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Anglo-Saxon aid – a poisoned chalice?

david cameronTheresa sent news reported by Francis Elliott, Political Editor of the Times. A template for reform of aid spending has been drawn up by Tobias Ellwood, Mr Cameron’s envoy to Nato, who points out:

“Considering the financial pressure the MoD is under it makes sense to utilise funds earmarked for ODA spend, where of course it is permitted, which are currently sitting in the DfID”.

This news paled into insignificance when Mark sent news of the Obama government’s attempted subversion of Cuban society – no doubt hoping for a ‘Cuban spring’.

The Obama government’s USAID attempted subversion of Cuban society

It was first reported by Associated Press, ‘the world’s oldest and largest newsgathering organization’: “The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) masterminded the creation of a “Cuban Twitter,” a communications network designed to undermine the communist government in Cuba, built with secret shell companies and financed through foreign banks . . .

USAID graphicWorld News Network graphic

“The project, which lasted more than two years and drew tens of thousands of subscribers, sought to evade Cuba’s stranglehold on the Internet with a primitive social media platform. Its users were neither aware it was created by a U.S. agency with ties to the State Department, nor that American contractors were gathering personal data about them. In 2012, the text messaging service vanished as mysteriously as it appeared”.

According to documents obtained by the Associated Press and multiple interviews with people involved in the project:

“When the network reached a critical mass of subscribers, perhaps hundreds of thousands, operators would introduce political content aimed at inspiring Cubans to organize “smart mobs” — mass gatherings called at a moment’s notice that might trigger a Cuban Spring, or, as one USAID document put it, renegotiate the balance of power between the state and society”.

joe mcspedonIt was reported that this project was carried out by a high-tech team, directed by Joe McSpedon who worked for USAID’s Office of Transition Initiatives (OTI). OTI was created after the fall of the Soviet Union to promote U.S. interests in quickly changing political environments — without the usual red tape. The team of contractors set up servers in Spain and Ireland to process texts, contracting an independent Spanish company called to send the text messages back to Cuba, while stripping off identifying data.

In 2011, the State Department’s Secretary Hillary Clinton thought social media was an important tool in diplomacy. At George Washington University, she said the U.S. helped people in “oppressive Internet environments get around filters.” In Tunisia, she said people used technology to “organize and share grievances, which, as we know, helped fuel a movement that led to revolutionary change.”

Josefina Vidal, director of U.S. affairs at Cuba’s Foreign Ministry, commented 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.” Many will heartily agree with her restrained conclusion:

“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”.