Monday, April 28, 2008

CANF: Overhaul the USAID program

The Cuban American National Foundation (CANF) has issued a thorough report (pdf, 22 pages) on the USAID Cuba program. It traces the history and original purposes of the program, and it calls for major changes in the program at a time when its funding is increasing and USAID is reportedly considering a shift away from Miami groups that have received most of its grants.

The key issue it discusses is the decision made by a USAID official in 1996, at the program’s inception, to prohibit cash assistance to people and organizations in Cuba.

This decision, not required by law, has remained in place all through the Clinton and Bush Administrations. CANF wants it reversed; it says it is the “single most direct cause of the substantive failures of Cuba democracy support programs.”

By “substantive failure,” CANF mainly means the fact that a minority of USAID program funds result in resources that reach Cuba.

CANF examined four grantees that received $24.5 million from USAID between 1998 and 2005 – the Center for a Free Cuba, the Directorio Democratico Cubano, the Grupo de Apoyo a la Democracia, and Accion Democratica – and found that 36 percent of funds were spent on resources that reach Cuba; the rest are spent off the island, an “egregious misdirection of resources,” CANF says. The percentage of funds reaching Cuba for these four organizations was, respectively, 19 percent, four percent, 81 percent, and 27 percent.

USAID probably sees things otherwise. One of the goals of the funding, CANF notes, is to “build solidarity with Cuba’s human rights activists.” That can be interpreted as providing direct aid to dissidents. But it can also mean paying U.S. groups to encourage Europeans and Latin Americans to get involved in the issue, through conferences, solidarity networks, grants to organizations overseas, etc.

One can debate whether political activity in third countries has any impact, or is a good use of taxpayer money, but it is within the scope of the program. The law authorizes “support for democratic and human rights groups in Cuba,” and USAID interprets that to mean both direct material support and political support from abroad.

The USAID program deserves to be debated, and CANF’s report and recommendations, which go far beyond the points I summarized here, deserve attention.


Anonymous said...

In my opinion, USAID has little right to be in Cuba.. It is fairly a consensus in intellectual development circles, including many in the UN and World Bank, that USAID exists not for the betterment of humanity, but to further American Ideals (or imperialism) depending on your point of view.

Think of the equivalent - VZ or Iran heavily funding US activists who want to "overthrow" the government.

I know, I know, there is not a moral equivalency, however, you get the point.

I want a Cuba free of Castros! but also free of US influence (including all of those old miami folk who have assimilated the worst of teh right-wing values in this country)

Anonymous said...

"intellectual development circles"??? good grief, is there such a thing?
I certainly hope our taxpayer dollars are doing something decent by promoting American ideals. Guess what, moron, they have held up pretty well for the last 200 years. Last time I checked, we had an overwhelming immigration problem, not an emigration one.

Anonymous said...

"I want a Cuba free of Castros! but also free of US influence (including all of those old miami folk who have assimilated the worst of teh right-wing values in this country)"

Including all those old miami folk? Excuse me sir, but "all those old miami folk" are Cuban. I doubt you yourself are. We shall deal with our own future, sir, without the meddling of individuals such as yourself.

The gall.

And no sir, I am not one of those "old miami folks." In fact, I'm under 40.

Where the heck do people come up with this offensive prejudiced crap?


Anonymous said...

"Where the heck do people come up with this offensive prejudiced crap?"

Its not prejudicied, just an opinion... the opinion being that US has no RIGHT to dictate the fate of Cuba, that includes all of those cubans who became US citizens. You enjoy the priviledges of the US, so you have forgone your right as cuban.

Para, Anatasio
apuesto a que ni siquieria habla espanol tu supuesto "propio" idioma"

Anonymous said...

Yo, senor, no estoy aqui por un deseo de vivir mi vida en Estados Unidos. Yo, senor, estoy aqui por que no habia remedio en mi caso. Nunca deje mi cubanidad cuando deje la isla. Soy cubano primero - y sere cubano el dia que me muero.


Anonymous said...

This was published in one of the largest circulation newspapers in this city:

MAILMETRO - Fri 4 April 2008

"US Cuba policy Grants

The US State Department has just announced that it will make grants available to European media organisations, individuals and groups to 'promote democracy' in Cuba - all they ask in return is that you support their Cuba policies.

The $45.6 million the Bush administration has allocated in the 2008 budget will, no doubt, buy considerable influence.

To put it in context, just €1.5million of this war chest would be easily enough to pay all the salaries of all the journalists working in the Irish Times for a whole year.

And the good news for bloggers is that the administration is especially fond of them, as there are no editorial controls on truth on the internet.

I hear that some bloggers, depending on the views they 'freely' express, can earn a very good living at the US taxpayers' expense."

I would encourage everyone to apply to their local US embassy for the anti-Cuba propaganda grant. Someone is going to get it, it might as well be YOU!

Anonymous said...

yes, yes, yes, the fellow-traveling Left still alive and well.

The fact that they were utterly wrong for fifty years of the Cold War has remarkably not shamed them into silence....