba
To strengthen the leadership capacity of pro-democracy youth activists in Cuba. Based in Argentina, CICES will conduct a training program with up to 50 young activists focusing on democratic values and ideas, social entrepreneurship, and effective communication skills, and conflict resolution techniques. In addition, CICES will organize a network of young activists across Latin America to mobilize support in the region for youth activists in Cuba and raise awareness about the lack of fundamental rights on the island.

Centro Democracia y Comunidad
Democratic Ideas and Values
Lessons from Chile for a Democratic Transition in Cuba
To share knowledge about the Chilean transition from dictatorship to democracy and to strengthen the organizational capacity of Cuban activists – particularly youth and union groups – through exchanges with Chilean counterparts. CDC will also advocate among Chilean policymakers and politicians for greater solidarity towards the pro-democracy movement in Cuba.

Centro para la Apertura y el Desarrollo de América Latina
Democratic Ideas and Values
A Regional Approach to Promoting Democratic Values
To support and raise the visibility of pro-democracy actors and human rights advocates in Latin America. CADAL will promote greater international awareness about the efforts of democracy activists and their efforts to promote greater political pluralism in the region.

Clovek v tisni, o.p.s. – People in Need
Freedom of Information
Changing Cuba’s Media Landscape
To promote greater freedom of information and freedom of expression. The Czech Republic-based group, People in Need, will provide independent journalists with training and technical assistance to produce uncensored media content on social, political, economic and cultural developments in Cuba. People in Need will provide grassroots organizations throughout Cuba with small grants to carry out community-based initiatives in support of freedom of expression.

Committee for Free and Democratic Cuban Unions, Incorporated
Freedom of Association
International Project for Free and Democratic Cuban Unions
To promote greater awareness of conditions facing independent Cuban unionists. The Committee for Free and Democratic Cuban Unions, Incorporated (CFDCU) will bring together prominent labor leaders from around the world to lead a new global campaign to support independent workers in Cuba. By creating a dynamic web platform, leading an international awareness raising campaign, and coordinating a conference on independent unionism in Cuba, the CFDCU will work to reshape longstanding perceptions about the Cuban government’s record on labor and human rights violations.

Cuban Democratic Directorate
Freedom of Information
Strengthening Civic Participation in Cuba
To promote greater freedom of information and civic activism in Cuba. Through its Radio Republic broadcasts, this Miami-based organization will provide programming that incorporates the views of democratic activists from Cuba and informs communities about local social, political, economic and cultural developments. Directorio will also provide training and technical assistance to local grassroots activists to carry out civic and community-building initiatives throughout Cuba.

Cuban Soul Foundation
Democratic Ideas and Values
Independent Cuban Artist’s Freedom of Expression
To empower independent artists to produce and perform their work in uncensored community venues and events. Cuban Soul Foundation (CSF) will support independent artistic groups in their efforts to establish community arts centers and studios. CSF will also help coordinate a series of events to showcase the work of artists participating in this program.

Cubanet News, Inc.
Freedom of Information
Supporting Independent Journalists in Cuba To promote greater freedom of information in Cuba. Cubanet will work with independent journalists throughout the island to produce uncensored media content on social, political, economic and cultural developments on the island. The Miami-based organization will showcase this information on its online media platform at and actively distribute it through an array of social media networks.

Fundación Hispano Cubana
Freedom of Information
Communication and Technology For Strengthening Civil Society
To strengthen the work of civil society in Cuba and facilitate greater collaboration between independent organizations. Fundación Hispano Cubana will respond support Cuban civil society organizations with technical and material assistance in order to increase the impact of their work. Fundación Hispano Cubana will also help democratic activists in Cuba develop more effective strategies for disseminating information about their work and communicating with their fellow citizens.

Global Rights
Human Rights
Strengthening the Capacity of Afro-Descendant Women to Promote their Rights at the OAS and UN
To increase the ability of Afro-Latino women, especially from Cuba, to defend their rights before the Organization of American States and the United Nations. Global Rights will train program participants on how to document human rights violations and develop strategies that promote greater international attention to the plight of Afro-descendant women in Latin America. Global Rights will also help activists engage the many offices at the OAS and UN that are dedicated to defending minority and gender rights in order to prompt greater action by the key multilateral institutions engaged in the region.

Global Rights
Human Rights
Increasing the Knowledge of Human Rights Defenders on the Inter-American System
To strengthen the capacity of human rights defenders to advocate for their rights before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR). Global Rights will carry out an on-line training program to address the specific topics and areas of work of the IACHR. The human rights defenders will also receive technical assistance to draft a human rights report on the condition of minority and gender rights on the island to be presented during a public hearing at the Commission.

Grupo Internacional para la Responsabilidad Social Corporativa en Cuba
Freedom of Association
Supporting Independent Unions in Cuba
To promote labor rights and defend Cuba’s independent labor movement. GIRSCC will provide independent labor activists in Cuba with technical and financial assistance in an effort to forge a more coordinated labor movement on the island. This Miami-based organization will also conduct a worldwide information dissemination campaign on the situation regarding labor rights in Cuba.

Grupo Internacional para la Responsabilidad Social Corporativa en Cuba
Freedom of Association
Supporting Independent Unions in Cuba
To promote labor rights and defend Cuba’s independent labor movement. Supplemental funding will allow this organization to invite Cuban independent union leaders to participate at international labor union events where they can advocate for greater international support for free unionism in the island.

Instituto Cubano para la Libertad de Expresión y Prensa
Freedom of Information
A Light for Cuba
To promote greater freedom of information in communities throughout Cuba. This new Miami-based organization will support five grassroots groups across the island and help them develop community based publications that can be distributed to local residents. Instituto Cubano para la Libertad de Expresión y Prensa (ICLEP) will provide its counterparts in Cuba with the equipment and technical assistance necessary to implement the design and printing of these documents entirely inside Cuba.

Instituto Político para la Libertad Peru
Freedom of Information
Educating Activists on Democracy, Technology and Social Media
To provide Cuban pro-democracy activists with training on democracy and the use of the Internet and social networking media. Instituto Político para la Libertad Peru (IPL) will interact with youth and pro-democracy activists and provide them with training on democratic rights, access to information tools and international standards of freedom of expression.

International Platform For Human Rights In Cuba
Human Rights
$74,720 (Supplement: $12,000)
International Platform for Human Rights in Cuba
To raise greater awareness about and promote greater international action on Cuba’s continued non-compliance with human rights principles and standards. IPHRC will conduct a comprehensive analysis of international human rights instruments in order to document the many ways in which the Cuban government has systematically violated the rights of its citizens. This information will be presented to the diplomatic community in Europe and Latin America.

Lech Walesa Institute
Civic Education
Polish Solidarity with Cuba
To provide young Cuban activists with training on democratic values and human rights. Based on the Polish experience, the Lech Walesa Institute will provide activists leadership tools to become more effective advocates for social and political change in their country. As part of the training program, the LWI will invite a small group of Cuban activists to travel to Poland to meet with a wide range of activists, academics, elected officials and political figures affiliated with the training program.

Observatorio Cubano de Derechos Humanos
Human Rights
Human Rights Observation
To promote greater public awareness about human rights violations in Cuba. The Cuban Observatory on Human Rights will work with counterparts on the island to document ongoing human rights abuses. The Cuban Observatory on Human Rights will use this information to prepare reports for the United Nations and international media outlets.

Outreach Aid to the Americas, Inc.
Democratic Ideas and Values
Advocating for Freedom of Religion in Cuba
To foster the development of activities that promote a freer practice of faith among Cubans and increase freedom of religion in Cuba. Evangelical Christian Humanitarian Outreach for Cuba (EchoCuba) will work with trusted partners in country to hold screenings of films that encourage discussion on freedom of religion and to produce and circulate a religious magazine that has gained traction in religious communities. Additionally, EchoCuba will organize an outdoor event for religious leaders, communities, and interested citizens and will provide organizers with information on successful religious movements and events in other countries.

People in Peril Association CVO
Democratic Ideas and Values
$93,800 (Supplement: $26,360)
Promoting Access to Unbiased Information
To enhance the capacity of pro-democracy activists to think critically about the prospects of a democratic transition in Cuba. Based in Slovakia, People in Peril Association (PIPA) will work with a network of independent educators, professionals, and youth leaders across the island to strengthen their institutional capacity and ability to provide members of their communities with uncensored and unbiased information.

Plataforma de Integración Cubana
Freedom of Information
Promoting Racial Integration
To promote greater discussion on racial issues in Cuba. Working with academics and activists inside and outside the island, Plataforma will publish a journal on various issues affecting the Afro-descendent population in Cuba. In addition, Plataforma will conduct various public events to raise international awareness about the topic.

Civic Education
Promoting LGBT Rights in Cuba
This organization will promote greater respect for LGBTI rights in Cuba.

Promoting Democratic Leadership and Values in Cuba
To promote democratic values and ideas and strengthen the leadership skills of pro-democracy activists in Cuba. Grantee will conduct a leadership training program and a public awareness campaign on peaceful activism, community organizing, human rights, and democracy.

Promoting Civic Education in Cuba
To enhance the knowledge and understanding of democratic values and ideas among Cuban citizens. The organization will carry out a training program on democracy, the corresponding role of citizens, and the importance of civic-minded individuals to bring about democratic change.

Human Rights
Supporting Human Rights Activists
To provide humanitarian and logistical support to the human rights activists in Cuba.

Rule of Law
Providing Legal Assistance in Cuba
To provide technical assistance and pro-bono legal advice to citizens seeking legal redress. This organization will also provide training to pro-democracy activists on the domestic and international mechanisms to address the arbitrary use of the law.

Providing Legal Assistance in Cuba
To provide technical assistance to Cuban citizens.

Grant descriptions are from the 2013 NED Annual Report.

24 thoughts on “Democracy Programs in Cuba: the NED Report

  • There is a perfect storm in Cuba forming. (1)The departure of the historic generation. (2)The lack of an adequate substitute for the Venezuelan nursemaid. (3) The awakening of the Cuban people through exposure to the internet and increased travel by Cuban nationals. Like never before, the pressure put upon the Castro economy will force the Castros to make decisions they have been able to avoid making in the past. Despite the moves toward normalizing relations, a go-slow approach should be taken. Even with a US embassy in place, the Castro regime should be forced to make political concessions for further economic support from the US.

  • “history has proven”? Can you provide an example from history in which that has happened?

    China? Nope. Vietnam? Nope.

  • Moses, the result you’re looking for will never happen based on the current pressures that your goverment continues to employ on Cuba. That has been proven time and time again. That is the reality of the situation, and if anything, those continued pressures only help to cement resistance to change. Pride can be a foolish emotion…the Cuban government has been equal to the task. They cannot been seen as surrendering to American aggression and dominance. As long as your government persists in unnecessarily flexing it’s muscle with Cuba, nothing much will change. It is America that must change first. That attitude adjustment is now beginning to gather steam within the rank and file of corporate America, your goverment, and the American people. It’s well over-due and completely refreshing. There will come a day when the government of Cuba will begin to shift, but it won’t come when based on your continuing hardcore policies and failed aspirations. The end does indeed justify the means…the question is, what means will produce the desired results? History dictates that change won’t come to Cuba until Cuba’s sovereignty is completely respected, hostilities cease, and relations are entirely normalized. Recognizing and respecting the current Cuban government is the first step…history has proven that there is no other alternative if one is serious about helping the Cuban people.

  • Fair question. I want the US to continue to put pressure on the Castro dictatorship to allow greater political freedoms for Cubans. This pressure can manifest itself in whatever form the folks way above my pay grade decide is best. If this means a US ambassador then so be it. I am very sure it does not mean extending loans to the Castros or permitting the dictatorship to continue to deny basic human rights to Cubans without consequences. Currently, it seems the best way to keep pressure on the regime to change is to keep the embargo in place. Not allowing Castro to use US dollars and limiting the Castros access to international credit is now more effective than ever. As Venezuela continues to tank and the Russian economy spirals downward, the list of countries financially stable enough and willing to become the next Cuban nursemaid is a short one. The embargo failed in its original intended goal to foment revolution in Cuba. However, it did effectively hamstring the Castros from exporting their failed economic system beyond that of Venezuela. By the way, the saying you are referring to is “the end justifies the means”.

  • There’s an old saying… the end doesn’t justify the means. In the case of Cuba, it’s been proven that your government’s historic means have been a grand waste of time, resources, and sacrifice. Your government’s means have hurt nobody more than that of the Cuban people…the very people you and your government profess to support. And yet after 50+ years of failed policy, you would rather that your government continue to do the same at the expense of the Cuban people. Am I right? Or do I exaggerate?

  • And it always puzzles me when you use that analogy as if it somehow justifies all of the hypocracy and the illegal policies of the American government on the world stage. It reminds me of the person who sins all week, but goes to church confession on the weekend so they can claim they’re a good person who is destined to go to heaven. As for Justin Bieber… you can keep him. He’s your problem now. The US fits him good.

  • These NED programs promote corruption of civil society and electoral processes, not democracy.

  • What I really know is that people don’t care much for police until they need one. I am betting that you are one of those people that doesn’t care for the US’ world leadership until those who have no use for liberty, free press, the internet ,etc. (like the Castros) come knocking on your door. As long as the Castro-style dictatorship stays put in Cuba, you can support their little ‘human zoo’. You probably visit once in awhile to get you exotic vacation creds and if it costs 11 million Cubans their personal freedom to ensure that your progressive wet dreams keep going, so be it.

  • Comparing the Cuban government ti ISIS is like comparing a knot to an elephant and you know that

  • Supporting pro-democracy groups is not terrorism. As it happens, Canada does support pro-democracy activities in Cuba.

    If you equate democracy with terrorism, perhaps you ought to reflect on your values there?

  • It always makes me smile when Canadians criticize Americans in this way. Then you turn around and buy our cars, listen to our music, watch our movies, and even play our sports. What do we get for all this idol worship? Justin Bieber….

  • And paranoia, blind arrogance, and foreign interventionist policy will inevitably get you nowhere…except directly within the cross-hairs of those nations and religious fanatics who will always seek revenge. If the American government spent all of that wasted time, effort, and money properly looking after their own at home, many of the problems of inequality, poverty, and injustice within the US itself could be dramatically reduced. Instead your government is compelled to squander those resources on meddling in the affairs of other nations…and constantly risking the safety of American travelers abroad. But I suppose that’s nothing that a Canadian flag stickpin can’t cure when worn in the lapel of those proud Americans on safari around the globe…right?

  • I hear that all the time. Right up to the moment when anti-government groups like Boka Haram kidnap 247 innocent girls and the world then asks, “Where is the US?”. To whom much is given, much is required.

  • It is not the job of the U.S. to be the world’s policeman and interfere with the sovereignty of other countries. The U.S. needs to clean up its own yard before cleaning others.

  • To the Child Abuser, the efforts of police and social workers who work to eliminate the abuse of children may seem like “force”. But to civilized society, it is simply putting your money where your mouth is. The US, blessed by God, must use our moral authority, where it exists, to ensure that tyranny is defeated wherever it exists. For example, if we don’t defeat Islamism ‘over there’, it will surely be visited upon us ‘over here’. If we don’t fight Castro tyranny in Cuba, it will surely make its way to the US.

  • Moses, I would agree with you that every individual has a responsibility to PROMOTE freedom and democracy throughout the world, but it’s another thing for your government to attempt to FORCE democracy on another sovereign nation. There lies the rub… that has always been the root of America’s injustice in the face of international law regarding Cuba.

  • There is a big difference between “monitoring” terrorists cells in the US, whose aim is to kill, maim and strike fear in the hearts and minds of innocent people and arresting and beating middle age women dressed in white marching peacefully after Sunday Mass. We have a RESPONSIBILITY to promote freedom and democracy anywhere in the world but especially at our doorstep in Cuba. The lack of freedom in Cuba has a direct effect on Americans in Miami and elsewhere.

  • Americans can’t live in a bubble. The lack of freedom and democracy in Cuba directly affects Americans. Relatively speaking, the amount of money the US spends in promoting democracy in Cuba is miniscule. ANY impact these expenditures may have in assisting pro-democracy activists in Cuba is money well spent. Calling this “terrorism” is ridiculous. Our intention is to promote technology, communication and the expansion of modern ideology. These are not the tools of terrorism. On the contrary, these are the methods to combat totalitarianism, another name for terrorism.

  • Maybe in your book. You’re Canadian and don’t even pay US taxes. I don’t see Canada taking part in this terrorism that the U.S. is inflicting on Cuba.

  • Some of this cash would be well spent in improving racial equality in the United States!

  • Some of that money might well be spent in improving racial equality in the United States.!

  • Griffin, yes, you are correct. I can also think of thousands of ways that our taxes are wasted in programs, donations, suppport, etc. But I think that the main “essence” here is simple: What right do we have as a nation to interfere in the affairs of another nation? So if Cuba now “developed” a list of nations that interfere in their affairs and “called” it a “terrorist list” (since the people that we are supporting with our taxes are creating discontent in Cuba, thus internal terrorism) what would we say? Yes, it sound silly, it is a silly notion, but not as silly as what we are doing. When we have people in the mosques, churches, corners speaking evil of our government what do we do? We track them, we monitor them, we tape their conversations, etc. What is the difference Griffin? Oh, that there they get you immeately and here “is just a matter of time”? Get real, we have no business doing that in Cuba.

  • Helping people working for freedom, democracy and human rights in Cuba is a disgrace?

    I can think of a number of things your tax dollars are wasted on. Promoting human rights in Cuba is a worthwhile cause.

  • That’s such a disgrace that our taxes are being wasted this way.

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