Democracy, Inc.

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Non-governmental organizations spend a ton of money trying to influence internal affairs in Cuba. In January 2000, I published tax documents that gave some insight into spending trends. See “NGOs sink millions of dollars into Cuba fight.”
I have reviewed a sampling of tax and audit documents filed since that time and am sharing excerpts of those below.
Tax documents are useful because give specific figures for an NGO’s revenue and expenses. Trying to find the same information on government spending websites is sometimes difficult and confusing.
These documents show that some NGOs rely on several sources of government funding, share money with each other and sometimes pass along grants to unnamed “sub-recepients.” Tax records also make clear that hundreds of Cuban activists receive money from U.S. government-financed NGOs every year as part of an extensive democracy-promotion campaign.

Directorio Democrático Cubano, Inc.
A February 2021 audit of the Directorio Democrático Cubano shows that the Miami-based NGO spent $1,050,270 on radio programming, humanitarian aid, civic activities and other programs in 2019.
The audit, which found no problems or irregularities, shows that the Directorio received:

  • $644,936 from the National Endowment for Democracy, via the State Department
  • $111,637 from the International Republican Institute, via the U.S. Agency for International Development
  • $188,323 from the Grupo de Apoyo a la Democracia, via USAID
  • $104,343 in donations

The NED funds included $514,458 that went toward the Directorio’s Radio Republica operation, which touts itself as the “Voice of the Cuban Resistance.”
The Directorio is located at 730 NW 107th  Ave. in Miami. The group’s national secretariat is Orlando Gutierrez, who received a salary of $77,116 in 2018. Finance director Eddy Cento received $66,774, according to a 2019 Form 990 tax document.

Here’s how the audit described the group:
Directorio Democratico Cubano, Inc. (“DDC”) is a not-for-profit organization incorporated on November 14, 1995 and was granted tax-exempt status under Section 501(C) (3) of the Internal Revenue Code on December 3, 1996.
DDC was established:

  1. To rescue the Cuban national culture by fostering the identification of the new generations of Cubans and Cuban-Americans with the Cuban nation.
  2. To promote freedom and democracy for Cuba in the face of the current dictatorship.
  3. To get the Cuban youth, both inside and outside Cuba, actively involved in the process to promote the respect for human rights and democracy in Cuba.

The above is being accomplished by promotion of democracy through various venues. The promotion of democracy is built on the principles of free flow of information to the Cuban people, humanitarian aid to provide support to the political prisoners and their families, and international activities.

  • Radio Republica transmissions are essential in providing the Cuban people with information and also provide an avenue whereby Cubans on the island can speak and be heard by their fellow civic-minded brothers and help promote democracy in Cuba. Radio Republica helps build a solid base in democratic principles by providing information to people who desperately need it.
  • Humanitarian aid helps the civil society with basic necessities and helps strengthen the non-violent struggle for democracy. The assistance to the political prisoners and their families, as well as to activists, in many areas, is essential to secure their survival.
  • International activities around the world to expose the lack of freedoms that exist in Cuba help build an international solidarity movement to assist the civic leaders in Cuba and speak out and denounce when the Cuban government unjustly imprisons or tortures these civic leaders.

The Directorio reported that it paid 1,930 people a total of $48,628 for “civic activities,” the Form 990 document shows. That averages out to $25.20 per person. The group also gave humanitarian aid in the form of cash grants to 236 people. Six people received a total of $1,002 in equipment, and 125 people received $21,769 in food and medicine.
The Form 990 reports paying $83,442 to two employees for radio programming, and $20,205 to 744 radio reporters.

The record also shows that the NGO received $3,583,161 in federal funds from 2014 through 2018.

Grupo de Apoyo a la Democracia, Inc.
An April 2020 audit showed that the Grupo de Apoyo received $856,907 in revenue in 2019, including $844,141 from USAID. The NGO gave $188,323 to a sub-recipient that was not disclosed.
Here’s how the audit described the NGO:
Grupo de Apoyo a la Democracia, Inc., (“GAD”) f/k/a Grupo de Apoyo a la Disidencia, Inc., is a nonprofit organization incorporated to provide humanitarian aid to the families of political prisoners and democracy activists in Cuba in their efforts to enhance the transition to democracy. It is the vision of GAD to provide aid in the form of food, medical supplies, basic equipment, informational and educational materials, and other non-cash assistance to address the basic needs of the people of Cuba. By meeting those needs, the Cuban people will continue to push for necessary democratic changes.
The purpose of the program is two-fold:

  • Provide for the basic needs of the democracy activists, political prisoners, and their families, based on the concepts expressed by the Maslow “Five-level Hierarchy of Human Needs” (Self-actualization; Esteem; Belonging; Safety; and Physiological); and
  • Provide informational and educational materials directed to increase the population’s awareness of the changes – political, social, and economic – taking place in the rest of the world; therefore, to promote new ideas and solutions to the problems facing the country.

The audit said Grupo de Apoyo was 10 days’ late submitting a quarterly financial report to USAID, and six months late on a required annual implementation plan.
Auditors wrote:

GAD should submit their reports to the grantor agency in a timely manner. The organization may develop a schedule of reporting deadlines to ensure that reports are submitted in a timely manner in order to minimize the risk of losing the grant funding due to untimely reporting.

In response, GAD wrote:

Regarding the submission of the Financial Report (Form 425) for the quarter ending March 31, 2019, the report was completed and signed on April 17, 2019. Due to an administrative oversight, the Report was not submitted until May 10, 2019. During the early months of 2019, the newly appointed Chief of Party, Mr. Mirabal, was in the process of familiarizing himself with the various reporting requirements.
For the Annual Implementation Plan, in September of 2018, the current Chief of Party, Mr. Fernando Mirabal, was hired as the Assistant Manager for GAD. In December of 2018, the former Chief of Party, Mr. Frank Hernandez-Trujillo suddenly passed away and did not leave instructions or status listing of the open items for the Cooperative Agreement. Consequently, the Annual Implementation Plan for 2018 was not submitted until six months after the reporting deadline.

The audit reported that Grupo de Apoyo spent $527,523 on humanitarian aid, including food, over-the-counter medications and delivery costs. The document also noted that the NGO received $158,000 in rice from another organization, Outreach Aid to the Americas, in 2017.


Grupo de Apoyo received a total of $4,247,803 in government grants from 2014 through 2019, according to Form 990s filed in 2018 and 2019.

Center for a Free Cuba
A 2019 tax form shows that the Falls Church, Virginia, NGO received $1,450,727 in public support for the 5-year period ending in 2019. That included $1,187,749 in government grants and $262,978 in undisclosed contributions.
The NGO’s executive director, John Suarez, reported a modest salary of $42,998 per year. The group’s Board of Trustees includes a number of prominent figures, including Dr. Javier Garcia-Bengochea, Ambassador Everett E. Briggs, Victor J. Pujals and Ambassador Otto J. Reich.
The tax form lists the center’s three main goals:

  • Help the courageous but beleaguered Cuban civil society by providing information to pro-democracy activities on the island and by encouraging solidarity and support for them by democratic governments, international organizations, and non-governmental organizations from around the world.
  • Provide humanitarian assistance to victim’s of Castro’s repression, including political prisoners and former political prisoners and their families.
  • Maintained an information inflow effort to the island by distributing thousands of press releases, appeals, and special reports to newspapers and electronic media.

The center’s expenses in 2019 included humanitarian cash payments of $20,165 to 300 people, an average of $67.22 per person, plus an additional $24,093 in equipment and medicine.
The form states:

The center identifies individuals worthy of assistance in Cuba through its knowledge of the dissident community in the country. This knowledge is obtained over decades of work in this arena. Once an individual is identified, the center awaits the availability of a trusted traveler that will be able to provide the assistance. When such a trusted traveler is available, the assistance is provided directly to the intended party. Assistance is provided in small dollar amounts to minimize the risk of loss or misdirection of funds. All assistance is tracked with regard to date, amount, recipient, and traveler. Activity reports are provided to the National Endowment for Democracy for assistance provided under their grant to the center.
The center takes all reasonable steps to ensure that it does not knowingly provide donations to any individual or entity that commits, attempts to commit, advocates, facilitates, or participates in terrorist acts…Detailed records of all transactions are kept with strict protocols in place which directly uphold the charitable objectives on foreign soil, but due to the nature of the foreign government involved identifies of recipients are not public for reasons of safety and security of all parties.

Cubanet News Inc.
A 2018 Form 990 stated that the NGO received $3,255,979 in government grants from 2014 through 2018.
Cubanet’s executive director, Hugo A. Landa, reported a salary of $72,484 per year.
The form said the group’s mission is to “publish a Cuba-focused Internet daily news site. News and articles are submitted from Cuba by independent journalists.”
Cubanet is located at 145 Madeira Ave., Suite 202, in Coral Gables, Florida. The group said it received $920,872 in grants in 2018. Expenses included $192,804 in unspecified “in-country” costs.
Part III of the tax form, which ostensibly should show “Grants and Other Assistance to Individuals Outside the United States,” contained no information.

Foundation for Human Rights in Cuba
The NGO, located at 901 Ponce de Leon Blvd., Suite 102, in Coral Gables, received $3,823,256 in grants from 2015 through 2015, according to a 2019 tax form.
Its president was listed as Jose Antonio Costa. The form does not show a salary, if any.
The group’s mission is “to empower Cuban civil society to build a durable democracy in Cuba that is free of human rights violations by enhancing the on-island civil society’s awareness and effectiveness in nonviolent activism and by facilitating civic training materials, communication equipment, thematic ‘know-how’ manual (e.g. entrepreneurship, micro-financing, etc.) and financial support along with creating awareness and documenting, within the island and in the international community, human rights violations while collaborating with international and on-island nongovernment organizations to provide for additional expertise and resources to provide humanitarian aid.”
The foundation received $995,712 in grant money in 2019.

International Institute on Race, Equality and Human Rights
An August 2020 audit, which found no problems or issues, describes the NGO as follows:
International Institute on Race, Equality and Human Rights (the Organization) is a nonprofit, non-stock corporation incorporated in the District of Columbia in November 2014. The Organization is an international, human rights capacity-building organization that works side by side with activists in Latin America to enhance their ability to promote and protect the human rights of marginalized and vulnerable people who suffer from discrimination based on their national or ethnic origin, sexual orientation, or gender identity.
The audit states that the group received from the State Department:

  • $367,777 “to support democracy, human rights and labor – Cuba”
  • $289,607 for “Cuba human rights”
  • $89,408 for “Cuba justice”

USAID gave the group $39,263 for a program called “Exposing Gender Disparities: The Human Rights Situation of Women in Cuba.”
A 2018 Form 990 shows that the NGO’s executive director, Carlos Quesada, reported a salary of $135,000, not including $18,386 in additional compensation from the organization and related groups.

The institute works in Cuba to strengthen the capacity of our counterparts to monitor and document human rights violations committed against human rights defenders, women, children, Afro-descendants and members of the LGBTI community, while simultaneously increasing access to information on human rights, including information about the Inter-American human rights system as well as the universal system.

Outreach Aid to the Americas, Inc.
A March 2020 audit describes the NGO as follows:
Outreach Aid to the Americas, Inc. (a nonprofit organization) (the “Organization”) was incorporated in the state of Florida on June 28, 1994 under the name of “The Cuban Humanitarian Assistance Society.”
The purpose of the Organization is to conduct advocacy, community, and economic development programs both in Cuba and throughout the Americas, faith‐based and otherwise. The Organization’s faith‐based internal division advocates a non‐denominational Evangelical Christian statement of faith and mission statement.
The audit found no irregularities. It states that the group spent $930,706 in federal funds in 2019 for six programs:

  • Cuban Humanitarian Support Network, $237,833
  • Advocating for Religious Freedom, $257,759
  • Cuba Grassroots Civil Society Building Project, $136,508
  • International Food Relief Partnership – Food for Peace, $101,400
  • Acción Humanitaria y Conciencia, $107,367
  • Systematic Investigation of Human Rights Violations of Cuban Medical Missions, $89,839

Teo A. Babun Jr. is the organization’s president and executive director. His salary was $161,889, according to a 2019 tax form. His daughter, Victoria Babun, received $12,000 for “professional services,” the form shows.
The organization received $17,712,817 in public support – including grants, gifts and contributions – from 2015 through 2019. Records don’t make clear precisely how much of that money targeted Cuba.

4 thoughts on “Democracy, Inc.”

  1. From, “Tube of Plenty: The Evolution of American Television 2nd Revised Edition” by Erik Barnouw (1990) p.254

    “Along the back streets of Miami, the CIA began quietly recruiting an army…ex Batista adherents…ex Castro followers and others. The recruiters said they had nothing to do with the United States government but were employed by a wealthy group of capitalists who were fighting communism and had friends in Washington…recruits felt the United States government must be behind it…jokes about the Cuban billionaire, perhaps named, ‘Uncle Sam.’”

    How long will the US government keep this charade up? Let’s see how much “human rights” matter in this country, where now close to 600,000 US citizens are dead the past 15 months due to COVID-19.

    That rich Evangelical Christian is a charlatan too. Check out Teo Baboon’s Twitter
    https://mobile.twitter.com/teobabun?lang=en

    Reply
  2. These programs should be more correctly described as a Miami Employment project. Whatever small percentage of US government funds actually reach people in Cuba, their impact is largely to mislead and delegitimize them.

    Recipients are encouraged to take positions against US normalization and the end of the embargo that alienate most of the population and motivate/enable Cuban security forces to isolate and repress them.

    Will the Biden-Harris Administration and in particular Secretary of State Blinken and USAID director Powers have the political courage to finally call an end to this sham and scam?

    They should take the kinds of pro-engagement steps that will actually have an impact on the lives of most Cubans and the natural evolution of their society in a more democratic and market oriented direction.

    Reply

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