Exposed: Three USAID plots to destabilize Cuba

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Exposed: Three USAID plots to destabilize Cuba


The State Department oversees USAID counterrevolutionary programs.
The State Department oversees USAID counterrevolutionary programs.

1) ZunZuneo

Ever since the people’s victory in 1959, U.S. imperialism has made it a top priority to overthrow the Cuban Revolution and bring back the old elite. The recently-exposed ZunZuneo scandal, the so-called Cuban Twitter, is just the latest chapter in this ongoing effort.

ZunZuneo is the name given to a social networking platform that was largely a replica of Twitter, set up in 2010 by the United States Agency for International Development and contractors hired by the agency. The purpose was to build a base of unsuspecting Cuban users, and then introduce rumors and misinformation to destabilize the country’s socialist government.

As revealed in a recent Associated Press investigation, the operators of ZunZuneo at first generated what they called “non-controversial content” and did not manufacture any political posts. The true purpose of the site was not to be revealed until later, when the project’s directors envisioned “smart mobs” gathering based on rumors and slander they would spread over ZunZuneo.

This type of operation is popularly associated with the U.S. military or CIA, but USAID is ostensibly a humanitarian aid organization. The ZunZuneo scandal exposes a key tactic of U.S. imperialism—to use USAID along with similar agencies and NGOs to carry out political operations and distribute money to opponents of any government that resists U.S. imperialism.

These schemes are usually referred to as “democracy promotion” activities. In this instance it was overseen by USAID’s euphemistically named Office of Transition Initiatives – meaning in the case of Cuba transition from socialism back to the tyranny of the old ruling class. Well over $150 million has been spent towards these ends since the passage of a law in 1996 that significantly escalated the U.S. campaign against Cuba.

The ZunZuneo project was discontinued in 2012 after funding ran out for unclear reasons. At its height, the network had approximately 40,000 users. The recent revelations have prompted Congressional hearings, but of course these will not condemn the criminal aggression of U.S. imperialism against the Cuban Revolution.

Cuba has had to defend itself against countless plots in the 65 years since the triumph of the revolution. These range from the more outlandish, such as ZunZuneo, to the most despicable forms of terrorism.

After news of USAID’s involvement in ZunZuneo came to light, the Cuban Ministry of Foreign Affairs released a statement pointing out how the scheme “once again demonstrated that the government of the United States has not given up on its subversive plans against Cuba…to which the government of the United States continues to dedicate budgets of millions of dollars every year.”

Cuba has been able to withstand these attacks because of the revolutionary consciousness of its people. Every attempt by U.S. imperialism to cultivate internal opposition or strangle the country economically to make conditions unbearable has not succeeded. With ZunZuneo specifically, the U.S. government thought that Cuban youth were easy targets, but once again young people refused to turn against their revolution.

2) Fake HIV seminars aimed at recruiting Cuban youth

The U.S. government has once again been caught trying to subvert Cuba’s sovereignty. The news agency AP has just revealed a United States Agency for International Development (USAID) covert operation to infiltrate Cuban society with young people from Latin America, recruit “apathetic” youth and turn them into anti-government counterrevolutionary forces.

According to the AP, the campaign was launched in late 2009. Fortunately, it failed in its aims and was abandoned after Cuban security and patriotic Cubans detected the subversive operation.

USAID was instituted under the Kennedy administration. Along with the Alliance for Progress and the U.S. Peace Corp, all begun in 1961, these entities were part of the U.S. public strategy to counter the influence of the new Cuban Revolution and rising popular struggles throughout Latin America.

Although USAID has been touted giving health, disaster and food assistance, the aid is always tied to U.S. political influence and demands.

In recent years, USAID has played a stepped-up role in fostering opposition groups within countries of progressive or revolutionary bent. Using billions of dollars, money is funneled, often secretly, into countries that refuse to bow to U.S. imperialism.

The aim is overthrow, by financing the formation of opposition groups, and organizing inside the target country to create disturbances and destabilization. Cuba, Venezuela, Ecuador and Bolivia have been heavily targeted by USAID schemes. Last year Bolivia’s president Evo Morales ordered the expulsion of USAID.

According to documents uncovered by AP, the agency contracted Creative Associates International to carry out the program. CAI is the same company that hired a U.S. contractor, Alan Gross, to bring sophisticated communications equipment secretly into Cuba and establish an underground network undetectable by the Cuban government. This network was then to be used by counterrevolutionaries for whatever plans the U.S. directed.

Gross was arrested in December 2009, tried and convicted in a Cuban court of subverting the country’s sovereignty, and is serving a 15-year sentence. Amazingly, despite Gross’s arrest, CAI continued soon after with the “youth recruitment” program.

Earlier, in April 2014, AP’s investigation exposed another program, of USAID attempting to create a social media site “ZunZuneo,” aimed at subversion. To try to hide the U.S. government’s fingerprints, Zunzuneo was routed through several countries, from Latin America to Europe to Cuba.

That plan too failed.

As the latest revelation shows, Creative Associates and USAID hired young people from Venezuela, Costa Rica and Peru to enter Cuba posing as tourists and use the guise of HIV prevention seminars to find Cuban youth who could later be turned into agents of regime change.

The agents were to check in with their officials every 48 hours using encrypted emails systems like Hushmail. Their reports focused on in-depth bios of personalities, traits, and leadership capabilities of the Cuban youth they befriended. According to AP they spoke using coded phrases like “I have a headache” which would mean “we suspect we are being monitored and will temporarily abstain from carrying out the objectives of the trip.”

According to AP the “Obama administration defended its use of the HIV-prevention workshop for its Cuban democracy-promotion efforts.” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said it “enabled support for Cuban civil society, while providing a secondary benefit of addressing the desires Cubans express for information and training about HIV prevention.”

The statements from the White House insult the intelligence of the people.

Democracy obviously does not come through covert actions, subversion, espionage, or from people who don’t even live in the society concerned.

In reality this had nothing to do with democracy and everything to do with imperialist domination. For centuries the U.S. has tried to control the markets of Latin American countries for its own enrichment. This recent scenario is only the latest episode in the long history of the U.S. trying to overthrow the people’s revolutionary government in Cuba.

The Cubans are familiar with these kinds of subversive plots. They place this case within the bigger picture of a class war. A statement published in Granma, the official organ of the Central Committee of the Cuban Communist Party, read: “[T]his new subversive project… [is] part of Unconventional Warfare strategy which has gained popularity in recent years. This form of warfare seeks to realize the goals of domination and regime change in countries that the U.S. considers contrary to its interests. This is done without direct involvement of traditional forces on the ground.”

Although we have seen these kinds of actions before from the U.S. government, the character of this case is particularly appalling. Using something as important as health education in a world where people are suffering or dying from HIV is shameful. It threatens the existence of legitimate HIV-prevention programs. It takes the world backwards and away from eliminating HIV. Furthermore, the insidious tactics of these agents to befriend Cubans, worm their way into communities, and use information against them was underhanded and treacherous.

But where imperialism is concerned shame has no effect on its actions. The imperialists have no conscience, only an insatiable drive for domination and wealth. They lie to the people of the United States by portraying U.S. foreign aid like USAID as helping people but instead it is secretly re-routed to political warfare. That’s why we must become vigilant and join the movement against imperialism in all of its forms.

3) Attempt to foster anti-government Cuban hip hop network

In this most recent scandal, USAID, the United States International Agency for Development, paid for Cuban rappers to create dissent against the Cuban government. The operation lasted over two years in secret within the hip hop movement but was reportedly a profound failure.

The operation was lead by Serbian contractor Rajko Bozic. He recruited Cubans in the hip hop scene to build a network that could be used by U.S. reactionaries against the Cuban government.

Bozic was himself recruited because of his involvement in a musical movement that was reportedly used against Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic during the U.S.-led breakup of the formerly united Yugoslavia.

Bozic recruited hip hop groups like Los Aldeanos. The duo had a following on the hip hop scene and had at times been critical of the Cuban government. Bozic and his counterrevolutionary funders hoped they could use the group as puppets to dupe Cuban youth into a pro-capitalist platform.

Bozic sent Los Aldeanos to Serbia for political training. He tried to build up their reputation, and organize a festival in a right-wing direction as a platform for the group to spout lies against the Cuban revolution.

According to documents uncovered by the news agency Associated Press, USAID contracted Washington, D.C.-based Creative Associates for the operation. Creative was “paid millions of dollars to undermine Cuba’s communist government,” said the AP. Creative Associates used Bozic and a complicated network of organizations including a front company in Panama and a Lichtenstein bank. The network is reminiscent of an espionage film’s plot, yet Creative Associates claims that the program was not covert.

This network didn’t stop Cuban security officials, used to underhanded U.S. schemes, from quickly learning of the plot and putting a stop to it.

The uncovered documents and Creative Associate’s previous sordid history show that the operation was in fact covert. The secrecy was used to conceal any ties from the hip hop groups to USAID, an organization which would have alerted the Cuban government immediately.

USAID is well known by Latin American and independent or left-wing governments as an organization acting on behalf of U.S. imperialism. It has already been ousted from countries like Bolivia for its operations.

USAID was instituted under the Kennedy administration. Along with the Alliance for Progress and the U.S. Peace Corp, all begun in 1961, these entities were part of the U.S. public strategy to counter the influence of the new Cuban Revolution and rising popular struggles throughout Latin America.

Although USAID has been touted for giving health, disaster and food assistance, the aid is always tied to U.S. political influence and demands.

This scandal is the third uncovered in just one year. In April and August, Liberation News published articles detailing other USAID-led operations. This included the creation of a social media site, “ZunZuneo,” and the hiring of young Latin Americans to enter Cuba posing as tourists and use the guise of HIV prevention seminars. Both operations were aimed at subversion.

The Atlantic commented on this history, writing, “The United States has infamously plotted to shower Cuba with gifts ranging from exploding cigars to conch shells, poisoned wetsuits to milkshakes, in an effort to undermine and end the regimes of Fidel and Raul Castro.”

The imperialist United States will use whatever means at its disposal to overthrow countries. Whether through outright warfare like in a Libya, fomenting civil war in Syria or covert operations, the aim is the same.

This scandal also shows that the recent Obama announcement of changing U.S.- Cuba relations represents the same imperialist agenda via different means. The changes are made by the liberal capitalists who want to destroy Cuban socialism through corporate “pro-democracy” programs.

The blockade against Cuba still stands, and new covert plots are exposed. Meanwhile Cuba provides a revolutionary example in contrast to U.S. capitalism. At these times it’s incumbent upon us here in the heart of imperialism to oppose all forms of U.S. imperialism and to stand with Cuba!

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