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US Tried to Sow Dissent By Building 'Cuban Twitter'
AP reveals secret program aimed at spurring Cuban Spring
By Arden Dier, Newser Staff
Posted Apr 3, 2014 6:54 AM CDT
A man sends a text message from his cell phone in Havana, Thursday, April 24, 2008.   (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)

(Newser) – The US in 2009 started work on a thoroughly 21st-century way to attempt to stir unrest in Cuba: It concocted a "Cuban Twitter" that it hoped would draw young people that it could prod toward dissent, an AP investigation has found. The text messaging platform, ZunZuneo—slang for a Cuban hummingbird's tweet—ran until funding ran out in 2012 and amassed 40,000 users during that time. It also collected personal data of users, who were unaware they were using a program funded and created—perhaps illegally, unless the president OKed it and Congress was notified about it—by the US Agency for International Development with the intention of getting "the transition process going again toward democratic change," documents show.

At the very least, the project contradicts USAID's claims that it doesn't carry out secret operations, and its reputation among foreign governments, to which it delivers aid, could suffer as a result, the AP adds. A memo from one of the creators notes, "There will be absolutely no mention of United States government involvement ... to ensure the success of the Mission." An estimated $1.6 million was spent on the project, though public data showed that money was set aside for a project in Pakistan. To further cloak things, creators established a corporation in Spain and an operating company in the Cayman Islands to pay the company's bills so the "money trail will not trace back to America," per a strategy memo; additionally, users' messages never touched American-based computer servers. Click for the full report, which explains how the project began with the acquisition of a half-million Cuban cellphone numbers.

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Showing 3 of 8 comments
julianpenrod
Apr 3, 2014 5:59 PM CDT
So many insist that subversive literature, propaganda, lies can't be such a threat to a country's government. “Pope” John Paul II was actively involved in the funneling of money and material to clandestine, underground groups in Poland, using his own Polish background as pedigree. The project involving John Paul II included a clergy go-between, Archbishop Pio Laghi, meeting with with the Reagan White House representatives William Casey and William Clark in Washington, D.C., evidently known at least informally as “Operation Cappuccino”. Millions of dollars, ostensibly for “printers and photocopiers”, plus whatever it was used for that was never questioned, was transferred to Solidarity forces in Poland. In fact, John Paul II was a “spook” for the CIA. Considering the mendacious quality the “Catholic Church” has demonstrated throughout so much of its history, it's not surprising they are pushing so much for his canonization as a “Saint”. It can also call into question the very nature of sainthood, in the “Catholic” religion, if a craven, malingering back-stabber like John Paul II could be credited with the necessary miracles to deserve “sainthood”. If just commentary, adequately promulgated, can have such an effect, it changes the view of the Tiananmen Square incident. So many quislings for the Capitalists described it as nothing more than an “innocent get together of intellectuals and artists, interested only in spreading beauty”. Evidently, it was a subversive opinion manipulating project and China was not necessarily a “mindless, vicious brute” but a canny government able to recognize conniving, clandestine anti-government CIA/Mossad/MI-5 machinations. It also puts an entirely new blush on all the supposedly “innocent” operations to funnel American propaganda into places like Cuba or to import radios for “freedom loving individuals” to "communicate".
dan6807
Apr 3, 2014 2:56 PM CDT
I am beginning to wonder if the US carries out any legal programs at all.
Ezekiel 25:17
Apr 3, 2014 12:52 PM CDT
The pen, or in this case the smartphone keyboard is always, always mightier than the sword.