Big bucks for “battle of ideas”


The U.S. government spent $475,035,876 on democracy promotion projects targeting Cuba from 1990 through 2018, records show.
The top three recipients were:

  • Grupo de Apoyo a la Democracia, with $39,769,619
  • International Republican Institute, $37,716,506
  • Pan-American Development Foundation, $36,961,556

Records show the names of the organizations that received a total of $363,725,255. See full list.

The State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development kept secret how $98,955,579 was spent and who received the money.
Most of the remaining $12,353,042 in the $475,035,876 pot of money went for administrative expenses.
The figures are adjusted for inflation. In current, non-adjusted dollars, the total of $475,035,876 would be $417,769,116.
These numbers are based on data from USAID’s Foreign Aid Dashboard. I pulled the Cuba expenses from a Foreign Aid Dashboard spreadsheet containing data for all countries. Download spreadsheet here – it’s a large file – 566 MB.
The figures show that more than a third of the money – $168,986,722 – was aimed at shaping the narrative about Cuba. Records show $123,956,539 went to “civil society development through information dissemination” and $45,030,183 was spent on “media and free flow of information.”
The information dissemination projects are included in a broader category called “democratic participation and civil society.” See breakdown of $475 million.
Congress set aside an additional $20 million for democracy projects for fiscal 2019, which began on Oct. 1, 2018.
Throw in $911 million that the government has spent for broadcasting to Cuba from 1984 through 2019 and the total hits $1,406,035,876.
Lawmakers propose spending an additional $32,973,000 for democracy promotion and broadcasting in fiscal 2020. If approved, that would bring the total to $1,439,008,876.

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