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    5 findings about USAID travelers’ program in Cuba

    Posted on Monday, 08.04.14

    5 findings about USAID travelers’ program in Cuba
    THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

    In April, The Associated Press revealed that the U.S. Agency for
    International Development had overseen the creation of a secret “Cuban
    Twitter” program to stir political dissent on the island and bypass
    Cuba’s stranglehold on the Internet. But that program was part of a
    larger operation.

    A new story by the AP reveals the agency secretly dispatched young Latin
    Americans to Cuba using health and civic programs to provoke political
    change. The operation began just as American contractor Alan Gross was
    sent to jail in December 2009 while working for another USAID-sponsored
    project.

    The traveler’s program posed significant risk for its young recruits as
    well as for USAID itself. Its effectiveness is unclear.

    Here are five things to know:

    1.”THE PERFECT EXCUSE”: The young spies from Costa Rica created an
    HIV-prevention workshop that they called “the perfect excuse” to recruit
    political activists, a ruse that could undermine USAID’s credibility in
    critical health work around the world.

    2.THEIR EFFORTS WERE FRAUGHT WITH INCOMPETENCE AND RISK. Cuban
    authorities questioned who was bankrolling the travelers, and there was
    no safety net for the young Latin Americans, who were doing work that
    was explicitly illegal in Cuba.

    3.VENEZUELANS AND PERUVIANS WERE DEPLOYED TO CUBA’S COLLEGE CAMPUSES.
    The objective was to recruit university students with the long-term goal
    of turning them against their government. Potential recruits were listed
    by name, and then profiled, their leadership qualities assessed in a
    spreadsheet.

    4.WHETHER ANY OF THE POLITICAL OBJECTIVES WERE EVER REALIZED IS UNCLEAR.
    In fact, their Cuban contacts in recent interviews with the AP said they
    were astonished to discover that their foreign friends were acting on
    behalf of the U.S. government.

    5.THE CONTRACTOR, CREATIVE ASSOCIATES INTERNATIONAL, CHANGED ITS
    STRATEGY. In September 2010, Creative Associates shifted from sending
    outsiders into Cuba to develop dissidents among college students to
    getting exit visas for the new leaders and training them off the island.
    Other beneficiaries in Cuba would receive cash payments to run the
    recruitment efforts.

    Source: 5 findings about USAID travelers’ program in Cuba – Nation Wires
    - MiamiHerald.com –
    http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/08/04/4270229/5-findings-about-usaid-travelers.html