USAID’s Delicate Secrets Regarding Cuba

Tracey Eaton  (alongthemalecon)

HAVANA TIMES – In 2010, the U.S. Agency for International Development announced a multimillion-dollar Cuba project called “Creating Networks and Empowering Communities,” or CNECT.

Contractors hoping to run the program submitted proposals to USAID. I filed a Freedom of Information Act request for the proposals in March 2011.

Months later, USAID released a heavily redacted 33-page document that revealed little information about the project, not even the name of the winning contractor.

I appealed the ruling.

Now, four years later, USAID has denied my appeal.

Luis Garcia
Luis Garcia

In a March 18 letter, Luis F. Garcia, acting director for USAID’s Office of Management Services, rejected my appeal and described public interest in the disclosure of such information as “minimal.”

In my 2011 appeal, I wrote that USAID had refused to say who submitted the winning proposal even though the name of the contractor – Loyola University – was clearly visible in publicly available contract records.

Garcia said I failed to prove that. After reading his letter, it dawned on me: There was a second CNECT contract. And it doesn’t show up in publicly available contract records.
USAID, as far as I can tell, is keeping the contractor’s identity secret.

Garcia cited several reasons why the information was withheld. Documents, he said, were redacted to protect “confidential commercial information.”

He said release of contractors’ names could lead to the identity of employees working in Cuba and that could violate their right to privacy. Garcia wrote:

…We balance the public’s right to disclosure against the individual’s right to privacy. Undoubtedly, individuals have an even stronger privacy interest in avoiding physical harm. Cuba is considered a “high risk” country. Individuals working there on behalf of the U.S. government could be subject to intimidation, harassment and or violence. For these reasons, the identity of the awardee – the employer of the person whose privacy rights were considered for disclosure – is protected pursuant to FOIA Exemption 6. The privacy interests of the individuals in the records you have requested outweigh any minimal public interest in disclosure of the information. records show that USAID awarded $2 million to Loyola University for a piece of the CNECT project in September 2010 (download record).

I reviewed the request for applications and other information and see that the agency had planned to award two contracts, not just one. The contracts were to be worth up a total of $6 million.
The USAID award number for the Loyola project was AID-OAA-A-10-00041.
I now realize that my FOIA was for a different CNECT contract, with an award number of AID-W-ooA-GRO-LMA-10-00061. I can’t find anything in records for that contract. And that’s why I didn’t prove that the contractor’s name was publicly available.
Here’s how Garcia put it:

In response to claim two (2), you provided no weblinks or other location(s) where you assert this information is “publicly disseminated or (…) readily available” and therefore infer the proposal should be released. Without proof, we are unable to confirm public availability of this information.

…You did not provide evidence to substantiate your claim that the “…USAID withholds the name of the contractor even though the organization’s name apparently appears on a government website called”

You indicate that the awardee’s name apparently appears on the website. You do not demonstrate, however, that you, in fact, identified the name of the awardee in connection to the award number (USAID-W-ooA-GRO-LMA-10-00061) cited in your request. Accordingly, we maintain the awardee’s name could subject its employees to physical harm and, when balanced against public interest, the physical safety of the employees is greater. 

After receiving Garcia’s letter, I am more intrigued than ever about the project. USAID has disclosed the names of other contractors working in Cuba. Why keep this one secret?

I have only vague information about the project. The redacted winning proposal that USAID sent me in 2011 said the program was aimed at civil society groups, “especially those focused on promoting self-employment and entrepreneurial initiatives.”
The project was designed to:

  • Build the technical, networking, and core administrative capacities of nascent on-island Civil Society Groups (CSGs), especially those focused on promoting self-employment and entrepreneurial initiatives, to increase their ability to provide information to their members, to network, and to identify and resolve issues of common concern.
  • Pilot the establishment of Savings and Credit Groups that target Cuba’s marginalized populations – especially those living in rural areas.

The contractor said civil society partners in Cuba assisted:

a variety of Cubans with special attention to the poor, to Afro-Cubans, to women, and to other marginalized populations. They provide much-needed (redacted) and other basic services to the Cuban people, paving the way for independent development on the island not only in the future, but at the current time. The CSGs are truly the building blocks of civil society as Cuba moves into a new era.

USAID redacted the executive summary, the program summary, the objectives, the expected results, the implementation plan and more. The document said:

What has been described here is the plan, but this is a very delicate project. It is very likely that changes will be made along the way. (redacted), USAID, and (redacted) will all need to work together to adjust and change as conditions change and as we all learn more about implementing these types of programs.

I wonder what two names were redacted in that last sentence. The contractor was probably one of them. What about the other? Who else was working with USAID?
The proposal also mentions the sending of “trainers” to Cuba, but does not provide an explanation.
In 2011, the agency told me in a letter that release of such information would compromise “all of USAID program’s worldwide.”

I appealed, writing:

The agency argues that greater transparency would harm its operations abroad.

I would argue the opposite: Secrecy is what hurts the agency, damaging its image around the world and raising suspicions about other less sensitive, but worthy USAID programs.

Running clandestine or semi-secret operations in a foreign country jeopardizes relationships with nations and organizations around the world. Such actions also draw attention to other USAID programs, hindering the ability of U.S. government employees and contractors to carry out their work abroad.

Clandestine programs undermine the public trust because they make it difficult or impossible to know if the government is spending tax dollars wisely.

Hiding information about these programs also hinders the ability of the public to understand how the government makes decisions and carries out its responsibilities.

Loyola received $4,598,379 from USAID from March 14, 2008, to Sept. 24, 2010, records show. That included:

  • $2 million for the CNECT program
  • $1.5 million for a Cuba program called “Yes We Can!”
  • $1,098,379 for “a comprehensive program to raise the performance of civil society” (the funds included included $100,000 in emergency hurricane relief aid awarded Sept. 19, 2008, after Hurricane Ike struck Cuba earlier that month.

creativeIncluded in that last program was $498,379 awarded on Sept. 30, 2008, and described as “Incremental Funding to fully fund CA with Loyola.”

USAID’s top Cuba contractor in 2008 was Creative Associates International, based in Washington, D.C. Records show that the for-profit company has received at least $1.4 billion from the U.S. government, most of it from USAID, since 2000. Perhaps Creative Associates was Loyola’s secret partner.

On Sept. 29, 2008, USAID awarded Creative Associates $6.5 million as part of a program aimed at accelerating Cuba’s transition to democracy.

Nearly three and a half years ago – 1,259 days, to be exact – I sent USAID a FOIA request for information on Creative Associates programs in Cuba.

I haven’t gotten an answer.

Garcia’s letter said I’d have to sue in U.S. District Court if I wanted to pursue the matter further. He wrote: This constitutes USAID’s final decision in the matter.

USAID’s top Cuba contractor in 2008 was Creative Associates International, based in Washington, D.C. Records show that the for-profit company has received at least $1.4 billion from the U.S. government, most of it from USAID, since 2000. Perhaps Creative Associates was Loyola’s secret partner.

On Sept. 29, 2008, USAID awarded Creative Associates $6.5 million as part of a program aimed at accelerating Cuba’s transition to democracy.

Nearly three and a half years ago – 1,259 days, to be exact – I sent USAID a FOIA request for information on Creative Associates programs in Cuba.

I haven’t gotten an answer.

Garcia’s letter said I’d have to sue in U.S. District Court if I wanted to pursue the matter further. He wrote:

This constitutes USAID’s final decision in the matter.


74 thoughts on “USAID’s Delicate Secrets Regarding Cuba

  • You write comments that reflect a mis-education. There is NOTHING in the US constitution that precludes the passage of laws that are socialist in nature. How do you KNOW that Cubans support Castros revolution? There has not been an open and independent election in Cuba in 56 years. Who knows what Cubans really want?

  • This is a good example of how obscene your logic is…. You see what you want to see…. The fact of the matter is that the USA is way more of a police state than Cuba will ever be…

  • But any law that is passed is not supposed to go against the constitution….On second note the key word is majority… and the overwhelming majority of Cubans support the Revolution….

  • In the US, if voters elected a majority of socialists to the Congress and a socialist President, they could pass laws making the US a socialist country. Of course Hell will have frozen over but it is possible.

  • According to the dictionary, it has nothing to do with guns. Just the same, every PNR that I ever saw carried a gun. But I suppose that you disagree with the dictionary now as well?

  • No it doesn’t The police in Cuba rarely carry guns….

  • Truth truth truth is my argument….. And you are misinterpreting the Cuban Constitution…. In no country in the world is a citizen permitted to change the whole structure of the government which is what Payas wanted…

  • Deny, deny, deny. Is that your argument? We both know the Castro dictatorship violated it own constitution by failing to bring an amendment to the Constitution to a vote.

  • I base my agreements and disagreements on research and facts not on propaganda like you Moses…

  • According to, police state is defined as “a country in which the activities of the people are strictly controlled by the government with the help of a police force”. Sounds like Cuba to me.

  • There are too many to mention Moses… We can start by the fact that you claim that Cuba is a police state, which is not true……..

  • Please point out the “lie” in my comment. It would appear that your capacity to defend your position is limited to name-calling.

  • Of course the Castros have discredited the petition. What you claim as “proven to be a fraud” is simply another manipulation of the facts. Let’s agree to disagree.

  • You are the one who tell lies but then again that is the most prominent attribute of the exiles…..All you say is either exaggerations or lies and I see that now… You are a Cuban Uncle Tom in the highest form.

  • Wrong again Moses…. The Varela project has been proven to be a fraud and that’s why the National assembly it rejected and that’s a fact… Many people that supposedly signed it didn’t even know that they signed it or what they signed….

  • Your comment is simply and unequivocally untrue. The signatures gathered exceeded the 10,000 required even when discounted for “irregularities”. These are the facts.

  • You know nothing about the varela project… The Varela so called signatures had a lot of irregularities…. It was a scam and nothing more… It wasn’t worth the paper it was printed on…

  • So when American diplomats agree with your twisted propaganda, you hold their endorsement in high regard but when they disagree, you call them names?

  • Simply not true. I have personally seen dissidents arrested for carrying protest signs that read Baja Fidel. An artist continues being incarcerated for painting pigs with the names Fidel and Raul. Those “citizens” you see on YouTube beating dissidents are undercover political police or their hired thugs. Javier, it is your right to defend the Castros but please don’t simply lie to make your points. No Cuban in the right mind would protest the regime in Plaza Revolution without accepting as fact that they will be beaten and arrested.

  • No, this is not true. Even when Cubans gathered far more than enough signatures to trigger an election (Varela project) ,the Castros ignored their own constitution and never scheduled the election. The US is run by rule of law. Cuba is a dictatorship.

  • Didnt Hugo Chavez change venezuela democratically yet the elites were not having it…

  • Its been done… But what you need to fear is the people…. Its like what do you think would have happened if people promoted a huge poster glorifying Osama bin laden in NY a day after 9 11… while its not against the law… it would be suicide to do so….

  • Its the truth…. Even American diplomats recognize that…

  • Your argument can be applied to Cuba…… If most people wanted to change the system it would be changed…. so you are an idiot….

  • The “idiot” is the one who can’t defend his thoughts without resorting to personal attacks. Your argument that the system can’t be changed is false. Just because it’s not the system that you choose doesn’t mean that it can’t be changed. It means that YOU and people who think like you can’t change it. I support the ‘system’. If what you want to change the system to is anything like your childish comments on this blog, I am glad you can’t change the system.

  • Is that the best that you have? Name-calling? No wonder the regime has gone begging to survive.

  • Really? Try walking across Plaza de Revolucion or Parque Central with a sign that says ‘Baja Fidel’.

  • hahahaha thats not true ……

  • Actually most of the Cuban so called dissidents are of the same quality as Charles manson….

  • but you can’t change the system… Its two sides of the same coin…. idiot…The same people are always in power with different faces…

  • Silly comment. Why overthrow what can change democratically?

  • Yes, he has a following. So does Charles Manson. That doesn’t mean he should make the news every time he speaks.

  • CAIR is a pro-Muslim organization. They have been accused of supporting directly and indirectly anti-US government activities. However, here in the US, anti-government does not mean illegal and is a constitutionally-protected activity.

  • Don’t confuse the lack of acknowledged public support for a lack of shared beliefs. The Castros have outlawed the public expression of dissent. It comas no surprise that the measure of public support is low. Who would dare publicly agree with the few brave dissidents and risk losing jobs, freedom and even their lives.

  • well that proves my point…. The so called dissidents have virtually no support in Cuba

  • I did and I proved my point….

  • Thats not true Moses… I know for a fact that every time Chomsky speaks, people from all over come to hear him….

  • so i was right that organization is not advocating the overthrow of the government in the USA…

  • CAIR is funded by foreign interests and they frequently take positions counter to the policy of the administration in power. There is no need to overthrow a government that is open to change.

  • I know who he is and I don’t agree with him. There are lots of extreme left-wing and right-wing intellectuals who don’t get the media exposure that their supporters believe that they deserve. CNN, FOX, ABC, and NBC would cover him if they believed people would watch. By the way, what you call “Hollywood” is the best and most effective means to get out your message.

  • wrong again. Most Americans don’t even know who Chomsky is but those who hear his ideas flock to him because they make sense…..I’m not talking about david letterman. Thats hollywood… I’m talking about CNN FOX ABC NBC ….

  • I googled it and you proved my point for me. This is a grassroots American Muslim Organization promoting American ideals… How are they a foreign agent of another country? How are they trying to promote the overthrow of the system of government in the US? The answer is they are not…. Its apples and oranges my friend….

  • You are mistaken. Google CAIR.

  • Your dim view of American intelligence doesn’t jive with your use and appreciation of American – made technology and medicine. Noam Chomsky has been published in the New York Times many times. His views are relatively unpopular and therefore no appearances on the David Letterman show.

  • Thats not true.. A good example would be Noam Chomsky who is one of the most important intellectuals of this era. I have neverseen him on mainstream media in the USA. having said that the media in this country is controlled by 6 corporations. This country is controlled by Corporations and they feed the masses disinformation. That’s why the average person on the street in the USA can’t even locate a country on the map.

  • No he is not. No foreign agent of another country is allowed to set up shop in America, especially if that person is a foreign agent is representing a country that is trying to destroy ours.

  • Here’s the difference: This foreign agent is allowed to set up a political party. He is allowed to buy ad space in the NY Times. He can be published in the Washington Post. As long as he obeys the laws which allow free speech to reach hundreds of millions of Americans, he would be allowed to proceed without fear of arrest and imprisonment.

  • So if someone is in the USA is a foreign agent for China and is trying to implement programs to subvert the Constitutional order of the USA, he should be allowed to do so. BY the way you do know that is illegal in the USA right?

  • Why should it be up to the US to “negotiate” changes in Cuba law?
    All nations should impose / continue sanctions until Cuba end the repression and violations of human rights, but it is the sole responsibility of the Castro regime that these abuses exist.

    As far as repressive laws go: Cuba has a lot more and more draconian laws than any other country you mention. The law of “dangeroussness” is one example.

    As far as the political prisoners Amnesty International has adopted as prisoners of conscience: whom do you refer to.
    My info:
    All political prisoners that have been adopted by Amnesty International listed in the 2014 AI report were allowed to leave prison as part of the 53 released by the regime in exchange for the remaining 3 spies. Two outright (?) and three serve their sentences outside prison (licensia extrapenal)
    Their names:
    – Emilio Planes Robert
    – Iván Fernández Depestre
    – Alexeis, Vianco and Django Vargas Martín (licensia extrapenal)
    The last three are still under sentence and can be returned to jail, at will, by the regime. They will still have to report to the Cuban authorities and cannot leave their provinces. “Amnesty International believes they should never have been detained in the first place and urge the Cuban authorities to immediately lift these restrictions to their freedom.”

    Sonia Garro Alfonso, who is a member of the Ladies in White (Damas de Blanco) a protest group, her husband Ramón Alejandro Muñoz González and their neighbour Eugenio Hernández Hernández, also closely followed by AI were also released.

    Amnesty just added another (April 2 release): Ciro Alexis Casanova Pérez, detained in Cuba since June 2014. He was sentenced in December 2014 to one year’s imprisonment for “public disorder”. Amnesty International considers him a prisoner of conscience, imprisoned solely for peacefully exercising his right to freedom of expression.

    12 former prisoners of conscience arrested as part of the mass crackdown in 2003 and released in 2011 were not allowed to travel abroad.

    The US does not “force” any media on Cuba. The US sponsors these news outlets in the hope Cubans can see them as an alternative source of information. Lots of Cubans that get past the information blockade of the regime like them. The only government that uses force here is the Castro regime that forcibly blocks these media and the others you refer to. It is only the Castro regime that forces its constant barrage of propaganda on the people using its total control of all media in Cuba. For a reason the “paquetes” with news, culture, entertainment that are illegally distributed in Cuba are more popular than the state media though only accessible to those with computers or media players. That is how the Cuban people speaks faced with the information blockade of the regime. It should be indeed up to the people and not the repressive and patronizing regime to decide what they watch. The “Cubans” as you refer to them are blocked by the Castro regime from “organizing things” the way they want, as you put it.

  • As I said some of Cuba’s laws need changing. In an ideal world they wouldn’t be there already, but we are where we are. It would be better for the US to negotiate these than some of the other things in the Helms Burton, such as insisting that Cuba has a Market Economy. However be aware that other countries have similar laws eg It is a crime to disrespect the King of Spain and the UK has a “loitering with intent” law. If you look at Amnesty International Cuba only has two prisoners of conscience and if you look at the Observer index on Human Rights, Cuba is only two positions away from the US out of all countries in the world (this is when factoring in the development level).

    I didn’t say that dissidents weren’t peaceful. I was referring to the USAID programs.

    The Helms Burton act clearly forces US government propaganda channels such as Radio and TV Marti on Cuba as well as insisting that they accept privatized, corporate US media. I personally don’t believe in corporate media full stop. There are many other options such as publicly owned bodies such as the BBC, non-profit media outlets and others. That is my view, but it is up to Cubans how they wish to organize things.

  • Thank you. What I take issue with in some of your statements is that I see them as isolationist and as an encouragement to complacency.

  • an yo explain me why it takes “rapprochement” to the US before Cuba brings its repressive laws in line with the International Declaration on Human Rights. I don’t see the link between relations with the US and respect for Human Rights. Shouldn’t Cuba respect human rights regardless?
    As far as the repressive laws of Cuba: they are applied and enforced very often,. From the “Gag Law” to the law of “dangerousness”: all applied on a regular basis.
    Note that ALL protest by dissidents in Cuba are peaceful. If there is any violence it always is the result of attacks by the “rapid response brigades” or the police.

    Note that the only propaganda that is forced on the Cuban people is that of the regime. All other channels are censored except for the select few. Your “point” about “being exposed to US propaganda” makes no sense. Shouldn’t it be up to the Cuban people themselves to select the information sources they want and like by the way?

  • I agree that some of Cuba’s laws need changing and hopefully that will happen within the context of the rapprochement of the two countries. However they aren’t enforced that much anyway. There are plenty of people who criticize and demand change and aren’t charged with anything.

    It isn’t lawful or peaceful to organize flash mobs or riots.

    You may be right regarding the telecommunications agreement – I haven’t looked into it that much. But I am all for Cubans getting to view sites such as Havana Times and making their own minds up, rather than the corporate propaganda the US wants to force on them.

  • I understand what you’re saying and respect your views.

  • You are being gullible regarding US activities. In a leaked memo they were clearly planning to create flash mobs. Though I don’t accuse the Obama administration of terrorism, the Bush administration clearly was and an incoming Republican administration might very well revert to those tactics. Most of the Cubans caught up in these schemes haven’t even been dissidents they were just ordinary people totally unaware that they were working for a foreign power. How do you justify that?

    The Black Panthers were mainly a defensive force trying to protect their communities against police brutality. The response by the authorities went way beyond just convicting members for violent activities. From Wikipedia “Federal Bureau of Investigation Director J. Edgar Hoover called the party “the greatest threat to the internal security of the country”,[8] and he supervised an extensive program (COINTELPRO) of surveillance, infiltration, perjury, police harassment, and many other tactics designed to undermine Panther leadership, incriminate party members, discredit and criminalize the Party, and drain the organization of resources and manpower. The program was also accused of using assassination against Black Panther members.”
    Whether Gabriel Garcia Marquez was denied entry to the US because of support for Colombian guerrillas or more likely his views on Latin America, none of these could ever be considered a security threat to the US. What excuse are you going to give for Marchais the French Communist leader not being allowed in? The fact that Marquez was Clinton’s favourite author and that they became close friends is irrelevant. At one point his views were seen as a threat and denied entry.

  • Dani: define “lawful”.
    Does this mean the repressive laws of the Castro regime should be respected? Then there is no change possible as all criticism and demand of change is outlawed.
    If you mean with “lawful” respecting international law, then US assistance is “lawful”.

    As far as the “recent agreements” on telecom go: nothing about internet there. Etecsa just eliminated the “middle-man” from the equation. It did reduce the cost of outgoing calls, but no change in the “termination fees” that international carriers have to pay to get connected to Cuba. It are those that keep the cost of calling Cuba high.

  • Anything that works.

  • It’s wrong to equate past US support for terrorist activities against Cuba, which were clearly illegal, with current support for pro-democracy and human rights groups in Cuba. The Cuban authorities consider those activities illegal because the Castro regime has criminalized dissent, outlawed democracy and routinely violated human rights.

    It is the Castro regime which is criminal, not Cuban dissidents and not the USAID programs which help them.

    The Black Panthers members were arrested solely for their violent activities. The organization still exists in the US today. Other non-violent Marxist groups in the US were not arrested.

    G. Marquez fled to Cuba when he learned the Colombian government was about to arrest him for providing financial support to the terrorist group M-19, which was armed, trained and funded by Cuba. That’s what got Marquez banned from entering the U.S. If you oppose US support for armed terrorists attacking Cuba, then by the same ethical standard, you must also object to Cuba, and individuals such as Marquez, for supporting armed terrorists who have bombed and assassinated hundreds of innocent Colombians. He was not granted a visa to enter the U.S. until Bill Clinton became president. Clinton said Marquez was one of his favourite writers.

  • Yes, on a dollar per capita basis, USAID programs directed at Cuba get much more funding than the foreign programs targeting the US.

    And while in the past, the US did support violent operations against Cuba, the current programs are all peaceful, pro-democracy & human rights related.

  • First: as far as the US goes and the question “how would the US react” to “meddling” of this kind in its internal affairs: it is indeed a “non issue” as none of the activities would be considered “meddling” and all can be freely engaged in. In the US these activities are not “meddling”. That you admitted yourself.

    The international declaration of human rights obligates Cuba to accept most of these activities that are supported as legal within its borders. you are stuck in “dualist” thinking, Tracey. This isn’t about the US and Cuba. It is about the legitimate rights of the Cuban people under international law.
    Respect of human rights should not be “controversial” in any country.
    Support for human rights wherever should also not be “controversial”.
    How far do you propose our acceptance of immoral laws should go?
    Note also that the Castro regime is a dictatorship and can not claim to represent national sovereignty. Having power doesn’t mean that a regime is representative.

  • Agreed. I have no problem with activities working for change in society within Cuba in a peaceful and lawful manner. I’m all for dialog such as people to people contacts, inter-government forums, business contacts. The recent agreements to cooperate on telecommunications and increase the internet connectivity is also a positive step. But this is a far cry from the clandestine and illegal activities of USAID. Which of these do you support?

  • A thoughtful response. To start with this isn’t an issue of the church carrying gladiolas, it is whether it is acceptable for the US to organize clandestine programs in Cuba.

    Black Panther members were certainly involved in violent crimes as you mention, but the US made it a mission to destroy the movement because of political reasons – they were black, they had Marxist tendencies but more than anything they were successful to a certain extent.

    As far as I’m aware Gabriel Garcia Marquez and communist leaders such as Marchais weren’t allowed into the US until after the end of the cold war when they were no longer perceived as a threat. I’m not sure what relevance your point about inconsistency is.
    The UK is clamping down on radical preachers isn’t because they advocate terrorist attacks directly, but because they radicalize youths to a point that they take such actions. Though not to the same degree there is a correspondence with US actions because they have been involved in terrorist and other criminal activity within Cuba and in a leaked document recently USAID discussed plans to create flash mobs. Cuba has the same right to clamp down on such activities by USAID.

  • Of course, just because an activity is legal in the U.S. doesn’t obligate another nation to accept it as legal within its borders. And just because an activity is deemed legal in the U.S. doesn’t mean that it is a “non-issue.” Some laws are controversial and change over time.

  • I agree with what you’re saying, Griffin. I’d argue that the scale and intensity of U.S. efforts in Cuba have probably been greater than the China/Saudi/Muslim Brotherhood examples you cite. But I get your point.

  • Other than this so called “open society” is not open to millions of its citizens. You can have “left wing U. profs because they don’t matter much in the decision making process. Pink paraders never lynched “breeders”, burned families out of their homes and bombed christian churches, there is no comparison. The drug war has resulted in millions of unemployable youths and adults unless at the caboose of the labour market. But regardless of all that, to employ obviously secret “contractors” or agents to meddle in other country’s national affairs is called espionage and subversion and constitutes an international act of aggression forbidden by international law.

  • The problem with arguments of moral equivalence is that the situations are not at all equivalent.

    During the Cold War, many people with vaguely Communist and Left wing views entered the US. Some of them found jobs on American campuses. A few were refused admittance. The Black Panthers were arrested because of the murders, assaults and robberies their members committed, not because of the political views they espoused. During the same period, hippies, gays and other socially undesirable people in Cuba were rounded up and sent to forced labour camps.

    Marquez was allowed a visa to visit the US on other occasions. When he was banned it was an act of diplomatic pique by the US in reaction to Marquez’s comments in support of some left-wing cause in Latin America. His books, and his commentary, have always been available in the US.

    The UK is clamping down on radical Islamists who have advocated terrorist attacks. Chopping the heads off British citizens and bombing the London Subway are not morally equivalent to the actions of human rights groups in Cuba, such as walking to church carrying gladiolas.

    I hope you can see the difference.

  • During the Cold War, the USSR did spend millions on funding various left wing organizations. Today, China continues to fund “cultural groups” as a cover for promoting China’s national interests in the US.

    The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has funded the construction of hundreds of mosques in the US, and the Muslim Brotherhood has established and infiltrated several organization in the US, including CAIR and the Muslim Student Association found on many US campuses. As the Muslim Brotherhood once declared, they are not in America to become Americans, but to conquer America for Islam.

    The government of Cuba has also sponsored, funded and directed agents of influence in US academia, media and cultural circles, as well as sending spies to infiltrate US government and military institutions.

    So yes, in fact the US has to varying degree tolerated the presence and activities of these various players through the years. It is a good question to ask whether the US should continue to tolerate them.

    However, while questioning whether it is proper for the US to fund pro-democracy groups in Cuba, it is an intellectual and moral error to equate groups working to establish democracy and promote human rights in Cuba with groups working to establish a Marxist or Islamist dictatorship in the US.

  • Tracy, the US allows Venezuela to sell cheap heating oil to US citizens. It allows lobbyists – after registering – to access legislators, the press, …
    The US allows TV channels from all over the world to be broadcasted on cable.
    The US allow free access to Internet.
    In fact: about all of the activities described above are perfectly legal in the US regardless of who sponsors them.
    What you describe as “meddling” in the case of Cuba is perfectly legal in the US.
    That makes it a “non-issue” as far as the US is concerned.

  • Here’s the difference: if these groups organized to change US society within the law, they would and should be permitted to do so. The problem with ISIS and the Vietnam is that they want to kill people. So far that is still illegal.

  • The issue isn’t diversity of views within a country, it is about one country trying to dominate another. During the cold war no one that had vaguely communist or left wing ideas was allowed into the US and I doubt that the Vietcong was allowed free reign to recruit on college campuses. Look how the Black Panthers were clamped down on. Even someone as innocuous as Gabriel Garcia Marquez wasn’t allowed a visa in case he influenced people adversely.
    In more recent times David Cameron announced that he was clamping down on radical Islamic preachers recruiting in mosques. He justified it on the grounds that “we wouldn’t allow the KKK freedom to recruit outside schools either”. And I agree with him. I doubt if the US stand by while Islamic State secretly infiltrated people masquerading as hippies into the country.

  • I wonder the same thing. Somehow I don’t think the U.S. gov’t would tolerate another country’s meddling in its internal affairs.

  • In case you were not aware of this, the US is an open society. We relish our extreme left-wing University professors as well as our hard – right wing church leaders. We allow KKK marches and Project Pink protests. Why in the Hell would someone need to spend millions of dollars in a free country like the US to help “open” society?

  • Wow I wonder if the roles were reversed and it was another country doing that in the US.

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