The U.S. Agency for International Development has awarded a $1.5 million contract to Canyon Communications LLC, a California company that will work to boost awareness of human rights violations in Cuba and engage “an increasing number of Cuban citizens in efforts to advocate for greater human rights and civil liberties.”
USAID says the grant is in line with President Trump’s 2017 “National Security Presidential Memorandum on Strengthening the Policy of the United States Toward Cuba.”
By the end of the program, USAID envisions a greater number of Cuban citizens engaged in activities to support, defend, and promote human rights and democracy in Cuba, including documenting abuses. Increased international awareness of human rights violations in Cuba is intended to provide protection to human rights advocates and their networks.
The $1.5 million awarded to Canyon Communications on Sept. 11 is part of up to $5.69 million in project funds that USAID expects to distribute over a three-year period.
The contract period began Oct. 1 and runs through Sept. 30, 2020.
A description of the USAID grant warns:
Applicants should be familiar with the difficulties of working in closed societies similar to Cuba and with the particular challenges of working in Cuba. Applicants should also understand that, given the nature of the Cuban Government, USAID cannot be held responsible for any injury or inconvenience suffered by individuals traveling to the island under USAID funding.
Special thought and consideration should be given to the selection of consultants and other personnel who may be required to travel to the island. It is preferable for these travelers to speak Spanish fluently, possess solid understanding of the cultural context, and have prior experience on the island, in order to maximize their effectiveness in this unique operating environment. Travel by U.S. citizens is highly discouraged.
Records show that the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which oversees Radio & TV Martí, awarded Canyon Communications $2,135,223 in contracts from 2014 to 2018. See contracts by year.
Canyon Communications provided “In Country Produced Content” including “regular local news and feature reports such as Video Packages-Features” as part of its BBG work in 2017 and 2018, records show.
A company website states:
We have sponsored a number of TV series produced by young Cubans in Cuba sharing how their generation is maintaining the idealism of the Revolution and adapting it to the 21st century through entrepreneurship and the expressive arts.
For background about the company, see these blog posts from Along the Malecón: