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Latino Daily News

Saturday April 5, 2014

Cuban Government Reacts to USAID’s “Cuban Twitter” Project

Cuban Government Reacts to USAID’s “Cuban Twitter” Project

Photo: Raul Castro and Nicolas Maduro

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The Raul Castro government demanded Friday that the United States call off its “illegal and covert” actions against Cuba, in an official reaction to news that the U.S. Agency for International Development sought to create a Twitter-like social network on the Communist island.

“This shows once again that the United States government has not given up its subversive plans against Cuba, that it is determined to create destabilizing situations to wreak changes in our political order,” the Cuban Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Washington on Thursday acknowledged the existence of the USAID program, but rejected the characterization of the initiative as covert.

The acknowledgement followed the publication of a U.S. news agency’s investigative report about USAID’s ZunZuneo project, which, according to the media account, was aimed at fostering dissent and political activism among Cuban youth.

“There was nothing classified or covert about this program,” State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf said Thursday. “Discreet does not equal covert. Having worked for almost six years at the CIA and now here, I know the difference.”

USAID hoped ZunZuneo would give Cubans “platforms for expression,” she said.

ZunZuneo began in 2009 a database of 500,000 cellphone numbers in Cuba, the press account said, noting that USAID and its contractors hid Washington’s links with the project, creating a front company in Spain and channeling funds through a bank in the Cayman Islands.

The United States and Cuba have been adversaries for more than 50 years, following the victory of the Castro revolution, and have not had diplomatic relations since 1961, though since 1977 they have had their respective offices of representation in Washington and Havana.

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