Leaders of Roots of Hope involved in subversive project “Cuban Twitter”.

Its leaders recently accompanied Cuban blogger and Castro critic Yoani Sanchez to Washington, where she met with Vice President Joe Biden.

Article by: CHRISTINE ARMARIO , Associated Press
MIAMI — Leaders with the largest nonprofit organization for young Cuban-Americans quietly provided strategic support for the federal government’s secret “Cuban Twitter” program, connecting contractors with potential investors and even serving as paid consultants, The Associated Press has learned.
Interviews and documents obtained by the AP show leaders of the organization, Roots of Hope, were approached by the “Cuban Twitter” program’s organizers in early 2011 about taking over the text-messaging service, known as ZunZuneo, and discussed how to shift it into private hands. Few if any investors were willing to privately finance ZunZuneo, and Roots of Hope members dropped the idea. But at least two people on its board of directors went on to work as consultants, even as they served in an organization that explicitly refused to accept any U.S. government funds and distanced itself from groups that did.
The disclosure could have wide repercussions for what has become one of the most visible and influential Cuban-American organizations. Roots of Hope has been a key player in events like Latin pop star Juanes’ 2009 peace concert that drew more than a million people in Havana and in the promotion of technology on the island. Its leaders recently accompanied Cuban blogger and Castro critic Yoani Sanchez to Washington, where she met with Vice President Joe Biden.

RAICES Y YOANI SANCHEZYoani Sánchez con Chris Gueits a su izquierda,Rául Moas (sentado a la izq.), y Felice Gorordo( de pie, tercero de izq. a der).

Chris Sabatini, senior director of policy at the Americas Society and Council of the Americas, said he wasn’t surprised that Roots of Hope’s leaders had been approached by U.S. Agency for International Development contractors about the ZunZuneo project, given the large sums of money USAID has available and the limited number of creative, tech-savvy groups that work on Cuba issues.
“I think it does risk tainting the group, a group that I think has done amazing work and changed the discussion and mobilized a new generation toward a much more pragmatic agenda,” Sabatini said.
It also comes at a sensitive time; the nonprofit is looking to help Sanchez develop a new independent media project in Cuba. Links to the USAID program could make that prospect more difficult, as the Cuban government views the Twitter-like endeavor as yet another U.S. effort to undermine its communist system. Sanchez herself has also been adamant in not accepting any government funding.
Matt Herrick, a USAID spokesman, declined to provide the names of any individuals employed by its contractor, but said Roots of Hope… Sigue leyendo

State Dept-funded program installs alternative networks abroad

USAID RT 17_si
While some security experts have recently accused the United States government of undermining the infrastructure and integrity of the web, the State Department is helping fund a project that lets people connect and communicate over alternative networks.
Since last June, revelations about the US National Security Agency and how it goes about getting intelligence from foreign suspects have continued to surface, in turn rekindling all too routinely allegations about how the internet has been practically obliterated by the NSA.
Leaked intelligence documents disclosed to the media during that span by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden have indeed impacted the way the world sees the American government with regards to protecting a medium of communication that continues to grow. But while these heightened concerns about online privacy are without a doubt warranted thanks to Mr. Snowden’s revelations, one former government official now tells the New York Times that a project largely funded by the Department of State is actually making it easier for people in certain parts of the world to communicate and collaborate over a parallel internet of sorts.
“Exactly at the time that the NSA was developing the technology that Snowden has disclosed, the State Department was funding some of the most powerful digital tools to protect freedom of expression around the world,” Ben Scott told the New York Times for an article published in Monday’s paper. According to Scott — a former State Dept. official who helped the agency get involved in a program that is putting the web back into the hands of the people — the US government has actually been playing a pivotal role in letting new parts of the world become networked. Sigue leyendo

Secret Programs Hurt Aid Efforts

PETER KORNBLUH PeterKornbluh

Peter Kornbluh is the director the Cuba Documentation Project at the National Security Archive. He is the co-author of the forthcoming, “Back Channel to Cuba: The Hidden History of Negotiations Between Washington and Havana.”

 

April 15, 2014
There is a world of difference between American foreign assistance programs that openly support democratic development, human rights and socioeconomic progress, and the type of clandestine operations aimed at regime change that United States Agency for International Development has been running under the guise of a “democracy” promotion program in Cuba. Those programs are not only counterproductive, they are an abject violation of Cuba’s sovereignty, undermine American interests in Cuba’s slow but steady political and economic transition, and endanger the legitimate missions of U.S.A.I.D. around the world.
U.S.A.I.D. was created in 1961 to help the United States win the “hearts and minds” of citizens in poor countries through civic action, economic aid and humanitarian assistance. As a cold war policy tool, the agency was, at times, used as a front for C.I.A. operations and operatives. Among the most infamous examples was the Office of Public Safety, a U.S.A.I.D. police training program in the Southern Cone that also trained torturers.
Regime-change programs have a negative impact on the legitimacy of U.S.A.I.D.’s own core missions.
In the 21st century, U.S.A.I.D. has overcome its tainted legacy and undertaken humanitarian, political and economic work around the globe. It runs democracy promotion efforts from Afghanistan to Kenya — building political leadership capacity, electoral education and registration programs, and judicial reform projects — with little controversy. It is when U.S.A.I.D. undertakes “discreet” regime change operations that it runs into trouble. Indeed, its Office of Transition Initiatives now seems to be competing with, or at least complementing, the C.I.A. on hi-tech propaganda and destabilization programs in Cuba, if not elsewhere as well.
Regime-change programs have a negative impact on larger U.S. foreign policy interests as well as on the legitimacy of U.S.A.I.D.’s own core missions to advance global health and economic welfare. At a Senate hearing on U.S.A.I.D.’s budget last week, Senator Patrick Leahy told the agency’s administrator, Rajiv Shah, that his oversight committee was receiving “lots of emails” from aid workers around the world asking this question: “How could they do this and put us in such danger?” The solution is simple: ban U.S.A.I.D. from conducting such covert operations in the name of advancing democracy.

Tomado del diario The New York Times

http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2014/04/15/when-is-foreign-aid-meddling/secret-programs-hurt-foreign-aid-efforts

 

Statement by the Spokesperson of EU High Representative Catherine Ashton on the start of a dialogue in Venezuela

 maja-kocijancic-01_768826

S T A T E M E N T
The spokesperson of Catherine Ashton, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice President of the Commission, issued the following statement today:
“The High Representative welcomes the meetings that are taking place since 10 April between the government and the opposition and congratulates the UNASUR and the Vatican for their role in facilitating this process.
The High Representative believes that these efforts to bring all the parties to the table are an important step towards addressing the legitimate concerns of the people of Venezuela through continued and frank dialogue. The High Representative hopes that the national government, leaders of the opposition, students and the Venezuelan civil society can work together and find a consensus in order to overcome the current situation.
The High Representative recalls the importance of respecting basic human rights and the freedom of expression in all circumstances, and encourages all participants to aim at obtaining concrete results.”
Brussels, 15 April 2014
http://www.eeas.europa.eu/statements/docs/2014/140415_01_en.pdf

Declaración del portavoz de la Alta Representante de la Unión Europea Catherine Ashton sobre el inicio del dialogo en Venezuela

D E C L A R A C I Ó N
“La Alta Representante expresa su satisfacción por las reuniones celebradas desde el 10 de abril entre el Gobierno y la oposición y felicita a UNASUR y al Vaticano por su labor facilitando el proceso.
La Alta Representante considera que los esfuerzos para involucrar a todas las partes en las negociaciones constituyen un paso importante para responder a las preocupaciones legítimas del pueblo Venezolano a través de un diálogo continuado y sincero. La Alta Representante espera que el Gobierno Nacional, los líderes de la oposición, los estudiantes y la sociedad civil venezolana puedan trabajar conjuntamente y llegar a un consenso que permita superar la situación actual.
La Alta Representante recuerda la importancia del respeto de los derechos humanos básicos y la libertad de expresión en toda circunstancia, y anima a todas las partes a lograr resultados concretos.”
Bruselas, 15 de abril de 2014
http://www.eeas.europa.eu/statements/docs/2014/140415_01_es.pdf

 

Obama, Heartbleed y la delincuencia digital.

El Presidente de EE.UU. autorizó a la NSA a robar información de servidores en Internet.

NSA OSCURA nsa-cyber-command

• La NSA habría accedido a nombres y contraseñas de cuentas de Facebook, Gmail, Instagram, Google, Yahoo, Dropbox, Soundcloud y otros servicios de redes sociales, de intercambio de imágenes, de música y blogs.
• Según el NYT aprovechando una “falla de seguridad” en un programa para servidores en Internet, conocida como Heartbleed, la NSA obtuvo las claves de acceso de millones de usuarios en EE.UU. y el mundo.
• La administración Obama al no alertar sobre esta “falla de seguridad” pudo haber dejado desprotegidos a los usuarios de Internet de todo el mundo frente a las actividades de delincuentes cibernéticos.
• De confirmarse los informes difundidos por The New York Times, las coartadas del mandatario estadounidense de que no conocía los vastos dispositivos desarrollados por la NSA para el espionaje masivo se vendrían abajo.

De acuerdo con informes difundidos ayer por The New York Times, el presidente de Estados Unidos, Barack Obama, autorizó a la Agencia de Seguridad Nacional (NSA, por sus siglas en inglés) que sacara ventaja del descubrimiento de fallas de seguridad en un programa para servidores de Internet que podrían revelar las claves personales de decenas de millones de usuarios y que, en vez de dar aviso a los desarrolladores de ese sistema y al público en general, los aprovechara para espiar a un número indeterminado de personas, empresas y gobiernos.
La falla mencionada, conocida como Heartbleed (corazón sangrante) y dada a conocer apenas la semana pasada, permite el robo de información cifrada almacenada en servidores, como nombres y contraseñas de cuentas de Facebook, Gmail, Instagram, Google, Yahoo, Dropbox, Soundcloud y otros servicios de redes sociales, de intercambio de imágenes, de música y blogs.
En la catarata de revelaciones sobre las actividades de vigilancia furtiva –e ilegal, según las legislaciones de muchos países– puesta en práctica por el gobierno de Estados Unidos, ésta es la primera que involucra directamente al mandatario de ese país; antes de ella, Obama ha podido argumentar que no conocía los detalles de los vastos dispositivos de espionaje desarrollados por la NSA que se han dado a conocer desde junio del año pasado, cuando el ex contratista de esa dependencia Edward Snowden los filtró al público. En consecuencia, el huésped de la Casa Blanca se ve colocado en una situación mucho más frágil por cuanto, de confirmarse el señalamiento, sus coartadas en el tema del espionaje masivo se vendrían abajo.
Una implicación mucho más grave de la información difundida ayer por The New York Times es que el gobierno de Washington, en su afán de obtener en forma ilícita información confidencial de individuos, corporaciones e instituciones oficiales, pudo haber dejado desprotegidos a los usuarios de Internet de todo el mundo frente a las actividades de delincuentes cibernéticos que han venido aprovechando la falla de seguridad en los servidores que utilizan OpenSSL para defraudar, extorsionar, suplantar identidades, obtener información para cometer secuestros y otro sinfín de ilegalidades.
En esta perspectiva, resulta grotesco el pretexto urdido por el gobierno estadunidense para justificar sus acciones de espionaje con base en una pretendida preocupación por la seguridad nacional cuando, para llevar a cabo esa vigilancia furtiva, se desentiende de procurar la seguridad a secas de sus ciudadanos, de sus empresas e incluso de sus propias dependencias de gobierno.
Lo que ha venido haciendo Washington, en suma, a juzgar por la información comentada, es aprovechar la misma zona oscura de los errores de programación y los mismos métodos que utiliza la criminalidad cibernética para atacar a sus víctimas, y ello retrata de manera preocupante, pero fiel, la bancarrota moral a que se ha ido dirigiendo el poder público estadunidense bajo la presidencia de Barack Obama.
Tomado de La Jornada

http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2014/04/14/opinion/002a1edi

 

Study shows truth revealed: US is not a democracy.

Oligarchy, not democracy: Americans have near-zeroinput on policy.

USA oligarchy-2012

Reuters / Amr Abdallah Dalsh

The first-ever scientific study that analyzes whether the US is a democracy, rather than an oligarchy, found the majority of the American public has a “minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy” compared to the wealthy.

The study, due out in the Fall 2014 issue of the academic journal Perspectives on Politics, sets out to answer elusive questions about who really rules in the United States. The researchers measured key variables for 1,779 policy issues within a single statistical model in an unprecedented attempt “to test these contrasting theoretical predictions” – i.e. whether the US sets policy democratically or the process is dominated by economic elites, or some combination of both.

“Despite the seemingly strong empirical support in previous studies for theories of majoritarian democracy, our analyses suggest that majorities of the American public actually have little influence over the policies our government adopts,” the researchers from Princeton University and Northwestern University wrote.

While “Americans do enjoy many features central to democratic governance, such as regular elections, freedom of speech and association,” the authors say the data implicate “the nearly total failure of ‘median voter’ and other Majoritarian Electoral Democracy theories [of America]. When the preferences of economic elites and the stands of organized interest groups are controlled for, the preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy.”

The authors of “Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens” say that even as their model tilts heavily toward indications that the US is, in fact, run by the most wealthy and powerful, it actually doesn’t go far enough in describing the stranglehold connected elites have on the policymaking process.

“Our measure of the preferences of wealthy or elite Americans – though useful, and the best we could generate for a large set of policy cases – is probably less consistent with the relevant preferences than are our measures of the views of ordinary citizens or the alignments of engaged interest groups,” the researcher said.

“Yet we found substantial estimated effects even when using this imperfect measure. The real-world impact of elites upon public policy may be still greater.”

They add that the “failure of theories of Majoritarian Electoral Democracy is all the more striking because it goes against the likely effects of the limitations of our data. The preferences of ordinary citizens were measured more directly than our other independent variables, yet they are estimated to have the least effect.”

Despite the inexact nature of the data, the authors say with confidence that “the majority does not rule — at least not in the causal sense of actually determining policy outcomes.”

“We believe that if policymaking is dominated by powerful business organizations and a small number of affluent Americans, then America’s claims to being a democratic society are seriously threatened,” they concluded.

Tomado de:  http://rt.com/usa/us-democracy-oligarchy-policy-512/

 

 

Statement from General Director for the United States at Cuban Foreign Ministry

 

April 4, 2014

Information in the article from the Associated Press validates repeated condemnations made by the Cuban government, showing once again that the United States government has not renounced its subversive plans which have as their objective changing Cuba’s political order and continue every year to be funded with a multi-million dollar budget. The United States government must respect international law and the principles of the UN Charter, and therefore cease its illegal undercover operations in Cuba, which are rejected by the Cuban people and international public opinion.

http://www.granma.cu/idiomas/ingles/cuba-i/4abril-declaracion.html

Statement in reference to the Associated Press article on “Cuban Twitter” on April 3, 2014

For Immediate Release

 Thursday, April 3, 2014

USAID Press Office

202-712-4320 | Email: USAIDPressOfficers@usaid.gov

In reference to the Associated Press article on “Cuban Twitter” on April 3, 2014, USAID Spokesperson Matt Herrick issues the following statement:

  “It is longstanding U.S. policy to help Cubans increase their ability to communicate with each other and with the outside world. Working with resources provided by Congress for exactly this purpose, USAID is proud of its work in Cuba to provide basic humanitarian assistance, promote human rights and universal freedoms, and to help information flow more freely to the Cuban people.  All of our work in Cuba, including this project, was reviewed in detail in 2013 by the Government Accountability Office and found to be consistent with U.S. law and appropriate under oversight controls.

It is also no secret that in hostile environments, governments take steps to protect the partners we are working with on the ground.  The purpose of the Zunzuneo project was to create a platform for Cubans to speak freely among themselves, period.  At the initial stages, the grantee sent tech news, sports scores, weather, and trivia to build interest and engage Cubans.  After that, Cubans were able to talk among themselves, and we are proud of that. USAID is a development agency and we work all over the world to help people exercise their universal rights and freedoms.”

http://www.usaid.gov/news-information/press-releases/apr-3-2014-statement-reference-associated-press-article-cuban-twitter

 

 

 

ZunZuneo, USAID and How the U.S. Lost the Confidence of the Cuban People

zunzuneo-e1396554105484-585x365

Por Victor Salcedo

A recent article by the Associated Press brought to light an intricate cover operation by the U.S. Agency of International Development (USAID) in Cuba. With the help of mobile and technological contractors, bank accounts in the Cayman Islands and computer and social media whizzes, USAID developed a Twitter-like communication style in the island called “ZunZuneo.” The service allowed Cubans to send text messages, have followers and share thoughts about soccer, music and hurricane updates through their mobile phones, and participate in a mobile community that evaded the government’s restrictions over the Internet. Pretty much all the things we do on the internet right now.

The main objective of ZunZuneo, however, was to promote, through text messages, a strong political motivation to change the current Cuban government or, as USAID called it, “renegotiate the balance of power between the state and society.”

The ZunZuneo operation will create three prominent outcomes in Cuba.


1. Cuba recoils

ZunZuneo is a déjà vu to the CIA’s Operation Mongoose in the 1960s. Authorized by President John F. Kennedy, Operation Mongoose aimed to ignite the revolutionary spark in Cuba necessary to topple the communist regime and flush Fidel Castro out of the island. The operation failed, wasted millions of dollars, and exposed the eerie desire of American policymakers to get rid of the Castro revolution.

Operation Mongoose did succeed in making Cuba citizens more wary of the U.S., and fueled hours of political speeches by Fidel Castro.

ZunZuneo, although not as radical as Operation Mongoose, will impulse Raul Castro to call on his defense to deter western offensive to his regime. It may not make Cuba more secluded to what it already is, but it will certainly hurt any advances by Cuban social entrepreneurs that are less preoccupied with past communist ghosts than a more inclusive and interactive society.

2. Foreign investment? Oh, wait a second…

USAID’s operation will have an indirect effect on the recently passed foreign investment law. As Cuba aims to lure foreign investor to sectors like agriculture, electronics, constructions and others, the government might be more careful to grant foreign companies easy access to Cuban resources. Tighter measures to assure there is no American involvement in the island could potentially increase the risk of nationalization and consequently scare away any potential foreign investor.

This might be potentially dangerous to a Cuban economy that is begging for cash. Although the oil bonanza that Venezuela provides to the Castro government (estimated to be$9.4 billion per year) is still flowing, recent economic measures imposed by Nicolas Maduro, as well as political turmoil in the allied country can make the Cuban future more ominous.

3. No resources for entrepreneurs

In 2010 Raul Castro introduced new private enterprise laws that have helped to produce a healthy growth rate on small entrepreneurial ventures in Cuba. From tourism to restaurants to cinemas, Cubans have savored the advantages of freer business.

ZunZuneo followed along the entrepreneurial lines. It had a healthy relationship with the Cuban youth that saw the site as a success history in a country that denied free access to press and the Internet. For instance, on September, 2009, the site got around 100,000 replies to a question related to the “Peace without Borders” concert organized by Colombian singer, Juanes.

My guess is that, now that is it has been proved that USAID and other contractors were behind ZunZuneo, the entrepreneurial spirit of the Cuban society will change. Cubans might see technological advances as irrelevant to the progress of society, as well as be more careful about creating new information tools that might anger the government. This change will mean more dependency to regular, not so society-changing ventures such as tourism and restaurants, and hence delay the search for more access to information that could yield a more democratic society.

Kudos to USAID for thinking outside the box and trying to solve this 20th century problem with 21st century technologies. Nonetheless, the agency failed too soon and too publicly in a topic as hotly debated as Cuba.

My guess is that USAID will see more vigorously scrutiny to its resources and programmatic activities.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/victor-salcedo/zunzuneo-usaid-and-how-th_b_5086420.html

 

El libro de Angel Carromero, una mentira que cabía en apenas 6 palabras.

Su propio libro es la prueba concluyente contra él mismo. 

Por Arnaldo M. Fernández, Broward.

 

En arrebato borgesiano, el popular komsomol Ángel Carromero ha sacado un libro de 224 páginas para meter una mentira de apenas seis palabras: “Sentí un impacto estruendoso por detrás.”

No hubo por detrás impacto alguno, ni estruendoso ni sordo, como se comprueba por simple inspección del parachoques trasero del auto que conducía Carromero por el oriente cubano el 22 de julio de 2012.

 Nada más que con la foto de vista trasera del auto accidentado se desmonta el grotesco espectáculo libresco Muerte bajo sospecha (Anaya, 2014), que acaba de lanzarse en Madrid, a unos 20 dólares el ejemplar, para timar a incautos.

Desde luego que la bandería de Carromero alegará desde que manipularon la foto o chapistearon el parachoques hasta que suplantaron el auto o recrearon el accidente en otro lugar. Pero la carromería jamás podrá explicar por qué Carromero desistió de la excusa que dio enseguida al sueco Aron Modig, quien a su vez se encargó de pasarla en mensaje de texto que la familia Payá vino a revelar tres meses después: “Ángel dice que un auto nos golpeó y nos sacó de la carretera.”

 ¡Mientes, Carromero!

Para exculparse así de matar imprudentemente a Oswaldo Payá y Harold Cepero, Carromero no tenía que contar que venía persiguiéndolos un auto “de la comunista”, sino tan sólo “que un auto nos golpeó”.

 Si esto hubiera sido verdad, el jurista español que coordinó su defensa en Cuba, José María Viñals, del bufete madrileño Lupicinio Abogados, hubiera solicitado el peritaje sencillo del parachoques trasero, en vez de los peritajes más complicados que pidió para determinar a qué velocidad venía Carromero.

   La ley cubana autorizaba sin cortapisas a solicitar aquel peritaje crucial o impugnar otro que aludiera al parachoques trasero intacto. Y Viñals dejó bien claro al diario español ABC que “los abogados pudimos estar a solas con Ángel mientras duró el procedimiento y preparar con él la defensa.”

 Si Carromero no insistió en defenderse con su excusa inicial fue porque era mentira. Y como esa mentira seminal no puede sostenerse sin otras, Carromero soltó que “a mi abogado lo vi una vez el día antes del juicio y pude hablar con él a solas 60 segundos por el descuido de un coronel. En ese momento le dije: ‘Pepe, en España saben que no ha sido un accidente, ¿verdad?’ Él me contestó que sí, pero que me mantuviera en la versión oficial.”

Carromero no solo contradice a su abogado, quien afirmó estar a solas con él para preparar la defensa, sino que hasta insinúa que se vendió a otros intereses, pero… ¿cómo pudo Pepe Viñals haberle dicho que se “mantuviera en la versión oficial”, si en el juicio la defensa pidió la absolución y echó la culpa al gobierno de Cuba, alegando que Carromero no venía a exceso de velocidad y la causa del accidente había sido la mala señalización de la vía?
Sigue leyendo