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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2 thoughts on “Big bucks for “battle of ideas””

  1. I am looking for support to finish a film on Cuban writer José Lezama Lima. The film is based on the letters he wrote to his sister Eloisa in exile as he suffered from censorship and ostracism in Cuba. The film is the final stages of post production but needs finishing funds to complete its objectives.


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