The United States government secretly sent young people from across Latin America to Cuba to undermine the government, the Associated Press reportedMonday. These operatives were given little training and paid badly, despite a real risk of arrest and prison, and attempted to recruit young Cubans through civic programs, including an HIV prevention workshop.
The choice of a U.S.-sponsored HIV workshop in Cuba is an interesting one, since Cuba’s HIV infection rate is one of the lowest in the world, and one-sixth that of the U.S. But it appears the disease was not necessarily the focus of the workshop, which was attended by 60 people. Fernando Murillo, after returning from Cuba, put together a report detailing his activities for Creative Associates, the USAID contractor hired to work against Cuba’s government. His only mention of HIV says it was “the perfect excuse for the treatment of the underlying theme,” meaning anti-government organizing.(Think Progress)
Reading this, I don’t know what’s worse, that (a)that USAID – a part of the U.S. government, I might add – actually thought they could get away with this, or (b)that no one would call them out on this…oh, wait: like this?
Cuba isn’t the only Latin American country whose government has been targeted by U.S. development programs. An analysis of Wikileaks cables by the Center for Economic and Policy Research found evidence of USAID efforts to undermine democratically-elected governments in Bolivia, Venezuela, and Haiti. One cable said that in Venezuela’s 2009 protests, all the protest leaders received funding from USAID contractor Development Alternatives, Inc. (DAI). In a 2006 cable, USAID/OTI partners took credit for shutting down a Venezuelan city.(Think Progress)
Of course, actions like these do have consequences; USAID has been kicked out of Bolivia, Russia and a few other countries for untoward acts, and Kenya even went so far as to accuse them of fomenting civil rebellion against the Kenyese government.