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U.S. sponsored artists’ program in Cuba but denies it was secret

U.S. sponsored artists’ program in Cuba but denies it was secret
Published December 11, 2014 EFE

The U.S. government acknowledged that it was behind a program to support
local musical artists in Cuba but denied that the project was covert,
according to an investigation published Thursday in the U.S. press.

The project sponsored by the U.S. Agency for International Development
allegedly was intended to promote the work of hip-hop artists and
rappers critical of the island’s communist government and to
clandestinely push for political changes by recruiting groups like Los
Aldeanos, a hip-hop band fed up with government pressure and very
popular among young Cubans, U.S. media outlets revealed.

USAID spokesman Matt Herrick said in remarks to Efe that it is
well-known that the agency “supports civil society programs in Cuba and
other restrictive environments” as part of U.S. government efforts to
promote democracy.

“Any assertions that our work is secret or covert are simply false,” the
spokesman said, insisting that the aim of USAID programs is to support
the strengthening of civil society.

The program was part of a four-year contract, between 2009 and 2012,
with Creative Associates International.

According to documents published by the U.S. press, the aim of the
program was to help Cuban youth break the information imposed by
the Cuban government and, in its second phase, to design a plan to
promote uncensured access to media content.

The company was in charge of organizing the “ZunZuneo” project aimed at
creating a type of “Cuban Twitter,” a social network via cellphones to
foment dissent among the island’s youth.

The reporting published Thursday indicates that several of the musicians
who participated in the program were by Cuban authorities and
it questions the value of these programs given that, in the end,
unknowing Cuban citizens were put at risk and suffered negative
consequences.

Regarding the program, State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said at
her daily press conference that Washington promotes democratic values
around the world, including in closed societies, adding that the
government knows that common citizens in Cuba run the risk of angering
the island’s authorities by participating in community initiatives and
so programs like this are managed with an “appropriate” degree of
discretion. EFE

Source: U.S. sponsored artists’ program in Cuba but denies it was secret
| Fox News Latino –
http://latino.foxnews.com/latino/politics/2014/12/11/us-sponsored-artists-program-in-cuba-but-denies-it-was-secret/

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