Apr 04 2014
A disturbing new report released by the Associated Press yesterday has revealed that a Cuban social media site called ZunZuneo was actually a front of the US Government intended to foment political unrest. AP analyzed thousands of pages of documents and interviewed various sources to find that the program was set up through USAID or the United States Agency for International Development as a text-based twitter-type of network accessible through cell phones to circumvent Cuba’s restrictive internet regulations.
ZunZuneo, which was shut down in 2012, had at one point amassed 40,000 followers by sending out apolitical tweets about sports, music and weather while collecting surveillance data on its followers. White House spokesperson Jay Carney said, “Suggestions that this was a covert program are wrong. Congress funds democracy programming for Cuba to help empower Cubans to access more information and to strengthen civil society.”
Yet AP has extensive evidence revealing attempts to conceal the real nature of the network by using offshore bank accounts and front companies. While the Obama Administration initially insisted that the program was endorsed by Congress, they later changed their story and said that they had offered to discuss funding for the project with Congressional committees. Rajiv Shah, the head of USAID will testify next week about the program at a congressional hearing.
GUEST: Peter Roman, author of “People’s Power: Cuba’s Experience with Representative Government,” Professor of Political Science at Hostos Community College at the City University of New York