USAID’s Cuba Programs Are Counterproductive

August 13, 2014 | Print Print |

Controversy. Photo: Juan Suarez

HAVANA TIMES — Instead of contributing to the democratization process the United States claims to support, the programs impelled by USAID on the island afford the Cuban government more pretexts for its anti-democratic and repressive policies. Below is the opinion that those who champion a participative and democratic form of socialism have regarding those programs.

Declaration of the supporters of Participative and Democratic Socialism

US leaders, interested in showing their electorates and Congress that they are concerned about and actively involved in promoting “democracy” in Cuba, take misguided steps time and time again, deploying counterproductive programs aimed at impelling a “democratic transition” on the island.

Not long ago, it was the Twitter-like Zunzuneo program, and now we are hearing about the sending of young Latin Americans to Cuba, tasked with “identifying” potential young leaders for “transition or destabilization” plans, depending on one’s perspective.

Either US leaders do not care one bit about the struggle of the Cuban people to set a true process of peaceful democratization in motion and build a society better than the one they have now, or they are so stubbornly set on prolonging the situation the people of Cuba are in to demonstrate how unviable “socialism” is that they are simply incapable of doing something sensible.

The one thing these kinds of programs implemented by USAID are good for is giving the Cuban government more pretexts to continue with its repressive policies at home and to step up its “customs and immigration controls.”

If it is truly interested in helping the Cuban people develop a process of democratization, what the United States should do is unconditionally lift all of its absurd, discriminatory and criminal blockade-embargo laws, laws which, as we have mentioned in previous articles, do not affect the living standards of the leadership in the least and do serve to justify their anti-democratic and repressive policies.

If the United States wanted to encourage the establishment of broad and free Internet access in Cuba, for instance, it could well approach the Cuban government to negotiate and facilitate Wi-Fi systems and computers at subsidized prices, destine USAID money to universities and other educational institutions in Cuba, facilitate communications for tourism clients or create public areas with fast and free access to the World Wide Web.

US plans to develop a broad Wi-Fi network that could include Cuban space are known. Why don’t the United States try and secure the collaboration of the Cuban government in these plans in a constructive fashion? Don’t they realize that implementing such plans behind the Cuban government’s back only prompts understandable paranoia?

The US government is wrong, very wrong, to believe that, because the Cuban government is chiefly responsible for the economic, social and political disaster Cuba faces, the Cuban people will easily forget its aggression, interventionism, absurd policies and its indirect responsibility for the current situation we are in.

Luckily, more realistic minds in the United States are asking for the lifting of the blockade-embargo.

Let us hope USAID’s recent mess-ups will help the current administration and other US power structures mend their mistakes.


What's your opinion?

  • dani

    Every word of this is so true and so elequently written. It is worth reading many times over.

  • Moses Patterson

    The missteps and fumbles chronicled here point up one clear fact. The best and brightest foreign policy minds in the US are focused elsewhere. Our Cuba “problem” has obviously been relegated to some mid or low level State Department analyst who clearly does not understand the level of planning needed to make a pro-democracy program work in Cuba. Proof of Cuba’s minor significance in the US foreign policy agenda is further confirmed by the career path of the Head of Station diplomats assigned to Interests Section office in Havana. The State Departments best and brightest diplomats are not sent to Cuba. Its an end of the road assignment. Ambassador to France, Japan, Germany even Mexico means something. Head of the Section Office in Havana means you screwed up somewhere. Until Cuba means something to somebody in the State Department or in the White House, these goofy programs are likely to continue.

    • burrgess

      The U.S has sure spent a pile of money on a place that in your words has no significance.I have a suggestion for you and people who think like you,let the Cuban people decide their own future.what they do not need is their country turning into another disaster like some of the other countries that the US has helped.

      • Moses Patterson

        Actually, ‘burgess’, the amount of money the US spends on ‘regime change’ in Cuba is low. Roughly only $20 million per year. It is alleged that most of it never leaves Washington DC or Miami. Check what the US spends in Afghanistan or Iraq. We even spend more in Germany! When you talk about countries we have helped, do you mean Japan, Germany, and Panama? Our track record, while not perfect, is still pretty good. Check the record for yourself.

    • Vahe Demirjian

      Now for your statement:

      “Proof of Cuba’s minor significance in the US foreign policy agenda is further confirmed by the career path of the Head of Station diplomats assigned to Interests Section office in Havana.”
      You make a good observation about the Cuba issue’s position on the Obama administration’s foreign policy wishlist. It is best to put America’s Cuba policy in the same league as US policy towards military-run Burma b/c both these issues are not only non-priorities, but also revolve around the conditioning of lifting sanctions on democracy coming to those countries.

      • Moses Patterson

        Burma was geo-politically important because a free Burma, especially one partial the US, pisses China off. Making nice with Cuba helps the US to improve relations with no one. At least no one we care about.

  • Griffin

    There are questions about the details of this story which point to pro-regime sources.

    “Critics are raising questions about the Associated Press’s recent report on a U.S. program to foster civil society in Cuba and have accused the news organization of cooperating with sources who have a political agenda against U.S. policy toward the island.”

    “A Costa Rican human rights organization is disputing a report by the Associated Press (AP) this week that its activities in Cuba were covertly designed to foment a revolution against the communist government. “[The AP] manipulated information in order to make it look like FundaOGI had instructions to set up cultural and artistic activities in an undercover way for destabilizing ends, which is totally false,” Murillo said.”

    http://freebeacon.com/national-security/critics-question-sources-for-ap-report-on-cuba-democracy-program/