The State Department vows to promote American values in Cuba “while supporting the desire of Cubans to freely determine their futures and reduce their dependence on the Cuban state.”
So what are American values?
Vanderbilt University associate professor Vanessa Beasley told LiveScience they are subject to interpretation – like a Rorschach inkblot test.
There are dominant American values, she said. One is that if you work hard, you’ll be rewarded. Another is that people have the right to carve out their own destiny.
Knox College psychology professor Tim Kasser said people in countries with free-market economies often value wealth, beauty, celebrity and fame. That, he told LiveScience, can make it difficult for them to focus on such shared problems as ensuring the well-being of children and lowering carbon-dioxide emissions.
So I wonder, what values are U.S. officials promoting in Cuba? Wealth, power and celebrity? Equality, justice and civility? What are American values in the era of Donald J. Trump? Does the United States have the same moral authority as it did in the 1950s? Or the ’70s? Or the ’90s?
The State Department stated goals include supporting Cuban human rights activists and dissidents and giving humanitarian aid to political prisoners and their families, according to a budget document for the 2019 fiscal year, which began Oct. 1, 2018.
See below for more on the State Department’s thinking:
Cuba: Foreign Assistance Program Overview
The Cuban people have long suffered under a regime that suppresses their aspirations for freedom and prosperity, and fails to respect human dignity. In line with President Trump’s June 2017 National Security Presidential Memorandum, U.S. assistance to Cuba seeks to support a stable, prosperous, and free country for the Cuban people by facilitating civil society initiatives that promote democracy, human rights, and fundamental freedoms. Programs will provide assistance to political prisoners, their families, and other victims of political repression, strengthen the capacity of independent civil society groups, support advocacy for fundamental human rights, document the harassment of civil society, and promote the flow of uncensored information to, from, and within the island. U.S. assistance promotes American values while supporting the desire of Cubans to freely determine their futures and reduce their dependence on the Cuban state.
Economic Support and Development Fund (ESDF)
Assistance will promote U.S. values while supporting the desire of Cubans to freely determine their futures and reduce their dependence on the Cuban state. U.S. assistance will support programs that are transparent and consistent with programming in other similarly situated countries by facilitating independent civil society initiatives that promote democracy, human rights, and fundamental freedoms, particularly freedoms of expression, religion, association, and peaceful assembly. Programs will provide humanitarian assistance to victims of political repression and their families, strengthen independent civil society, and promote the flow of uncensored information to, from, and within the island.
U.S. assistance will help civil society in Cuba increase the capacity for community engagement, build networks among civil society organizations, and enhance the leadership skills of a future generation of civil society leaders. Programs will also work with civil society to further the rights and interests of Cuban citizens, and to overcome the restrictions imposed by the Cuban government on citizens’ civil, political, labor, and religious rights. U.S.-funded programs will facilitate information-sharing among civil society groups both on and off the island.
Key Program Monitoring, Evaluation, and Learning Activities
Conducting performance monitoring and evaluation on Cuba programs presents unique challenges due in part to the difficulty of sending individuals to Cuba for monitoring and evaluation purposes. To mitigate these challenges, the Department of State and USAID work closely with implementers and administrative support contractors based in Washington, DC to help ensure program accountability and safeguard against waste, fraud, and abuse. The Department of State and USAID also verify that key elements of performance monitoring and oversight are incorporated into program design and implementation in order to collect valid data that measures results while also prioritizing the safety and security of beneficiaries.
Monitoring data is collected and analyzed on a quarterly basis through implementing partner reporting. Key findings are discussed during regular updates and visits to implementing partner offices and meetings among implementing partners, to analyze data trends and use the information to help refine and improve assistance programs. For example, pre- and post-training surveys gauge participant learning and provide information on the effectiveness of U.S. government-sponsored training. Implementing partners adjust programming based on analysis of this data.