Promoting democracy or shaping a slanted narrative?

Over the past two decades, the U.S. government has spent millions of dollars on projects aimed at boosting independent journalism and the free flow of information in Cuba. The State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development, or USAID, pay contractors to do the work. One contractor, the Institute for War & Peace Reporting, … Read more

U.S. ramps up Venezuela effort

From 2008 to 2018, the U.S. government poured more than $122 million into Venezuela for everything from democracy projects to emergency aid for migrants. USAID and State Department grants for Venezuela projects jumped from $6,151,570 in 2016 to $20,874,975 this year. Below is graphic of USAID and State Department grants by year. Many of the same … Read more

A billion here, a billion there…

Over the past three decades, the U.S. government has spent more than $1 billion for broadcasting to Cuba and for democracy programs on the island. On Oct. 31, the Congressional Research Service, or CRS reported: From FY1984 through FY2018, Congress appropriated about $882 million for broadcasting to Cuba. The Trump Administration’s FY2019 request is for … Read more

Closing books on “Cuban Twitter” program

On Nov. 30, the Agency for International Development closed out its contract with Xavier Utset, described by the Associated Press as the mastermind behind a secret “Cuban Twitter” program. Utset ran the program for Creative Associates International, then a USAID contractor. He later became an agency employee. Spending records classified Utset as an “undisclosed domestic … Read more

Nearly four years after release, Alan Gross is grateful

My Nov. 29 post about the Alan Gross case led to some lively debate on Facebook. I had raised the possibility that U.S. officials were slow to negotiate for the release of the American development worker because hardline Florida lawmakers needed a victim. Janet Ballantyne, a former honcho at the Agency for International Development, had … Read more