Cuban Twitter and Ukrainian Fascists

by lizard

In the ongoing debate regarding the role of the US in destabilizing other countries, the AP broke a significant story about how the US secretly created ‘Cuban Twitter’ to stir unrest:

In July 2010, Joe McSpedon, a U.S. government official, flew to Barcelona to put the final touches on a secret plan to build a social media project aimed at undermining Cuba’s communist government.

McSpedon and his team of high-tech contractors had come in from Costa Rica and Nicaragua, Washington and Denver. Their mission: to launch a messaging network that could reach hundreds of thousands of Cubans. To hide the network from the Cuban government, they would set up a byzantine system of front companies using a Cayman Islands bank account, and recruit unsuspecting executives who would not be told of the company’s ties to the U.S. government.

McSpedon didn’t work for the CIA. This was a program paid for and run by the U.S. Agency for International Development, best known for overseeing billions of dollars in U.S. humanitarian aid.

According to documents obtained by The Associated Press and multiple interviews with people involved in the project, the plan was to develop a bare-bones “Cuban Twitter,” using cellphone text messaging to evade Cuba’s strict control of information and its stranglehold restrictions over the Internet. In a play on Twitter, it was called ZunZuneo — slang for a Cuban hummingbird’s tweet.

If USAID has been used to destabilize Cuba, what else lurks beneath the veneer of humanitarian aid? Like in Ukraine?

As the United States readies $1 billion in loan guarantees to the new government in Ukraine, along with even more aid for reforming elections and cleaning up corruption, one thing is clear: The public is unlikely to know where that money is going for some time, if ever.

Since 1992, the U.S. has sent $3 billion to $5 billion in aid to Ukraine, with only cursory public disclosure. The U.S. State Department operates an online database, ForeignAssistance.gov, but names of foreign recipients are often left out, and entire sections are blank. Furthermore, the disclosure often comes long after the money has been distributed.

“It is incredibly hard to find this kind of information,” Nicole Valentinuzzi, communications manager for Publish What You Fund, an international organization promoting transparency for foreign aid.

In post-coup Ukraine, things are getting dicey. A “far-right activist” was gunned down by police last month and the Daily Beast is openly wondering if Ukraine can control their far-right ultra-nationalists.

For more background, The Nation has a piece titled Seven Decades of Nazi Collaboration: America’s Dirty Little Ukraine Secret. Apparently, for the US, supporting fascists and Nazis is nothing new.

For a more local take, Intelligent Discontent’s perennial cheerleader of US interventions, the Polish Wolf, has decided to feature anonymous comments from Ukrainians regarding the post-coup crisis they are now experiencing. The gist? The comments PW cultivated express dismay at being abandoned, a desire for nuclear weapons, and admiration for sociopaths like John McCain.

*I had initially included the comments featured in PW’s post here, for the convenience of our readers, but Don made an issue out of it, so you’ll have to go over to his place to read them.

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  1. The Vineyard of the Saker is a website of a Russian living in Switzerland, I think. His take is always interesting. http://vineyardsaker.blogspot.com/2014/03/this-and-that.html

    And I would recommend this “Counterpunch” essay for another look at the history of Crimea from Russia’s point of view. The professor compares it to The Alamo. http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/03/28/viewing-the-ukraine-crisis-from-russias-perspective/

    There is a lot to learn about that part of the world. Moon of Alabama has vigorous debates and excellent links. Latest post is on the Cuban Twitter story. http://www.moonofalabama.org/2014/04/in-cuba-another-us-government-abuses-of-online-communication.html#comments

  2. Is there a reason I’m not seeing why, in two of the last three posts here, you guys have decided to reprint the full-text of posts from my blog?

    It’d be polite to excerpt them for fair use.

    • lizard19

      the reason was convenience for our readers, but since I’m not sure how far you may take your pettiness, I’ve removed them and updated the post.

      • Thanks so much. You’re a class act.




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