US Offers $11 Million in Cuba Program Grants

December 28, 2014 | Print Print |

By Tracey Eaton (alongthemalecon)

In the background is the US Interests Section in Havana, soon to be the US Embassy.

In the background is the US Interests Section in Havana, soon to be the US Embassy.

HAVANA TIMES – The United States State Department on Wednesday announced that it is looking for U.S.- or foreign-based organizations interested in running programs aimed at boosting civil, political and labor rights in Cuba.

The department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor expects to award up to $11 million in grants, ranging from $500,000 to $2 million each.

Statements of interest from organizations hoping to receive funds are due Feb. 5, 2015.

The bureau’s announcement says it will give priority to proposals that “emphasize the role of Cuban partners in developing and achieving programmatic objectives.”

Perhaps that language was added in light of the Obama administration’s Dec. 17 decision to pursue diplomatic relations with Cuba.

See the full announcement here.

Excerpts are below:

The Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor (DRL) announces a Request for Statements of Interest (RSOI) from organizations interested in submitting Statements of Interest (SOI) outlining programs that will foster civil, political, and labor rights in Cuba.

DRL invites organizations to submit SOIs for programs that promote internationally-recognized individual, civil, political, and labor rights – as set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international agreements – in Cuba.

The Cuban government fails to respect freedom of speech and the press, restricts internet access, maintains a monopoly on political power and media outlets, circumscribes academic freedom, and maintains some restrictions on the ability of religious groups to meet and worship. The government refuses to recognize non-governmental human rights groups or permit them to function legally.

The government continues to prevent workers from forming independent unions and otherwise exercising their labor rights. Common human rights abuses on the island include those involving the abridgement of the right of citizens to participate in their government, including through periodic and genuine elections, as well as the use of government threats, extrajudicial physical violence, intimidation, organized mobs, harassment, and detentions to prevent free expression and peaceful assembly. In addition, the government continues to engage in or permit the following abuses: short-term, arbitrary unlawful detentions and arrests, harsh prison conditions, selective prosecution, and denial of fair trial. Authorities also interfere with privacy, engaging in pervasive monitoring of private communications without legal authority and with impunity.

DRL programs in Cuba aim to strengthen on-island, independent civil society capacity to further the rights and interests of Cuban citizens, and to overcome the limitations that have been imposed by the Cuban government on citizens’ civil, political, and labor rights. In particular, programs should support the realization in Cuba of rights enshrined within Articles 5, 9, 10, 12, 13, 19, 20, 21, and 23 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, among others.

A highly competitive statement of interest would generally:

  • Propose concrete initiatives that reflect ongoing dialogue between the applicant and Cuban civil society, as well as recent developments on the island;
  • Demonstrate the applicant’s experience programming effectively within Cuba, or within other closed society environments;
  • Prioritize South-South exchange, or reflect the linguistic needs and capabilities of target beneficiaries, in the development of any off-island activities;
  • Reflect an effective, multi-dimensional strategy for confronting longstanding challenges;
  • Offer a specific vision for achieving change, while acknowledging obstacles that would have to be overcome in order to achieve that change;
  • Emphasize the role of Cuban partners in developing and achieving programmatic objectives.

Activities that are typically funded include, but are not limited to:

  • Organizational assistance to Cuban civil society to improve management, strategic planning, sustainability, and collaboration of local civil society groups;
  • Off-island trainings, short-term fellowships, or engagement;
  • Distribution of software that would be easily accessible in an open society, or the localization of said software for the Cuban technological environment;
  • Baseline surveys or analyses for the purpose of facilitating implementation and improving monitoring and evaluation;
  • Assistance mechanisms designed to provide independent Cuban civil society with tools, opportunities, and trainings that civil society counterparts in open societies can access.

Activities that are not typically funded include, but are not limited to:

  • The provision of large amounts of humanitarian assistance;
  • English language instruction;
  • Development of high-tech computer or communications software and/or hardware specific to Cuba;
  • Purely academic exchanges or fellowships;
  • External exchanges or fellowships lasting longer than six months;
  • Off-island activities for Cubans that are not clearly linked to on-island initiatives and impact;
  • Theoretical explorations of human rights or democracy issues in Cuba, including programs aimed primarily at research and evaluation;
  • Micro-loans or similar small business development initiatives;
  • Activities that go beyond an organization’s demonstrated competence, or fail to provide clear evidence of the ability of the applicant to achieve the stated impact;
  • Initiatives directed towards the Cuban diaspora rather than current residents of Cuba.

DRL encourages applicants to foster collaborative partnerships; applicants are invited to form consortia which submit a combined SOI, in which one organization is designated as the lead applicant. DRL also strives to ensure its programs advance the rights and uphold the dignity of the most vulnerable or at-risk populations.

Approximately $11 million in programming will be supported, pending availability of funds.
An organization may submit no more than two applications. Applications that request less than the award floor ($500,000) or more than the award ceiling ($2,000,000) may be deemed technically ineligible.


What's your opinion?

  • ronbobel777

    would the state department mount a similar program in saudi arabia? no cuban organization could accept this.

    • Moses Patterson

      Yes, the State Department would indeed do the same for Saudi Arabia. However, the Saudis would need to have a comparable number of US House Members and US Senators of Saudi-American origin and it would help if the Saudi-American community politically controlled a swing state the way Cubans control Florida.

      • Michael

        11 mil would not even get the Saudis one F35…

        • An F-35 costs from $181 million to $299 million depending on model. And that excludes the R&D costs. As Moses said, $11 million is just chump change.

          People here get excited over $11 million which may make a big difference to your or my bank account but will create a general lack of interest for those who do this work because there is just no real money there to pay for much.

          I think of the paltry sum of only $11 million to be a success as this means the effort is basically defunded.

      • ronbobel777

        just another boon doggle for corrupt miami cubans. they have already ripped off american taxpayers from previous usaid grants which did nothing for the cuban people but put more dollars in the pockets of the old line cuban americans.

  • Moses Patterson

    Only $11 million? This is such a small amount of money, that no serious contractor that would be able to do anything meaningful will submit a proposal. One can only hope that with enough of these solicitations put out over the next year, the combined efforts of all the winning bidders will begin to make a difference. The Cuban people certainly could use the help.

  • Michae

    Typical USA aid… I did not think anything would change. The USA still just wants
    to interfere…

  • Michael

    And they give USAIDS Allan Gross $3.2 million for being a lowlife spy… And he is suing for $60mil… What a joke… Please go away USA…

    • Olgasintamales

      Lowlife spy? You are defending one of the longest horrible dictaroship in the world. Cubans in Cuba can’t even read this blog because the dictatorship don’t let Cuban acces to the Internet.

  • Analyser

    The US of A just cannot stop poking their nose where it isn’t wanted. Message to Obama, KEEP OUT!!!

  • And so it begins. What color will the CIA pick for the Cuban “revolution”? Perhaps it should be yellow for those who would cooperate with this, in spite of US spying, torture,drone killings, invasions and false flags.

  • John Goodrich

    What colossal idiocy.
    The U.S. government announces/advertises its intentions to undermine the Cuban government with these “grants” =a euphemism for funding the undermining of a government .
    Maybe Alan Gross will get his new teeth in time to sign up again.
    What could possibly go wrong ?

    • informed Consent

      I can’t believe that for once I actually agree with you. Not so much because I disagree with the aims of these “programs”, but because the USA has, in these instances, shown how utterly inept they are.

      …as you said, “what could possibly go wrong? “

  • Val

    It’s impossible for the US to mind their own business, esp when there are $ to be made >:( Cuba be caredful.