Monday, August 04, 2014

Really, Obama...Really?

Via Atrios and the AP:

WASHINGTON (AP) — An Obama administration program secretly dispatched young Latin Americans to Cuba using the cover of health and civic programs to provoke political change, a clandestine operation that put those foreigners in danger even after a U.S. contractor was hauled away to a Cuban jail.
Beginning as early as October 2009, a project overseen by the U.S. Agency for International Development sent Venezuelan, Costa Rican and Peruvian young people to Cuba in hopes of ginning up rebellion. The travelers worked undercover, often posing as tourists, and traveled around the island scouting for people they could turn into political activists.
In one case, the workers formed an HIV-prevention workshop that memos called "the perfect excuse" for the program's political goals — a gambit that could undermine America's efforts to improve health globally.
But their efforts were fraught with incompetence and risk, an Associated Press investigation found: Cuban authorities questioned who was bankrolling the travelers. The young workers nearly blew their mission to "identify potential social-change actors." One said he got a paltry, 30-minute seminar on how to evade Cuban intelligence, and there appeared to be no safety net for the inexperienced workers if they were caught.

Of course the usual suspects were involved:

In response to the AP's report, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., said USAID's programs were important for human rights in Cuba. "We must continue to pressure the Castro regime and support the Cuban people, who are oppressed on a daily basis," said Ros-Lehtinen, a Cuban native and vocal supporter of pro-democracy programs there. 

Which brings me around more sympathetically to this link to "Down With Tyranny" posted by Ifthethunderdontgettya over in comments at Alicublog:

We've made the case that Debbie Wasserman Schultz has, over the last decade, moved-- at times openly and at times stealthily-- to offer political protection to her old comrade, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. Back in 2008, when Wasserman Schultz was in charge of the DCCC's Red-to-Blue program and publicly endorsing Ros-Lehtinen (and two other Miami-Dade Republicans) against Democrats, Ileana's 18th CD had a PVI of R+4. Since they, Florida has undergone some significant changes demographically (which we'll get to in a moment) and also in terms of cartology. FL-18 was redrawn into FL-27, a district evenly divided, registration-wise, between Democrats and Republicans. The last reported PVI was R+2 but by now the district is either even or D+1. In 2008 Obama lost the district (the current boundary lines) to McCain 123,543 (51%) but in 2012 won it against Romney 130,020 (53%) to 114,096 (47%). - See more at:
It would be interesting to learn what, if any, backroom deals have been made between the Cuban and Democratic factions that enable them to run in tandem rather than in opposition.  Whatever the exchange, of course, this criminally stupid program is an utter blot on the Obama administration, USAID (if it were possible for it to be any blottier) and everyone who knew about it.


Victor said...

That's about all I got.

Victor said...

That's about all I got.

Philo Vaihinger said...

So what is your problem, really?

aimai said...

My problem with this is that this program, which no doubt was approved and instituted before Obama got into power, was permitted through negligence to begin and continue on Obama's watch. Obama was ostensibly for an opening with Cuba and younger Cubans are becoming more liberal and more democratic every day. Why permit federal money to be spent on this bizarre, junior g-man, infantile program of entrapment/recruitment of Cubans against a regime which is really on its last legs. And to allow this to be done under cover of an AIDS/HIV mission is doubly disgusting.

I have no doubt that the money for this project was liberated under Bush and went largely to a private group--clearly almost none of it was spent on the students involved who were amateurs and who were paid like it--but this is a huge black eye for the Obama administration and for HRC's State Department. If they didn't know what was going on they were at fault, and if they did they were at fault. There's no getting around it.

Yastreblyansky said...

The cover operation isn't just ridiculous but really criminally irresponsible. We know that disguising the hunt for Bin Laden in Pakistan as a campaign to vaccinate people against measles has brought on an outbreak of polio, as Taliban propagandists claim that any kind of immunization is a Yankee conspiracy. What the present clowning in Cuba could do to Cuba's HIV/AIDS patients, who already have more than enough to deal with, doesn't even bear thinking about.

Thanks for bringing this one to our attention, Aimai.