It’s not often that a U.S. government agency gets caught red-handed abiding by its charter and performing its publicly-avowed and legislatively-approved duties. But last week the AP “broke” a long and breathless story from Havana that nailed the USAID (United States Agency for International Development) for just that.
In their own words, “a secret plan aimed at undermining Cuba’s communist government,” was courageously exposed by the AP’s intrepid Havana bureau.
Such is the magnitude of the scandal that a red-faced and snarling Senator Patrick Leahy is now chairing hearings on Capitol Hill where he grills USAID director Rajiv Shah on his agency’s “cockamamie!” plan.
The diabolical cloak and dagger scheme hatched in 2008 during George Bush’s term (which may account for Democratic Senator Leahy’s dudgeon) amounted to setting up a “Cuban Twitter” named ZunZuneo (Cuban slang for a hummingbird’s tweet) in order for Cuban youths to text each other without snooping by Castro’s KGB-mentored secret police.
Caught your breath back? Yes, amazingly such a scheme somehow escaped the imaginations of Ian Fleming, John Le Carré and Tom Clancy.
In sum, a brief effort was made (lasting from 2008-12 and involving 68,000 of Castro’s hapless subjects) to allow Cubans (who pre-Castro enjoyed more phones and TVs per-capita than most Europeans) to communicate with each other in the same manner as do teenagers today in such places as Sudan, Papua New Guinea and Laos.
Understandably this scheme to facilitate a tiny window of freedom for a tiny fraction of their subjects greatly alarmed Cuba’s Stalinist rulers. After all, it wasn’t easy converting a free and prosperous nation with a higher per-capita income than half of Europe, a flood of immigrants from same and the first Mercedes dealership in the Americas into a totalitarian pesthole that repels Haitians and features a glorious rebirth of communications by bongo-drum and transport by oxcart.
Well, the news was barely broken by Castro’s U.S. media allies when, as mentioned, Castro’s U.S. legislative allies picked up the signal from Havana and erupted in outrage—not against the KGB-mentored censorship by a terror-sponsor mind you. But against the U.S. attempt to foil it. No. This is not your father’s cold war.
Senator Patrick Leahy, true to his historic role as U.S. legislative messenger for Castro’s every whim and wish, promptly denounced the program as “dumb, dumb, dumb.” “What in heaven’s name are you thinking?”‘ Leahy complained to Andrea Mitchell on MSNBC about the USAID scheme. “This makes no sense at all.”
What really “makes no sense at all” is Senator Leahy’s hypocritical carping during the hearings and to Andrea Mitchell–who, by the way– is famous for gushing that “Fidel Castro is old-fashioned, courtly—even paternal, a thoroughly fascinating figure!”
Feature continues here: Cuban Twitter