The U.S. government paid at least $227 million for democracy-promotion projects from 2001 to 2017.
A detailed list shows that the projects ranged from complex multimillion-dollar initiatives to grants of less than $50,000.
The U.S. Agency for International Development and the State Department managed most of the projects. Annual funding peaked at $34 million in 2008 during the George W. Bush administration.
Competition for grant money was fierce. Operación Liborio con Cuba, based in Puerto Rico, struggled to obtain funds. Enrique Blanco Rodriguez posted the following letter in 2011 after the National Endowment for Democracy turned down Operación Liborio for the sixth time.
Mr. Enrique Blanco-Rodriguez
Operación Liborio, Inc.
Calle Crisantemo #3, Golden Hills
Bayamon, Puerto Rico, 00956
RE: NED Proposal No. 20113810
Dear Mr. Blanco-Rodriguez:
The Endowment has reviewed the above-referenced proposal for consideration at our September 9, 2011 Board Meeting.
I regret to inform you that, after careful consideration, your proposal was not approved for funding by our Board of Directors. The competition was keen, and with limited resources available, only a small number of the many proposals received could be approved for a grant.
Your interest in the Endowment and its goal of encouraging free and democratic institutions is appreciated.
Office of Program Coordination
National Endowment for Democracy
1025 F Street, N.W., Suite 800
Washington, D.C. 2004 USA
According to tax returns and spending records, Operación Liborio is a humanitarian organization.
The group hit paydirt in 2016, snagging a $40,000 NED grant funded by the State Department.
Historians may recognize Operación Liborio as a 1961 CIA operation aimed at convincing Cubans that the revolutionary government was going to assume parental authority over their children. The goal was to trigger panic and cause “a migratory wave of children and adolescents,” according to Granma, the newspaper of Cuba’s Communist Party.
The next phase was to carry out acts of sabotage in Havana, fire a bazooka from Apartment 8A on the sixth floor of a building near the Presidential Palace and kill Fidel Castro.