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Cuba – Rappers Targeted by USAID Program ‘Victims’

Cuba: Rappers Targeted by USAID Program ‘Victims’
HAVANA — Dec 12, 2014, 4:48 PM ET

Cuban rappers targeted by a clandestine U.S. program are “victims”
unknowingly swept into an effort to spark an anti-government youth
movement, the Cuban government said Friday in its first reaction to an
Associated Press investigation into the initiative.

Vice Minister of Culture Fernando Rojas described the U.S. Agency for
International Development program as “treachery” that drew in rappers
Los Aldeanos and other Cuban musicians.

The hip-hop operation was conceived by one of USAID’s largest
contractors, Creative Associates International, using a team of Serbian
music promoters. The Washington-based contractor also led other efforts
aimed at undermining Cuba’s communist government, including a secret
Cuban Twitter text-messaging service and an operation that sent in
young, inexperienced Latin American “tourists” to recruit a new
generation of activists.

The collection of USAID missions, which were all undertaken over the
same period of 2009-2012 and cost millions, failed.

Rojas said Aldo Rodriguez, lead singer of Los Aldeanos, had received
backing from the Hermanos Saiz Association, a youth culture group with
close government ties, and “I don’t think he’s lost that support.”

“He, like all victims, needs to think,” about the sources of his
backing, Rojas told reporters on Friday when asked about the USAID
story. “There’s treachery in the way these organizations operate.”

The U.S. plan called for contractors to recruit dozens of Cuban
musicians for projects disguised as cultural initiatives but really
aimed at stoking a movement of fans to challenge the government. They
filmed TV shows and set up a social network on the island to connect
some 200 musicians and artists who would be encouraged to start a social
movement. Artists were flown to Europe ostensibly for concerts and video
workshops, but the real aim was to groom them as activists.

Rodriguez, who now lives in Tampa, Florida, told The Associated Press
late Thursday that the effort had never influenced his lyrics or actions.

“Probably what they wanted was to help the music movement because Cuba
is really a country that doesn’t have anything,” he said.

“Neither the American government, nor the Serbs, nor the Cuban
government, not anyone, can control my thoughts and my heart,” Rodriguez
said. “I don’t belong to the right or the left.”

Rodriguez’s musical partner, Bian Rodriguez, who also now lives in
Florida, said in statement on his Facebook page: “We knew little about
the real aim of those people. I think it’s important to emphasize that
because I haven’t needed any subsidy to say what I think and I don’t
criticize anyone who does because they must have their reasons. This
(Cuba) is a country where everything one does is repressed.”


Wides-Munoz reported from Miami. Michael Weissenstein in Havana
contributed to this report.

Source: Cuba: Rappers Targeted by USAID Program ‘Victims’ – ABC News –

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