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