Cuban Youth Targeted by New US Leadership Training Program

Tracey Eaton  (alongthemalecon)

US Interests Section office building in Havana.
US Interests Section office building in Havana.

HAVANA TIMES – The State Department plans to spend $1,212,000 to send 75 to 100 Cuban teenagers to the United States in the summers of 2015 and 2016, “to develop leadership skills and learn about civic participation and community engagement.”

The teenagers will remain in the U.S. for three to four weeks as part of the project, called “Summer Leadership Program for Cuban Youth.”

Participants must be 16 to 18 years old. English proficiency is not required. The program will be conducted in Spanish.

The Cuban students will take part in “youth-appropriate leadership activities and workshops in a safe environment, interact with American youth and gain first-hand experience with community engagement.”

Students will stay with American families for six to eight days during the program “to further introduce the students to American culture.”

The State Department’s Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs on May 29 announced that it is looking for a non-governmental organization or an educational institution to run the project. The application deadline is June 30.

According to the bureau’s request for applications:

The program delivery should be primarily interactive activities, practical experiences, and other hands-on opportunities to learn about the fundamentals of a civil society, leadership skills, critical thinking, democratic principles and community service. The activities could include participation in clubs, camps, seminars, workshops, simulations and role-playing, teambuilding exercises, case studies, a volunteer service project, leadership training exercises, meetings, classroom visits, site visits, and social time among peers.

Other activities may include visits to historical sites, local, state and/or national government centers, community centers, non-governmental organizations, museums and landmarks that combine learning about the principles of government, history, and society with tourism.

Age-appropriate cultural enrichment activities that provide opportunities for participants to interact with each other and Americans may also be part of the program. Programming should include additional American participants wherever possible, accounting for a lack of English language proficiency from Cuban participants.

The program may also include a maximum three-day study tour to Washington, D.C.

The contractor hired to run the program will “play a primary role” in selecting students for the program. The U.S. Interests Section in Havana will help the contractor “in disseminating promotional materials and in student selection.”

Participants will be chosen using “clearly identified criteria for the selection consistent with local law.” I wonder how the selection could be “consistent with local law” since such a program would likely be regarded as illegal in Cuba.

The contractor will be required to obtain the approval of students’ parent or guardian.

The State Department envisions 25 to 35 students taking part during the summer of 2015 and 50 to 65 during the summer of 2016.
Qualities that will enable students to be successful participants include “maturity, strong social skills, flexibility and open-mindedness.”

15 thoughts on “Cuban Youth Targeted by New US Leadership Training Program

  • Well, in the case of Mussolini, the Italian people hurried along his demise. Germany had to be invaded from all sides by several armies before he died. And even though Stalin died, the life of the people in the Soviet Union did not much improve after his death.

    Let’s pray that the people of Cuba will be spared those violent ends to the Castro dictatorship and that the devil will take back his spawn soon and that the transition to freedom & democracy will be as smooth and peaceful as possible.

  • Cuba will change and one day cubans will be free to express their ideas and aspirations without the fear of repression.

    Cubans have to wait, same as Spain had to wait for Franco to die, Italy waited for Mussolini to die, Germany waited for Hitler to die and Russia waited for Stalin to die.

    The power of the dictators can only be understood by those who are oppressed by them. Foreigners can’t understand.

  • May I ask, which tour company lead the trip? Some are legitimately interested in travel and are politically neutral. There is at least one US based travel company whose directors are well known radical leftists and which intentionally packs in the pro-Castro propaganda.

  • Pointing out that other regimes were also ruthless does not refute the fact that the Castro regime was brutal. To answer one of your questions, many villages in the Escambray mountains were razed by the Cuban army as they put down the rebellion.

    Since we are recommending books to each other, ”Against All Hope: The Prison Memoirs of Armando Valladares” provides a thorough description of the brutality of the ruthlessness of Castro regime toward dissidents, counter-revolutionaries and other “enemies” .

  • Our two teens just got back from Cuba and enjoyed the travel guides, we had little propaganda and a wonderful experience

  • “Ruthless” ? Really ? What dictionary do you Cuba haters use ? I suggest you read the book “Red Heat” which inter alia, documents how the governments of Haiti, the DR and Cuba treated their people in the 60’s and 70’s and how those governments were treated by GOUSA. Or take John’s advice and read William Blum. Or just look at today’s newspaper’s – the US favored Egyptian government condemning 529 Islamic Brotherhood members to death in a 2 day summary trial. What is the most ruthless act by the Cuban government in the last 50 years ? How many people were buried alive, how many villages razed ? I guess it’s much easier to repeat the tired cliches of the right – “useless idiots” and “ruthless dictatorship” rather than do an apples to apples comparison.

  • The Castro dictatorship has lasted this long because it is a ruthlessly effective dictatorship, the borders are porous enough to allow the discontented to leave but secure enough to keep them from returning. Most importantly, the regime has always found a sugar daddy to subsidize their tyranny and plenty of useful idiots to defend her against any critics.

  • A group of local high school students went to Cuba a couple of years back. Upon their return, what they described was no less than, err, THE NEW JERUSALEM! I didn’t disabuse them of their illusions…it is always dangerous to suddently awaken a dreamer. Still, with all its problems and shortcomings, Cuba is trying to do the best she can for her children. For all those on this forum who carp about the “Castro dictatorship,” I would ask: Why has the Revolution lasted these past 55 years?! I’ll answer my own question with a quote from a book I’m now reading. To quote Samuel Johnson, “I consider that in no government power can be abused long. Mankind will not bear it. If a sovereign oppresses his people to a great degree, they will rise and cut off his head. There is a remedy in human nature against tyranny, that will keep us same under every form of government.” Jas.Boswell’s LIFE OF JOHNSON, March 31st, 1772.
    If most of the people of Cuba thought that Fidel was a tyrant, rather than a liberator, they would have overthrown him by now. For all the rants of Griffin and Moses (and others here who would seek to lead the readers astray), note this fact: after 55 years, The Revolution still survives–and will survive!

  • I wrote my final paper on a topic such as this when I took an educational trip to Cuba in 2013.
    This is a much better use of resources than the waste of money that is most USAID programs for Cuba. Hopefully this program works out well so they can expand it.
    This seems like a much more affordable way to help seed change than TV/Radio Marti.

  • US teenagers are allowed to travel to Cuba. Many school groups have taken tours of Cuba, where they get the full propaganda treatment from tour guides trained & selected by the regime.

  • Too bad U.S. teenagers aren’t allowed to travel to Cuba to see how they live there under the U.S assault on that economy.
    But then, I would bet that fewer than half of them could even find Cuba on a map .

  • An excellent program and i too agree, good job!

  • There is a program here in the ‘States called ‘Outward Bound’ that began many years ago to give city kids a chance to get out of the city for a couple weeks to the fresh air of the country and during this time also learn some leadership and socialization skills. Fairly harmless stuff. Sounds a lot like that program.

  • Jaja! Another Peter Pan for adolescents?

  • Excellent idea! I hope the Castros will not set upon castigating these young people or their families upon their return to Cuba.

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