I have always been led to believe that the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) was a humanitarian agency, providing assistance to people around the world to improve their lives, not to overthrow their government (AKA “Regime Change”). Silly me!
According to the Associated Press, Yahoo News and other sources, an intelligence program, known as “ZunZuneo,” was created through a cleverly crafted network of unsuspecting executives and an offshore Cayman Islands bank account, all funded through the United States Agency for International Development, or USAID.
But with ZunZuneo, the goal was the opposite. Its mission was to plant a seed among the Cuban people that would function as an instrument to turn people against the communist government. Then the contractors would harvest the information, with the intention of compiling valuable intelligence on the island.
(“Zunzuneo” is Cuban slang for the tweet of a hummingbird.)
ZunZuneo would seem to be a throwback to the Cold War and a decades-long struggle between the United States and Cuba. It came at a time when the sour relationship between the countries had improved, at least marginally, and Cuba had made tentative steps toward a more market-based economy.
The social media project began after Washington-based Creative Associates International obtained a half-million Cuban cellphone numbers. It was unclear to the AP how the numbers were obtained, although documents indicate they were done so illicitly from a key source inside the country's state-run provider. Project organizers used those numbers to start a subscriber base.
ZunZuneo's organizers wanted the social network to grow slowly to avoid detection by the Cuban government. Eventually, documents and interviews reveal, they hoped the network would reach critical mass so that dissidents could organize "smart mobs" — mass gatherings called at a moment's notice — that could trigger political demonstrations, or "renegotiate the balance of power between the state and society."
For more than two years, ZunZuneo grew, reaching at least 40,000 subscribers. But documents reveal the team found evidence Cuban officials tried to trace the text messages and break into the ZunZuneo system. USAID told the AP that ZunZuneo stopped in September 2012 when a government grant ended.
ZunZuneo vanished abruptly in 2012, but the Communist Party remains in power — no Cuban Spring on the horizon.
Two senior Democrats on congressional intelligence and judiciary committees said Thursday they had known nothing about the effort, which one of them described as "dumb, dumb, dumb."
(Guess who. - Answer here: http://news.yahoo.com/video/leahy-us-cuba-program-not-205513908.html )
A showdown with that senator's panel is expected next week, and the Republican chairman of a House oversight subcommittee said that it, too, would look into the program.
As might be expected, Cuba isn’t very happy about this.
Josefina Vidal, director of U.S. affairs at Cuba's Foreign Ministry, said late Thursday in a statement that the ZunZuneo program "shows once again that the United States government has not renounced its plans of subversion against Cuba, which have as their aim the creation of situations of destabilization in our country to create changes in the public order and toward which it continues to devote multimillion-dollar budgets each year."
"The government of the United States must respect international law and the goals and principles of the United Nations charter and, therefore, cease its illegal and clandestine actions against Cuba, which are rejected by the Cuban people and international public opinion,"
...and its illegal and clandestine actions against Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya, Iran, Venezuela, Egypt, Somalia, Sudan – the list goes on!