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USAID Administrator oblivious to who is spending taxpayers’ money

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The administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) told the Senate he couldn’t say from where the idea had come to launch a "social network" to foment unrest in Cuba.

During a hearing, 8 April 2014, of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee probing into the USAID budget, the agency administrator, Rajiv Shah (Pictured), attempted to deny the Associated Press revelations [1] by stating that the creation of a "social network" program for Cubans was not a clandestine operation, only a "discreet" one.

The program was started in 2009 as a text messaging network called "ZunZuneo", and continued to operate until 2012 from a third country, in order to attract users living in Cuba with the intention of manipulating them into triggering a revolt in the island.

During the hearing, Mr. Rajiv Shah tried to dodge a direct question from Senator Patrick Leahy about the authorship of the program, which mainly consisted in massive unsolicited texts sent to hundreds of thousands of people in Cuba.

When asked by Senator Leahy "Whose idea was it?", Mr. Shah stammered that the program had been concocted in 2007-2008 and tried to skip to other secondary aspects despite the Senator’s repeated calls to order leading to his loss of patience. The USAID Administrator finally replied: "I do not know specifically." [2].

In the course of the hearing, Senator Leahy frequently pointed out that the program was "dumb, dumb, dumb" and, in addition, destined to become public from the start; moreover he recalled that the U.S. national Alan Gross is currently serving a 15-year prison sentence in Cuba, for attempting to set up satellite communications networks ... by order of USAID [3].

At the beginning of his questions to the USAID administrator, Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy - who has been the President pro tempore of the United States Senate since 2012 - recalled that:

"The U.S. rise 15 to 20 million dollars for so-called democracy programs in Cuba…." (sic)

Portrayed by Washington as an independent organization that strives to promote development throughout the world, USAID is actually a federal agency, funded by the federal budged - hence the U.S. taxpayer - with the approval of Congress and whose objectives are set by the State Department.

Many states, including Bolivia [4], Cuba, Haiti, Honduras, Uruguay, Venezuela and Russia [5] denounced USAID as a CIA front.

[1] Associated Press, "US Secretly Built ‘Cuban Twitter’ to Stir Unrest", by Desmond Butler, Jack Gillum et Alberto Arce; and "US Secretly Created ‘Cuban Twitter’ to Stir Unrest", par Desmond Butler, Jack Gillum et Alberto Arce, 3 et 4 avril 2014.

[2] «Angry Exchange on Capitol Hill over Cuban Twitter», Associated Press, 8 April 2014.

[3] "Alan Gross Case Spotlights U.S. Democracy Programas in Cuba", The National Security Archive, 18 January 2013.

[4] "Le président Morales expulse l’USAID de Bolivie", 7sur7.be, 1 May 2013.

[5] "Moscou interdit l’USAID, mais veut poursuivre la coopération économique", Ria Novosti, 21 September 2012.

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