U.S. budgets $20 million for anti-Cuba groups
By Brenda Ryan
Published Apr 24, 2010 6:35 AM
For 50 years the U.S. government has tried to develop a counter-revolutionary movement in Cuba. While it has been defeated at every turn, it is once again pouring money into this campaign.
Using deceptive language, the U.S. State Department and the Agency for International Development (USAID) have announced that they intend to direct up to $20 million in funds “for human rights and civil society initiatives in support of the Cuban people.” Washington’s real goal is to undermine the Cuban revolution and turn Cubans into U.S. agents.
The funds include $2.9 million allegedly to “support efforts to promote greater freedom of expression on the island, especially among artists, musicians, poets, writers, journalists and bloggers”; $2.6 million to increase access to technology and new media to support “the strengthening of independent civil society organizations and networks”; and $2.5 million to Creative Associates “to reach out to new sectors of Cuban society to expand the network of independent actors working together toward positive, democratic change on the island.”
While the U.S. government bars most of its citizens from traveling to Cuba and spending money there, a select few have been allowed to go freely in order to deliver money and telecommunications equipment to its collaborators. These trips were cancelled in December after the arrest of Alan Gross by Cuban authorities as he was distributing equipment to such groups. Gross is a contractor with USAID, which has long been used as a front by the CIA. The Obama administration recently allowed these trips to resume.
The funding program also provides $1.5 million to so-called “political prisoners,” those who have been tried and convicted of trying to sabotage the Cuban revolution. A person convicted by Cuban courts of collaborating with the USAID program can receive a sentence of up to 20 years.
This funding is particularly hypocritical considering that the U.S. has more than 2 million people locked up in prisons and jails, many serving sentences decades long. The U.S. also has jailed the Cuban Five for nearly 12 years. The Five, who infiltrated CIA-backed, right-wing terrorist organizations operating in the U.S. in order to monitor and stop their plans to attack Cuba, were given sentences ranging from 15 years to two consecutive life terms.
The program also provides $500,000 to assist “independent” labor unions meaning anti-socialist organizations and to publicize any problems with Cuban labor conditions internationally. This is ludicrous. Anti-union legislation exists in much of the U.S. and workers pay the price: 29 miners in West Virginia just died because of preventable hazards in a non-union mine. While unions are on the defensive in the U.S. because of mass layoffs and lack of legal protection, they play a central role in Cuban society, which in turn provides free education and healthcare for everyone.
Women are trafficked and abused in the U.S. every day, yet the USAID program sanctimoniously budgets $350,000 for “women’s rights and to combat commercial sexual exploitation of women and girls.”
On April 15, President Barack Obama attended a Democratic Party fundraiser in Miami Beach hosted by pop singer Gloria Estefan, a well-known opponent of the Cuban government. Estefan’s father was one of the anti-communist Cubans involved in the failed April 1961 U.S.-backed Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba. Estefan asked for Obama’s help to get counter-revolutionaries out of prison in Cuba.
Luis Posada Carriles brags of masterminding the destruction of a civilian Cuban airliner. The Venezuelan government is trying to get him extradited from the U.S. to stand trial in Caracas. The Venezuelan lawyer in this case, Jose Pertierra, reported that the U.S. budget for creating a social opposition allied with the interests of Miami and the White House escalated under George W. Bush, growing from $3.5 million in 2000 to $45 million in 2008. (machetera.wordpress.com)
Pertierra noted that the State Department froze the funding program last year until an investigation of the project was completed. The investigation was initiated after the General Accountability Office reported that groups in Miami had misused millions of dollars. Sen. John Kerry, chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, put a temporary hold on the funding program pending an investigation of its effectiveness.
The renewed funding program shows that the Obama administration continues U.S. hostility toward Cuba. While Obama eased restrictions on travel to Cuba and on money remittances for Cuban Americans, he has done nothing to lift the blockade. And instead of freeing the Cuban Five, he has spoken out on behalf of those jailed in Cuba for working with the U.S. to destroy the Cuban revolution.
Kerry may well be right, however, to question the program’s “effectiveness.” Cubans for over 50 years have shown they are determined to remain independent and socialist, whatever Washington does.